9 August 2021, 9:25 pm EST
No reports today hinting at any changes in the Reserve Bank of Australia’s decision to reduce weekly bond purchases from AUD5 billion to AUD4 billion. This contraction in economic stimulus comes as Sydney, Australia’s largest city, and Melbourne have entered lockdowns. The delta variant outbreak is viewed by some as so serious that calls for steel fabricated rings be placed around the city of Melbourne, for example.
The RBA notes that Australia’s move toward economic recovery has been stymied by the delta outbreak. In its August 2021 Statement on Monetary Policy, the RBA found that, “The near-term outlook is highly uncertain and dependent on health outcomes. Further large outbreaks are possible, but the need for extended lockdowns should diminish as vaccination coverage increases. The longer the lockdowns continue, however, the more likely it is that jobs are lost.”
The RBA expects recent lockdowns to be less onerous on the economy when compared to lockdowns in the first half of last year. This is because businesses have adjusted their models to compensate for changes in consumption.
Consumer price index (CPI) inflation was measured at 3.8% last June due in part to reversals in declining prices as the economy started an upward climb. When volatile items such as petrol, fruits and vegetables are removed from the estimate, inflation was around 1.75%.
The RBA reported strengthening exports with increases in prices for its commodities. The RBA noted that the AUD continues to depreciate in spite of high prices. The RBA describes yields and spreads on corporate bonds and interest rates as low.
The RBA expects interest rates to continue on an upward path for advanced economies given bottlenecks in supply chains and rapid re-openings. Interestingly, the RBA did not specify that such increases would happen in the Australian economy.
On the other hand, Australia may see increases in interest rates as it tapers its bond purchases.
As of 5 August, the yield on the Australian government 2-year bond was .03%. Bloomberg reports two-year yields on U.S. Treasuries at 0.21%. As of 9:21 pm EST, Reuters reports the AUD/USD exchange rate at 0.7330 USD.
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