RBA tipped to cut interest rates tomorrow as coronavirus outbreak continues to roil global economy
Wednesday 18 March 2020
Amid fears the coronavirus outbreak will hasten a recession, the Reserve Bank will meet ahead of schedule tomorrow, with analysts expecting interest rates to drop to a fresh low of 0.25%.
“The RBA is under extreme pressure, following the US Federal Reserve’s extraordinary measure of slashing their official rate by 100 basis points,” said Mozo’s banking expert Peter Marshall.
“Other central banks around the world are implementing similar measures where they can, so it’s not surprising that the RBA is readying to take action.”
In a statement issued on Monday, the RBA said it would soon be introducing a bond purchasing program to protect against further economic fallout.
This comes after the US Federal Reserve decided to slash its benchmark interest rate to near zero and relaunch its GFC-era quantitative easing program.
In a move that will prove instructive to central bankers around the world, the Fed will purchase Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities totalling $700 billion in a bid to flush the American economy with cash.
Going down the same path would be a first for Australia. While RBA Governor Philip Lowe gestured towards the possibility months ago, he made clear QE would only be implemented if things were dire.
Details of the plan will be announced on Thursday.
Minutes from the RBA’s March 3 meeting show the board recognised the potential of the virus to derail economic activity, “particularly in the education, transport and tourism sectors.”
“The uncertainty associated with the outbreak was also likely to affect household spending and business investment in coming months,” they added.
Members acknowledged that even before the virus had begun to roil the domestic economy, progress towards full employment and the board’s inflation target of 2-3% had been sluggish.
They also considered the chance more rate cuts would further inflate property prices, but ultimately decided that a lower cash rate was necessary to get the economy back up and running again.
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