Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Rate rise bites

As widely tipped by financial markets, the Reserve Bank of Australia lifted its cash rate to 6.5 per cent from 6.25 per cent, its highest level since November 1996.

Prime Minister Howard said measures such as tax cuts and higher welfare payments would help households hurt by today's interest rates rise.

It might help them tread water, but I doubt it will be enough to win their hearts and minds. His spin also failed to address the issues beyond those on welfare or low wages. The country, from top to bottom, is overextended and the rate rise will bite.

The picture

As to the picture, well Johnny was keen to blame the states for the blow-out, but the look on his treasures face suggests that the argument won’t wash. Treasurer Costello was looking forward to snatching the leadership baton; looks like he might have to wait for it now.

I’m gratified, personally, as I can now return to my refrain of key economic indices predicting election outcomes. I have been concerned about skewed figures, such as posited full employment. Avoiding a rate hike can be justified for just so long.

The employment figures have been fudged all the way. The pressure on the Reserve to hold, by Howard and Co has been enormous. Howard went further with a pre-emptive strike on the states, blaming their borrowing. Most people I speak to understand none of that, they just know they are hurting.

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