Looking on the bright side. At least the continuing fall in building approvals outlined in today’s Australian Bureau of Statistics figures means there are more skilled trades people available to help cope with the boom in mining industry construction. But goodness knows where people are going to live if the housing slump goes on!

The ABS building approvals figures show that the number of dwellings approved fell 10.7% in October 2011, in seasonally adjusted terms, following a fall of 14.2% in September. Dwelling approvals decreased in Queensland (-19.5%), Victoria (-18.0%), Tasmania (-12.8%), South Australia (-3.4%) and New South Wales (-0.4%) but rose in Western Australia (2.1%) in seasonally adjusted terms.

In seasonally adjusted terms, approvals for private sector houses fell 7.5% in October with falls in Victoria (-12.3%), Queensland (-5.9%), Western Australia (-5.9%), New South Wales (-1.6%) and South Australia (-0.3%).

The value of total building approved decreased 2.4% in October in seasonally adjusted terms, following a decrease of 14.1% in September. The value of residential building fell 6.1% while non-residential building rose 4.7%.

Cautious consumers. Another set of ABS figures showing Australians remain cautious consumers. Retail sales growth in October was again less than the general expectation of the economic pundits — rising 0.2%  seasonally adjusted, following a rise of 0.4% the previous month.

Seems like nonsense to me. It seems like nonsense to me that the world’s stock markets have rallied in quite spectacular fashion because a group of central banks have acted like central banks are meant to act and agreed to help each other make sure that there are enough US$s to go around.

To my admittedly untutored eye in these matters of international finance it looks like a non-event to me apart from indicating that even the most conservative of the custodians of the world’s monetary system are concerned enough to engage in the great game of spinning.

Laying Newt Gingrich. With all the emphasis that United States voters — especially conservative ones – seem to put on family values I cannot believe that a multiple adulterer will end up being the Republican nominee for President. That Newt Gingrich has now hit the front in some of the opinion polls as the party’s most popular choice can only be because his opponents have not yet thought it necessary to remind declared Republican voters of the past marital indiscretions.

Here’s how the Crikey Republican Candidate indicator puts the probabilities:

Something is wrong here.

I know that good Christian Americans are suspicious of Mormons but surely they will baulk at giving Gingrich the nod when it finally comes to casting a vote in a primary. Surely in the end they will realise that a so far untarnished family man in Mitt Romney is better than an acknowledged family values hypocrite.

Laying Gingrich — betting that he will not get the nomination — has got to be THE BET of the presidential primaries period.

I have, incidentally, started a little blog on which I list my own adventures in political betting.