Risk On? The RBA bites the Bullet

I am not an ardent watcher of the Australian economy so I shall leave it neatly to the side of whether this was expected or, Bloomberg so famously puts it, unexpected.

Australia’s central bank unexpectedly raised its benchmark interest rate from a 49-year low and signaled further increases in coming months amid signs the economy is strengthening. Reserve Bank Governor Glenn Stevens increased the overnight cash rate target to 3.25 percent from 3 percent in Sydney today. Only one of 20 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News forecast today’s move. The rest predicted no change.

The local currency jumped as Australia became the first Group of 20 nation to raise borrowing costs since the start of the global financial crisis more than a year ago. Rising job vacancies, retail sales and house prices, plus surging business and consumer confidence support Stevens’ view that the “basis for such a low interest rate setting has now passed.”

Carry traders will of course feel that warm fuzzy feeling in the stomach by now with the prospect of Australia (and perhaps New Zealand or others) raising rates while the Fed continues to supply the system with free liquidity. The only question is of course whether risk is really on here or whether we are about to get hit by another anvil exactly brought about by a retrenchment of stimulus. I don't know, but this is also beyond the point here. The only question which needs to be answered at this point in time is, how high will it go?

To parity and beyond? (graph courtesey of Reuters, click for better viewing)