Experts forecast more economic stimulus and ASX falls:

Staff reporterApril 5, 20200 min read

Despite spending more than $320 billion in response to COVID-19, experts say even more money will be needed from the government, according to the latest Finder survey.

Results from the Finder RBA Cash Rate Survey™ this week, show that experts and economists are unconvinced that the federal government’s stimulus packages will be sufficient to see the country through to the end of the year.

Three-quarters (73%, 16) of respondents said they expect another stimulus package will be needed. 

A similar number (75%, 15) who weighed in on the Australian shares market, expect it to fall further this year.

Graham Cooke, insights manager at Finder, said as hard as it is to believe, 16.4% of the country’s nearly $2 trillion GDP may still not be enough.

“If the aim is to build a bridge to the other side of this crisis, there might still be some materials that need to be purchased.

“On top of trying to close the gap, this pandemic has created, the near-40% loss in value of Australia’s share market may not be over just yet. 

“With the full effects of coronavirus still to be understood, expect the high volatility we have seen in the shares market of late to continue for months.”

Cash rate to stay put, but QE on cards

All 23 economists and experts surveyed expect the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) to hold the cash rate at 0.25% on Tuesday.

“Most economists highlighted that the RBA will treat 0.25% as if it is 0% and have no appetite to cut further. 

“This leaves only one effective tool in the RBA’s armoury: quantitative easing,” Cooke said.

Quantitative easing (QE) is a process where the central bank creates new cash to decrease, or ease, the cost of borrowing.

In Finder’s December 2019 survey, nearly half (46%) of experts predicted it was likely we’d see QE in 2020, well before there was any concern of a global pandemic or a lockdown. 

RBA governor Phillip Lowe insisted at the time that the federal bank had “no appetite” for QE.

Shane Oliver of AMP Capital said history has shown the folly of going to negative interest rates in other countries.

"0.25% has long been identified by the RBA as the lower bound. 

“There is little benefit to be gained by going to zero or negative based on the experience of Europe and Japan," Oliver said.

Economic Sentiment Tracker 

Results from Finder’s Economic Sentiment Tracker, which gauges five key indicators – housing affordability, employment, wage growth, cost of living and household debt – dropped to new lows across most metrics.

Cooke said negative sentiment on household debt, wage growth and employment are at 62%, 86% and 100%, respectively.

“The sentiment on employment is our first-ever 100% negative response on any economic metric. The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a sledgehammer to the economy, and there is no end in sight,” he said

Cooke said there was one result that portends good news for homebuyers.

“The social gathering restrictions have had a large positive effect on housing affordability.

“With estate agents obliged to take viewings by appointment only, and auctions forced online, downward pressure on the housing market is inevitable. 

“With both fixed and variable rates at record lows, anyone who has a deposit saved up right now could be in a very powerful position.”

The rise in positivity around housing affordability – at its highest level since last June – has pulled the average of positivity across all five metrics higher than last month.

“Before the pandemic hit, the worry was that housing prices were continuing to rise even as wages, household debt and cost of living didn’t improve. 

“Now, after a global business disruption unrivalled in recent history, the cost of housing might just come back into sight for some Aussies looking to buy,” Cooke said.

Staff reporter

Economic Stimulus
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