Word has it that the framing of the budget, due to be handed down by Treasurer Josh Frydenberg the day after April fools day (and around 6 weeks before the election), is more problematic than usual.
Problematic because there is some mixed news on the economy that will threaten the current forecast of a return to budget surplus in 2019-20.
Housing has gone into near free-fall, both in terms of prices and new dwelling approvals. This is bad news for GDP growth. The unexpected severity of the housing slump is the key point that will see Treasury revise its forecasts for GDP growth, inflation and wages lower when the budget is handed down.
It will be impossible for Treasury to ignore the recent run of hard data, including the weakness in consumer spending and a generally downbeat tone in the recent economic news when it sets the economic parameters that will underpin its estimates of tax revenue and government spending and therefore whether the budget is in surplus or deficit.
This is the main driver for a cash rate CUT, and it'll happen soon
The prospect that interest rates will be lowered within the next few months is already starting to impact on the economy.
Around the middle of 2018, financial markets were expecting the RBA to hike official interest rates to 1.75 or 2 per cent over the course of the next 18 months or so. If proof was needed that investors and economists can get it wrong, markets are now pricing in official interest rates to be cut towards 1 per cent over the next 18 months.
The about face has been driven by a raft of disappointing news on the economy, most notably the fall in house prices, the free-fall in new dwelling building approvals and a slump in retail spending growth.
Business confidence has also taken a hit and job advertisements have been falling for eight straight months. Ongoing low inflation and increasing signs of a slowdown in the global economy have simply added to the case for this dramatic change in market pricing.