Reserve Bank of Australia holds at record low 1.5% as expected

Table 12

"Last month, the Reserve Bank of Australia made it clear that its current monetary policy setting is appropriate for the time being and I believe this will continue to be the case at the August Board meeting", said Jessica Darnbrough, head of corporate affairs at Mortgage Choice.

Central bankers all around the world are in a Machiavellian-style battle to keep their own currencies lower in order to boost competitiveness and inflation, while avoiding a Keynesian liquidity trap where monetary policy via lower rates fails to stimulate demand as intended. One source of uncertainty for the domestic economy is the outlook for consumption.

In his statement, Dr Lowe said that although retail sales had picked up recently, "slow growth in real wages and high levels of household debt are likely to constrain growth in spending".

"With the Australian dollar having rallied by 4¢ against the U.S. dollar since the last board meeting, the central bank could easily have shifted to more aggressively jawboning the currency if they were worried".

Treasurer Scott Morrison's latest federal budget predicted the economy would grow at 2.75 per cent in 2017-18 and 3 per cent in 2018-19.

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The bank noted that forward-looking indicators point to continued growth in employment over the period ahead.

According to data compiled by IHS Markit Britain's Manufacturing PMI jumped from 54.2 to 55.1 in July, rallying from a notable drop in activity in June and beating expectations of only a 0.2% rise. The bank observed that it is also weighing on the outlook for output and employment.

Higher commodity prices, weak U.S. dollar, and the lingering belief that RBA might turn hawkish with its policy, are what keeping the Aussie strong. Housing prices have been rising briskly in some markets, although there are some signs that these conditions are starting to ease. In the eastern capital cities, a considerable additional supply of apartments is scheduled to come on stream over the next couple of years. While some economists might argue high iron ore and coal prices justify a stronger Aussie dollar, the reality is mining companies aren't going to use the windfalls to invest and hire Down Under.

While this had been largely priced in by investors, the RBA's warning that the 'Aussie's recent strength has been placing pressure on the Australian economy caused the antipodean currency to relinquish almost all of its overnight gains. The weakness remains household debt - at a record 190% of income and among the world's highest - which is still outpacing income growth.

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