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Inflation surprise means the IMF is now talking to us

Just when it looked as if the IMF was always talking to someone else rather than Australia, along comes a game-changing inflation result.

In the update to its World Economic Outlook released overnight the IMF warned advanced economies not to be too hasty about raising rates.

Although strengthening faster than expected and rebalancing their budgets, many were still fragile.

“Given the risks, the monetary policy stance should stay accommodative while fiscal consolidation continues,” the fund said.

But ever since Australia escaped the global financial crisis without a recession it has seemed as if the IMF’s admonitions were meant for someone else.

Our economy was improving when others were weakening and it has recently been coming off when others are gathering pace.


The market had been expecting Australia’s Reserve Bank to cut rates rather than lift them.

And it still is.

But today’s unexpectedly high inflation rate of 0.8 per cent for the December quarter and 2.7 per cent for the year has started chatter about the eventual need for a rate hike.

The IMF’s advice admonition to take things gently - to not hike too quickly while the economy is weak - now applies to us.