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Sweden Slides Further Into NIRP: Cuts To -0.25%; Expands QE

Ahead of The Fed's 'impatience' today, and amid a tumbling EUR, the oldest central bank in the world has decided it is time to go further into the illustrious ranks of NIRP/QE'ers:

  • *RIKSBANK CUTS KEY RATE TO -0.25%, TO BUY GOVT BONDS FOR SK30 BLN

So as opposed to Denmark's roundabout "bizarro QE", Sweden just jumps in and monetizes that debt direct by expanding their QE program and shifts from small NIRP to bigger NIRP. All this while suggesting the labor market is strengthening and inflation has bottomed out. The reaction - SEK is plunging and OMX surges.

 

 

  • *RIKSBANK CUTS KEY RATE, TO BUY GOVT BONDS FOR SK30 BLN
  • *RIKSBANK EXPANDS QE PROGRAM
  • *RIKSBANK BUYS GOVT. BONDS FOR SK30B
  • *RIKSBANK: SIGNS INFLATION HAS BOTTOMED OUT, ALTHOUGH STILL LOW
  • *RIKSBANK SAYS LABOR MKT IS STRENGTHENING GRADUALLY

Having already cut to -0.1% in Feb, Riksbank is at it again.

Here is the full Riksbank statement:

There are signs that inflation has bottomed out and is beginning to rise, but the recent appreciation of the krona risks breaking this trend. The Executive Board of the Riksbank has decided to make monetary policy even more expansionary by cutting the repo rate by 0.15 percentage points to ?0.25 per cent and buying government bonds for SEK 30 billion, to support the upturn in inflation. These measures and the readiness to do more at short notice underline that the Riksbank is safeguarding the role of the inflation target as a nominal anchor for price setting and wage formation.

 

Monetary policy has an effect

 

The Riksbank's expansionary monetary policy has had a positive effect on the Swedish economy. GDP growth is relatively good, the labour market is strengthening gradually and there are signs that inflation has bottomed out, although it is still low.

 

Large fluctuations on the foreign exchange market create risks for inflation

There is still considerable uncertainty over international economic developments and the effects of the oil price. In recent weeks, there have been substantial fluctuations on the fixed-income and foreign-exchange markets. The krona has strengthened substantially, mainly against the euro, which is partly linked to the European Central Bank beginning its large asset purchases. At the same time, the Federal Reserve is moving towards its first policy rate increase, which has meant that the dollar has strengthened. It is difficult to assess the continued path for the krona in this environment. If the krona continues to strengthen in the near term, this could break off the upturn in inflation that has begun, so that it fails to rise sufficiently quickly. Low inflation over an even longer period of time increases the risk that long-term inflation expectations will fall and that the role of inflation as nominal anchor in price-setting and wage formation will weaken.

 

Further measures to ensure the rise in inflation

 

The Executive Board of the Riksbank assesses that an even more expansionary monetary policy is needed to support the upturn in inflation and ensure that long-term inflation expectations are in line with the inflation target. The Board has therefore decided to cut the repo rate by 0.15 percentage points to ?0.25 per cent. Moreover, the Riksbank will buy nominal government bonds for the sum of SEK 30 billion, with maturities of up to 25 years. These purchases, which will begin on 26 March and are expected to be completed at the beginning of May 2015, are an extension of the purchases made in February and March.

 

The repo rate is expected to remain at ?0.25 per cent at least until the second half of 2016. After that, it is expected to rise gradually and at a slower pace than was forecast in the February Monetary Policy Report. The repo-rate cut and the Riksbank's purchases of government bonds will lower interest rates in general and thus contribute to an increase in demand in the economy, and thereby in inflationary pressures.

 

Readiness to do more

 

The Riksbank is still ready to make monetary policy even more expansionary, even between the ordinary monetary policy meetings, if this is necessary to ensure that inflation rises towards the target. The repo rate could possibly be cut somewhat further and the Riksbank could buy even more government bonds. In addition, the Riksbank is prepared to launch a programme of loans to companies via the banks. In addition to these measures, there are a number of other measures that the Riksbank could take. These include the possibility of interventions on the foreign exchange or buying other types of assets.
Press conference today at 3 pm

 

A press conference with Governor Stefan Ingves and Ms Christina Nyman, Deputy Head of the Monetary Policy Department, will be held today at 3 p.m. in the Riksbank. Press cards must be shown. The press conference will be broadcast live on the Riksbank's website where it will also be available to view afterwards.

The decision on the repo rate will apply from 25 March onwards. The interest rates on the fine-tuning transactions in the Riksbank's operational framework for the implementation of monetary policy will remain at the repo rate +/- 0.10 percentage points. Further information on the Executive Board's deliberations in connection with the decision and on the Riksbank's purchases of government bonds can be found in a separate annex to the minutes on the Riksbank's website.

Here is the full list of the 24 central banks cutting so far in 2015, including the second rate cut by the Riksbank following its February rate cut:

1. Jan. 1 UZBEKISTAN

Uzbekistan's central bank cuts its refinancing rate to 9 percent from 10 percent.

2. Jan. 7/Feb. 4 ROMANIA

Romania's central bank cuts its key interest rate by a total of 50 basis points, taking it to a new record low of 2.25 percent. Most analysts polled by Reuters had expected the latest cut.

3. Jan. 15 SWITZERLAND

The Swiss National Bank stuns markets by scrapping the franc's three-year-old exchange rate cap to the euro, leading to an unprecedented surge in the currency. This de facto tightening, however, is in part offset by a cut in the interest rate on certain sight deposit account balances by 0.5 percentage points to -0.75 percent.

4. Jan. 15 EGYPT

Egypt's central bank makes a surprise 50 basis point cut in its main interest rates, reducing the overnight deposit and lending rates to 8.75 and 9.75 percent, respectively.

5. Jan. 16 PERU

Peru's central bank surprises the market with a cut in its benchmark interest rate to 3.25 percent from 3.5 percent after the country posts its worst monthly economic expansion since 2009.

6. Jan. 20 TURKEY

Turkey's central bank lowers its main interest rate, but draws heavy criticism from government ministers who say the 50 basis point cut, five months before a parliamentary election, is not enough to support growth.

7. Jan. 21 CANADA

The Bank of Canada shocks markets by cutting interest rates to 0.75 percent from 1 percent, where it had been since September 2010, ending the longest period of unchanged rates in Canada since 1950.

8. Jan. 22 EUROPEAN CENTRAL BANK

The ECB launches a government bond-buying programme which will pump over a trillion euros into a sagging economy starting in March and running through to September next year, and perhaps beyond.

9. Jan. 24 PAKISTAN

Pakistan's central bank cuts its key discount rate to 8.5 percent from 9.5 percent, citing lower inflationary pressure due to falling global oil prices. Central Bank Governor Ashraf Wathra says the new rate will be in place for two months, until the next central bank meeting to discuss further policy.

10. Jan. 28 SINGAPORE

The Monetary Authority of Singapore unexpectedly eases policy, saying in an unscheduled policy statement that it will reduce the slope of its policy band for the Singapore dollar because the inflation outlook has "shifted significantly" since its last review in October 2014.

11. Jan. 28 ALBANIA
Albania's central bank cuts its benchmark interest rate to a record low 2 percent. This follows three rate cuts last year, the most recent in November.

12. Jan. 30 RUSSIA
Russia's central bank unexpectedly cuts its one-week minimum auction repo rate by two percentage points to 15 percent, a little over a month after raising it by 6.5 points to 17 percent, as fears of recession mount following the fall in global oil prices and Western sanctions over the Ukraine crisis.

13. Feb. 3 AUSTRALIA
The Reserve Bank of Australia cuts its cash rate to an all-time low of 2.25 percent, seeking to spur a sluggish economy while keeping downward pressure on the local dollar.

14. Feb. 4/28 CHINA
China's central bank makes a system-wide cut to bank reserve requirements -- its first in more than two years -- to unleash a flood of liquidity to fight off economic slowdown and looming deflation. On Feb. 28, the People's Bank of China cut its interest rate by 25 bps, when it lowered its one-year lending rate to 5.35% from 5.6% and its one-year deposit rate to 2.5% from 2.75%. It also said it would raise the maximum interest rate on bank deposits to 130% of the benchmark rate from 120%.

15. Jan. 19/22/29/Feb. 5 DENMARK
The Danish central bank cuts interest rates a remarkable four times in less than three weeks, and intervenes regularly in the currency market to keep the crown within the narrow range of its peg to the euro.

16. February 17, INDONESIA
Indonesia’s central bank unexpectedly cut its main interest rate for the first time in three years

17. February 18, BOTSWANA
The Bank of Botswana reduced its benchmark interest rate for the first time in more than a year to help support the economy as inflation pressures ease.
The rate was cut by 1 percentage point to 6.5 percent, the first adjustment since Oct. 2013, the central bank said in an e-mailed statement on Wednesday.

18. February 23, ISRAEL

The Bank of Israel reduced its interest rate by 0.15 percentage points, to 0.10 percent in order to stimulate a return of the inflation rate to within the price stability target of 1–3 percent a year over the next twelve months, and to support growth while maintaining financial stability.

19. March 1, CHINA

China's Central Bank lowered by a quarter percentage point both the benchmark one-year loan rate, to 5.35%, and the one-year deposit rate, to 2.5%. "Deflationary risk and the property market slowdown are two main reasons for the rate cut this time."

20. Jan. 15, March 3, INDIA

The Reserve Bank of India surprises markets with a 25 basis point cut in rates to 7.75 percent and signals it could lower them further, amid signs of cooling inflation and growth struggling to recover from its weakest levels since the 1980s. Then on March 3, it followed through on its promise and indeed cut rates one more time, this time to 7.50%

21. March 4, POLAND

The Monetary Policy Council lowered its benchmark seven-day reference rate by 50 basis points to 1.5 percent, matching the prediction of 11 of 36 economists in a Bloomberg survey. Twenty-three analysts forecast a 25 basis-point reduction, while two predicted no change.

22. March 11, THAILAND

The Southeast Asian country -- a onetime export powerhouse that’s seen its manufacturing mojo dim somewhat in recent years amid historic flooding and political infighting -- lowered its main rate to 1.75 percent.

23. March 11, SOUTH KOREA

In a surprise move, the Bank of Korea cut its policy rate from 2.00% to a record low 1.75%.

24. Feb. 13, March 18: SWEDEN

Sweden's central bank cut its key repo rate to -0.1 percent from zero where it had been since October, and said it would buy 10 billion Swedish crowns worth of bonds. Then on March 25, the Executive Board of the Riksbank has decided to make monetary policy even more expansionary by cutting the repo rate by 0.15 percentage points to ?0.25 per cent and buying government bonds for SEK 30 billion, to support the upturn in inflation.