The Experts

Harry Tyson
+ About Harry Tyson

Harry Tyson is a staff writer in the Switzer Publishing department. He is currently in his penultimate year of university study. Harry comes from a rural background, raised on a Turf & Cattle farm in Wagga Wagga.

Where did all my money go?

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

It’s fair to say that spending money has to be one constant in life that never changes. Whether it’s purchasing food, paying rent, travelling, movies, heading out with friends or dare I say it... investing in stocks or property. This is quite daunting to a young adult around my age. This can be attributed to a range of possibilities, the main ones being: a lack of financial education surrounding the various opportunities available (to fix this I’d recommend subscribing to the Switzer Report for a mere $397 per year!), the inability to control spending and the cost of living being far too high. Before all you readers jump down my neck for ‘complaining’ that property prices are far too high and the stock market is extremely hard to be successful with, without professional advice, it’s important that you see firsthand what millennials are spending their hard-earned cash on!

I never really understood when my Mum used to come home and groan at the price of the weekly food shop, but since I began doing my own shopping I soon realised why. The weekly grocery shop on a Sunday evening, combined with the amount of money you spend on the weekend, is enough anxiety to give anyone around my age a case of the Sunday scaries. Taking food out of the equation, you might ask: what else do you spend your money on? Well, there’s probably $50 on public transport, depending on your plans at least $50-$150 on entertainment, whether that be knocking back a couple of well-earned beverages at the local pub, heading to the movies with friends or taking someone out for dinner. After scratching around in your pockets for those expenses, you’ve probably run up a total weekly bill around $300-$350, give or take. Now it’s time to put your focus towards the fun things like rent, internet and telephone bills and utilities. Tally all this up and you’re staring down the barrel of a ballpark figure of another $350 at least (depending on your personal circumstances).

After looking at the previous expenses, I think it’s fair to say that some people aged in their early to mid-20’s have a few other priorities than saving for an investment property or share portfolio. The cost of living in major cities is extremely high, with prices of food and rent not looking like slowing down any time soon either. This has resulted in this younger generation becoming thriftier and more innovative with their hard-earned money. Looking for restaurants that offer discounted meals on certain nights, buying groceries on special and heading to a pub located off the beaten track offering $5 pints are all things young people are doing to try and save a little money. And who knows, maybe saving those couple of extra dollars will prove to be quite crucial in laying down a deposit on a first home. If Steve Keen and Martin North are correct in their prediction for a housing collapse of 40% that day might come sooner rather than later!


Buy now! Pay later…

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Have you ever joyfully bought something with your trusty credit card only to weeks later get smacked in the face by unfair interest rates? Has this resulted in you limping towards payday whilst living off two-minute noodles for the next week? For many of us this is the harsh reality of being unable to resist the temptation of using that piece of plastic that you have this forever lasting love/ hate relationship with.

Gone are the days of putting an item on layby and saving your pennies each week with the goal of eventually accumulating enough payments to finally take your item of choice home. This out-dated system has been replaced by a revolutionary product that essentially works in the opposite way to the trusty old layby payment method. The lure of being able to acquire a product and then make payments towards its purchase has sparked enormous interest in the retail sector, with buy now pay later services such as Afterpay and Zipmoney making this a tangible reality for consumers in Australia and abroad.

Companies such as Afterpay and ZipMoney are financial digital services that are designed to provide the customer with an alternate option to paying with a credit card and being hit with sky high interest rates. The emergence of these ‘buy now pay later’ companies has allowed customers to break free from the shekels of expensive credit card fees and opt for a more financially convenient method of payment. These types of companies have exploded in popularity since early 2018, with individuals in the 18-30 years old demographic showing particular interest in this service. The astronomical rise of Afterpay and Zipmoney can be attributed to the key feature of their product which is the simplicity of buying a product and paying for it later without requiring traditional and costly credit, interest or upfront fees.

The revenue generated by the previously mentioned companies consist of an amalgamation of the following strategies: primarily, the revenue consists of a percentage that an entity such as Big W will pay the company for allowing its service to be used in the facilitation of sales in the company. This percentage varies from company to company but Afterpay uses a model of a 4% cut from the total price of the product. Furthermore, the other major revenue stream is generated through late payments and penalty fees. Annual financial reports depicted that ultimately 24.4% of Afterpay income was generated through late fees whilst the remaining 75.6% was made up through merchant fees.

Afterpay has proven to be a major success story in the financial services industry with its popularity sky rocketing over the last financial year. At the beginning of June 2018 Afterpay was trading at $7.70 a share. Over the next three months the financial services company experienced monumental growth as more and more big players in the retail space such as Big W, Myer and David Jones jumped on the bandwagon. This level of growth led the company to a share price of an astounding $19.69 by the end of August 2018. However, this level of success hasn’t been without adversity. The company’s revenue model came under scrutiny as it was revealed around 25% of the total revenue came from customers paying hefty fees due to missing scheduled payments. This hardship was further compounded when the Australian Government was seriously contemplating regulating the company like any other credit lender. The repercussions to this tumultuous couple of months saw Afterpay stock prices nose dive to $10.63 by the end of November 2018. Talk about an emotional roller coaster!  Although a turbulent end of 2018, the beginning of 2019 has seen Afterpay rally as the share price has held firm at around the $19 to $20 mark. And now the current stock price has jumped to an impressive $23.50.


Cashed up Chinese crooks causing a stir in the Aussie property scene

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

In recent years, China has experienced economic growth the likes of which the world has never seen. But to the contention of the Chinese Government, billions of dollars have been funnelled out of the country to western countries like Australia and the US. Now the economic powerhouse wants their billions returned, in full!

The lucrative Australian property market has been targeted by Chinese internationals, who see the reasonable selling prices and these pristine locations such as the Sunshine Coast in Queensland as exceptional investment opportunities. However, it seems not all these property moguls are operating ‘by the book’. Recently there has been an influx of illegal investments placed in the Australian property market with crime organisations and money launderers alike buying up big in some of the most prestigious locations across the country. Furthermore, a compelling reason in which Australia is targeted for illegal investment is that there’s an extremely low number of successful cases in which the Australian Government has extradited Chinese criminals back to their homeland. This has essentially given these international criminals the green light to roll the dice on our judicial system and if they do come up snake eyes, they could face lenient sanctions and prosecutions.

The resolution to this pressing economic issue has been complex and has even been labelled controversial, with the methods to recouping the money resulting in aggressive, deceitful, manipulative and, at times, forceful behaviour. Recently, Gold Coast Private Investigator Jason McFetridge, who was indirectly working for the Chinese Government, found himself in hot water. Mr McFetridge insists he was operating within the legal boundaries when he convinced the owners of the supposedly illegally acquired property to wilfully sign over the property deed to his company.

The process to acquire the property and return the funds back to the Chinese Government essentially involves the acquisition of the property from the individuals who are in possession of the property in Australia. Mr. McFetridge along with his agency then proceeds to facilitate the sale of the property. Once the property has been sold the funds are retuned to the Chinese Government with Mr. McFetridge and his agency collecting a substantial commission.

However, this covert operation went pear-shaped as Mr. McFetridge was taken to court and charged with a range of offences, such as fraud and forgery by Chinese internationals, which ultimately led to him being unsuccessful in his pursuit of the property. These types of cases are becoming quite common as recollecting supposedly illegal funds invested in lucrative Australian property is very much a grey area, with collection agencies walking a very fine line between illegal and legal practices.

The soaring cases of illegal Chinese investment has led to the rapid growth of these types of businesses. As the market continues to exponentially expand, more collection firms nationally and internationally are looking for a slice of the pie. A major player in this game is Bill Majcher from EMIDR a Hong Kong based recovery firm, who was quoted saying the following; “As long as the claim is valid and as long as we're doing everything lawfully and properly, I'm a hired gun to help either large corporates or governments to get back what is rightfully theirs,"

The Chinese Government has sought out the services of private companies to essentially return illegally invested funds that have been used to buy Australian residential and commercial property. With billions of yen leaving the Chinese economy, it is easy to understand how this issue has been at the forefront of the country’s agenda. This coincidingly create problems for the Australian government as well. The recouping of the lost funds ultimately leaves a massive hole in the property sector, with these illegal investments making up a significant share of property purchased in hot spots such as the Sunshine Coast and the Northern Beaches of Sydney.

The Chinese Government will continue its pursuit of laundered cash and dirty money as it’s estimated that over 80 million dollars has been sunk into the Gold Coast real estate market alone. It’s being estimated that these figures are just the tip of the iceberg and therefor a great urgency has been put on ceasing these ‘international crooks’ from targeting Australian shores.


Dairy, dairy, quite contrary

Thursday, March 07, 2019

If you enjoy a soy cappuccino, ¾ full, extra hot with a pinch of organic chocolate keep scrolling because this probably isn’t the article for you!

Dairy farming in Australia has a rich history of producing world quality dairy products that have been a staple item in Australian fridges for generations. The combination of record low prices of milk and drought-stricken farmland has put a massive financial and economic strain on the farming industry.  

The number of dairy farms has steadily decreased over the last four decades, however milk production has increased due to increased stock numbers combined with improved yields. This growth was stemmed around 2003/2004, when widespread drought began to cripple farmers. The following 10 years saw a period of consolidation for the industry, with harsh conditions reducing cow numbers and affecting milk quality. The volatility in the current market has impacted farmers confidence, which has halted any willingness to grow and expand production.

The dairy industry is at the forefront of the Australian agriculture industry, with dairy being our third largest agriculture export behind beef and wheat industries. The industry reported 13.7 billion in funds raised across the full extent of the supply chain. Australian dairy farmers operate in a deregulated and open market, which means the open nature of the Australian dairy market can be linked to international pricing and product trends, as Australia is a major importer and exporter of dairy products. The industry faces critical economic implications, with demand for milk steadily increasing while pricing remains generally atsevere lows and the sustainability of farming practices are seriously threatened. Data from Dairy Australia also suggests that the costs of production of milk has increased dramatically in the last 10 years. All these factors collectively are putting an enormous strain on dairy farmers, whose profit margins have been razor thin for some time now.

The dairy industry has recently been rocked with milk prices hitting astonishing lows of $1 a litre. In response to public backlash and intense industry scrutiny, supermarket giant Woolworths has lifted the prices of milk to $1.10 a litre. While many dairy farmers nationwide are still calling for increased prices, they’re all in agreeance that this is a step in the right direction. Now the public eye has shifted towards the other supermarket powerhouses, Coles and Aldi. Coles and Aldi are yet to follow suit, as they hold strong on their pricing of $1 a litre. 

Aldi provided a statement regarding their stance on the pricing situation, with the retailer emphasising that they will continue to support Australian dairy farmers and the industry in alternate ways. “The company wants to maintain their position as the supermarket with the lowest everyday prices, even in this financially volatile environment”.  Coles has adopted a similar stance, as they are hesitant to change pricing due to fear of customers unwillingness to pay the extra 10 cents per litre (really stretching the hip pocket!). Although Coles is reluctant to increase the pricing of dairy products, it is exploring different avenues to assist farmers. The company released the following statement, which exemplifies its support of the dairy industry and the agriculture industry as a whole: “Coles is passionate about supporting our farmers and producers and in the past six months has committed $16 million to support this important industry. This includes contributing around $4 million to almost 640 dairy farmers through the Coles Dairy Drought Relief Fund”.

Although Woolworths is leading the charge in helping restore the dairy industry, it is imperative that the price of milk continues to rise, and other major sellers start setting pricing standards that will allow for a prosperous and financially sustainable future for Australian dairy farmers on a national scale.


Connected or disconnected from society?

Wednesday, March 06, 2019

Have you ever found yourself staring at your phone screen aimlessly wondering how you even got here? Yes, we’ve all been there. Australians are becoming more and more technologically invested, with the average person possessing at least a smart phone, laptop and even an iPad. Sure, the use of these devices is beneficial and can make our lives easier, to an extent. The wealth of knowledge you can access within seconds from your iPhone X is extraordinary, with the ability to book a favourite restaurant in the city or check your 7am flight taking a matter of seconds. This type of accessibility and convenience shouldn’t be taken for granted. But when do we start  asking ourselves when does this technology become too much?

The time Australians are spending on their phones has been steadily increasing for decades. Apple, Samsung and Google continue to release new and innovative products that provide customers with an advanced experience.  As society, we’re becoming more addicted and invested into this never-ending cycle. Ironically, the latest Apple update on an iPhone sends you a notification each week telling you how much time you spend, on average, on your phone, with even a comment letting you know If your phone usage is up or down from the previous week!

This morning I caught the train from Edgecliff in Sydney to Martin Place and every single person, bar one older gentleman, had their heads buried in their phone or iPad. And honestly, I probably would’ve been the same, if I hadn’t forgotten to charge my phone the night before! This made me wonder why everyone on the carriage was so heavily invested in their screens at 7:30 in the morning. Perhaps they were checking work emails (fair enough I guess), messaging an old friend or family member, wishing a loved one a good day at work, or even sending some feelers out to a group chat to see who’s up for some afternoon drinks. These people may think they’re staying connected to things that they find important but they’re obviously disconnected from reality and everything that surrounds them. Gone are the days of having a friendly chat with a stranger on the commute to work or even a smile and nod at a friendly bystander. As we disembarked the train, three drone like suits so devoted to their phone screens collided with each other, with a mixture of coffee, bags and phones hitting the Martin Place pavement!

The growth of social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter has been expediential, with individuals from 12 to 70 registering accounts with the previously mentioned sites. Instagram has drawn attention, with the App being designed to allow users to post pictures and share those same pictures with hundreds, even thousands of followers. Celebrities such as Kim Kardashian and Justin Bieber register 128.1 and 104.6 million followers respectively. The influence these people have on society and more noticeably the younger generation is astounding. Individuals are so consumed by what other people perceive of them to be on social media that this search for social gratification has resulted in them losing the very intrinsic substance that makes them who they are.

As we delve further into technologies grasp, it’s important to take some time away from the screen and reconnect with reality. Whether this be reading a book, having lunch with some friends or getting some fresh air and going for a run. The balance between a healthy and unhealthy amount of screen time is imperative to living a healthy lifestyle.


Top 5 brain foods

Friday, February 22, 2019

When you think of the words “healthy eating” people often draw on the conclusion that you’re talking about the diet regime of some guy or girl who is addicted to the gym and drinks protein shakes like its going out of fashion. This is often a misconception as healthy eating doesn’t only have a positive impact on an individual’s body image but can also possess some major mental benefits as well.

This article lists the 5 essential foods that will not only boost your brain function but also push you towards the end of a long working week! You may already eat these and know of their benefits but a refresher course in these top 5 foods can be good for the soul too!

Brain food 1: Oily fish

Oily fish such as tuna and salmon are rich in essential nutrients and fats that have been scientifically proven to be beneficial for brain health. Studies have indicated that these fish contain high levels of Omega-3s that when consumed result in increased blood flow to the brain whilst providing individual with a heightened sense of cognitive abilities. Furthermore, the consumption of this fish has been linked to a reduction in stress levels as well as reducing the risk of developing memory disorders like Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia.

Brain food 2: Avocado

Avocados are a quality source of Vitamins C, E, K and contain high levels of Omega-3s.  Healthy fats help you feel full and satisfied, help your body absorb some nutrients, and aid in cholesterol reduction. This nutrient rich fruit is known to improve memory, concentration and even vision. A must eat if you’re staring at a computer screen day in day out!

Brain food 3: Nuts

A daily intake of a variety of nuts including walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts and cashews are all stimulants for healthy brain growth. There are extensive nutrients found in nuts, such as healthy fats, antioxidants, and vitamin E, all of which contribute to a sharper memory, improved cognitive skills and the prevention of neurological disorders. Eating nuts is a delicious way to keep your brain healthy. Make nuts your go-to snack when working at the office or relaxing in front of the television.

Brain food  4: Berries

Berries such as blackberries, strawberries and blueberries are all rich in nutrients and antioxidants, all of which are crucial for a healthy functioning brain. Antioxidants help by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress. Including berries into your daily diet can be as simply as eating a handful as a snack or adding some blueberries and strawberries to your morning cereal. 

Brain food 5: Dark chocolate

Dark chocolate is not only a delicious snack but also contains a range of health benefits. According to studies, cacao flavonoids encourage neuron and blood vessel growth in parts of the brain involved in memory and learning. Cocoa may also significantly improve cognitive function in elderly people with mental impairment. Dark chocolate can improve verbal fluency and reduce risk factors for certain types of disease. Dark chocolate contains hundreds of beneficial, health-promoting properties that support a positive mood, the ability to think clearly and focus, whilst contributing to a healthy cardiovascular system.


Flood waters recede, financial costs rise

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

The aftershock from recent Queensland floods is continuing to cripple drought and now flood affected farmers. Cattle who have been stranded on patches of dry land are reported to be quite literally ‘on their last legs’. The sheer scale of the floods has devasted the landscape and with the flood waters beginning to recede, we can now see what once were lush flood plains are now transformed into a muddy graveyard with cattle carcasses strewn along the landscape.  

As the numbers of dead and un-accounted for cattle rise, the financial and economic implications of this natural disaster are becoming more evident. Currently it is estimated that around 500,000 drought stressed cattle have died in the recent Queensland floods. Furthermore, the horticulture industry is expected to be hit with financial losses of up to $100 million. With these significant financial impacts on the agricultural industry, we can expect beef prices to rise sharply in the coming months.

This is a catastrophic blow to an already struggling Australian agriculture industry that has been drought stricken in recent years. The floods have not only caused destruction on the cattle and cropping fronts but have also damaged important telecommunications and infrastructure that rural communities are dependent on. For many stations and farms in the sunshine state, the only access to livestock has been through helicopters dropping fodder to distressed cattle. It’s been reported that these cattle are so weak and disorientated that they are unable to eat and are simply growing too weak from the lack of food combined with wadding through thick, energy sapping mud on a daily basis. The future for these cattle is bleak, with many graziers expecting the number of deaths to continue to rise long after the flood waters are long gone.

To put things in perspective, a cattle station in rural Queensland, “Eddington Station” has lost roughly 2,000 head of cattle in the floods, essentially half of the stations herd. Imagine your annual salary being cut in half and then told you still must maintain loan payments, bills and all the other day-to-day financial stresses that we encounter, the catch is you only have half the money to do it with! This is now the ‘all too real’ reality that many farmers in Queensland will now face. Rachel Anderson of Eddington Station was quoted saying; “We can’t get loans because we’ve got nothing to borrow against, none of us have got anything left.” This sentiment was further echoed when Anderson commented on the future of the rural community in the areas affected; “I’m not going to lie, it will finish some people up, but others will be rebuilding.”

Unfortunately for many graziers, this is the straw that finally broke the camel’s back. The irony isn’t lost on many farmers, as after years of relentless drought the very thing that has forced generational farmers off the land is the same thing that they’ve been praying for.

Amidst the destruction and heartache that the floods have caused for many Queenslanders, the response from the Australian public has showed compassion and a real sense of mateship. Countless flood relief campaigns have been created, with hundreds of thousands of dollars being raised to assist people affected. It’s often the case that when a community has been hit with hardship that individuals’ band together and lend a hand wherever possible. A prime example of this is a grain grower from south-east Wagga Wagga, Simon Maloney, who has embarked on a 2,100-kilometre journey to Julia Creek to deliver nutrient rich pellets to starving livestock. It’s this type of generosity and caring nature that is providing the Queensland farming community with optimism that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.