Economics Explored
Economics Explored
Jan 31, 2023
Normalization of interest rates & monetary policy - EP173
Play • 42 min

Last year we saw the beginning of the normalization of interest rates and monetary policy, as central banks responded to accelerating inflation. Show host Gene Tunny talks about the current tightening cycle and when it might end with his colleague Arturo Espinoza. Among other things, Gene and Arturo discuss what history tells us about typical interest rates and returns on capital, referencing UK bank rate since 1694, interest rates on UK government consols, and returns on land written about by Jane Austen and Honoré de Balzac. They also consider whether we might see 17-18 percent interest rates again in Australia, rates which were last seen in 1989-90. 

Please get in touch with any questions, comments and suggestions by emailing us at contact@economicsexplored.com or sending a voice message via https://www.speakpipe.com/economicsexplored

What’s covered in EP173

  • What’s been happening with interest rates? [3:00]
  • What is monetary policy normalization? [6:00]
  • How many more interest rate increases will be needed? [11:11]
  • Will we have a recession this year? [19:12]
  • Is there a risk that we could get back to the crazily high interest rates seen in 1989-90 in Australia? [24:00]
  • What is the equilibrium rate of interest? What is the real interest rate? [26:54]
  • The main takeaway from this episode: monetary policy is still in a tightening cycle because inflation is too high [38:43]

Links relevant to the conversation

Data released since the episode was recorded

Australian retail trade fell 3.9% in December, suggesting interest rate increases are starting to bite, meaning the RBA faces an even more difficult challenge in deciding how many more interest rate increases to make:

https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/industry/retail-and-wholesale-trade/retail-trade-australia/dec-2022 

CBC article “U.S. inflation and consumer spending eased in December, new numbers show”:

https://www.cbc.ca/news/business/us-consumer-spending-holidays-1.6728173

Nine News story “Inflation in Australia rises to higher-than-expected 7.8 per cent”:

https://www.9news.com.au/finance/australia-inflation-consumer-price-index-december-quarter/9ef0ed13-e606-4c9e-b7db-feaccfae39fb

Inflation targets

US: 2%; see https://research.stlouisfed.org/publications/economic-synopses/2022/09/02/inflation-part-3-what-is-the-feds-current-goal-has-the-fed-met-its-inflation-mandate

Australia: 2-3%; see https://www.rba.gov.au/inflation/inflation-target.html

UK: 2%; see https://www.bankofengland.co.uk/monetary-policy

Bank of Finland article on monetary policy normalisation:

https://www.bofbulletin.fi/en/2022/3/what-is-monetary-policy-normalisation/

Chatham Financial article on US tightening cycles:

https://www.chathamfinancial.com/insights/historical-interest-rate-tightening-cycles

Jo Masters, Barrenjoey Chief Economist on how “Everything must go right for Australia to dodge a recession”

https://www.afr.com/markets/debt-markets/australia-will-dodge-close-call-recession-20221216-p5c71b

Chart on historical UK bank rate:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1NDH7WjQBY0ZjWDWgY430qZdrrIf017_4/view?usp=share_link

Chart on central bank policy interest rates since 1960:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Mrzre-ijAKAvrU0j4YeQt71FkTr-gzob/view?usp=share_link

Chart on inflation in the US, UK and Australia:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/11lp880Wwb9bk_GI5wJ0EQ975h-ZkAuDK/view?usp=share_link

Wikipedia article on the Fisher equation:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fisher_equation

Wikipedia article on UK consols:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consol_(bond)

Guardian article on “UK bonds that financed first world war to be redeemed 100 years later”:

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/oct/31/uk-first-world-war-bonds-redeemed

What Jane Austen can tell us about historical rates of return:

https://janeaustensworld.com/2008/02/10/the-economics-of-pride-and-prejudice-or-why-a-single-man-with-a-fortune-of-4000-per-year-is-a-desirable-husband/

Credits

Thanks to Obsidian Productions for mixing the episode and to the show’s sponsor, Gene’s consultancy business www.adepteconomics.com.au. Economics Explored is available via  Apple Podcasts, Google Podcast, and other podcasting platforms.

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