Tuesday 7 October 2008

Cut! Cut! Cut!

I think everybody (except those on the board of the Reserve Bank) were surprised when the RBA announced a massive 1.0% cut in the official interest rate. Nearly everyone in the media had been predicting that the RBA would follow up last month's 0.25% cut with another cut, but they were expecting the RBA would perhaps double their usual adjustment by making a 0.5% cut. The decision to cut by a massive 1.0% suggests a couple of things:
1. That the RBA, having only stopped INCREASING rates with last month's cut, was scrambling to "get ahead of the curve" now that the world economy looked like going pear-shaped in a hurry
2. That with the recent plunge in oil and commodity prices they are no longer worried about the inflation rate staying above the target 2%-3% band for long. There had always been a few that the RBA shouldn't have been too concerned about the part of the inflation surge that was purely extrinsic (caused by commodity and oil price spikes) as it was a one-off (like the introduction of the GST). Now it looks as if at least part of that inflation component will be unwound as commodity prices drop back to sustainable levels.
3. That they have started to worry about just how robust the Australian economy can be when the EU and USA are falling into recession. The view that the Australian economy would continue to grow due to the expansion of the Chinese economy assumes that the Chinese economy will continue to grow strongly even if the EU and USA are in a prolonged recession, due to domestic demand. However, domestic Chinese demand will surely slow as exports drop off and inventory starts to accumulate.

The big banks appear to be passing on around 0.75% of the interest cut, which will benefit our cash flow. We have around half of our property loans at a fixed rate for a few more years, but the half that is at variable rate will benefit from the rate cut. 0.75% interest rate cut will trim our interest payments by around $230 each month.

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