3 Nov 2021
RBA November Board Meeting -2021
Written by Chris Lioutas - PSK's Chief Investment Officer
In one of the most anticipated Reserve Bank of Australia monetary policy meetings in a while, the Board decided to:
Both were expected.
There were two key changes by the board in the meeting:
- discontinuing their yield curve control on the April 2024 government bond, a proxy for the bank’s forward guidance on rates;
- removing reference to the first rate hike being “2024 at the earliest”.
Both big changes, but both also expected given what has played out over the last couple of weeks in bond markets.
The Bank’s economic outlook
The bank downgraded its economic growth forecast for 2021 from 4% to 3% but upgraded its 2022 forecast from 4.25% to 5.5%, effectively pushing the recovery out a year. They also tipped wages growth to hit 3% over 2023, which is key given the bank has previously indicated wages growth would need to be above 3% for inflation to sustainably be within the RBA’s 2-3% band.
Correspondingly, the bank thinks unemployment will be at 4% at the end of 2023. Inflation has picked up at the headline level given higher petrol prices, prices for newly constructed homes, and disruptions in global supply chains, but the underlying inflation level is still low at 2.1%.
But they also noted that an important source of uncertainty continues to be the possibility of a further setback on the health front, persistence of the current disruptions to global supply chains, and the behaviour of wages at the lowest unemployment rate in decades (ie. does wages growth shoot up like it used to historically at very low levels of unemployment or not – e.g. technology gains).
They remained comfortable with broader financial conditions, bond and currency markets, and the housing market, whilst welcoming the banking regulator’s recent decision to increase the interest rate serviceability buffer on home loans.
The bank remains committed to maintaining highly supportive monetary conditions in order to meet their inflation target and return to full employment.
However, their comments show they’ve likely brought their expectations of a 1st rate rise from “2024 at the earliest” to sometime in the 2nd half of 2023. This will be a moving feast for both markets and the RBA, but it’s clear any decision will be data dependent whilst they continue to be patient.
Markets reacted as follows:
- Bond yields down across the curve (ie. prices up) – market had previously got ahead of itself in pricing in rate rises for 2022 (which is unlikely).
- AUD/USD – rose early in the session before falling away post the meeting
- Aussie Equities – finished lower for the day but mounted somewhat of a recovery post meeting
Nothing surprising in the announcement given what played out quite publicly over the last couple of weeks on the bond market. Higher inflation prints were always going to apply pressure to the RBA’s very easy, patient, and relaxed stance on rate rises. But we don’t think this drastically changes the path for rates going forward in light of the significant levels of household debt and the slack that remains in the labour market. The RBA will only raise rates after they have consistently met their policy objectives. Even then, they will be slow and measured, with the key question then being - what level of rates can the economy withstand – 0.75-1.25% or higher?
As always, if you have any questions or your personal circumstances have changed please do not hesitate to contact your financial adviser.