Welcome to our November newsletter. While the race that stops a nation is always a highlight of early November, on the economic front the Labor government’s first Budget, handed down in late October, has been a talking point.
Treasurer Jim Chalmers’ first Budget was delivered against a backdrop of continuing turmoil on the global economic front. The UK reversed its promised tax cuts that spelled the end of Liz Truss’ brief tenure as Prime Minister. She was replaced by the more economically credible Rishi Sunak. In the US, media reports suggested the US Federal Reserve will scale back its aggressive interest rate hikes in December. Both events were welcomed by financial markets, but the same challenges remain. Escalating war in Ukraine, energy supply shortages, rising inflation and interest rate hikes to fight it, still point to a likely recession in the US and elsewhere. Oil prices continue to rise as OPEC restricts supply, with Brent Crude up about 13% this month, but recession fears are moderating
the price pressures.
In Australia, economic signals are mixed. Reserve Bank assistant governor, Luci Ellis said in a speech that Australia’s ‘’neutral” cash rate should be at least 2.5%. The rate is already at 2.6% after a 25-basis point rise this month, but further increases are expected. Unemployment rose slightly to 3.5% in September, perhaps indicating labour shortages are easing. The ANZ-Roy Morgan consumer confidence index slipped below its 2022 average of 90.3 on recession fears and the falling Aussie dollar. The dollar fell another 2c to around US63.2c in October. Businesses are more optimistic, with the NAB business conditions index up 3 points to a 15-month high of 25 points in September.