Inflation’s up, our dollar’s up, what about interest rates?

A ten second economics lesson: as inflation goes up, the yield of bonds goes up, with the global expectation that interest rates will also go up. But in Australia that’s happening any time soon.

Inflation is a critical economic measure that’s reported quarterly. But in my view, it needs to be reported monthly.

Despite that, yesterday’s underlying annual CPI rate came in higher than the RBA expected. It landed at +2.1% for the September quarter which is first time since 2015 that the actual rate has snuck into the RBA target range. The general view now is that the RBA will cease quantitative easing by mid next year and increase interest rates in the first half of 2023.

The spike in petrol prices and the jump in the cost of building a new house and renovations and the cost of shipping have soared. Any outsized price jumps – and declines – are cut out of the CPI, then recalibrated. What is left is the ‘trimmed mean’ – the RBA’s preferred measure.

Analysts agree that one CPI print in the band isn’t enough to stir the central bank into lifting rates. We need to see more, so that means it’ll be three, six or even nine months before we can confirm whether inflation is “sustainably in the band”?

My economist peers have welcomed the more fashion-forward Statistics Bureau under Dr David Gruen. A monthly CPI release please, and sooner rather than later.