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New normal threatens RBNZ tactics

NZIER says the Reserve Bank should give up inflation-targeting.

Wednesday, December 2nd 2015, 3:37PM 3 Comments

by Miriam Bell

A new report by the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research (NZIER) has said that the Reserve Bank needs to reassess its use of inflation targeting.

While inflation targeting has long been a successful way of managing inflation without reducing economic growth, times have changed.

The current economic environment means the Reserve Bank’s battle is not so much demand, but rather supply shocks to the way companies operate, the report said.

Such shocks – which include new technology and improvements in logistics – are global and growing more prevalent.

The result of this has been low inflation globally which, in turn, has left central banks keeping interest rates low to stimulate demand to get inflation back on target.

And New Zealand is no exception to this, the report pointed out.

“Right now, the Reserve Bank is in a bind: leave rates on hold and miss the inflation target or lower interest rates to hit the inflation target, but risk an asset price spiral.”

NZIER believes this means targeting inflation is no longer fit-for-purpose.

Targeting income growth – which is the sum of inflation and economic growth – produces good outcomes as central banks can respond more rapidly to supply shocks, the report said.

“Nominal GDP targeting requires raising interest rates when nominal GDP is above trends and lowering rates when nominal GDP is weak.”

It would allow the Reserve Bank to shift interest rates when a supply shock hits the economy.

But the report said it would also be as effective as inflation targeting in dealing with demand shocks – for example, it would have allowed rapid rate reduction during the GFC.

In the NZIER’s view, if low inflation continues for much longer, it will be hard to describe the situation as temporary.

This means that either rates will need to be lower or the inflation target is undermined, the report concluded.

“In contrast, nominal GDP targeting seems like an increasingly sensible framework for setting monetary policy delivering a better mix of inflation and GDP growth. “

Massey University banking expert David Tripe said targeting income growth is an idea that has some popularity internationally.

However, no central bank has implemented it as yet, he said.

“It would be most applicable in particularly low inflation environments – like Japan or parts of the Eurozone. But inflation in New Zealand is not that low.”

The question is whether the approach would result in any significant difference in outcomes, Tripe said.

“It is not possible to predict, but I suspect it wouldn’t make much difference.”

Somewhere down the track it might be appropriate to have a closer look at the idea, he added.


Tags: interest rates RBNZ

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Comments from our readers

On 3 December 2015 at 10:28 am DavidG said:
This article is spot on. Inflation targeting is no longer relevant in this global-age. When global imports get cheaper, our reaction has been to lower interest rates to combat this "deflation", albeit global. However, the global prices are out of our control, and we could reduce interest rates to zero and still have falling consumer prices. Cheaper global goods have caused central banks to lower interest rates, which has lead to housing bubbles all around the world. Contrary to the Reserve Bank's stance, I think we should be raising interest rates right now, to combat house price inflation - which is one of the main things that is actually affected by interest rate changes.
On 3 December 2015 at 12:35 pm Pragmatic said:
Agree. I'm not sure that the old metrics used by the rbnz are as relevant as they were
On 3 December 2015 at 12:51 pm w k said:
Many factors affect housing prices, not just interest rates, especially in NZ. This is mainly due to migration. Attitude towards housing of most migrants are quite different from Kiwis. Their mindset is not into the rental mode.

If NZD weakened due to drop in interest rates, migrants gain on FX. House prices may go up, say 10-20%, but the money the migrants bring in may also gain by that same amount of more. Eg., a year ago NZD1:RMB4.8 / NZD1:GBP0.50. Now around NZD1:RMB4.2 / NZD1:GBP0.44. To the Kiwis Akl house prices has gone up by 20% in the last one year but to the migrant it's less than 10% because of favourable FX rate.

Then if NZD goes up with higher interest rate. House prices may drop but that is offset by higher borrowing cost for Kiwi home buyers. For the migrant, they may lose out on FX but cheaper housing offset that "loss" in FX.

To combat house prices is not just tweaking interest rates. It's more complex than that. Available stock, building cost (consent, subdivision cost, materials, labour ,etc) and ownership (regulation) will determine house prices. And of course, mention above, migrants. If they come with solid cash, they are ones to determine the house price, not you, me or the valuer.

Just my thoughts.

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Mortgage Rates Table

Full Rates Table | Compare Rates

Lender Flt 1yr 2yr 3yr
AIA 4.55 3.55 3.89 3.99
AIA Special - 3.05 3.39 3.69
ANZ 4.44 3.29 3.45 3.85
ANZ Special - 2.79 2.95 3.35
ASB Bank 4.45 3.35 3.19 3.85
ASB Bank Special - 2.85 2.69 3.35
Bluestone 4.44 4.44 4.29 4.34
BNZ - Classic - ▼2.79 ▼2.69 ▼2.99
BNZ - Mortgage One 5.15 - - -
BNZ - Rapid Repay 4.60 - - -
BNZ - Std, FlyBuys 4.55 ▼3.39 ▼3.29 ▼3.59
Lender Flt 1yr 2yr 3yr
BNZ - TotalMoney 4.55 - - -
China Construction Bank 5.50 4.70 4.80 4.95
China Construction Bank Special - 2.80 3.15 3.19
Credit Union Auckland 5.95 - - -
Credit Union Baywide 5.65 4.75 4.75 -
Credit Union North 6.45 - - -
Credit Union South 5.65 4.75 4.75 -
Finance Direct - - - -
First Credit Union 5.85 3.99 4.49 -
Heartland 3.95 2.89 2.97 3.39
Heartland Bank - Online - - - -
Lender Flt 1yr 2yr 3yr
Heretaunga Building Society 4.99 4.35 4.45 -
HSBC Premier 4.49 2.80 2.89 3.50
HSBC Premier LVR > 80% - - - -
HSBC Special - - - -
ICBC ▼4.40 ▼2.95 ▼2.95 ▲3.69
Kainga Ora 4.43 ▼3.29 ▼3.39 ▼3.85
Kiwibank 4.40 3.74 4.14 4.40
Kiwibank - Capped - - - -
Kiwibank - Offset 4.40 - - -
Kiwibank Special - 2.65 2.79 3.25
Liberty 5.69 - - -
Lender Flt 1yr 2yr 3yr
Napier Building Society - - - -
Nelson Building Society 4.95 3.75 3.99 -
Pepper Essential 5.18 - 4.98 4.98
Resimac 3.49 3.45 3.39 3.69
RESIMAC Special - - - -
SBS Bank 4.54 4.85 5.05 5.49
SBS Bank Special - 2.99 3.05 3.69
The Co-operative Bank - Owner Occ 4.40 ▼2.79 ▼2.95 ▼3.39
The Co-operative Bank - Standard 4.40 ▼3.29 ▼3.45 ▼3.89
TSB Bank 5.34 3.59 ▼3.59 4.19
TSB Special 4.54 2.79 ▼2.79 3.39
Lender Flt 1yr 2yr 3yr
Wairarapa Building Society 4.99 3.95 3.99 -
Westpac 4.59 4.15 4.09 4.49
Westpac - Offset 4.59 - - -
Westpac Special - 2.79 ▼2.69 ▼2.79
Median 4.55 3.32 3.39 3.69

Last updated: 28 May 2020 10:38am

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