/ 29 February 2024

Steadying the inflation ship


The Squiz

New data from the Bureau of Statistics shows Australia’s inflation rate remained flat at 3.4% in January – the same as in December. That went against most economists’ predictions of an increase. BetaShares’ chief economist David Bassanese says it “should be broadly reassuring” to the Reserve Bank that inflation is going in the right direction – aka down – ahead of its next meeting in March.

So we bid adieu to inflation?

Not quite… The data shows insurance (+8.2%) and housing (+4.6%) were some of the biggest contributors to inflation over the 12 months to January. Food and non-alcoholic beverages were close behind at 4.4%, although Michelle Marquardt, the Bureau of Stats’ head of price statistics, says fresh food – like meat, seafood, fruit and veggies – “saw lower or negative annual inflation”. Speaking of groceries, claims of price gouging hit Coles again yesterday, after the supermarket giant revealed an underlying half-year net profit of $589 million on Tuesday. Chief executive Leah Weckert defended that – she said the profit allows Coles “to invest in our business and deliver for our stakeholders”. And we can’t mention price gouging without pointing to the video of Independent MPs Bob Katter and Andrew Wilkie drew attention to the issue by dressing up as pigs… 

Is there anything else to note?

While we have you on finance – Australia’s biggest trading partner, China, is still facing economic problems, led by a debt crisis in its property sector… And it took another hit yesterday, with a liquidation petition filed against the country’s biggest property developer, Country Garden, over non-payment of a $314 million loan. Country Garden says it will “resolutely oppose” the petition, which was filed by a creditor, and a court hearing has been set for May. It comes a month after the world’s most debt-ridden property developer, Chinese property giant Evergrande, was ordered to liquidate. With much of China’s household wealth tied up in real estate, the sector’s downturn is causing widespread financial stress – and experts are worried that could lead to lower demand for Aussie exports.

Know someone who'd be interested in this story? Click to share...

The Squiz Today

Your shortcut to being informed, we've got your news needs covered.

Get the Squiz Today newsletter

Quick, agenda-free news that doesn't take itself too seriously. Get on it.