Stephen Letts| ABC| 21 September 2017
The ANZ has become the second big bank in a week to forecast the Reserve Bank will turn hawkish and raise rates twice next year.
The move follows the NAB change in call on the RBA last week of a two rate hikes next year, from an earlier call of no change.
The ANZ’s change of view was driven by a more positive view on the domestic economy with both growth and inflation picking up, while it forecast the unemployment rate would fall to 5.3 per cent by the end of the year.
“In sum our outlook for 2018 is a touch more positive than before, reflecting a stronger outlook for non-mining business investment, the strength in public sector spending [not only in the infrastructure space] and a shallower dip in residential construction than previously expected,” ANZ’s head of Australian economics David Plank wrote in a note to clients.
The ANZ argues the real cash rate — the rate adjusted for inflation — was already negative and if economic growth accelerates and inflation picks up as expected, it will become even more negative and unnecessarily stimulatory.
“[The] RBA has progressively shifted to a hawkish outlook,” Mr Plank said.
“Downside risks to growth and inflation have eased, suggesting less need for a negative cash rate.”
It is a similar view over at the NAB where GDP expectations have been revised up, unemployment revised down and consequently inflation moves up as well.
NAB’s head of global research Peter Jolly noted the most confident thing he could say about the bank’s change in forecast was it would not be the last.
“The big deal here is that having been on a declining trend since 2011, for the first time, NAB is now saying we have seen a turning point for Australia’s interest rate cycle,” Mr Jolly said
The other big banks are staying put with their forecasts, with CBA pencilling one rise in the fourth quarter next year while Westpac says the RBA is hold right through 2018.
|RBA call for 2018||Cash rate forecast at end of 2018|
|ANZ||Two 25bp rises next year||2pc|
|NAB||Two 25bp rises in August and November||2pc|
|CBA||One 25bp rise in the fourth quarter||1.75pc|
RBA overly optimistic: Westpac
Westpac chief economist Bill Evans says he does not share the optimism of either the other banks or the RBA about the economy.
“I think the RBA believes it will be raising rates next year,” Mr Evans said.
“They are very optimistic on growth, they believe they will see strong income growth.”
Mr Evans is convinced the RBA is wrong.
“Income growth is around 1.5 per cent, spending is around 2.5 per cent and that is at the expense of [household] savings.