Interest rates rise … again

Published 1:30pm 7 February 2023

Interest rates rise … again
Words by Kylie Knight

The Reserve Bank of Australia has today lifted interest rates by 25 basis points from 3.1 per cent to 3.35 per cent in a bid to ease red-hot inflation, which is at 7.8 per cent.

It’s the ninth rise since May 2022 and follows the RBA board’s monthly meeting today.

After previously saying that rates would stay low until 2024, the Reserve Bank's move today is a further blow to mortgage holders and is designed to curb spending.

RBA Governor Philip Lowe said in a statement: 

"Global inflation remains very high. It is, however, moderating in response to lower energy prices, the resolution of supply-chain problems and the tightening of monetary policy. It will be some time, though, before inflation is back to target rates. The outlook for the global economy remains subdued, with below average growth expected this year and next.

"In Australia, CPI inflation over the year to the December quarter was 7.8 per cent, the highest since 1990. In underlying terms, inflation was 6.9 per cent, which was higher than expected. Global factors explain much of this high inflation, but strong domestic demand is adding to the inflationary pressures in a number of areas of the economy.

"Inflation is expected to decline this year due to both global factors and slower growth in domestic demand. The central forecast is for CPI inflation to decline to 4¾ per cent this year and to around 3 per cent by mid-2025. Medium-term inflation expectations remain well anchored, and it is important that this remains the case.

"The Board recognises that monetary policy operates with a lag and that the full effect of the cumulative increase in interest rates is yet to be felt in mortgage payments. There is uncertainty around the timing and extent of the expected slowdown in household spending. Some households have substantial savings buffers, but others are experiencing a painful squeeze on their budgets due to higher interest rates and the increase in the cost of living." 

Despite recognising a lag in the effects of interest rate rises, Mr Lowe says more rises are likely. 

"The Board expects that further increases in interest rates will be needed over the months ahead to ensure that inflation returns to target and that this period of high inflation is only temporary. In assessing how much further interest rates need to increase, the Board will be paying close attention to developments in the global economy, trends in household spending and the outlook for inflation and the labour market. The Board remains resolute in its determination to return inflation to target and will do what is necessary to achieve that," he said.

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