Sweden Holds Repo Rate At -0.5%, Extends QE


Sweden's central bank held its benchmark repo rate at -0.5 percent on December 21st, 2016, as widely expected, and expanded its programme of asset purchases by SEK 30 billion during the first six months of 2017, saying monetary policy needs to remain very expansionary for inflation to rise towards the 2 percent target. Policymakers added that there is a greater probability that the rate will be cut than that it will be raised in the near term and that increases in the repo rate are not expected to start until the beginning of 2018.

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

The Riksbank's expansionary monetary policy has had a broad impact and pushed down interest rates in the Swedish economy. Monetary policy has thus contributed to the positive development in the Swedish economy in recent years, with high growth, falling unemployment and rising inflation. Long-term inflation expectations are also close to 2 per cent. The increasingly strong economic activity means there are good conditions for inflation to continue rising.

But there are still risks that can jeopardise the upturn in inflation. Inflation has been lower than expected in recent months, and it is still uncertain how quickly it will rise going forward. It is difficult to know, for instance, how the krona exchange rate will develop in an environment where the ECB has extended its asset purchase programme and the Federal Reserve has raised its policy rate. The Riksbank assesses that the krona will strengthen slowly in the period ahead. An overly rapid appreciation of the krona could dampen import prices and the demand for Swedish exports and make it more difficult to bring up inflation.

Monetary policy needs to remain very expansionary for inflation to rise towards 2 per cent. The Executive Board of the Riksbank has decided to hold the repo rate at −0.50 per cent and there is still a greater probability that the rate will be cut than that it will be raised in the near term. Increases in the repo rate are not expected to begin until the beginning of 2018. To further support inflation, the Executive Board has also decided to extend the purchases of government bonds by SEK 30 billion during the first half of 2017. The purchases include both nominal and real government bonds, corresponding to SEK 15 and SEK 15 billion, respectively. Until further notice, maturities and coupon payments on the government bond portfolio will be reinvested, during 2017 to a value of around SEK 30 billion. There will be a large maturity in August, but reinvestments will begin at the beginning of 2017 and are planned to continue throughout the year. In the middle of 2017, the Riksbank's purchases will amount to SEK 275 billion, excluding reinvestments.

The Executive Board still has a high level of preparedness to make monetary policy more expansionary if the upward trend in inflation were to be threatened and confidence in the inflation target weakened. 

Riksbank | Joana Ferreira | joana.ferreira@tradingeconomics.com
12/21/2016 8:58:29 AM