Tag Archives: cash rate

Statement by Philip Lowe, Governor: Monetary Policy Decision

At its meeting today, the Board decided to maintain the current policy settings, including the targets of 10 basis points for the cash rate and the yield on the 3-year Australian Government bond, as well as the parameters of the Term Funding Facility and the government bond purchase program.

The outlook for the global economy has improved over recent months due to the ongoing rollout of vaccines. While the path ahead is likely to remain bumpy and uneven, there are better prospects for a sustained recovery than there were a few months ago. Global trade has picked up and commodity prices have increased over recent months. Even so, the recovery remains dependent on the health situation and on significant fiscal and monetary support. Inflation remains low and below central bank targets.

The positive news on vaccines together with the prospect of further significant fiscal stimulus in the United States has seen longer-term bond yields increase considerably over the past month. This increase partly reflects a lift in expected inflation over the medium term to rates that are closer to central banks’ targets. Reflecting these global developments, there have been similar movements in Australian bond markets. Changes in bond yields globally have been associated with volatility in some other asset prices, including foreign exchange rates. The Australian dollar remains in the upper end of the range of recent years.

In Australia, the economic recovery is well under way and has been stronger than was earlier expected. There has been strong growth in employment and a welcome decline in the unemployment rate to 6.4 per cent. Retail spending has been strong and most of the households and businesses that had deferred loan repayments have now recommenced repayments. The recovery is expected to continue, with the central scenario being for GDP to grow by 3½ per cent over both 2021 and 2022. GDP is expected to return to its end-2019 level by the middle of this year.

Wage and price pressures are subdued and are expected to remain so for some years. The economy is still operating with considerable spare capacity and the unemployment rate remains higher than it has been for some years. Further progress in reducing spare capacity is expected, but it will be some time before the labour market is tight enough to generate wage increases that are consistent with achieving the inflation target. In the central scenario, the unemployment rate will still be around 6 per cent at the end of this year and 5½ per cent at the end of 2022. In underlying terms, inflation is expected to be 1¼ per cent over 2021 and 1½ per cent over 2022. CPI inflation is expected to rise temporarily because of the reversal of some COVID-19-related price reductions.

The current monetary policy settings are continuing to help the economy by keeping financing costs very low, contributing to a lower exchange rate than otherwise, and supporting the supply of credit and household and business balance sheets. Together, monetary and fiscal policy are supporting the recovery in aggregate demand and the pick-up in employment.

Lending rates for most borrowers are at record lows and housing prices across Australia have increased recently. Housing credit growth to owner-occupiers has picked up, but investor and business credit growth remain weak. Lending standards remain sound and it is important that they remain so in an environment of rising housing prices and low interest rates.

The Bank remains committed to the 3-year yield target and recently purchased bonds to support the target and will continue to do so as necessary. Also, bond purchases under the bond purchase program were brought forward this week to assist with the smooth functioning of the market. The Bank is prepared to make further adjustments to its purchases in response to market conditions. To date, a cumulative $74 billion of government bonds issued by the Australian Government and the states and territories have been purchased under the initial $100 billion program. A further $100 billion will be purchased following the completion of the initial program and the Bank is prepared to do more if that is necessary. Authorised deposit-taking institutions have drawn $91 billion under the Term Funding Facility and have access to a further $94 billion. Since the start of 2020, the RBA’s balance sheet has increased by around $175 billion.

The Board remains committed to maintaining highly supportive monetary conditions until its goals are achieved. The Board will not increase the cash rate until actual inflation is sustainably within the 2 to 3 per cent target range. For this to occur, wages growth will have to be materially higher than it is currently. This will require significant gains in employment and a return to a tight labour market. The Board does not expect these conditions to be met until 2024 at the earliest.

Statement by Philip Lowe, Governor: Monetary Policy Decision

RBA Board decided to maintain the targets of 10 basis points for the cash rate and the yield on the 3-year Australian Government bond, as well as the parameters of the Term Funding Facility. It also decided to purchase an additional $100 billion of bonds issued by the Australian Government and states and territories when the current bond purchase program is completed in mid-April. These additional purchases will be at the current rate of $5 billion a week.

The outlook for the global economy has improved over recent months due to the development of vaccines. While the path ahead is likely to remain bumpy and uneven, there are better prospects for a sustained recovery than there were a few months ago. That recovery, however, remains dependent on the health situation and on significant fiscal and monetary support. Inflation remains low and below central bank targets.

In Australia, the economic recovery is well under way and has been stronger than was earlier expected. There has been strong growth in employment and a welcome decline in the unemployment rate to 6.6 per cent. Retail spending has been strong and many of the households and businesses that had deferred loan repayments have now recommenced repayments. These outcomes have been underpinned by Australia’s success on the health front and the very significant fiscal and monetary support.

The recovery is expected to continue, with the central scenario being for GDP to grow by 3½ per cent over both 2021 and 2022. GDP is now expected to return to its end-2019 level by the middle of this year. Even so, the economy is expected to operate with considerable spare capacity for some time to come. The unemployment rate remains higher than it has been for the past 2 decades and while it is expected to decline, the central scenario is for unemployment to be around 6 per cent at the end of this year and 5½ per cent at the end of 2022.

Wage and price pressures remain subdued. The CPI increased by just 0.9 per cent over the year to the December quarter and wages (as measured by the Wage Price Index) are increasing at the slowest rate on record. Both inflation and wages growth are expected to pick up, but to do so only gradually, with both remaining below 2 per cent over the next couple of years. In underlying terms, inflation is expected to be 1¼ per cent over 2021 and 1½ per cent over 2022.

In addition to the central scenario, the Board considered upside and downside scenarios related to the virus and the rollout of vaccines. Disappointing news on the health front would delay the recovery and the expected progress on reducing unemployment. On the other hand, it is possible that further positive health outcomes would boost consumer spending and investment, leading to stronger growth than is currently expected. An important near-term issue is how households and businesses adjust to the tapering of some of the COVID support measures and to what extent they will use their stronger balance sheets to support spending.

Financial conditions remain highly accommodative, with lending rates for most borrowers at record lows and asset prices, including housing prices, mostly increasing. Housing credit growth to owner-occupiers has picked up recently, but investor and business credit growth remain weak. The exchange rate has appreciated and is in the upper end of the range of recent years.

The Board remains committed to maintaining highly supportive monetary conditions until its goals are achieved. Given the current outlook for inflation and jobs, this is still some way off. The current monetary policy settings are continuing to help the economy by lowering financing costs for borrowers, contributing to a lower exchange rate than otherwise, supporting the supply of credit needed for the recovery and supporting household and business balance sheets. The decision to extend the bond purchase program will ensure a continuation of this monetary support.

To date, authorised deposit-taking institutions have drawn $86 billion under the Term Funding Facility and have access to a further $99 billion. The Bank has bought a cumulative $52 billion of government bonds issued by the Australian Government and the states and territories under the bond purchase program. It has not purchased bonds in support of the 3-year yield target since early December. Since the start of 2020, the RBA’s balance sheet has increased by around $160 billion.

The Board will not increase the cash rate until actual inflation is sustainably within the 2 to 3 per cent target range. For this to occur, wages growth will have to be materially higher than it is currently. This will require significant gains in employment and a return to a tight labour market. The Board does not expect these conditions to be met until 2024 at the earliest.

Statement by Philip Lowe, RBA Governor: Monetary Policy Decision AUD

At its meeting today, the Board decided on a package of further measures to support job creation and the recovery of the Australian economy from the pandemic. With Australia facing a period of high unemployment, the Reserve Bank is committed to doing what it can to support the creation of jobs. Encouragingly, the recent economic data have been a bit better than expected and the near-term outlook is better than it was three months ago. Even so, the recovery is still expected to be bumpy and drawn out and the outlook remains dependent on successful containment of the virus.

The elements of today’s package are as follows:

  • a reduction in the cash rate target to 0.1 per cent
  • a reduction in the target for the yield on the 3-year Australian Government bond to around 0.1 per cent
  • a reduction in the interest rate on new drawings under the Term Funding Facility to 0.1 per cent
  • a reduction in the interest rate on Exchange Settlement balances to zero
  • the purchase of $100 billion of government bonds of maturities of around 5 to 10 years over the next six months.

Under the program to purchase longer-dated bonds, the Bank will buy bonds issued by the Australian Government and by the states and territories, with an expected 80/20 split. These bonds will be bought in the secondary market through regular auctions, with the first auction to be held this Thursday for Australian Government securities. Further details of the auctions are provided in the accompanying market notice.

The Reserve Bank of Australia remains prepared to purchase bonds in whatever quantity is required to achieve the 3-year yield target. Any bonds purchased to support this target would be in addition to the $100 billion bond purchase program.

At today’s meeting, the Board also considered an updated set of economic forecasts. The global economy has been recovering from the initial virus outbreaks, with the recovery most advanced in China. Even so, output in most countries remains well short of pre-pandemic levels and recent virus outbreaks pose a downside risk to the outlook, particularly in Europe.

In Australia, the economic recovery is under way and positive GDP growth is now expected in the September quarter, despite the restrictions in Victoria. It will, however, take some time to reach the pre-pandemic level of output. In the central scenario, GDP growth is expected to be around 6 per cent over the year to June 2021 and 4 per cent in 2022. The unemployment rate is expected to remain high, but to peak at a little below 8 per cent, rather than the 10 per cent expected previously. At the end of 2022, the unemployment rate is forecast to be around 6 per cent.

This extended period of high unemployment and excess capacity is expected to result in subdued increases in wages and prices over coming years. In underlying terms, inflation is forecast to be 1 per cent in 2021 and 1½ per cent in 2022. In the most recent quarter, year-ended CPI inflation was 0.7 per cent and, in underlying terms, inflation was 1¼ per cent.

The Board views addressing the high rate of unemployment as an important national priority. Today’s policy package, together with the earlier measures by the RBA, will help in this effort. The RBA’s response is complementary to the significant steps taken by the Australian Government, including in the recent budget, to support jobs and economic growth.

The combination of the RBA’s bond purchases and lower interest rates across the yield curve will assist the recovery by: lowering financing costs for borrowers; contributing to a lower exchange rate than otherwise; and supporting asset prices and balance sheets. At the same time, the RBA’s Term Funding Facility is contributing to low funding costs and supporting the supply of credit to the economy. To date, authorised deposit-taking institutions have drawn $83 billion under this facility and have access to a further $104 billion.

Given the outlook for both employment and inflation, monetary and fiscal support will be required for some time. For its part, the Board will not increase the cash rate until actual inflation is sustainably within the 2 to 3 per cent target range. For this to occur, wages growth will have to be materially higher than it is currently. This will require significant gains in employment and a return to a tight labour market. Given the outlook, the Board is not expecting to increase the cash rate for at least three years. The Board will keep the size of the bond purchase program under review, particularly in light of the evolving outlook for jobs and inflation. The Board is prepared to do more if necessary.