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What's next for the RBA?

With the first rate pause of the current hiking cycle here and the flagged departure of controversial Reserve Bank of Australia governor Phillip Lowe, it's been an historic month for the RBA. We sit down with Morningstar's Peter Warnes to discuss what's next for the nation's central bank.


Joshua Peach: The Reserve Bank has obviously been front and center of so much of the conversation about inflation. It's been a huge month for them with the pause and then the appointment of Michele Bullock as the incoming next governor to replace Philip Lowe. Do you think her appointment will have any meaningful impact on the operations of the Reserve Bank?

Peter Warnes: Well, it shouldn't. I mean, if you go back and have a little look at what's – well, let's go back to the fact that caused all this stuff, and that's the pandemic, right? So, what's that, March of 2020? We've had 39 RBA meetings. Three of them, they pulled rates down from 75 to 10. 12 of them, they hiked. They did nothing for 24. You can't tell me that Philip Lowe decided on all of those decisions.

It's a board decision. There are nine people on the board. He has the casting vote if it's four all, and I don't think it was used over the last three years. And he and the deputy governor would be pushing the RBA's view. And so, I don't think Michele Bullock will change that at all. I mean, we don't know because we don't get the voting, like we do with the Fed. I would be surprised if she voted anywhere different to what Philip Lowe voted, quite frankly. If you want to blame Philip Lowe, all the board should go because it's a board decision. He only delivers the monetary policy speech. He delivers it, but it's always the board. It's not Philip Lowe. So, I don't think there will be any change.

And don't forget, we've gone through the hiking. The hiking is just about over. It doesn't mean the job is done. There's a dual mandate there, and it's called price stability, and it's called full employment. She has already come out. She might have had something to do with what she said three or four weeks ago about if we're going to get inflation back to 2.5% to 3% by 2025, unemployment has got to be 4.5%.

Now, she might have had something to do with that, but that's not a monetary policy decision. It's just that she is putting it out there, and she is right. It can't happen unless we get some productivity gains. And how do you get productivity gains when you've got full employment? You need unemployment to make people work harder and put more in. More output per hour, that's what productivity is. People don't understand that.



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