Tasmania, For Lease

There’s been a lot of fluff about Hobart’s booming real estate.

Residential real estate might be hot, but clearly, not everything is booming.

I took a drive through Hobart last week and was surprised by how many “For Lease” signs adorned empty commercial premises and shops.

These began just two streets back from the mall, and extended into the outer CBD.

I was also in Brisbane recently. I took an Uber ride to the giant music shop Billy Hydes, but it had closed its doors.

Brisbane looked fresh and busy, but it seems people aren’t buying musical instruments, not from local retailers anyway.

In Darwin, there are “For Lease” signs everywhere and real estate is down 28% from its historic peak. I’d wager that the many blocks of townhouses and units they built during Darwin’s boom are near empty.

Funnily enough, Perth real estate is also down 28%.

Sydney and Melbourne real estate now appears to be cooling.

On eBay, Chinese retailers are mailing stuff to Australia with “free postage”.

Meanwhile, a steel industry magnate has said solar electricity is now, finally, cheaper than coal electricity.

Coal is one of Australia’s big exports, one of the few things that keeps our GDP up. Already unviable because of greenhouse gas, the demand for polluting coal will decline.

The other big Aussie export is iron ore, and the market looks flimsy. China has had its building boom, and there is a trade war on the horizon.

Australia currently has some of the highest personal debt in the world.

We have had the debt-fuelled boom. Now we just have the debt.

Amazon and other corporate giants are taking over retail and other business. That’s probably why there is no longer any wage growth.

Is Australia’s good luck is coming to an end?

Our economy is now recognised one of the least diversified in the world.

Recent GDP data suggests everything is OK, but I suspect the house-flipping nation is not in good health.

We have become the dumb country, and rather than trying to fix this, Australian research and development funding is down.

Tassie is still awesome.

But nowhere is awesome during a depression.

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