Options for effective Quantitative Easing strategy for the RBA: Bill Evans

Options for effective Quantitative Easing strategy for the RBA: Bill Evans
Bill EvansDecember 7, 2020


In last week’s note we opined that the Effective Lower Bound (ELB) for the RBA’s cash rate is 0.5% which we expected to be reached in February next year.

After that point we argued that the RBA would assess that the benefits to the currency and household cash flows from further cuts were likely to be offset by unintended consequences such as a negative impact on confidence of very low rates, financial instability, and a lowering of inflationary expectations as agents associated ultra-low rates with falling inflation.

We pointed out that our forecasts indicate that by that time, it seemed unlikely that the RBA would be satisfied that the economy was moving towards full employment, its potential growth rate, and inflation within the 2–3% band.

The RBA would also be concerned that with inflation still stuck below 2% and acknowledging that no further monetary policy action would be forthcoming, this would also encourage falling inflationary expectations as agents would sense that the RBA had run out of options.

Another risk in these circumstances might be that traders would also choose to bid up the AUD in the context of a dormant central bank.

Such a time might be appropriate for the Bank to consider unconventional monetary policies.

The Governor has publicly dismissed negative interest rates as an option but has indicated that, were the RBA to embark on a course of unconventional monetary policy, an asset purchase program would be the most likely policy option.

These programs have been used in other jurisdictions over the period 2008 to 2017.

Between 2008 and 2012 the programs were aimed at addressing disruptions in liquidity in the financial markets. They covered intervention in public sector bonds, commercial paper, agency debt, agency Mortgage Backed Securities, corporate bonds, and bank covered bonds.

From that point on, programs were aimed explicitly at monetary accommodation (with the Fed’s 2019 purchase plan to address overnight funding market issues).

In Australia’s current circumstances, given that Australian banks are flush with liquidity, any action from the RBA would be directed at monetary accommodation.

Read the full report: 'RBA options for QE Strategy' (PDF 144kb)

BILL EVANS is the Chief Economist at Westpac

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