Friday, October 1, 2010

Interest Rates - How the RBA doesn't influence the cash rates

It'll soon be that time again, and the usual hype around where interest rates are going will be in the MSM. For anyone who takes the time, they can download the Historic rate data from the RBA web site and determine for themselves where the RBA cash rate target is most likely heading. Have you ever wondered why the MSM don't publish comparison charts (like the one below) prior to the RBA interest rate decision? Simple: The media hype it up every month - hype and fear sells news, in addition nobody in the MSM wants to undermine the RBA.

The RBA insists that it influences the cash rate in the market, but I contend that it is the market that sets the interest rates and the RBA simply follows the trend (as best they can). Some folks even believe that the market "anticipates" the RBA rises in advance and hence that is why the target cash rate and 90 day bank bills are tied closely together. Gees, I'd like to know who these rate experts are and how they are almost 100% correct each and every time and what their predictions are for the next 12 months. Maybe they should swap jobs and predict stocks each day.

Seriously, a cursory look at the rate charts prior to a RBA rate "decision" will provide a good glimpse into what is the most likely outcome. As of the 29th Sept, the difference between the cash rate target and 90 Day bill rate is almost +0.5%. It's highly probable that the cash rate target will rise by 0.25% (unless politics gets in the way soon after the election). The average difference between these two rates over the long term is +0.1% and over the previous quarter is +0.3%. Since there is almost a 0.5% difference at the moment, then rationale suggests that a 0.25% rate increase is likely.

The daily chart below shows the RBA cash rate target lagging the 90 day bank bill rate.

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