Australia’s central bank decided, in line with most expectations, to stay with its “emergency” low interest rates yesterday.

At the same time, the private banks say funding costs are rising and soon they will need to raise lending rates. Indeed, this has been a theme for some time. Just try locking in borrowing rates at what increasingly looks like a low in the interest-rate cycle and you are likely to take a punt on current floating rates. “Go early, go hard, go waste and mismanagement”.

The Rudd Government is holding on to planned stimulus levels despite the signs of economic revival and evidence of gross mismanagement, most visibly in housing for indigenous Australians and schools in remote and disadvantaged areas.

“It’s never as good as it seems when it’s good” is one of (Treasury head Ken) Henry’s beliefs.

Wall Street had another big fall overnight, making three down nights in a row. Australia’s exports slumped in the June quarter, after an almost miracle performance before that.

Today’s GDP is expected to show a weak 0.2 % rise. Much above this is a vote for rate hikes soon, much below is a vote for more sitting easy from the old lady of Martin Place.

Peter Fray

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