Friday, February 28, 2014

MUL's, RUB's, Zones and other Unearned Capital Gain drivers

The thing the Clueless Councils have never twigged to, is the economic effect of a zoning squiggle on a map.

The Productivity Commission Final Housing Affordability Report estimates the rural/urban price differential for Auckland at roughly 10 times - P9 - a direct quote follows:

"In Auckland the MUL is a binding constraint on the supply of land for urban growth and has increased section prices within the city. This is indicated by the large differential between land prices 2 kilometres inside and 2 kilometres outside the MUL (Figure 0.9), which suggests that Auckland Council’s proposed compact city approach, based on containment of the city, undermines the aspiration of affordable housing."

  • Instant CG handed to the landowners of 'urban zone', the moment the squiggle is put into effect. Rural land prices (say, top-end dairy) run around $50K/ha. Urban undeveloped land prices, using the PC's figures, start at around $500K/ha.
  • The Urban land price (thus inflated) transmits successively across the market for the adjacent area, the suburb, and the city. After all, if you owned a shack on a formerly rural plot, for which you paid $17,500 in the days of yore, whaddareya gonna sell it for now that it's Urban zoned, and the neighbours on a subdivision where average house/land prices are $750,000?
  • The price is also transmitted directly via the operation of land agents (recent sales), city valuations (entire areas, also based on sales and rules of thumb), and hearsay (did ya hear what ol' Bloggsie got for that darned Shack???)
  • Every such price increment is a minor CG (for the accounting types, a Revaluation rather than a Cost asset component), and added across all sites, this becomes a substantial sum.
  • Now, what do we expect our FHB to buy? Why, a Modern Shack, at Urban land prices which inevitably contain a massive CG component (as distinct to actual rural-land raw costt). And pay for that via a mortgage, delivered by bankstaz eager for the interest revenue stream on that inflated sum, whereupon as much will be expended in Interest as was paid in Principal.

So ignoring, as the Clueless Councils do, the economic effects of artificial squiggles on maps, nevertheless has real-world results, which in the way of this wicked old world, fall mostly heavily upon the young, the poor and the start-ups.

The accounting equation is startlingly simple.
Starting Position:  Raw per ha cost of rural land:
50K debit, asset.  Other side: 50K credit - Landowners equity.

Event 1:   Revalued once urban boundary moved: 
Debit 450K Asset Value      Credit    450K landowners equity Revaluation Reserve  (this is Unearned, just a book entry)

Event 2:  Owner sells the plot:
Debit Landowners Bank Account 500K (which for youse non accounting types is a Credit on der Bank Statement - yum yum), Credit Asset Value 500K

The Asset is now zero for the original landowner, because it's sold to someone else.
(That somone else (assume paid in cash) will then have a Starting Position of:
Debit Asset $500K, Credit Bank 500K.
Note that this new owner has had to account, and fork over cash, at the cost price - this is how CG crystallises).

Original Owner's equity is still 500K - it's now just in the form of Cash, not Fixed Asset. In effect, the $450K Revaluation Reserve has been cashed up.....hence my characterisation as Capital Gain (CG).

Unearned by the original owner.

Untaxed by the Benificent IRD (if the landowner is correctly structured...).

Placed there by a squiggle on a map caused by Planning Fads in a Clueless Council.

Multiply this small but perfectly formed example, by the number of land plots in Auckland, to form some opinion as to the extent of the Unearned Capital Gain which resides within the Cost of Housing.

Placed there, unasked for, by the Economic Cluelessness of Councils, and their Zonerating and Plannerising Teams of Earnest Drones.

And we call this 'Godzone'......

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Roads, Cars, Tiwai and EV's: a Singularity approaches?

I'm always amused by the antics of the anti-roads brigade.  My initial reaction is simple:  don't these clowns realise that public transport (buses, taxis, and rentals) plus essential freight (food, exports, FMCG to yer local supermarket) all need - Roads?  I mean, whadda they expect - a Light Rail branch to every shopping mall?  Pallets of food (organic, naturally) carried hither and yon, on Cargo Bikes?   Bikes and rails chuffing up hills like wot they have in Dunedin, Wellington and Auckland?    Gaah....

So it is with Great Glee that I stumble across an article trumpeting yet another breakthrough in EV's which leads straight on to thoughts about an Impending Singularity here in Godzone.

Just the facts, ma'am.

  1. Tiwai Point smelter (Rio Tinto owned) is marginally economic:  it's COGS is around $USD16-1800 per unit, while the world price for the stuff hovers around $USD1900.  Once transport is factored in, it's hard to make a buck where SALES = COGS, no matter how much volume ya pump through. 
  2. Tiwai is a way of exporting electricity, as the NBR article notes.  It is around 1/7th (that's 14.28% for youse metric types) of total NZ generation capacity.
  3. Now, let's assume that Tiwai (disclosure, I carted  fabricated steel stuff there in ma Tonka Toy phase during TP's construction, so I have an interest in the show, plus I'm a Meridian shareholder) closes sometime between 2017 and 2022.  That releases a lotta electrons from potline slavery.  Hmmm.  What to use 'em for?
  4. EV's, of course.  My guess is that, over that same planning horizon, the likes of Zytek, the hundreds of Chinese makers of everything from forklifts to trucks to cars to scooters, the Japanese, not to mention Ford, Toyota, GM and Tesla etc - will have such volumes and width of product lines available, that EV's will be the Cars and Trucks of the new era.
  5. So we have ourselves a Potential Singularity here:  the EV cavalry (vehicles, power supplies, roads) ride into town at just the point where dino juice starts its inevitable price climb/volume degrade.
  6. Hmmm.  I'd been hankering after a small hybrid (Prius C or similar).  Mebbe I'll just wait and see:  run the existing fleet into the ground....and go pure EV, to heck with hybrids.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The stock reply to the Unaffordable Houses threads everywhere...

So, go convince your local Clueless Council not to do the two things that have done most to make houses unaffordable:

1 - draw zoning squiggles on planning maps, thereby ensuring a 10 times raw land price differential between one side of the fence (rural, no builds) and t'other (urban, build away). The difference is pocketed by the lucky land-owner, and guess who pays? Right, the eventual house/section buyer.

2 - levy development taxes on every section/house. Mike Greer, here in Christchurch, estimates direct Council costs as $75K per house/land sale. Guess who pays. Right, you, the house/land buyer, and with oncosts, interest, developers margin on top.

Of course, banks just love increased costs, too, but they aren't the ones who set this whole dreadful ratchet effect in motion.

The Economically Clueless Councils did.

There. Fix these two things, get Affordable houses.

Easy, weren't it?

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

The Christchurch rebuild.

Can Cera handle the Christchurch rebuild?

The rebuild has already happened in commercial terms.

The New CBD (the Sydenham/Addington/Middleton/Riccarton/Hornby/Airport arc, plus the block bounded roughly by Victoria St/Cambridge Tce/Avon River/BealeyAve ) are all humming away.

And, fairly precisely, because they don't have the CCDU and CERA trying to micro-manage these areas.

No commercial enterprise that's survived (and thanks to the Old CBD debacle, some have not) is terribly eager to get back to the Old CBD, and pay 40-150% more in rent.

So that leaves the Precincts as a Government-dominated area: Health, Education, Justice, IRD etc. There will, of course, be ancillary businesses around: lawyers and maybe accountants, and anyone else whose revenue streams flow primarily from the taxpayers generous teat.

And there will, inevitably, be the hospitality and tourism sectors, and with the establishments which seek to scratch the itches that that combination of Government drones, tourists, convention-goers etc, will have.

But the real commercial pulse of the city beats elsewhere...and has done for three years.

It's just taken the clueless empire-builders this long to notice.....