Search ForexCrunch

Reserve Bank of New Zealand’sDeputy Governor Geoff Bascand has said it could extend and expand the asset purchase programme further. However, as Reuters reports, it hopes to have more certainty in about three months’ time on whether to go harder or ease back stimulus, a top official said on Tuesday.

Bascand told Reuters the COVID-19 pandemic was dealing a “severe shock” to the country’s export-reliant economy, which is expected to contract a massive 21.8% in the current quarter.

This is a situation where we have all been operating with an enormous degree of uncertainty.

We’ll have more certainty in three months…We’ll know more about how this is playing out. We can re-evaluate if we need to do more or take the foot off the pedal a little bit in three months’ time.

The comments follow last week’s decision by the central bank to double the number of bonds it would buy under its quantitative easing programme to NZ$60 billion ($36.20 billion) as it left its cash rate at a record low 0.25%. 

It also flagged a possible shift to negative interest rates, which is weighing on NZD. The RBNZ has asked banks to be ready for the regime by year-end.

NZD/USD has been below the 0.60 handle on this basis, although has since made an almost 61.8% recovery since the news due to a risk on start to the week and a weaker US dollar. 

On Tuesday, Bascand said negative rates were one of many monetary policy options available to the RBNZ.

We will evaluate negative rates alongside other options.

For now, we think the best thing we should be doing is large scale asset purchases and we’ve expanded that. We could expand it further if needed.

Key comments

Will see how data plays and provide more stimulus if needed.

Expects more certainty on COVID-19 situation in 3 months, will then re-evaluate whether to do more or take foot off the pedal.

Made no decision to buy foreign assets, launch negative interest rates at this time; they are one of many options available to committee.

Asked banks to be ready to transact, deploy negative rates in wholesale markets by year-end.

Don’t expect negative rates to be deployed in retail markets for individual households and depositors.

Exchange rate at a level that’s supporting exports.

Exchange rates are “fickle things”, not seeking to control it.

Pleased with the way monetary stimulus operating so far, yields have come off across the curve.

As for COVID-19, Reuters notes that “New Zealand is among a handful of countries that has successfully curbed the spread of the coronavirus, thanks to a strict lockdown that forced all businesses to down shutters for more than a month.

The “level 4” restrictions have now been eased to “level 2″ allowing businesses, including malls, cinemas, cafes and gyms, to re-open last week.”