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MNI INSIGHT: RBA To Let Bonds Mature As It Hikes Rates

MNI (Sydney)

The Reserve Bank of Australia is unlikely to re-invest any of its AUD350 billion government and semi-government bond portfolio when it begins to tighten interest rates and will take a call at its May meeting on the mechanics as reported, MNI understands.

The RBA has said the next rate rise from the current record low of 0.10% is likely in late 2023 or even 2024, and by that time just over AUD20 billion in bonds will have matured, see: MNI STATE OF PLAY: RBA Stays Firm On Cash Rate View, Drops QE.

MNI understands that as these bonds mature the RBA’s decision on re-investing these proceeds in other bonds further out on the curve will be determined by progress towards the bank’s goals of full employment and underlying inflation sustainably within the 2% to 3% target range.

Underlying inflation is now running at 2.6%.


The RBA is also unlikely to be a seller of bonds. It is likely to allow the portfolio to mature and then decide on reinvestment based on the need for maintaining the current level of monetary stimulus.

The RBA is also facing the prospect that its running yield on its portfolio could go into negative territory.

Governor Philip Lowe has said that he is aware that as market interest rates increase the bank's profit on its bond portfolio, bought at between 10 basis points and 2%, will decline.

The RBA ended its bond buying program this month and has maintained that this does not mean monetary tightening. Instead, it says that it is the stock of bonds purchased, and not the flow of purchases, which provides economic support.

At the same time, MNI understands that any decrease in the RBA’s bond portfolio will reflect its monetary outlook. Any decrease in its holding will be an unwinding of stimulus, although the main policy tool will be interest rates.

Market expectations are that the RBA will increase rates much earlier than it has said, with some looking for multiple rate hikes this year. Whatever the timing of the rate hikes, MNI understands the RBA is unlikely to re-invest any of the proceeds of maturing bonds once it moves into that next cycle.

MNI Sydney Bureau | +61-405-322-399 |
MNI Sydney Bureau | +61-405-322-399 |

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