Sweden Holds Key Rate at -0.5%

The central bank of Sweden left its benchmark repo rate unchanged at -0.5 percent on October 27th 2016 as widely expected, saying the upturn in the Swedish economy is continuing, but it will take longer for the inflation to reach the 2 percent target. The SEK 245 billion quantitative easing programme was left steady but the central bank added that it is prepared to extend the purchases of government bonds and that the probability of a rate cut increased.

Excerpts from the Statement by the Executive Board of the Riksbank:

In Sweden, the Riksbank's cuts to the repo rate and the purchases of government bonds have had a broad impact and have pushed many rates down. This has contributed to positive development in the Swedish economy with high GDP growth and falling unemployment. Inflation has been rising since 2014 and long-run inflation expectations are back around 2 per cent. However, in recent months inflation has slowed down, which illustrates the uncertainty over how quickly inflation will rise towards the target.

The Riksbank now assesses that it will take longer for inflation to reach 2 per cent. The upturn in inflation therefore needs continued strong support. The Executive Board assesses that the repo rate needs to be held at the current low level, −0.50 per cent, for six months longer than was assumed in September. The Board does not expect to begin slowly raising the rate again until early 2018. The repo-rate path now also reflects a greater probability that the rate could be cut further. In accordance with previous decision, purchases of nominal and real government bonds will continue so that these amount to SEK 245 billion at the end of 2016. Until further notice, maturities and coupon payments on the holdings in the government bond portfolio will be reinvested. Prior to the monetary policy meeting in December, the Executive Board is also prepared to extend the purchases of government bonds. As the current asset purchase programme will run for the remainder of the year, there is thus opportunity to await further information that can affect the decision to extend the purchases. Examples of such information include the outcomes for inflation in the near term and actions of other central banks.

There are several factors that create uncertainty in the inflation forecast. The Riksbank therefore still has a high level of preparedness to make monetary policy even more expansionary if the upward trend in inflation were to be threatened. This also applies between the ordinary monetary policy meetings. All of the measures that the Riksbank has described earlier can still be used.

Monetary policy needs to be expansionary to safeguard the role of the inflation target as nominal anchor for price-setting and wage formation. But the low interest rate levels also entail risks, such as increased household indebtedness. To achieve long-term sustainable development in the Swedish economy, these risks need to be managed via targeted measures within macroprudential policy, housing policy and fiscal policy.

Riksbank | Joana Taborda | joana.taborda@tradingeconomics.com
10/27/2016 7:50:39 AM