Hedge Clippings | 22 September 2023
The US Federal Reserve put out their latest press release earlier this week, with a consistent message scattered through its 293 words: Inflation, mentioned 9 times, and 2 percent mentioned 4 times. With the current rate of inflation at 3.67% - up from 3.18% last month, although way down from 8.26% last year - there's still a long way to go. Maybe taming inflation is a bit like losing weight - (trust me, I know!) - the difficulty is the last part when things become really stubborn!
That seemed to be the message Jerome Powell and his fellow FOMC members wanted to get through - that the road to 2% is not going to be easy, so don't expect any early move on interest rates - at least not down. The market meanwhile didn't like it and responded accordingly.
Back home Australia's new RBA Governor Michele Bullock is unlikely to change her predecessor's approach when she chairs her first board meeting in a couple of weeks. Although she may use different words to Philip Lowe's "narrow road" rhetoric in the ensuing media statement, this is probably unlikely as well. As much as she'll want to stamp her individuality on the role, we also suspect that, having sat alongside her former colleague for so long, she'll be singing from the same song sheet. She's in a better position than the US, although there's still a long way to go. For a start, the RBA has a target band for inflation of 2-3%, whereas the US has a specific target of 2%.
On the other hand, Australia, particularly with its dependence on imported oil, is more of a price taker than a price maker when it comes to inflation - particularly with an upcoming El Nino event now almost certain.
There have been other hand-overs this week, each with their own twists and turns. Vanessa Hudson has taken over from Alan Joyce at Qantas and has taken no time to change his tune by apologising for past performances - something he was never known for. Not that Hudson had much choice. Meanwhile, Rupert Murdoch has finally stepped aside - well, sort of. We doubt if his influence will really wane until his eventual final exit, but even then, how different will Lachlan be, given his heritage and history?
Enough of business and economics. We're heading into footy finals season - or in the case of the Wallabies, possibly into the quarter finals of the Rugby World Cup, taking on Wales early on Monday morning (AEST). They'll need to have a massive turnaround to do so, based on the rubbish they dished up last week-end. If they don't, there'll be a few heads that will no doubt roll at Rugby HQ - starting with Coach Jones and Chairman McLennan.
In reality, rugby union in Australia already ranks far below the AFL, with 95,000 headed to the MCG for tonight's Preliminary Final. If the Wallabies can't make it past the RWC pool stage, interest in the game at international level will slip further - and possibly into insignificance.
You'd have to be an optimist - and an early riser - to get up at 5 o'clock on Monday morning to tune in. Hedge Clippings generally fits both of those categories, but sadly on this occasion, while we'd never say never, isn't optimistic!
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