Saturday, July 4, 2009

Sweden Cuts Deposit Rate to NEGATIVE .25%

The weak development of the economy requires a somewhat more expansionary monetary policy. The Executive Board of the Riksbank has therefore decided to cut the repo rate by 0.25 of a percentage point to 0.25 per cent. The repo rate is expected to remain at this low level over the coming year. At the same time there are several signs that economic activity will improve.

Deep economic downturn
Economic activity abroad is very weak and this hits Sweden hard. Exports have fallen substantially and the situation on the labour market is continuing to deteriorate rapidly. The information received in recent months points to the economic downturn in 2009 being somewhat deeper than the Riksbank forecast in April.

Low repo rate over a long period of time
A lower repo rate and repo rate path are needed to counteract the fall in production and employment and to attain the inflation target of 2 per cent. The Executive Board of the Riksbank has therefore decided to cut the repo rate to 0.25 per cent. The repo rate is expected to remain at this low level until autumn 2010. The Riksbank's assessment is that cutting the rate to 0.25 per cent will not threaten the functioning of the financial markets.

The Riksbank's assessment is that after cutting the repo rate to 0.25 per cent it will have reached its lower limit in practice, and that the situation on the financial markets is still not completely normal. Supplementary measures are necessary to ensure that monetary policy has the intended effect. The Executive Board of the Riksbank has therefore decided to offer loans totalling SEK 100 billion to the banks at a fixed interest rate and with a maturity of 12 months. This should contribute to lower interest rates on loans to companies and households.

Stable underlying inflation
Despite the expansionary monetary policy, production and employment will be lower than normal over the next few years. Inflation will be kept up by weak productivity and a weak krona. However, there will be large fluctuations in CPI inflation during the coming period. This is primarily due to the fact that changes in the repo rate affect mortgage rates, which are included in the CPI. The CPIF underlying inflation rate (the CPI with a fixed mortgage rate) will on the other hand remain stable close to 2 per cent during the forecast period.

Signs of a turnaround
In recent months there have been several signs that economic activity will improve. At the same time, the financial markets in Sweden and abroad have begun to function more effectively, which creates the potential for an acceleration in international and domestic demand. The low repo rate and current fiscal policy will also contribute to the recovery. GDP growth is expected to be positive in 2010, but the labour market will lag behind and employment will not begin to rise until 2011.


Considerable uncertainty
The economic outlook is still uncertain. When the turnaround comes, the upturn may be stronger than in the main scenario. However, it could also be the case that the recovery will take longer than expected. The future direction for monetary policy will therefore depend on how new information on economic developments abroad and in Sweden will affect the prospects for inflation and economic activity in Sweden.

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The minutes from the Executive Board’s monetary policy discussion will be published on 16 July. The decision on the repo rate will apply with effect from Wednesday, 8 July. The deposit rate is at the same time cut to -0.25 per cent and the lending rate to 0.75 per cent.

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