The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) has this week dismissed the idea that Australia will need any adjustment in its monetary policy in the short-term, saying that there is “no strong case” to do so.
The cash rate has remained at the record-low level of 1.5% for the 25th consecutive month.
With the release of the minutes of the RBA monthly meeting on monetary policy, a number of key economic indicators eased any worries that may have occurred about a lack of a rate rise.
The minutes noted the levels of growth currently taking place worldwide, even in the face of an escalating trade standoff between the US and China.
They also cited great conditions for Australian businesses to thrive at home. Unemployment is falling, and the housing market is slowly coming down to a more affordable rate for many Australians.
As such, RBA said that there would be no need to bump up the rate, given that the strategy currently in place will “continue to support economic growth.” It also said that the current rate would enable “further progress to be made in reducing the unemployment rate and retuning inflation toward the midpoint of the target.”
Based on these current conditions, it is likely that any further moves will lean toward an increase in the rate rather than the other way around. The board also agreed that since “progress on unemployment and inflation was likely to be gradual,” there was no case to make a change anytime soon.
In a move that displayed the bank being “a source of stability and confidence while this progress unfolds,” RBA said that it is prudent to keep the cash rate the same and allow the market to eke out as much positivity from current conditions as possible.
According to the minutes, there is unlikely to be any cash rate rise unless worrying trends in both unemployment and inflation develop, although neither should happen in the short term.
Another reason attributed to the unchanging rate is the decision by three of the four major Australian lenders to deliver an out-of-cycle mortgage rate rise, which saw Westpac, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA), and ANZ opt to bump up their rates.
The Royal Commission inquiry into financial misconduct across the sector revealed a litany of negligent decisions from inside departments that led to a drop in trust, loss of key executives and a worrying insight into the mortgage lending sector, which could deliver some uncertainty to the economy.
RBA has therefore decided to try and maintain as much stability as possible in its decision-making and see how the markets react to the choice of major lenders to bump up mortgage lending rates, particularly the effect that it will have on household affordability for the average Australian. It is not yet known whether the moves will affect inflation significantly.
Tim Lawless, Head of Research at CoreLogic, said that he is not expecting a change in cash rates in the next year because of the mortgage rate hikes. He added that RBA may not make any adjustments “until at least January 2020.” With current economic conditions set to hold steady, Lawless said that he expects “lenders to remain hypercompetitive.”