The Monetary Policy Committee agreed to maintain the current stimulatory level of monetary settings in order to meet its consumer price inflation and employment remit. The Committee will keep the Official Cash Rate (OCR) at 0.25 percent, and the Large Scale Asset Purchase (LSAP) Programme of up to $100 billion and the Funding for Lending Programme (FLP) operation unchanged.
Global economic activity has increased since the November Monetary Policy Statement. However, this lift in activity has been uneven both between and within countries.
The initiation of global COVID-19 vaccination programmes is positive for future health and economic activity. The Committee agreed, however, that there remains a significant period before widespread immunity is achieved. In the meantime, economic uncertainty will remain heightened as international border restrictions continue.
Economic activity in New Zealand picked up over recent months, in line with the easing of health-related social restrictions. Households and businesses also benefitted from significant fiscal and monetary policy support, bolstering their cash-flow and spending. International prices for New Zealand’s exports also supported export incomes, although the New Zealand dollar exchange rate has offset some of this support.
Some temporary factors were currently supporting consumer price inflation and employment. These one-off factors include higher oil prices, supply disruptions due to trade constraints, the recent suite of supportive fiscal stimulus, and a spending catch-up following the easing of social restrictions.
The economic outlook ahead remains highly uncertain, determined in large part by any future health-related social restrictions. This ongoing uncertainty is expected to constrain business investment and household spending growth. The Committee agreed that inflation and employment would likely remain below its remit targets over the medium term in the absence of prolonged monetary stimulus.
The Committee agreed to maintain its current stimulatory monetary settings until it is confident that consumer price inflation will be sustained at the 2 percent per annum target midpoint, and that employment is at or above its maximum sustainable level. Meeting these requirements will necessitate considerable time and patience.
The Committee agreed that it remains prepared to provide additional monetary stimulus if necessary and noted that the operational work to enable the OCR to be taken negative if required is now completed.