Monetary Policy and Mortgage Interest rates

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1 Monetary Policy and Mortgage Interest rates July 2014 Key Points: Monetary policy, which operates through changes in the official cash rate (OCR), is the main lever of macroeconomic management in Australia and is determined by the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA). Through its effect of mortgage interest rates, the OCR is also one of the most important determinants of housing demand. Since the reduction in the OCR in late 2011, the RBA has reduced interest rates on seven other occasions, totalling 225 basis points. The most recent reduction of 25 basis points occurred on August The ensuing 11 months whereby the official cash rate has remained at 2.5 per cent is one of the longest periods of unchanged rates in the past two decades. Since the latest monetary policy easing cycle commenced, mortgage interest rates offered by major banks have fallen by 195 basis points. A standard variable mortgage rate is around 5.95 per cent and a discounted variable mortgage rate is around 5.10 per cent. The interest rate reductions have not been fully passed on by the banks to household and small business borrowers. This has blunted the effectiveness of the RBA rate cuts. Monetary policy 101 Monetary policy, which operates through changes in the official cash rate (OCR), is the main lever of macroeconomic management in Australia. It is the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) that operates this lever in pursuit of the: stability of the currency of Australia; maintenance of full employment in Australia; and the economic prosperity and welfare of the people of Australia Underpinning these macroeconomic goals is low inflation and low inflation expectations. These assist businesses make sound investment decisions, underpin the creation of jobs, protect the savings of Australians and preserve the value of the currency. Housing Industry Association Ltd 79 Constitution Ave Campbell ACT 2612 p f hia.com.au The RBA conducts monetary policy in order to target an inflation rate of 2-3 per cent on average, over the economic cycle. Typically, by influencing the cash rate, the RBA influences the interest rate structure prevailing in Australia s financial system. In turn, this affects the aggregate demand and supply conditions in the economy which underscore inflation levels. Achieving economic growth in line with Australia s long term potential is also a very important consideration for the RBA in setting interest rates. Depending on how close

2 Jul-11 Aug-11 Sep-11 Oct-11 Nov-11 Dec-11 Jan-12 Feb-12 Mar-12 Apr-12 May-12 Jun-12 Jul-12 Aug-12 Sep-12 Oct-12 Nov-12 Dec-12 Jan-13 Feb-13 Mar-13 Apr-13 May-13 Jun-13 Jul-13 Aug-13 Sep-13 Oct-13 Nov-13 Dec-13 Jan-14 Feb-14 Mar-14 Apr-14 May-14 Jun-14 Jul-14 % HIA Economics Group Note July 2014 Monetary Policy and Mortgage s inflation is to target, interest rates will be adjusted in order to guide economic activity toward its trend growth level. It is this consideration which had dictated recent interest rate reductions over the past two years. Recent movements in monetary policy After reaching a cyclical high of 4.75 per cent in late 2010, interest rates started to ease in late 2011, with the RBA cutting the OCR by 25 basis points to 4.50 per cent. The beginning of this latest easing cycle occurred against a backdrop of deteriorated, volatile and uncertain global conditions stemming largely from Europe and US, which has had implications for China and the rest of Asia and therefore Australia. More recent rate reductions have been influenced by the cooling off of mining investment and the detrimental effects of the strong Aussie dollar on the traded sectors of the domestic economy. There is some evidence that more recent interest rate cuts have been partly motivated by the desire to weaken the Aussie dollar on international markets in order to enhance the economy s price competitiveness. The 15 per cent decline in the value of the dollar since early April appears consistent with this objective. Since the initial reduction in the OCR in the current easing cycle, the RBA has reduced interest rates on seven other occasions, totalling 225 basis points. The OCR is now at 2.5 per cent, its lowest level in over fifty years. What do these developments in monetary policy mean for housing? One of the most important determinants of housing demand is mortgage interest rates. Most Australians take out mortgages to finance home purchase so the interest charged on these mortgages represents the cost of their borrowing. By influencing the interest rate structure that prevails in Australia s financial system, changes in monetary policy therefore affect the interest rates that prevail in the mortgage market. If the cost of borrowing to fund the purchase of a house rises, then this deters potential buyers from the market, and vice versa. Housing is very sensitive to interest rates indeed residential building is arguably the most interest rate sensitive sector of the Australian economy. Since the latest monetary policy easing cycle commenced in late 2011, variable mortgage interest rates offered by major banks have fallen by 190 basis points. A standard variable mortgage rate offered by a major bank is around 5.95 per cent and a discounted variable mortgage rate is around 5.10 per cent. It is worth noting that around 35 basis points of the reductions in the OCR since late 2011 have not been passed on by mortgage lenders. This has blunted the effectiveness of the RBA s rate cuts and means that reductions in the OCR have not achieved their full potential in terms of the housing market. s, Australia Source: HIA Economics, RBA Mortgage Rate Margin to Cash Rate (RHS) Discounted Variable Mortgage Rate RBA Cash Rate Small Business Variable Term Loan Page 2

3 HIA Economics Group Note July 2014 Monetary Policy and Mortgage s Mortgage s, 1959 to 2014 Jan Jan Jan Jan Feb Feb Feb Feb Mar Mar Mar Mar Apr Apr Apr Apr May May May May Jun Jun Jun Jun Jul Jul Jul Jul Aug Aug Aug Aug Sep Sep Sep Sep Oct Oct Oct Oct Nov Nov Nov Nov Dec Dec Dec Dec Jan Jan Jan Jan Feb Feb Feb Feb Mar Mar Mar Mar Apr Apr Apr Apr May May May May Jun Jun Jun Jun Jul Jul Jul Jul Aug Aug Aug Aug Sep Sep Sep Sep Oct Oct Oct Oct Nov Nov Nov Nov Dec Dec Dec Dec Jan Jan Jan Jan Feb Feb Feb Feb Mar Mar Mar Mar Apr Apr Apr Apr May May May May Jun Jun Jun Jun Jul Jul Jul Jul Aug Aug Aug Aug Sep Sep Sep Sep Oct Oct Oct Oct Nov Nov Nov Nov Dec Dec Dec Dec Jan Jan Jan Jan Feb Feb Feb Feb Mar Mar Mar Mar Apr Apr Apr Apr May May May May Jun Jun Jun Jun Jul Jul Jul Jul Aug Aug Aug Aug Sep Sep Sep Sep Oct Oct Oct Oct Nov Nov Nov Nov Dec Dec Dec Dec Jan Jan Jan Jan Feb Feb Feb Feb Mar Mar Mar Mar Apr Apr Apr Apr May May May May Jun Jun Jun Jun Jul Jul Jul Jul Aug Aug Aug Aug Sep Sep Sep Sep Oct Oct Oct Oct Nov Nov Nov Nov Dec Dec Dec Dec Page 3

4 HIA Economics Group Note July 2014 Monetary Policy and Mortgage s Jan Jan Jan Jan Feb Feb Feb Feb Mar Mar Mar Mar Apr Apr Apr Apr May May May May Jun Jun Jun Jun Jul Jul Jul Jul Aug Aug Aug Aug Sep Sep Sep Sep Oct Oct Oct Oct Nov Nov Nov Nov Dec Dec Dec Dec Jan Jan Jan Jan Feb Feb Feb Feb Mar Mar Mar Mar Apr Apr Apr Apr May May May May Jun Jun Jun Jun Jul Jul Jul Jul Aug Aug Aug Aug Sep Sep Sep Sep Oct Oct Oct Oct Nov Nov Nov Nov Dec Dec Dec Dec Jan Jan Jan Jan Feb Feb Feb Feb Mar Mar Mar Mar Apr Apr Apr Apr May May May May Jun Jun Jun Jun Jul Jul Jul Jul Aug Aug Aug Aug Sep Sep Sep Sep Oct Oct Oct Oct Nov Nov Nov Nov Dec Dec Dec Dec Jan Jan Jan Jan Feb Feb Feb Feb Mar Mar Mar Mar Apr Apr Apr Apr May May May May Jun Jun Jun Jun Jul Jul Jul Jul Aug Aug Aug Aug Sep Sep Sep Sep Oct Oct Oct Oct Nov Nov Nov Nov Dec Dec Dec Dec Jan Jan Jan Jan Feb Feb Feb Feb Mar Mar Mar Mar Apr Apr Apr Apr May May May May Jun Jun Jun Jun Jul Jul Jul Jul Aug Aug Aug Aug Sep Sep Sep Sep Oct Oct Oct Oct Nov Nov Nov Nov Dec Dec Dec Dec Page 4

5 HIA Economics Group Note July 2014 Monetary Policy and Mortgage s Jan Jan Jan Jan Feb Feb Feb Feb Mar Mar Mar Mar Apr Apr Apr Apr May May May May Jun Jun Jun Jun Jul Jul Jul Jul Aug Aug Aug Sep Sep Sep Oct Oct Oct Nov Nov Nov Dec Dec Dec Jan Jan Jan Feb Feb Feb Mar Mar Mar Apr Apr Apr May May May Jun Jun Jun Jul Jul Jul Aug Aug Aug Sep Sep Sep Oct Oct Oct Nov Nov Nov Dec Dec Dec Jan Jan Jan Feb Feb Feb Mar Mar Mar Apr Apr Apr May May May Jun Jun Jun Jul Jul Jul Aug Aug Aug Sep Sep Sep Oct Oct Oct Nov Nov Nov Dec Dec Dec Jan Jan Jan Feb Feb Feb Mar Mar Mar Apr Apr Apr May May May Jun Jun Jun Jul Jul Jul Aug Aug Aug Sep Sep Sep Oct Oct Oct Nov Nov Nov Dec Dec Dec Jan Jan Jan Feb Feb Feb Mar Mar Mar Apr Apr Apr May May May Jun Jun Jun Jul Jul Jul Aug Aug Aug Sep Sep Sep Oct Oct Oct Nov Nov Nov Dec Dec Dec Source: RBA For any other data on Australia's Housing and Renovation Industries, please contact HIA Economics Group at Page 5

6 Jul-66 Jul-69 Jul-72 Jul-75 Jul-78 Jul-81 Jul-84 Jul-87 Jul-90 Jul-93 Jul-96 Jul-99 Jul-02 Jul-05 Jul-08 Jul-11 Jul-14 HIA Economics Group Note July 2014 Monetary Policy and Mortgage s Mortgage Per Cent Page 6

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