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TIP: US sneezes and world catches cold, Westpac tightening lending criteria, NSW land tax changes

By the end of today, a lot more people are going to know what a bond yield curve is.

Global markets went into a spiral yesterday after the bond yield curve inverted. I don't understand it, beyond surmising that this is the economic equivalent of Punxsutawney Phil's seeing a shadow to determine winter's end; whenever the bond yield curve has acted this way, the US economy has gone into recession.

In response, $60 billion in value was wiped from the ASX yesterday. Trump's trade war with China has had the opposite effect he was hoping for on the US economy, the world's biggest and most influential. But here's the news: factors like Chinese economic stimulus and the flow-on effects to Australian trade, plus Australia's recovering property sector and the positive impact this will have on local consumer behaviour, are tipped to insulate us from this storm.

Overnight, we've seen a lot of talk about a "self-fulfilling downturn" - read, a downturn caused by companies and consumers waiting for better conditions before investing and spending, which results in economic stagnation and recession. The advice has been to stop hedging - which if the last couple of months of auction figures are anything to go by, more and more people are doing when it comes to buying and selling homes.

Cost of owning land about to go up for 2.5 million in NSW

Every three years, NSW reassesses the values that inform land tax and council rate levels. The first notifications of changes to these assessments are winging their way around the country as I write - and the state is bracing itself for an onslaught of complaints.

Despite the downturn, land value assessments are going up for about 2.5 million residential and commercial land owners across the state. This is despite CoreLogic figures showing a net 2.2 per cent value loss across NSW over the past three years. Anyone in the business of selling or developing land will need to quickly determine how these changes will impact their customers.

Westpac raises bar on lending criteria

The removal of APRA's lending serviceability buffer was celebrated by the property industry. The banks however, have been having a tough go of it in a post-Hayne royal commission world to determine just what their obligations are when it comes to assessing an applicant's suitability to borrow to buy a home.

Westpac's answer to this volatility has been to overhaul its own lending policies, with a far more stringent assessment process for borrowers. It has increased its expense categories from 13 to 18 and upgraded its HEM (Household Expenditure Measure) system, in what Digital Finance Analytics principal Martin North has described as an "aggressive" move to manage risk to the bank.

Where one major bank goes, the others tend to follow. It's a reminder that just because we're in a low interest rate environment, it doesn't mean it's easy to get a home loan.

Australia's economy hovering - and Domain getting its own TV show

This week, official figures have shown the jobless rate remains stuck at 5.2 per cent and wage growth is also sticking at 2.3 per cent - this latter stat being largely thanks to a planned increase in pay for Australia's army of public servants.

We're in the middle of quarterly reporting season, so we're seeing some interesting news coming out of Australia's listed companies. Target, for example, is cutting 80 jobs as part of an effort to gentrify its offering. And you'll be pleased to know that despite tough times, Australians aren't giving up on overseas travel; more than 500,000 people flew out of the gates at Sydney Airport in the first half of this year.

Keep an eye out today for Domain Group's quarterly results announcement - where according to this story, the company will be unveiling a brand new Your Domain TV show on Nine's main free-to-air channel.

Another fun fact: the tourism sector now employs more people than transport and the wholesale industry in Australia, and is nipping at the heels of manufacturing in terms of total jobs created. One in 13 Australians now work in the sector, which is worth more than $143 billion to our economy.

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