The Monetary Policy Committee has agreed to significantly expand the Large Scale Asset Purchase (LSAP) programme potential to $60 billion, up from the previous $33 billion limit. The LSAP programme includes NZ Government Bonds, Local Government Funding Agency Bonds and, now, NZ Government Inflation-Indexed Bonds.
The global economic disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to persist and lead to lower economic growth, employment, and inflation both in New Zealand and abroad. Even if New Zealand successfully contains the spread of disease locally, reduced world activity will mean lower demand for many of New Zealand’s exports.
The Monetary Policy Committee is committed to achieving its employment and inflation objectives. The main support for the economy in this environment is appropriately being provided through increased fiscal spending. However, monetary policy will continue to provide significant support through keeping interest rates low for the foreseeable future.
The balance of economic risks remains to the downside. The expansion to the LSAP programme aims to continue to reduce the cost of borrowing quickly and sharply. This is preferable to delivering a smaller amount of stimulus now, only to risk later realising more should have been done.
We expect to see retail interest rates decline further as lower wholesale borrowing costs are passed through to retail customers. It remains in the best long-term interests of the banking sector to promptly maximise the effectiveness of our LSAP programme.
The Official Cash Rate (OCR) is being held at 0.25 percent in accordance with the guidance issued on 16 March. The Monetary Policy Committee is prepared to use additional monetary policy tools if and when needed, including reducing the OCR further, adding other types of assets to the LSAP programme, and providing fixed term loans to banks. The Committee’s decisions are guided by the Reserve Bank’s mandate and our decision making principles on the use of alternative monetary policy instruments.