RBA SoMP provides important insights into the policy outlook – Westpac

Bill Evans, analyst at Westpac, points out that the RBA has openly discussed the risks from very low rates and points out that other policies can follow.

Key Quotes

“The Reserve Bank has released its quarterly Statement on Monetary Policy (SMP). The two key areas of most interest in the Statement are around further policy insights and the RBA’s growth, unemployment and inflation outlook.”

“The discussion on policy was particularly interesting. The Overview for the Statement, which we expect largely reflects the Governor’s own views, provides the most open analysis of policy options that we have seen.”

“Commentary on the current policy position signals that rates are almost certain to remain on hold at the December Board meeting. Since the decision in November was part of a plan to allow time to assess the effects of the recent easing of monetary policy as well as global developments, no doubt the RBA’s observation that the low point in global pessimism may have passed is an important aspect of the current policy standing.”

“On balance, Westpac believes that its assessment that with the unemployment rate still well above the RBA’s target (4.5%) and the RBA seeing that there is a balance between the benefits and costs of lower rates, our view that 0.5% is the effective lower bound and that some transition to unconventional policies is likely is supported by this SMP.”

“The second point of interest in the SMP is around the RBA’s forecasts. As we anticipated in our preview to this SMP, the key growth forecasts for 2020 of 2.8% which was adopted in August, has been retained in this SMP. That is much higher than Westpac’s forecast of 2.4%.”

“The November SMP provides the clearest insight yet into the RBA’s thinking about policy in 2020. The acceptance that, after rates reach a certain threshold, other policy options “might come into play” is quite significant. The recognition that asset prices are an additional channel of monetary policy and are assessed to be a positive channel is also important.”

“The overview of the RBA’s growth outlook, while largely unchanged from August, still appears to be overly optimistic, particularly around the residential construction cycle and business investment. On the other hand, the downbeat view on wages, inflation and the unemployment rate make it clear that the RBA does not believe that its job is done and so we can expect further policy action from the RBA in 2020. Westpac continues to expect the RBA to cut to 0.50% in February 2020 and to move to unconventional policies at an appropriate time.”

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