Peter Costello says 2020 rate cuts won't do much

Peter Costello says 2020 rate cuts won't do much
Peter Costello says 2020 rate cuts won't do much

Future Fund chairman and former Treasurer Peter Costello has urged the Reserve Bank to refrain from cutting official interest rates to a new record low out of fear it could reignite a housing price bubble in Sydney and Melbourne following a “welcome correction” in home values over the past year.

As the RBA board prepares to meet next week for the first time since ­December, Mr Costello told The Australian, the central bank had to be “very careful” it did not risk further pumping up house prices by cutting official interest rates, which he said were failing to stimulate the economy."

He made the comments ahead of the latest Consumer Price Index – the main measure of inflation in Australia – which rose by 0.7 per cent in the December quarter, slightly above expectations. In seasonally adjusted terms the CPI rose by 0.6 per cent. The annual rate of headline inflation lifted from 1.7 per cent to 1.8 per cent. The Aussie dollar rose slightly against the greenback in response.

His comments echoed what Mr Costello said late last year, that interest rate cuts would have a limited impact on the economy.

"What will a rate cut do for the economy? In my view, not much," he said.

“We’ve already got a cash rate of 1 per cent, suppose it goes to 0.75 per cent, suppose it goes to 0.5 per cent. Áll these people who are holding off spending or borrowing or investing are going to say ‘I wouldn’t have done it at 1 per cent, but I’m going out there now that it’s 0.75 per cent?’ I don’t think that’s going to happen,” Mr Costello emphasized.

Peter Costello who was Treasurer for nearly 12 years during the Howard government, said he thought a "very big part" of the RBA's thinking was the prospect that if other countries cut interest rates, Australia would lose the stimulatory impact of having a lower exchange rate.

He described RBA governor Philip Lowe’s speech earlier this week, in which he said the RBA did not want Australia’s exchange rate to go up, as “very interesting”.

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