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Posts Tagged ‘economist’

FURTHER official interest rate rises could choke off consumer spending and grind the economy to a halt, economists warn.

Herston Economics chief economist Clifford Bennett says if the Reserve Bank raises the cash rate to five per cent by year’s end, the economy would “grind to a standstill”.

The current cash rate is 4.25 per cent, after the RBA lifted the rate by a quarter of a percentage point on Tuesday in an effort to further rein in expansionary pressures.

It was the fifth monthly interest rate rise by the central bank since October last year.

“If the cash rate gets to 5 per cent … the domestic economy will grind to a standstill,” Mr Bennett said.

“We’re seeing in the Sydney press examples of them having to choose between buying groceries and paying their electricity bill and the added burden from the RBA is completely unwarranted, unnecessary and unwanted.”

RBA governor Glenn Stevens said it was appropriate to raise the cash rate towards its long-run average given that “the risk of serious economic contraction

Most economists say the average long-run cash rate is around 5 per cent.

Nomura Australia economist Stephen Roberts said rising interest rates meant consumers were paying a greater proportion of their income in servicing debt.

Data compiled by the central bank showed that when the cash rate was 3.75 per cent at the and of the December quarter of 2009, the average household was paying more than 10 per cent of its income, minus taxes and some other regular payments, on interest payments.

When the cash rate topped 18 per cent in December 1989, the average household was spending just under nine per cent of its income on interest payments.

The figures also show that in December quarter of 1989, household debt was slightly less than half household yearly income.

Twenty years later it was equal to one and a half times an average household’s yearly income.

“That data is from fourth quarter (2009) and you have to remember we’ve had two more interest rate rises already,” Mr Roberts said.

He said a lower interest rate of 3.75 per cent to 4 per cent would be more appropriate given the current difference between the cash rate and the interest rates of major lenders.

Official economic data now points to a slowing economy, with building approvals, employment and retail sales data for March all coming in under market expectations.

Mr Bennett said the data suggested Australia’s economic performance post the global financial crisis was weaker than first thought.

“When you look at the domestic economy, there are patchy elements,” he said.

“There are storm clouds on the horizon.”

Source  :  www.news.com.au

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West Australians expect the biggest pay rises of any workers in the country, believing the global recession is over and the mining boom has arrived.

A report by Westpac has found 14 per cent of West Australians expect a pay rise of at least 8 per cent over the coming year, while another 21 per cent think they’ll get a rise of between 4 per cent and 8 per cent.

It is the highest proportion of workers in any State who think they will be rewarded with a wage rise two or three times the rate of inflation.

And in a sign of the confidence of WA workers, just 0.4 per cent of those surveyed say they will have a pay cut – the lowest proportion of any State. By contrast, more than 6 per cent of South Australians fear they will have their pay cut while just 19 per cent expect a pay rise of at least 4 per cent.

More than 35 per cent of those aged between 18 and 24 expect a pay rise of at least 8 per cent compared to less than 10 per cent of people aged 55-64. While 35 per cent of respondents who earn more than $100,000 a year expect at least an 8 per cent rise, less than half of those earning under $40,000 expect any pay rise.

CommSec chief equities economist Craig James said that despite signs of optimism, Australian consumers were increasingly conservative. While household disposable income had grown almost 8 per cent last year, close to the fastest rate in 19 years, consumer spending had lifted just 2.2 per cent or the slowest in 16 years.

“And then there is the news that 70 per cent of Commonwealth Bank home loan customers are ahead in their loan repayments – making higher repayments than they need to,” he said. “How long this new conservatism continues remains anybody’s guess.”

Source  :  www.thewest.com.au

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Further increases in petrol prices are predicted as Australia’s unleaded benchmark price scaled a 10-month high of almost $100 a barrel in the past week.  

While the continued signs of a recovery in the global economy had been great news for share market investors, the same could not be said for motorists, Commonwealth Securities economist Savanth Sebastian said.

The Australian Institute of Petroleum’s weekly report showed the unleaded petrol prices rose by an average 1.9 cents per litre in the past week to 124.5 cents.

The average metropolitan price rose by 2.6 cents a litre to 124.2 cents, while the regional average price rose by 0.7 cents to 125.1 cents.

“The glut of oil inventory on global markets is not putting downward pressure on prices,” Mr Sebastian said, adding traders and investors were focussed on the recovery story.

Even a strong Australian dollar has not been able to significantly absorb the rally in oil prices.

This resulted in the benchmark for Australian unleaded petrol – the Singapore gasoline price – rising to a 10-month high of $99.70 from $97.33 in the past week.

“If there is any consolation for motorists, it is that the rise in pump prices is likely to be rather sedate,” Mr Sebastian said.

“The petrol price will rise over the next fortnight, but only modestly, up around three to five cents a litre.”

Source  :  www.thewest.com.au

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The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA)  is due to announce its decision on interest rates at 2.30pm (AEST) on Tuesday.
The economists surveyed by AAP said the cash rate will remain at a 49 year low of three per cent after the central bank’s board meeting on August 4.

“The RBA appears to have no intention of reducing the cash rate any further,” said Matt Robinson, an economist with Moody’s Economy.com. reserve_bank_400

“I think a housing market bubble is starting to form, and given the sentiment that governor Stevens expressed in his speech to the Australian Business Economists, that is something that the RBA is watching and that would be a reason for them to maybe hike interest rates earlier.”

There were doubts about whether the RBA would be deterred from raising rates if unemployment continued to rise.

The RBA has kept the cash rate at 3 per cent for three consecutive months.

Michael Turner, an economist with financial markets research group 4Cast, said the prospect of rising unemployment would mean the cental bank could keep rates steady until well into 2010.

“We’re still of the opinion the worse is yet to come and things look better now than they did a couple of months ago, which is why we’re now calling it on hold (in August) rather than going lower,” he said.

“But we still think there’s enough of a story in the lack of utilisation in the economy at the moment that price pressure might be moderate enough at 3 per cent.

“We’re currently chewing on a rate rise in 2010 at the moment. It’s possible, but not until late 2010.”

If you look at the split in the market or the way the debate was being conducted it was very much the idea that the RBA isn’t going to hike because they never have while the jobless rate has been rising.

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