RBA all but confirms quantitative easing program, will a second March rate cut follow?

author-avatar By on March 16, 2020
RBA all but confirms quantitative easing program, will a second March rate cut follow?

Photo by Kevin Bosc on Unsplash

Australia's central bank said it stands ready to engage in quantitative easing, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Reserve Bank (RBA) Governor Philip Lowe released a statement today that said the bank and government were working together to ensure the smooth operation of Australia's financial markets. 

"Australia's financial system is resilient and it is well placed to deal with the effects of the coronavirus," Dr Lowe said. 

"At the same time, trading liquidity has deteriorated in some markets.

"In response, the Reserve Bank stands ready to purchase Australian government bonds in the secondary market to support the smooth functioning of that market, which is a key pricing benchmark for the Australian financial system." 

Thinking about refinancing to a low-rate, variable owner-occupier home loan? The table below displays some of the lowest-rate variable home loans currently on the market for owner occupiers:

Provider
Ad rate
p.a.
Comp rate*
p.a.
Monthly
repayments
 
2.59% 2.55% $1,599 Go to site
2.89% 2.89% $1,663 Go to site
Budget Home Loan OO P&I
2.68% 2.74% $1,618 Go to site

Base criteria of: a $400,000 loan amount, variable, principal and interest (P&I) home loans with an LVR (loan-to-value) ratio of at least 80%. If products listed have an LVR <80%, they will be clearly identified in the product name along with the specific LVR. The product and rate must be clearly published on the Product Provider’s web site. Introductory rate products were not considered for selection. Monthly repayments were calculated based on the selected products’ advertised rates, applied to a $400,000 loan with a 30-year loan term. Rates correct as at 03 August 2020. View disclaimer.

The announcement comes after the US Federal Reserve and Reserve Bank of New Zealand slashed their interest rates to close to zero overnight. 

As well as cutting its interest rate by 1.0% at its unscheduled meeting, the US central bank announced a $700 billion quantitative easing program, in an effort to prevent a financial apocalypse. 

In a sign that there could be a second March cash rate cut, Dr Lowe said the RBA would make another announcement later in the week. 

"The Bank will announce further policy measures to support the Australian economy on Thursday," he said.

If the Reserve Bank (RBA) were to cut before their scheduled monetary meeting in April it would be unprecedented to say the least. 

Even at the height of the global financial crisis (GFC) or post 9/11, the RBA didn't cut the cash rate twice in a month. 

But we are living in unprecedented times - COVID-19 has expanded at an exponential level, crippling economies and shutting down borders. 

At the weekend Prime Minster Scott Morrison advised gatherings of more than 500 people would be prohibited, and announced that anyone arriving from overseas would be required to self isolate for 14 days. 

All these factors, and a great deal more, may lead the RBA to call an emergency meeting, and cut Australia's cash rate to a record low 0.25%. 

Most economists have predicted a rate cut in April, but given the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic and the correspondence from the RBA, this could be moved forward. 

NAB economist Rodrigo Catril said the US Federal Reserve's moves over the last few days increases the likelihood of an emergency cut. 

"NAB has forecast a follow-up 25bp rate cut to 0.25% in April, but fast-changing events mean the risk of an inter-meeting rate cut by the RBA to 0.25% is likely to have increased sharply," Mr Catril said. 

"This was not how the RBA behaved during the global financial crisis or even after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, preferring to move at scheduled Board meetings.

"However, with the next Board meeting still three weeks away on April 7 and the world and Australian economies continuing to rapidly deteriorate, there seems little point in waiting three weeks to deliver further support to the Australian economy on the interest rate front."


Disclaimers

The entire market was not considered in selecting the above products. Rather, a cut-down portion of the market has been considered which includes retail products from at least the big four banks, the top 10 customer-owned institutions and Australia’s larger non-banks:

  • The big four banks are: ANZ, CBA, NAB and Westpac
  • The top 10 customer-owned Institutions are the ten largest mutual banks, credit unions and building societies in Australia, ranked by assets under management in November 2019. They are (in descending order): Credit Union Australia, Newcastle Permanent, Heritage Bank, Peoples’ Choice Credit Union, Teachers Mutual Bank, Greater Bank, IMB Bank, Beyond Bank, Bank Australia and P&N Bank.
  • The larger non-bank lenders are those who (in 2019) has more than $9 billion in Australian funded loans and advances. These groups are: Resimac, Pepper, Liberty and Firstmac.

Some providers' products may not be available in all states. To be considered, the product and rate must be clearly published on the product provider's web site.

In the interests of full disclosure, Savings.com.au and loans.com.au are part of the Firstmac Group. To read about how Savings.com.au manages potential conflicts of interest, along with how we get paid, please click through onto the web site links.

*The Comparison rate is based on a $150,000 loan over 25 years. Warning: this comparison rate is true only for this example and may not include all fees and charges. Different terms, fees or other loan amounts might result in a different comparison rate.

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Alex joined Savings.com.au in 2019. He is passionate about providing Australians with the information and tools needed to make them financially stable for their futures.

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