1. The unexpected rebound in house prices poses a risk to inflation and may lead to higher interest rates by the RBA.
2. Population growth is a significant factor driving the rise in housing prices, with countries experiencing the largest population surges also seeing the most noticeable price increases.
3. Positive wealth effects from rising house prices can boost household spending and add upside risk to domestic demand and inflation.
4. If the housing price rebound continues, economic forecasts will need to be adjusted upwards, potentially leading to the RBA raising interest rates.
5. The surge in rents, fueled by the Albanese government’s high levels of immigration, is contributing to inflation and may force the RBA to keep rates higher for longer. Limiting immigration flows could be a solution to mitigate inflation and housing affordability issues.
The Australian housing market has witnessed an unexpected surge, with prices nearing their pre-pandemic peaks. This development has been highlighted by Luci Ellis, the new chief economist at Westpac and former RBA assistant governor. Contrary to expectations, the rise in house prices has occurred despite increasing interest rates and stagnant income growth. Ellis attributes a significant portion of this phenomenon to population growth, noting that countries with the most substantial population surges have also seen the most notable upticks in housing prices.
This trend is crucial as the positive wealth effects from rising house prices can stimulate household spending, thereby posing an upside risk to domestic demand and inflation. The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) has already acknowledged this in their minutes. While current forecasts account for these effects, Ellis suggests that if this trend continues, forecasts might need upward adjustments, increasing the likelihood of the RBA taking action.
Interestingly, Ellis did not touch upon the rising rents, which constitute approximately 6% of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) basket and are contributing to higher inflation. The Albanese government’s unparalleled net overseas migration is intensifying demand across various sectors, potentially undermining the RBA’s attempts to control demand and inflation through interest rate hikes. The most evident impact of this is on the housing market, which might compel the RBA to maintain elevated rates for an extended period. Such a scenario could heighten mortgage stress and further drive rental inflation. A viable solution would be to regulate immigration flows to align with the nation’s housing, infrastructure, and environmental capacities. It’s imperative for the Albanese government to refrain from exacerbating inflation and adversely affecting the working class by endorsing extreme immigration levels.