In the groove inflation rate means RBA on hold

Wed, 23 Jul 2014  |  

It seems the markets and a gaggle of commentators are getting a little excited about the June quarter CPI which showed headline inflation at 3.0 per cent annual terms and the underlying inflation measure at 2.8 per cent. At face vale, both are near or at the top of the RBA 2 to 3 per cent target band and without any further analysis would suggest there is something of an inflation issue in the economy.

But when one bothers to dig into the numbers, it is clear that inflation is probably slowing and one-offs have been pushing those annual figures higher.

In six monthly annualised terms, the path for underlying inflation over the past two years has been:

H1 2014: 2.5%
H2 2013: 3.1%
H1 2013: 2.1%
H2 2012: 2.7%

There was a bit of a lift in the second half of 2013, which now appears to be a quirk, perhaps influenced by the AUD dipping through much of 2013 and adding to some import prices. Obviously that mini-spike will drop out over the next two quarters which suggests a gentle pull-back in the annual inflation rate is likely by year end.

The August RBA Board meeting is likely to rest easy on the inflation front, comfortable in the knowledge that underlying inflation remains around the mid-point of its target, plus or minus a tenth or two.

This means that interest rates will be on hold a little longer. It could well be the case that with inflation a neutral issue, other key indicators will determine when and which direction rates next move.

This is where the next few labour force releases are so critical. It would be hard to see the RBA remaining on hold if the unemployment rate rose to 6.25 per cent and wages growth remained anchored below 3 per cent in the near term.

The Australian dollar remains an issue for the RBA, especially with the resumption of the commodity price fall that is linked to a good but not great picture for the world economy. Not that a rate cut would drive the dollar lower, but it would help guard against the damage it is doing to the economy.

The fly in the jam jar is house prices. They still seem to be chugging along at a solid double digit growth pace and any move to cut interest rates may underpin a move towards a particularly uncomfortable rate of house price appreciation. Maybe non-monetary policy policies need to be considered to address this increasingly uncomfortable lift in house prices.

All of which comes back to the good news on inflation – it is not a concern in either direction at the moment. With the Australian dollar still high, wages growth still low, it is likely to remain a neutral issue for the remainder of 2014.

comments powered by Disqus

THE LATEST FROM THE KOUK

Are falling house prices masking something more worrying?

Wed, 29 Jun 2016

This article first appeared on the Yahoo7 Finance website at this link: https://au.finance.yahoo.com/news/house-prices-are-falling-232920240.html 

-----------------------------------------

Are falling house prices masking something more worrying?

For Australia as a whole, the fall is small, at just 0.2 per cent in the March quarter according to official data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

This nationwide picture masks something a little more worrying across a number of cities which are showing more significant price falls. This means some buyers are risking negative equity in their house, which means that the value of the mortgage is larger than the value of the property.

In Perth, where the unemployment rate has almost doubled over recent years, the ABS data show housing prices falling 4.8 per cent since the peak in the first half of 2014. Prices are now back to the level of early 2013 meaning that those who have bought a house in the last three years in Perth have either only just broken even – at best – or have lost money.

Australia must be ready to pump cash into the economy if Brexit bites

Wed, 29 Jun 2016

This article first appeared on The Guardian web site at this address: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/jun/27/australia-must-consider-fiscal-stimulus-if-brexit-crisis-hurts-the-gobal-economy 

---------------------------------------------

Australia must be ready to pump cash into the economy if Brexit bites

Brexit is important for Australian policymakers. Whichever side wins the 2 July federal election will need to have policy pragmatism to deal with the potential fallout.

With the British people electing to permanently destroy their wealth, incomes and living standards by voting to leave the European Union, global economic risks have intensified. One only has to witness the savage reaction in financial markets as it became apparent the “Leave” vote was winning.

There were several trillion dollars of value lost to global stock markets, the yield on government bonds fell to never-before-seen levels and currency markets went into meltdown, with the British pound dropping more than 10% to reach its lowest level since 1985.

Australia will not be immune from the fallout from the Brexit vote.