Australian Economy and interest rates

Thursday, March 08, 2018

The Australian economy grew 2.4% through 2017, good but well below potential given high population growth. There is good reason to expect growth to continue and pick up a bit: the drag from falling mining investment is nearly over, non-mining investment is turning up, public investment is strong, trade should add to growth and profits are rising. But growth is likely to be constrained to just below 3% this year and underlying inflation is likely to remain low. We don't expect the RBA to start raising rates until 2019 (we were looking for a hike late this year). Australian shares are likely to move higher by year end, but to continue underperforming global shares.

Growth just muddling along

For the last few years the Australian economy has been meandering between 2-3% growth. This remained the case through last year with December quarter GDP up just 0.4%, and annual growth of 2.4% as a bounce a year ago dropped out. In the quarter growth was helped by consumer spending and public investment but soft housing and business investment and a large detraction from net exports weighed on growth. 

Australia continues to defy recession calls. Against this, economic growth is well below potential, with per capita growth running at just 0.8% year on year, which is below that in most major countries.

The usual worry list

Global threats aside, Australia’s worry list is well known:

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