Has Australia hit the floor with interest rates?

Izabella Kaminska made a strong argument on FT Alphaville last year for the RBA to lower interest rates and weaken the Australian Dollar to protect manufacturing and export industries:

Australia’s current account deficit coupled with a deeply negative net external debt position both provide strong fundamental impetus for currency weakening. Should the RBA want to engineer currency depreciation, lower interest rates are likely to be more than enough. Indeed, even if interest rates decline only gradually to reflect a structurally slowing economy there are plenty of fundamental reasons for the Australian dollar to weaken.

The case for lower interest rates still holds true but the RBA is obviously concerned by signs of recovery in housing prices that could exacerbate the existing property bubble. Robert Gottliebsen at Business Spectator reports:

In less than three months the market price of a bottom of the range Meriton inner-Sydney apartment has risen 6 per cent from about $500,000 to around $530,000……According to Meriton’s Harry Triguboff, local buyers have jumped from 15 to 40 per cent of the market.

There is a solution. The RBA can lower interest rates provided it simultaneously introduces macroprudential steps similar to those being considered by the RBNZ: increase the amount of capital banks must set aside to cover potential losses from high loan to valuation ratio (LVR) home loans. That would make high LVR loans more expensive and discourage property speculation, taking some of the heat out of the housing market.