Central Bank Roundup Part II: BOC, RBA, RBNZ, SNB

What’s shakin’ fellow forex traders? As promised, here’s the second and last part of my awesome one-stop shop Central Bank Roundup.

For today, I’ll give y’all a forex snapshot on what the BOC, the RBA, the RBNZ, and the SNB have been doing lately, as well as what they’ll be doing next week if applicable. And if ya somehow missed it, you can check out the first part here.

Bank of Canada (BOC)

The BOC had already cut rates twice this year, but the central bank announced on September 9 that it would be keeping the benchmark interest rate unchanged at 0.50%, saying that “the current stance of monetary policy is appropriate” even though Canada’s economy is now in a technical recession and inflation levels remain near the bottom of the target range.

Well, to be fair, the BOC did say in its July Monetary Policy Report that “Real GDP in Canada is now estimated to have contracted modestly in the first half of 2015, resulting in a marked increase in excess capacity and additional downward pressure on inflation.” In addition, the BOC also said that “Many indicators point to a return to growth in the third quarter,” which is probably why forex traders reacted to the rate decision by buying up the Loonie against most of its forex rivals. Moreover, the rest of Canada’s economic indicators ain’t really that bad.

Regarding China, the BOC said in its rate statement that recent developments there and other emerging economies are making the global recovery less certain and made the commodities market more volatile. But the BOE was quick to add that the Loonie’s recent depreciation is helping to “absorb some of the impact of lower commodity prices.”

Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA)

On September 1, the RBA decided to keep the cash rate unchanged at 2.00%. And RBA Governor Glenn Stevens’ very brief statement (it’s seriously very short, guys) didn’t really add anything substantially new.

After a quick pause, forex traders decided to respond by selling the Aussie across the board, probably because the RBA has had little luck in stimulating a transition from the resources sector boom (and bust) so far. The RBA even admitted in their Statement on Monetary Policy for August that “Total business investment is expected to fall over the next two and a half years as mining investment continues to decline sharply and non-mining investment remains subdued.”

With regard to China, Stevens’ statement only noted that there were “some further softening in conditions in China and east Asia of late,” but RBA Deputy Governor Philip Lowe expressed in a September 9 speech that the Chinese stock market collapse is “likely to have only limited implications for the overall Chinese economy,” and by extension, the Australian economy.

We’ll probably see more of what the RBA has to say on that topic and perhaps some forward guidance as well when the monetary policy meeting minutes come out next week on September 15, so make sure to mark your forex calendars for that event.

Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ)

The RBNZ slashed the official cash rate by 25 basis points from 3.00% to 2.75% on September 10, which is the third cut in a consecutive series of cuts. To make matter worse, RBNZ Governor Graeme Wheeler flat out stated that “some further easing in the OCR seems likely” at this stage. And as a result, forex traders happily went on a Kiwi selling spree.

According to the RBNZ’s Monetary Policy Statement, the RBNZ is expecting export prices to only pick up gradually due to a “continued growth in global dairy production, together with the softer demand outlook” brought about by the slowdown in China, which has a negative spillover effect on the other economies in the Asia/Pacific region.

The RBNZ is also expecting the Kiwi dollar to depreciate further due to “Global uncertainty, low export prices and a lower outlook for domestic interest rates.” With regard to growth prospects, the RBNZ expects annual GDP growth to remain around 2%, at least in the near term, due to a “high level of net immigration and high labour force participation,” which promises to give New Zealand’s economic output a boost.

Swiss National Bank (SNB)

The SNB is gonna announce its rate decision and monetary policy assessment on September 17, and most forex traders and economists are expecting that the SNB will maintain the Libor rate at -0.75%. Yup, you read that right. That’s a negative interest rate right there.

In their previous monetary policy assessment, the SNB explained that “Negative interest rates in Switzerland make holding investments in Swiss francs less attractive and will help to weaken the Swiss franc over time.” The SNB also reiterated its mantra that it will “remain active in the foreign exchange market, as necessary, in order to influence monetary conditions.”

To the newbie forex traders out there who are puzzled as to why the SNB is so obsessed with weakening the Swissy, let me just say that exports account for roughly half of Switzerland’s GDP and Switzerland trades primarily with its euro zone neighbors. But when the SNB removed the 1.2000 floor on EUR/CHF back in January 15 of this year, the Swissy appreciated against the euro monstrously. This made Swiss exports less competitive while imports became cheaper.