The Reserve Bank of Australia has delayed the end of its massive bond buying regime, while ongoing lockdowns put the economic recovery on pause.
On Tuesday, the central bank announced it would push ahead with tapering its weekly bond buying from $5 billion to $4 billion, but delay the end of the entire package until at least February, while the Delta third wave mutes economic growth.
In its decision, the RBA retained its current cash rate setting to 0.1 per cent and is not anticipated to lift until 2024, when inflation is expected to be the central bank's target range of 2 to 3 per cent.
RBA Governor Philip Lowe said the Delta third wave lockdown gripping the south east of country was expected to "delay" the recovery from the initial onset of the pandemic.
"The Delta outbreak is expected to delay, but not derail, the recovery," Dr Lowe said in his statement regarding monetary policy.
"As vaccination rates increase further and restrictions are eased, the economy should bounce back.
"There is, however, uncertainty about the timing and pace of this bounce-back and it is likely to be slower than that earlier in the year."
The RBA had initially expected to review the major quantitative easing package brought in last year at its November board meeting.
Dr Lowe noted existing fiscal support provided by the Commonwealth, state and territory governments were welcomed packages during the September quarter, which was forecast to see gross domestic product contract by nearly up to 4 per cent.
EY chief economist Jo Masters said fiscal policy was doing the heavy lifting and the pace of the recovery remained uncertain while the rate of restrictions easing was unknown.
"The economy has bounced back from previous lockdowns with gusto, and that is possible this time around, but certainly not guaranteed," Ms Masters said.
"We are likely to see a much slower easing of restrictions and likely a long shadow of cautiousness which leaves a question mark on the pace of recovery."
The RBA also flagged that house prices continued to rise nationally, with strong credit growth being driven by a rise on owner-occupier and investor loans.
Rising pace of home lending has coincided with the latest round of credit card statistics from the RBA, which revealed $1.1 billion worth of personal card debt had been wiped in July.
The 5.5 per cent monthly change on balances accruing interest is the lowest level since February 2004, with national credit card debt sitting at $18.9 billion.
RateCity research director Sally Tindall said lockdowns and economic uncertainty was prompting Australian households to pay down high interest bearing loans.
"Lockdowns are a kick in the guts, particularly for those who can't work, but it has helped many households focus on clearing bad debt," she said.
"At the beginning of COVID, Australians wiped nearly $7 billion off the total debt accruing interest in just six months. This time around, it looks like the lockdowns are having a similar effect."
Ms Tindall noted the lockdown coming at the end of financial year and tax time, may have assisted a number of people to find additional cash to pay down debts.
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