The vast majority of economists expect the Reserve Bank (RBA) to hike for the first time in eleven years at today’s meeting.
But while most see a 15 basis-point move to 0.25%, as do money markets, some zealots expect a first move of a whopping 40 basis points magnitude.
The Australian Retirement Trust’s chief economist Brian Parker expects the central bank to lift rates by 25 basis points at every meeting this year.
However, given that the central bank has no reputation for taking ballsy moves, John Hawkins a senior lecturer at the University of Canberra suspects the RBA’s waiting game may continue for a while yet.
What will also clearly weigh on the minds of the RBA today are the sensitivities around hiking rates during a federal election campaign.
With one eye on future inflation, Hawkins thinks the RBA may be more comfortable with the market doing some of the heavy lifting itself.
What the RBA may be to second-guessing, notes the Canberra academic is a likely drop in inflation in the June quarter, with oil prices falling and the budget petrol price relief cutting prices by a further 22 cents a litre.
Hawkins also reminds investors that some supply chain issues, and skilled labour shortages created by the pandemic are expected to ease, with the recent ascent of the A$ helping to contain the price of imports.
“Unless there’s a significant pickup in wage growth, inflation may start to come back down of its own accord, without the need for the Reserve Bank to push up rates,” Hawkins noted.
Be that as it may, some economists believe the bigger issue at play is that the time for emergency level interest rates of 0.10% has long since passed us by.
Westpac’s chief economist Bill Evan’s is part of the cohort who believe last week’s inflation reality check of 5.1% is sufficient evidence to conclude rates will be on the move in May.
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