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Westpac economists believe the latest inflation spike will prove temporary and won't require interest rate hikes, while they say the markets also over reacted to RBNZ remit changes from Grant Robertson

Westpac economists believe the latest inflation spike will prove temporary and won't require interest rate hikes, while they say the markets also over reacted to RBNZ remit changes from Grant Robertson

Financial markets have been over-reacting, say Westpac economists.

In their NZ Weekly Commentary, the economists say financial markets are wrong to believe that recent strength in inflation will continue - thus requiring interest rate rises. And the markets over-reacted last week to Finance Minister Grant Robertson's moves to for the Reserve Bank to take account of housing in its decision making.

In terms of the fact that "the market suspects" that recent inflation strength will endure, the economists note that the possibility of hikes in the Official Cash Rate by the middle of next year are already being "priced in".

"However, we think markets have jumped the gun – we do not have OCR hikes pencilled in until 2024," they say.

"Inflation has risen, but we expect the rise to prove temporary. Much of the inflation spike has actually been due to global supply chain disruptions which will pass. Also, surging global commodity prices have pushed global inflation higher as household spending has shifted from services to goods. But this too will prove temporary. As the global vaccine rollout allows household spending to shift back to services (eg. travel, eating out and entertainment), global commodity prices will cool."

Kiwibank economists, in their weekly First View note that global financial markets "have started to test the resolve of central banks", with interest rates gapping higher on Government bonds.

"It's beginning to look a bit like the taper tantrum of 2013, without the taper."

They too believe that current inflationary pressures will prove temporary.

"Driving global interest rates higher has been the so called 'reflation trade'. Economies are slowly recovering from covid lockdowns and vaccines are being rolled out. Current and expected policy stimulus are expected to supercharge economic growth, and inflation pressures are emerging. The US 10-year government bond yield - a global benchmark rate - hit a 12-month high last week of over 1.6%," they say.

"But recent signs of inflation pressure are partly related to supply-chain disruption due to covid. Global shipping is expensive, and some areas of manufacturing have been disrupted by cases of covid hitting their workforce. But these factors are likely to prove temporary, meaning talk of run-away inflation is probably overblown."

They say the outlook for the Kiwi economy may be brighter but "remains highly uncertain".

"And while the RBNZ may be closer to achieving its dual mandate than previously believed, inflation and employment are likely to remain below target for some time to come. Echoing other central banks, the RBNZ has vowed to keep monetary policy stimulatory until inflation is sustainably back at (or above) the 2% target and employment is nearing a maximum sustainable level. We're picking the OCR to remain unchanged until late next year."

The Westpac economists say another New Zealand factor likely to push inflation lower is the strengthening New Zealand dollar (NZD). Last week it rose above US74c, its highest in about three years, although it then did fall late in the week and at time of writing was US72.7c.

"...We expect there is more NZD strength to come," the Westpac economists say, "with our forecast of the quarterly average reaching 0.78 in mid-2022".

"This currency strength is more than the RBNZ has factored into forecasts. As a result, the dampening impact of the NZD over 2021 and 2022 will surprise the Bank, reinforcing the lack of urgency for the RBNZ to start hiking the OCR."

On the RBNZ announcement from Finance Minister Robertson last week, the Westpac economists noted that these will require the RBNZ to assess the impact of monetary policy on house prices, and to take the Government’s broader housing policy into account when setting financial stability policy. The RBNZ’s Monetary Policy Remit now includes a new sub-clause requiring the RBNZ to assess the impact of monetary policy on the Government’s policy of supporting more affordable house prices.

"We don’t think this Remit change will have a material impact on OCR settings. Indeed, the change effectively it doesn’t require the RBNZ to act any differently – just to report on the housing market effects of its actions. The RBNZ’s dual mandates of price stability and supporting maximum sustainable employment still take precedence.

"All up, we’re broadly supportive of this change. We have long felt that the RBNZ has underplayed the link between interest rates and house prices. Requiring the RBNZ to assess this link more deeply might actually lead to better forecasts of activity and inflation."

They believe that the changes around financial stability policy are more significant.

They note that under the RBNZ Act, the Minister has directed the RBNZ to: 

“have regard to the impact of its actions on the Government’s policy of supporting more sustainable house prices, including by dampening investor demand for existing housing stock, which would improve affordability for first-home buyers."

The Westpac economists say that financial stability policy has more scope for trade-offs – for instance, the RBNZ may be willing to accept more risk around the build-up of debt by first-home buyers, if it serves the Government’s wider housing affordability goals.

"The RBNZ has been skewing its prudential policies to target property investors rather than first homebuyers for some time, and the Minister’s directive will formalise this."

Then there was that financial markets reaction:

"We believe that markets have overdone their reaction to the Minister’s announcement. Interest rates rose sharply, but we would have thought the opposite reaction was more appropriate.

"Previously, there was a risk that the Minister would require the RBNZ to react to house prices when setting monetary policy, but in reality, that outcome has been avoided.

"To us, the fact that the focus was on financial stability was a dovish development."

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38 Comments

15
up

Shouldn't the RBNZ increase the rates preemptively the same way as they lowered them last year?

That's not how they think. The central bankers believe that higher interest rates would decimate spending when interest rates have been declining over the medium to long term.

In that they are wrong since the flow of money they intended with this is barely making it into the households, instead it's making a full circle from debt back to the bank in form of principal plus interest.

You're missing the point. Spending into the 'real economy' like goods and services.

Yes, that's exactly what I meant they are wrong about.

Yes, that's exactly what I meant they are wrong about.

Well they're not wrong. Consumer spending has not fallen off a cliff. Their assumption is that it could without their benevolence.

Yes, but not as a result of consumers being issued home loans, which has been the primary outcome of the RBNZ policies, but as a collective effort of all NZders which has let us being able to keep pretty much the level of economic activity as in previous years due to the better than expected reaction NZ had to COVID except for in relatively short periods of time and some sectors of the economy which are effectively shut.

Yep, consequence of financialisation - FIRE industry and taxes.

11
up

None of this matters.
We have Bold Grant's announcement due, that will shape the future of our economy and society.
I am waiting with worms on my tongue for that!

(PS: Is this a sign of panic setting in, in the Land that Controls our Banks? "RBA doubles daily bond buying to $4b")

When is that happening?

Naughty markets ,being irrational
Banks of course know best.
banks are mere flotsam on a sea of bond market.
Wakey wakey

Cannot raise rates, as that is the conveyor belt for feeding the Ponzi with ever more debt and lower repayments
Problem number one now is: no further cuts available
Oh dear. QE whining equivalent to start from poor punters not being given regular hit

As I indicated previously I think this inflation blip is just temporary, the result of too much medicine being applied without proper metering. Once the sugar rush wears off it'll be time for sugar daddy Orr to come back and give the economy another little hit.

When you look at the factors that support inflation we now have a greater number of zombie companies sucking talent out of our economy, productivity isn't going anywhere fast and the demographic issues will be exacerbated.

New Zealand's economy won't be fundemetally transformed by this to a high growth environment by RBNZ or Government.

10
up

Like a junkie needing bigger hits. If interest is lowered further where to go from there? Start paying people interest on their home loans and charging for term deposits! See I'd be a great RB Governer. Failing that, let in a glut of newcomers to NZ? Ask Megan Woods to tone it down, 12 houses is a bit too many? I'd also be a great PM me thinks

New Zealand's economy won't be fundemetally transformed by this to a high growth environment by RBNZ or Government.

Innovation and transformation is your job. They're just manning the desks and preparing the sausage rolls.

Hmm. Looking at a price increase letter distributed today, effective April. 10 - 15% increases on a wide range of commodity product.

I will second that. I have suppliers mooting that kind of increase. Our freight costs across the tasman have gone through the roof, we have no choie but to push prices to recoup some of that. Freight will not normalise for at least another 12 months, if ever. I do feel there is some outstanding gouging going on by some.

I find this telling - global financial markets "have started to test the resolve of central banks". Also, peniciling in a date for OCR hikes? How crazy is that when they've been so hideously wrong

10
up

These "bank economists" are just ass-clowns feeding numbers into a computer model and parroting whatever results get spat out that happen to coincide with their commercial interests.

Just like the weatherman their results are junk after a certain point in the future due to the nature of non-linear dynamics and chaos.

I don't know why they are given the time of day with any prediction beyond a few months.

We have seen a little blip on oil prices, a huge housing asset bubble (low interest rates) and a share price surge (investors looking for gains), and, more recently, bond yield increases that have resulted directly from RBNZ reducing LSAP, which was holding prices up (and yields down) in the secondary market.

This is not a resurgent economy, not least because the real labour market slack is huge; unemployment rate is almost irrelevant when we have a precariat / part-time working economy. Govt needs to stop pishing about with monetary policy and get into serious infrastructure investment and job creation.

"Precariat" - exactly!!! - fastest growing cohort of NZ society which cannot afford Mr Orr's utopia.

Reserve Bank Governor Adrian Orr describes high house prices as 'first-class problem', alternative is 'depression' Link

Arrogant pr**k - I beg someone to tell me the difference for the majority.

That was not a very clever thing for Orr to say. Surprised that this 'first class problem vs depression' trade off is not discussed more often.

The central bank platform and constitution appear to be drawn from stores of fancy that thrive on malevolence, artifice and self-inflated vanity in the name of monetary policy.

The technocrats ruling the world on their omnipotence. Welcome to dystopia.

Crony capitalism for the minority.

Exactly right, Audaxes.

And we have an out-of-control, pigheaded un-elected bureaucrat at the helm of the RBNZ, whose main reaction to Robertson's instructions to properly consider the housing markets in his future decisions can be best described at not much more than a big "talk to the hand".

Reserve Bank Governor Adrian Orr describes his stage 1 cancer as a 'first-class problem', but the alternative is 'chemotherapy' which is highly unpleasant and to be avoided at all costs

no need to beg,,,,he (or rather they) are unconcerned about the majority (directly)..they are concerned about the 'system'

I understand this well. The 'system' validates their whole lives, from the dogma learned at university and in the formative years of their professional lives to their elevation within the system's hierarchy.

Yes where is this alternate reality of Orrs where a roof over your head is not an absolute necessity? Oh wait..

I agree 100%, Audaxes. Orr's comments are very telling. He must go. Now.

Neoliberals and other extremist ideologies do this all the time, they create a false dichotomy where there is a choice that doesn't really need to be made to justify actions which would otherwise be hard to accept such as, in this case, unacceptable high housing inflation.

How about Central Bankers who live and die on their 'wealth effect', and MMT enthusiasts who tell us that debt doesn't matter?

It is rather boring and inaccurate to constantly lump everything under the catch-all bogeyman terms 'Neoliberals'.

Why should readers believe these forecasters? even on the economic reality senses, they all got it wrong in 2020

Mr landers,have a blunt.

Great play ASB. Betting on things improving in 3 years so all the suckers who made 5yr fixes this year get subpar returns for 2 years, leaving the bank on top.

Am not holding out much hope that tge labour-promised measures to reduce investor demand are happening anytime soon as they're still deciding. They'd be better of rolling dice to pick method than doing nothing