RBA interest rates - Set the watch for 2024: CommSec's Craig James

The RBA has left the target rates for both the cash rate and 3-year government bond yield at 0.10 per cent, with an increase not expected until 2024 "at the earliest"

Reserve Bank of Australia
Reserve Bank of Australia

EXPERT OBSERVER

The Reserve Bank (RBA) has left the target rates for both the cash rate and 3-year government bond yield at 0.10 per cent. The RBA will purchase an additional $100 billion of bonds issued by the Australian Government and states and territories when the current bond purchase program is completed in mid-April.
 

What has changed since the last RBA Board meeting on December 1?

• Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th US President.

• ANZ job advertisements rose by 2.3 per cent in January to 161,582 available positions. Ads have lifted for eight successive months to be up 5.3 per cent from a year ago.

• Employment rose by 50,000 in December after increasing by 90,000 jobs in November. Full-time jobs rose by 35,700 and part-time jobs rose by 14,300. The unemployment rate fell from 6.8 per cent to 6.6 per cent in December.

• Preliminary retail trade fell 4.2 per cent in December (9.4 per cent annual) after rising 7.1 per cent in November.

• The weekly ANZ-Roy Morgan consumer confidence rating rose to a 15-month high.

• The NAB business confidence index fell from a 31-month high of +12.7 points to +4.5 points in December. But the business conditions index lifted from +7.0 points to 28-month highs of +14.2 points.

• The International Monetary Fund expects the global economy to expand by 5.5 per cent in 2021, which is 0.3 percentage points higher than the October 2020 forecast.

• The Consumer Price Index rose by 0.9 per cent in the December quarter to be up by 0.9 per cent on the year. The trimmed mean (underlying) measure rose 0.4 per cent in the quarter to be up 1.2 per cent on the year.

• Private sector credit (effectively outstanding loans) rose by 0.3 per cent in December to be up 1.8 per cent over the year.

• In the full twelve months to December the underlying Commonwealth Government cash balance was $186,120 million (9.5 per cent of GDP). The budget deficit for the six months to December was $9.5 billion lower than the ‘profile’ deficit.

• A retail trading frenzy for highly shorted stocks led to volatility on global sharemarkets and spilled over into the silver market.

• The Aussie dollar has lifted from US73-74 cents to US75-77 cents.

The Assessment

The Reserve Bank Board is not expecting to increase the cash rate until 2024 “at the earliest”. The first Tuesday in the month will never be the same.

RBA interest rates - Set the watch for 2024: CommSec's Craig James

Perspectives on interest rates

The Reserve Bank left the cash rate at 0.10 per cent after cutting the rate from 0.25 per cent on November 3. The RBA previously cut the cash rate on March 3 and March 19, 2020, each by 25 basis points. The target rate for 3-year bond yields was left at 0.10 per cent.

On November 3 the RBA cut the 3-year bond target from 0.25 per cent to 0.10 per cent. The RBA implemented the 0.25 per cent target rate for 3-year bond yields on March 19, 2020. There have been 18 cash rate cuts since November 2011 with the cash rate cut from 4.75 per cent. Previously cash rates rose seven times from October 2009 to November 2010 from 3.00 per cent to 4.75 per cent.

What are the implications of RBA's decision?

• The Reserve Bank used the word, “strong”, five times in the statement. The economic recovery, employment and retail spending were all described as “strong”.

• The Reserve Bank Governor will go into more depth about the economic recovery in a speech tomorrow. Further, Governor Lowe gives testimony to the House of Representatives Economics Committee on Friday. On the same day the RBA issues the quarterly Statement on Monetary Policy that includes the latest forecasts. We received some inkling of the forecasts today: “In underlying terms, inflation is expected to be 11⁄4 per cent over 2021 and 11⁄2 per cent over 2022.”; “the central scenario is for unemployment to be around 6 per cent at the end of this year and 51⁄2 per cent at the end of 2022.”; the central scenario being for GDP to grow by 31⁄2 per cent over both 2021 and 2022.

• The Reserve Bank Board’s central scenario requires significant job gains and a return to a tight labour market to stoke inflation. And that is not expected until 2024 at the earliest.

Craig James

Craig James

Craig James is the Chief Economist at CommSec, interpreting ‘big picture’ economic and financial trends.

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