Skip to main content Skip to main navigation
Skip to access and inclusion page Skip to search input

LUCI’S CALL: RBA set to increase the cash rate in November

03:00pm October 27 2023

We’ve seen enough to think that the Reserve Bank will increase the cash rate by a quarter percentage point to 4.35 per cent at its Board meeting in November. 

It will be a finely balanced decision, and if inflation had stayed on the track that they were previously expecting they might have been able to stay on hold.

However, the September quarter consumer price index showed that inflation is running quite a bit higher than where they want it to be, coming in at 1.2 per cent in the quarter. They are trying to bring it down and the current pace of decline is too slow for their comfort levels. 

As well as the inflation data, the RBA will also be looking at the outlook for the labour market and economic activity more generally. The level of unemployment has risen from the trough we saw earlier in the year, underemployment is rising and job vacancies are falling, albeit from high levels. 

Employment growth is now just tracking in line with population growth, rather than outpacing it. So although the labour market is still robust, it has clearly turned. 

We’re also seeing a very weak consumer. Households are being squeezed by high inflation, a higher tax take, and, for some, higher interest payments on their mortgages and other loans. 

People are having to adjust. Some of them are changing their spending plans, some are trying to seek extra hours of work and some are dipping into savings. But in all cases, households are very gloomy and that’s translating to weak growth in consumer spending overall, even with fast population growth.

Overall economic growth is relatively slow, even though other parts of the economy are showing more resilience. 

Housing prices have been increasing lately right across the country, which is not what you'd expect given what's been happening with interest rates and household income. 

It remains to be seen whether another rate increase would do much to dampen the market. But if we see an ongoing increase in housing prices, as well as higher listings and sales, that will support household spending by more than the Reserve Bank is currently expecting. And that means they may have more work to do in future to get inflation back to where they want it to be.

To read Luci’s full report, visit WestpacIQ

Luci Ellis is Westpac’s economic spokesperson and is responsible for all of our economic research. She was previously Assistant Governor (Economic) at the Reserve Bank of Australia from December 2016 until October 2023. Prior to that, Luci was Head of Financial Stability Department at the RBA for eight years, spent two years on secondment at the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland, and held several other senior positions at the RBA over a three-decade career in central banking. Luci has been a member of the Australian Statistics Advisory Council, the statutory advisory body to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, since November 2015. Luci holds a PhD from the University of New South Wales, a Masters in Economics degree from the Australian National University and a first-class Bachelor of Commerce (Honours) degree from the University of Melbourne.

Browse topics