Friday, December 3, 2021

Moldova raises rate 4th time to temper inflation

     Moldova's central bank raised its key interest rates for the fourth time this year, saying this "aims to create the monetary conditions necessary to temper the growth rates of consumer prices" amid rising inflationary expectations.
      The National Bank of Moldova (NBM) raised its base rate by 100 basis points to 6.50 percent and has now raised the rate 3.85 percentage points following rate hikes in July, September, October and today.
     The central bank also raised the rate on its other interest rates by 1 percentage point, with the interest rate on overnight loans now at 8.50 percent and the deposit rate at 4.50 percent.
     NBM said it would continue to closely monitor the domestic and international environment and "is prepared to take the necessary measures to achieve the fundamental objective of ensuring price stability."
     Inflation in Moldova, Europe's poorest country, jumped to 8.8 percent in October from 6.7 percent in September, above the central bank's target of 5.0 percent, plus/minus 1.5 percentage points.
     Today's rate hike comes after NBM's board at its regular meeting on Oct. 29 maintained its rate after raising it an an extraordinary meeting on Oct. 5, citing the uncertainty surrounding the impact of the country's "energy crises."
     In September Moldova's contract with Russia for gas supplies expired and the government had to declare a state of emergency in the energy sector, triggering the use of state funds to buy fuel.
     But last week Moldovagaz said it had paid Russia's Gazprom for the gas it had received in October and the first half of November, averting a possible crises, Reuters reported on Nov. 26.
     The payment of US$73 million was made possible after Moldova's parliament approved a budget amendment that allowed it to pay the money due.

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Hungary tightens monetary conditions further

     Hungary's central bank tightened its monetary conditions further by raising the interest rate on its overnight deposit, overnight lending and one-week lending facilities in response to what is said was the recent rise of risks in financial and commodity markets.
     The National Bank of Hungary's (NBH) monetary council said it had not discussed changing the base rate today but decided to widen the bank's interest rate corridor and make it asymmetrical upwards as "an integral part of the strategy of the new phase of monetary policy."
      The monetary council meets twice a month, with only the second meeting of the month designated as a policy meeting when the main policy rate is typically decided. 
      Although today's meeting was scheduled as a non-monetary policy meeting, the council still raised the overnight deposit rate by 45 basis points to 1.60 percent, to be 50 points below the bank's base rate that was last raised to 2.10 percent on Nov. 16.
      Both the overnight and one-week collateralized loan rates were raised 105 basis points to 4.10 percent and are now 2.0 percentage points above the base rate instead of being 95 points above it.
      NBH has raised its base rate six times and by a total of 1.50 percentage points since June as it continues to tighten monetary conditions in response to the rise in inflation and to help anchor inflation expectations and thus reduce the risk of second-round effects.
      Hungary's inflation rate rose to a faster-than-expected 6.5 percent in October from 5.5 percent in September for the highest rate since September 2012 and well above the upper limit of its target range of 2.0 to 4.0 percent around a 3.0 percent midpoint.
      In its statement, the central bank referred to its press release on Nov. 16 in which it noted the rise in short-term risks in financial markets and its intention to respond to these risks quickly and to the extent necessary.
      The central bank typically responds to a change in market conditions through the one-week deposit rate and today it said the rate on this had risen above the base rate in recent weeks.
      The one-week deposit rate is set at weekly tenders on Thursdays, and the rate has risen by a total of 1.10 percentage points to 2.9 percent since then Nov. 16, close to the upper end of its earlier interest rate corridor.
     "In order to achieve and maintain price stability, it is highly important that the central bank has the appropriate monetary policy room for manoeuvre," the bank said, adding this would allow it to effectively manage risks from a rapidly changing environment.

Sunday, November 28, 2021

This week in monetary policy: Kyrgyzstan, Kenya, Angola, Bulgaria, Botswana, Moldova & Zimbabwe

     This week - November 29 through December 4 - central banks from 7 countries or jurisdictions are scheduled to decide on monetary policy: Kyrgyz Republic, Kenya, Angola, Bulgaria, Botswana, Moldova and Zimbabwe.
     Zimbabwe's central bank was originally scheduled to hold a monetary policy meeting on Dec. 3 but at a meeting on Oct. 28 the bank's monetary policy committee tightened the policy stance significantly, including raising the policy rate 20 percentage points to 60 percent. 
     On the central bank's website, the Dec. 3 policy is meeting is no longer listed so it's not clear if there is a policy meeting or not.
     Following table includes the name of the country, the date of the next policy decision, the current policy rate, the local time a policy decision is announced, the result of the last policy decision, the change in the policy rate year to date, and the rate one year ago.
    The table is updated when the latest decisions are announced and can always be accessed by clicking on This Week.

NOV 29 - DEC 4, 2021
BULGARIA30-Nov0.00%000.00%         FM
ZIMBABWE 3-Dec60.00%2000250035.00%

Friday, November 26, 2021

Dominican Rep. raises rate and growth forecast

      The Central Bank of the Dominican Republic (CBDR) raised its key interest rate for the first time in more than three years as it enters the second phase of normalizing monetary policy, saying this step will ensure inflation converges to its target while the economic recovery continues to strengthen.
      CBDR raised its monetary policy interest rate by 50 basis points to 3.50 percent the bank said after a meeting of its monetary policy committee on Nov. 24.
       It was the central bank's first rate hike since July 2018 when the rate was raised to 5.50 percent. 
       With its rate hike, CBDR becomes the 100th central bank to raise its rate so far this year as central banks unwind last year's extraordinary monetary stimulus that has helped the global economy bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic, boosting demand and inflation.
       A year later CBDR in July 2019 entered a monetary easing cycle with the rate cut five times and by a total of 2.50 percentage points, with the final cut in September 2020, the bank's second rate cut last year to cushion economic activity during the pandemic.
      In addition to the two rate cuts last year that totaled 1 percentage point,  CBDR also lowered the reserve requirements for financial institutions and boosted the amount of liquidity available to banks.
      The central bank has estimated financial institutions channeled more than 215 billion Dominican pesos  to companies and households since the beginning of the pandemic, and this also led to a 300 basis points decline in the weighted average lending rate of commercial banks and a boost in private loans.
      With economic activity in the Dominican Republic recovering the central bank in August this year raised its outlook for economic growth and began what it said was "an orderly plan of monetary normalization" as funds granted to firms and households through different liquidity facilities return they mature and are repaid.
      In September CBRD said it had recovered some 45 billion pesos of funds and estimated this amount could top 60 billion by the end of this year.
      Today, the central bank said it had decided to raise its key rate in a second stage of this normalization process with the purpose of preserving price stability to ensure inflation returns to its target.
      "Likewise, it will continue to evaluate the persistence of exogenous shocks on domestic inflation with the purpose of taking additional monetary measures that may be necessary to maintain economic agents' inflation expectations anchored," the bank said.
      In addition to raising its monetary policy rate today, CBDR also raised the rate on overnight deposits to 3.0 percent from 2.50 percent.
      Inflation in the Dominican Republic has been steady between 7 and 8 percent in the last four months - it was 7.72 percent in October, up from 7.74 percent in September but down from 7.9 percent in August - but still well above the bank's target range of 4.0 percent, plus/minus 1 percentage point.
      Cumulative headline inflation in the first 10 months was 6.56 percent while core inflation - which excludes the most volatile components - hit 6.31 percent in October, reflecting second round effects from higher production costs that is due to higher external inflation, CBDR said.
      The central bank forecast headline inflation would converge to its target in the second half of 2022, a more gradual pace than previously estimated.
      The latest economic activity indicator shows aggregate demand in the Dominican Republic growing 10.6 percent year-on-year in September for an accumulated increase of 12.7 percent in the first nine months of the year, the bank said, pointing to good performance in construction, local manufacturing, free trade zones, commerce along with the recovery of the hotel, bar and restaurant sector.
      CBDR raised its forecast for economic growth this year to around 10.7 percent from last month's forecast of 10 percent of more.
      In the second quarter of this year, the economy grew an annual 25.4 percent, up from 3.1 percent in the first quarter.

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

South Korea raises rate 2nd time and sees sound growth

      South Korea's central bank raised its benchmark interest rate for the second time this year and signaled it will continue to raise rates, saying it would "appropriately adjust the degree of monetary policy accommodation as the Korean economy is expected to continue its sound growth and inflation to run above the target level for a considerable time, despite underlying uncertainties over the virus."
      But the Bank of Korea (BOK) also said the time line for further rate hikes would depend on the pace of economic growth and inflation along with the risk of a buildup of financial imbalances and the changes in monetary policy in major countries.
     BOK raised its base rate by another 25 basis points to 1.0 percent and has now raised it 50 points this year following an earlier rate hike in August, the bank's first rate hike since November 2018.
     Today's rate hike was widely expected by financial markets after the country's inflation rate rose to 3.2 percent in October from 2.5 percent, pushing up inflation expectations to the upper 2 percent level and above the central bank's 2.0 percent target.
     Looking ahead, BOK forecast consumer price inflation will be higher than it forecast in August and exceed its target "considerably" before it declines to around 2 percent in 2022.
     BOK raised its forecast for inflation this year to 2.3 percent and for inflation to remain at that a level in the first half of 2022 before easing in the second half for an average of 2.0 percent as inflationary pressures on the demand side are expected to gradually expand due to the economic recovery amid a sharp rise in global oil prices.
     BOK said the country's economy had continued its recovery and maintained its forecast for economic growth this year of around 4.0 percent and around 3.0 percent in 2022.

Zambia raises rate 2nd time to steer inflation lower

     Zambia's central bank raised it key interest rate for the second time, saying this would "help steer inflation to single digits in 2022 and to within the 6-8 percent target range by mid-2023..."
     The Bank of Zambia (BOZ) raised its monetary policy rate by 50 basis points to 9.0 percent and has now raised it by 1 percentage point this year following a similar-sized rate hike in February.
     Zambia's inflation rate eased for the third month in a row to 21.1 percent in October from a 2021-high of 24.6 percent in July for an average 23.7 percent in the third quarter, largely due to a rise in food inflation to 30.8 percent due to supply constraints for meat and poultry products, the bank said.
     "Although inflation is projected to decelerate sharply over the forecast horizon, it will still be above the upper bound of the 6-8 percent range," BOZ said, adding upside risks to the outlook include a possible rise in fuel pump prices and electricity to restore fiscal sustainability as well as a predicted fourth wave of COVID-19, which could disrupt supply chains and trigger price increases.
     BOZ forecast average 2021 inflation of 22.6 percent, then 15.0 percent in 2022 and 9.3 percent in the first three quarters of 2023.
     The recovery of Zambia's economy is continuing though the third wave of the pandemic led to subdued economic activity, the bank said.
     BOZ forecast 3.3 percent growth in 2021 and then accelerate to 3.5 percent in 2022 and 3.7 percent in 2023.
     "The new waves of COVID-19, amidst the low vaccination rate, are a key downside risk to the growth outlook," the central bank said.

New Zealand raises rate 2nd time, sees more hikes

      New Zealand's central bank raised it key interest rate for the second month in a row and said it would likely need to continue to raise the rate to above the neutral rate as the near-term risks to inflation were skewed to the upside and this carries the risk that higher inflation becomes embedded.
     The Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) raised its official cash rate (OCR) by another 25 basis points to 0.75 percent and has now raised the rate by a total of 50 points following the earlier rate hike in October, which was the first rate hike since July 2014.
     Although New Zealand's economy contracted sharply during the nationwide lockdown in August to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the central bank said the country's economy was in a strong position, supported by resilient household spending, strong construction activity, fiscal policy and demand for the important dairy and meat products.
       Public health restrictions will ease as New Zealand transitions into a new phase to control the spread of the Delta variant - the COVID-19 Protection Framework - but this will still result in a economic slowdown in the second half of this year as household spending and business investment is dampened.
    "With the easing of restrictions, it is anticipated that the COVID-19 virus will become more widespread geographically, albeit manageable for health authorities and less harmful for those vaccinated," the bank said.
     Despite the lockdowns, capacity pressures in New Zealand's economy have continued to tighten, RBNZ said, as employment is now considered to be above its maximum sustainable level and this is reflected in stronger wage growth, boosting domestic inflation.
      At the same time, continued bottlenecks globally and locally and higher oil prices have added to inflationary pressures and RBNZ expects headline inflation to exceed 5 percent in the near term before returning to the 2 percent midpoint of the bank's target range of 1.0 to 3.0 percent over two years.
     New Zealand's inflation rate jumped to 4.9 percent in the third quarter of this year from 3.3 percent in the previous quarter while the economy grew 17.4 percent year-on-year in the second quarter - the fastest pace of growth since records began in 1988 - from 2.9 percent in the first quarter.
     In addition to a 75-basis point rate cut in March last year at the onset of the pandemic, RBNZ also stimulated economic activity by other means, such as asset purchases.
     Initially RBNZ began buying up to NZ$30 billion of government bonds but then also bought local agency bonds and by August 2020 the target under the Large Scale Asset Purchase (LSAP) program was then raised to $100 billion.
      With the economy recovering, the central bank in July decided to conclude its asset purchase program, prior to the October rate hike, and the bank's monetary policy committee today the impact of LSAP on monetary stimulus had declined though the current amount of bond holdings are still providing "a small amount of ongoing stimulus."
     "The Committee expects to gradually manage LSAP bond holdings down, in a way that maintains the smooth functioning of financial markets," RBNZ said, adding it would provide further details on how bond holdings will be reduced early next year.
     Commercial banks also still have access to medium-term funding under RBNZ's Funding for Lending Program (FLP) until the end of 2022 and the monetary policy committee said it had agreed that changing the terms of this program would not be consistent with its risk appetite.
     "As the OCR is increased, the cost to banks of borrowing through FLP will rise, helping to remove monetary stimulus," RBNZ said.
     During its meeting, the monetary policy committee discussed how fast interest rates need to be raised over the next 12 to 18 months to meet its goals.
     "The Committee expected that the OCR would need to be progressively increased and, conditional on the economy evolving as expected, the OCR would likely need to be raised above its neutral rate," the bank said.
     One factor favoring a more rapid removal of monetary stimulus was the current level of inflation and capacity pressures, and the risk that higher near-term inflation becomes embedded in price setting behavior.
     On the other end, there is uncertainty over the resilience of consumer spending and business investment as the country adapts to life with COVID-19 in the community, while monetary conditions are already beginning to tighten and high levels of household debt could increase sensitivity to higher interest rates.
     "Weighing these factors, the Committee assessed risks to their price stability and maximum sustainable employment objectives as being broadly balanced over the medium term," RBNZ said.

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Lesotho raises rate 1st time in 3 yrs, growth vulnerable

      Lesotho's central bank raised its benchmark interest rate for the first time in three years to ensure the domestic cost of funds remains aligned with the rest of the region, but said the economic recovery remains vulnerable to further waves of the COVID-19 pandemic and the emergence of new variants.
     The Central Bank of Lesotho (CBL) raised its CBL rate by 25 basis points to 3.75 percent, the bank's first rate hike since November 2018 when the rate was raised to 6.75 percent before it embarked on an easing cycle in July 2019 that led to six rate cuts, including five cuts in 2020.
     CBL's rate hike mirrors that of the Reserve Bank of South Africa (SARB), which last week also raised its rate by 25 basis points, the bank's first rate hike since November 2018.
     CBL's monetary policy committee, which released its policy decision a day earlier than previously scheduled, also maintained its target floor for Net International Reserves (NIR) at US$760 million, saying this was consistent with maintaining the exchange rate peg between the loti and South Africa's rand.
     The Kingdom of Lesotho is surrounded by South Africa and its economy relies on remittances from its workers in South Africa. Along with Namibia and Eswatini (former Swaziland), Lesotho is part of the rand monetary area that uses the rand as a common currency.
      CBL's objective of price stability is achieved by ensuring the peg between the loti and the rand - known as an exchange rate targeting monetary policy framework - by maintaining net international reserves at a level that is sufficient to guarantee that for every loti issued there is a basket of foreign currency reserves.
      In addition to uncertainty around the pandemic, CBL said the economic recovery was vulnerable to upside risks to inflation from supply chain disruptions and a possible tightening of financial conditions.
      Lesotho's inflation rate rose slightly to 5.4 percent in September from 5.2 percent in August but is below 6.9 percent seen in May.
      Lesotho's economy grew an annual 12.7 percent in the second quarter of this year, the fastest pace of growth since comparable data in 2007, after four consecutive quarters of shrinkage.
      CBL said its composite indicator of economic activity (CIEA) slowed by 1.1 percent in the third quarter compared with a 3.7 percent rise in the second quarter, mainly due to negative growth in manufacturing that was moderated by an improvement in demand.
      "Possible spikes in infection rates could bode negatively for growth and general economic recovery in the short to medium term," CBL said on Nov. 22.

Monday, November 22, 2021

Paraguay raises rate 4th time but may now pause hikes

      Paraguay's central bank raised its key interest rate for the fourth month in a row, but dropped last month's pledge of continuing the current cycle of interest rate changes, signaling it may leave rates on hold while it weighs the future course of monetary policy.
     The Central Bank of Paraguay (BCP) raised its monetary policy rate by 1.25 percentage points to 4.0 percent and has now raised it 3.25 percentage points this year following rate hikes in August, September, October and today.
     BCP has now unwound all last year's five rate cuts, with the rate back to the level it was in February 2020 before the bank cut the rate three times March followed by a cut in April and then June.
     Today's rate hike comes after the bank's monetary policy committee (MPC) in October raised the rate by 1.25 percentage points and said it would raise the rate by the same amount at today's meeting.
     The MPC today re-affirmed its commitment to price stability and said it would closely monitor internal and external economic variables to determine the future course of monetary policy.
     Today's decision was unanimous.
      Noting that COVID-19 cases in South America "remain moderate," which has supported favorable rates of economic growth, BCP also said inflation remains high, which has led to the adoption of a less expansionary monetary policy.
      Inflation in the land-locked country rose for the sixth month to 7.6 percent in October from 6.4 percent in September, above the central bank's target of 4.0 percent, plus/minus 2 percentage points.
     Although BCP said the rise in inflation is largely due to higher prices for food and energy internationally, it also said higher demand for beef had put upward pressure on local prices.
     "Taking into account the better economic outlook, the second-round effects of these initial shocks may become relevant, as well as negatively influence medium-term inflation expectations," BCP said.
      Greater persistence of inflation could also be associated with fiscal policy that is not carried out according to the guidelines of sustainability, the bank added.
      Paraguay's gross domestic product grew an annual 6.9 percent in the second quarter, up from 0.5 percent in the first quarter, and BCP said economic activity remained dynamic and in line with its own forecast for this year.
      On Friday the central bank's governor, Jose Cantero, was quoted by press as saying GDP this year could top the bank's forecast of 4.5 percent growth based on the accumulated expansion of 5.7 percent so far and the latest indicators of economic activity.
      Cantero also admitted inflation was above the bank's target but added medium-term expectations were in line with the target and financial markets still find the bank's monetary management as credible.

Ghana raises rate 1st time in 6 yrs as inflation rises

     Ghana's central bank raised its monetary policy rate for the first times in six years, saying the rise in inflation and significant risks to the outlook required "prompt" action to prevent inflation expectations from becoming detached from the bank's target.
     The Bank of Ghana (BoG) raised its policy rate by 100 basis points to 14.50 percent, the bank's first rate hike since November 2015 when the rate was raised to 26.0 percent to curb inflation which hit 19.2 percent in March 2016.
     By November 2016, BoG was encouraged by the decline in inflation and embarked on a monetary easing cycle, lowering the rate by a total of 12.50 percentage points, with final rate cut in May 2021.
     At that point, BoG was confident the decline in inflation was sustainable and it would return to its target in the second quarter of this year.
     But after bottoming at 7.5 percent in May, inflation in Ghana has risen steadily. 
     At its previous meeting in September, the bank's monetary policy committee was still confident inflation would to ease as food prices would decline due to the harvest season and forecast headline inflation would remain within its target range.
     However, inflation hit 11 percent in October, up from 10.6 percent in September, and well above BoG's target range of 8.0 percent, plus/minus 2 percentage points.
     Today BoG acknowledged both food and non-food price increases had driven up headline inflation to above the upper limit of its target range and "noted significant risks to the inflation outlook," pointing to rising global inflation, high energy prices, uncertainties around food prices and investor behavior.
     It added all measures of inflation have risen, indicating broad-based underlying inflation pressure.
     "The Committee further noted that these elevated inflationary risks, require prompt policy action to re-anchor inflation expectations to safeguard the central bank's price stability objective," BoG said.
      Ghana's economy has recovered well from the pandemic, supported not only by BoG's rate cuts but also macro prudential measures, such as a lowering of banks' reserve requirements, and the central bank's purchase of government bonds.
     The bank said these measures should remain in place for now to "support a more robust recovery of the economy," adding the latest confidence surveys show continued improvement in both business and among consumers. 
     Credit to the private sector is also recovering, but at a slow pace, but BoG said it expects this recovery to continue due to increased demand and an anticipated net easing in bank's credit stance.
     "The outlook remains positive, although sluggish credit growth remains a risk to the real sector recovery," BoG said.
     Ghana's economy grew an annual 3.9 percent in the first quarter of this year, up from 3.1 percent in the first quarter.

Sunday, November 21, 2021

This week in monetary policy: China, Ghana, Israel, Paraguay, Nigeria, Lesotho, New Zealand, Zambia, Guatemala, South Korea, Sri Lanka & Sweden

    This week - November 22 through November 27 - central banks from 12 countries or jurisdictions are scheduled to decide on monetary policy: China, Ghana, Israel, Paraguay, Nigeria, Lesotho, New Zealand, Zambia, Guatemala, South Korea, Sri Lanka and Sweden.
     Following table includes the name of the country, the date of the next policy decision, the current policy rate, the local time a policy decision is announced, the result of the last policy decision, the change in the policy rate year to date, and the rate one year ago.
    The table is updated when the latest decisions are announced and can always be accessed by clicking on This Week.

NOV 22 - NOV 27, 2021
CHINA22-Nov3.85%9:30003.85%         EM
GHANA22-Nov13.50%0-10014.50%         FM
ISRAEL22-Nov0.10%16:00000.10%         DM
NIGERIA23-Nov11.50%0011.50%         FM
NEW ZEALAND 24-Nov0.50%14:0025250.25%         DM
SOUTH KOREA25-Nov0.75%0250.50%         EM
SRI LANKA25-Nov5.00%7:300504.50%         FM
SWEDEN25-Nov0.00%9:30000.00%         DM