Australia's central bank says ready for COVID-19 crisis economic fallout

2021-08-17 16:09

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SYDNEY, Aug. 17 (Xinhua) -- The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) said it would be "prepared to act" should Australia's current COVID-19 crisis deepen.

Though RBA Governor Philip Lowe has maintained his optimism for Australia's economic recovery, the expanding and non-abating Delta variant crisis has sparked new worries for the nation's economic outlook.

"The board would be prepared to act in response to further bad news on the health front should that lead to a more significant setback for the economic recovery," said a statement from the RBA board on Tuesday.

The Australian Financial Review noted that the economic cost of nationwide lockdowns, which have already dragged on for over 50 days in Greater Sydney, is likely to cost the national economy over 20 billion Australian dollars (about 14.5 billion U.S. dollars) should they continue into September.

With daily local transmissions in the state of New South Wales steadily increasing and approaching 500, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has hinted that the current restrictions could drag on to late November when the state is expected to reach a vaccination rate of 80 percent.

Despite this foreshadowing, the RBA has not changed its timeline for the tapering of government stimulus, which will reduce the weekly purchasing of government bonds from 5 billion Australian dollars (about 3.6 billion U.S. dollars) in September to 4 billion Australian dollars (about 2.9 billion U.S. dollars) by mid-November.

The minutes hinged Australia's eventual recovery on fiscal support to households and businesses until higher vaccination rates were reached.

"In the meantime, health outcomes would continue to present the main source of uncertainty for the economic outlook."
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