The author has been described by News Ltd as an "iconoclast", "Svengali", a pollie's "economist muse", and "pungently accurate". Fairfax says he is a "Renaissance man" and "one of Australia’s most respected analysts." Stephen Koukoulas concludes that he is "85% right", and "would make a great Opposition leader." Terry McCrann claims the author thinks "‘nuance’ is a trendy village in the south of France", but can be "scintillating" when he thinks "clearly". The ACTU reckons he’s "an enigma wrapped in a Bloomberg terminal, wrapped in some apparently well-honed abs."

Monday, February 20, 2012

Is Phil Lowe an inflation hawk?

Hmmmmmm. He was certainly fluttering his wings in his latest speech, which concluded with a clear warning about the risk of upside inflation pressures:

One interesting aspect of the recent inflation data is the divergent trends in the prices of internationally traded items and the prices of goods and services that are not internationally traded (Graph 8). Over recent times, the prices of non-traded goods and services have been increasing at a fairly firm pace, although down markedly from the rates in 2007 and 2008. The overall CPI inflation rate has, however, been held down by a decline in the prices of tradable goods as a result of the exchange rate appreciation. But the prices of these goods are unlikely to continue to fall over the medium term, particularly as the effects of the exchange rate appreciation dissipate. As a result, some slowing in the rate of increase in the prices of non-tradables is likely to be required at some point for overall inflation to remain consistent with the mid-point of the target range.

While we cannot be sure that non-tradables inflation will moderate, there are reasonable prospects that it will do so. The Bank is expecting a modest pick-up in productivity growth over the period ahead from the low rates of recent years, as well as a slight moderation in wage growth. Together, these developments would help lessen cost pressures in the economy and thus see some slowing in the rate of non-tradables inflation. In the event that they did not occur, it is likely that non-tradables inflation would be uncomfortably high.