RBA Ready to Slash Interest Rates Further if Needed


Further monetary easing may well be required, RBA Governor Philip Lowe said in a speech on Tuesday, as the central bank prepares for a policy meeting next week. He noted that policymakers are ready to ease monetary policy further if needed to support sustainable economic growth and that an extended period of low interest rates will be required in Australia.

Excerpts from the Address to the Armidale Business Chamber:

On the international front, as I discussed earlier, interest rates around the world are low and they are moving lower. There are many reasons for this, but the central reason is that the global appetite to save is elevated relative to the global appetite to use those savings to invest in new productive capital. When lots of people want to save and there is not much demand for those savings, savers earn low returns.

We live in an interconnected world, which means that we cannot completely insulate ourselves from long-lasting shifts in global interest rates. Our floating exchange rate gives us a degree of monetary independence, but we can't ignore structural shifts in global interest rates. If we did seek to ignore these shifts, our exchange rate would appreciate, which, in the current environment, would be unhelpful in terms of achieving both the inflation target and full employment.

As I have spoken about on other occasions, the key to more normal interest rates globally is addressing the factors that are leading to a depressed appetite to invest relative to the appetite to save. Whether or not this will happen, time will tell. But as a small open economy, we have to take the world and global interest rates as we find them.

On the domestic front, there has been an accumulation of evidence over recent times that the economy can sustain lower rates of unemployment and underemployment than previously thought likely. The flexibility of labour supply also means that strong rates of employment growth can be sustained without inflation becoming a problem. These are both positive developments.

Inflation has been below the 2–3 per cent medium-term target range for some time now for the reasons that I spoke about earlier. Looking ahead, inflation is expected to pick up, but to remain below the midpoint of the target range for some time to come.

The decisions to ease monetary policy in June and July were taken to help make more assured progress towards full employment and the inflation target. Further monetary easing may well be required. While we are at a gentle turning point and expect growth to pick up, the strength and durability of this pick-up remains to be seen.

Regardless of the short-term outlook for monetary policy, the point about the solution to low global rates is relevant here in Australia too. We will all be better off if businesses have the confidence to expand, invest, innovate and hire people. Given Australia's strong fundamentals, this is not out of our reach, but it does require constant effort.

At our Board meeting next week, we will again take stock of the evidence. It is nevertheless likely that an extended period of low interest rates will be required in Australia to make progress in reducing unemployment and achieving more assured progress towards the inflation target. The Board is prepared to ease monetary policy further if needed to support sustainable growth in the economy, make further progress towards full employment, and achieve the inflation target over time.

RBA Ready to Slash Interest Rates Further if Needed


RBA | Joana Ferreira | joana.ferreira@tradingeconomics.com
9/24/2019 11:48:38 AM