With its official cash rate now expected to fall below 1% to a new extraordinarily low close to zero, all sorts of people are saying that the Reserve Bank is in danger of “running out of ammunition.” Ammunition might be needed if, as during the last financial crisis, it needs to cut rates by several percentage points.

This view assumes that when the cash rate hits zero there is nothing more the Reserve Bank can do.

The view is not only wrong, it is also dangerous, because if taken seriously it would mean that all of the next rounds of stimulus would have to be come from fiscal (spending and tax) policy, even though fiscal policy is probably ineffective long-term, its effects being neutralised by a floating exchange rate.

The experience of the United States shows that Australia’s Reserve Bank could quite easily take measures that would have the same effect as cutting its cash rate a further 2.5 percentage points – that is: 2.5 percentage points below zero.