If Tuesday's rate hike by the Reserve Bank of Australia was a surprise to a lot of economists and investors, the reaction to the hike was also surprising. The hike set in motion big moves by gold and the U.S. dollar - presumably because markets began to anticipate that the global economy was at an important turning point, and other central banks might follow Australia's lead.
However, Australia's rate hike is likely an isolated example of a country gearing up for better times - a point underscored by Carl Weinberg, chief economist at High Frequency Economics.
"The question on everyone's mind for the last 35 hours has been this: Which central bank will be the first to follow the RBA?" he said in a note. "We have no candidates in mind for an immediate rate hike."
Indeed, the Australian economy presents quite a contrast to most other developed economies during this recession. As Mr. Weinberg said, the jobless rate rose to all of 5.9 per cent, up just 1.8 percentage points from its nadir and below the 7.7 per cent average since 1977.
As a result, consumer price increases - a proxy for inflation - has remained above target during the economic downturn, as much of the rest of the world frets over deflation.
"Before the global economy collapsed, the RBA was hiking interest rates to defuse labor market pressures on wages," Mr. Weinberg said. "Inflation accelerated above target, as did wages. No other G-20 economy suffers from this combination of wage pressures in a still-tight labor market and above-target inflation."
He concludes: "We see no reason for other central banks to follow the Ozzies in hiking rates."