■ ■ ■At its meeting today, the Board decided to leave the cash rate unchanged at 4.5 per cent.
The global economy grew faster than trend over the year to mid 2010, but will probably ease back to about trend pace over the coming year. Recent information is consistent with a more sustainable, but still strong, pace of growth in China and most of the Asian region. In Europe and the United States, growth prospects appear to be modest in the near term, a legacy of the financial crisis and its impact on private and public finances. Financial markets are still characterised by a degree of uncertainty, and are responding both to differences in growth outlooks between regions and evident strains on public finances and banking systems in several smaller countries in Europe. Most commodity prices have changed little over recent months, and those most important to Australia remain very high.
Information on the Australian economy shows growth around trend over the past year. Public spending was prominent in driving aggregate demand for several quarters but this impact is now lessening, while the prospects for private demand, and in particular business investment, have been improving. This is to be expected given the large rise in Australia’s terms of trade, which is now boosting national income very substantially.
Asset values are not moving notably in either direction, and overall credit growth is quite subdued at this stage, notwithstanding evidence of some greater willingness to lend. Inflation has moderated from the excessive pace of 2008. The effects of the rise in tobacco taxes aside, CPI inflation has been running at around 2¾ per cent over the past year. That looks likely to continue in the near term.
The current stance of monetary policy is delivering interest rates to borrowers close to their average of the past decade. The Board regards this as appropriate for the time being. If economic conditions evolve as the Board currently expects, it is likely that higher interest rates will be required, at some point, to ensure that inflation remains consistent with the medium-term target.
Source: Reserved Bank of Australia