The RBA's central forecast suggests that CPI inflation will continue to decrease, although at a slower pace than previously expected. By the end of 2024, CPI inflation is projected to be around 3½ per cent, reaching the top range of the target at 2 to 3 per cent by the end of 2025. To ensure inflation returns to the desired range within a reasonable timeframe, the Board determined that a hike in interest rates was necessary.

Evaluating the Impact of Previous Rate Increases

The RBA had maintained steady interest rates since June after a series of rate hikes totaling 4 percentage points since May of the previous year. The purpose of these increases was to establish a more sustainable balance between supply and demand in the economy. It was important for the Board to evaluate the effects of these changes before making further adjustments, taking into account developments in the global economy, household spending trends, and the outlook for inflation and the labor market.

The Importance of Returning Inflation to Target

The priority for the RBA remains returning inflation to its targeted range within a reasonable timeframe. Persistent high inflation negatively affects everyone and disrupts the functioning of the economy. It erodes the value of savings, puts a strain on household budgets, impedes businesses' ability to plan and invest, and worsens income inequality. In addition, if inflation becomes deeply ingrained in people's expectations, it would be even more difficult and costly to reduce in the future, requiring even higher interest rates and causing greater unemployment.

Fortunately, medium-term inflation expectations have remained aligned with the inflation target thus far, which is crucial for maintaining stable economic conditions.

Uncertainties and Risks

While the RBA acknowledges some uncertainties and risks in the outlook, it remains committed to closely monitoring various factors that could impact the economy. These include the persistently high services price inflation observed overseas, which may have implications for Australia. Other uncertainties include the lag in the effects of monetary policy, potential responses from businesses regarding pricing decisions and wages in the face of slower economic growth, and the uncertain outlook for household consumption amidst varying financial circumstances.

Additionally, global uncertainties surrounding the Chinese economy and conflicts abroad add to the complexity of the situation.

The Future of Monetary Policy

Whether further tightening of monetary policy will be necessary to ensure inflation returns to the target range within a reasonable timeframe will depend on evolving data and risk assessments. The RBA will steadfastly monitor global economic developments, domestic demand trends, and the outlook for inflation and the labor market. The Board remains committed to its goal of returning inflation to the targeted range and will take the necessary actions to achieve this outcome.