Central Bank Roundup: Policy Announcements

Unless you’ve been too busy printing your “Make America Great Again” shirts or watching Beyoncé’s Lemonade, then you’ll know that major central banks such as the ECB, Fed, RBNZ, BOJ, and the RBA have recently printed their monetary policy announcements.

What did these banks have to say and how did their statements affect their local currencies? Let’s take a quick trip down memory lane.

ECB: “I just need some time.”

No, the European Central Bank (ECB) isn’t breaking up with us. The ECB kept its policies steady, with the rate on the main refinancing operations, the marginal lending facility, and the deposit facility unchanged at 0.00%, 0.25% and -0.40% respectively while the QE program is kept at 80 billion EUR per month.

In his presser, Draghi relayed his confidence on the ECB’s previous changes, *cough* negative interest rates *cough* saying that they only need time to “display their effects.” However, he also warned that risks to economic growth remain “tilted to the downside” and that interest rates will likely stay low “beyond the horizon of the asset purchase programme.” The euro popped up at the ECB’s decision to hold its policies steady but soon dropped back down after Draghi’s dovish speeches.

Fed: “It’s the inner beauty that counts.”

As expected, the Fed didn’t make any changes to its policies last week. Without any press conference scheduled though, forex traders paid closer attention to the actual statement for volatility. What they found can be summarized into two points.

First, for the first time this year the Fed removed its rhetoric saying that global and financial developments are posing risks to Uncle Sam’s growth. Instead, the central bank is now simply monitoring said concerns as well as their inflation indicators.

Janet Yellen and her gang have also placed more emphasis on the domestic front. Issues such as slowing economic growth, improving labor market conditions, and moderating household spending were discussed more than the external risks. Will this mean that today’s NFP report would have more influence on the Fed’s next decision-making than the usual?

RBNZ: “Lower Kiwi plz.”

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) provided a bit of boost for the Kiwi when it kept its rates steady at 2.25%.

A closer look at the statement reveals that the central bank isn’t as worried over the financial market volatility and low dairy prices as it was in the previous month. Right now Graeme Wheeler and his gang believe that the economy is being supported by healthy migration, construction activity, tourism, and an accommodative monetary policy.

Wheeler did his best to jawbone the Kiwi, saying that a weaker currency is desirable. However, forex traders paid more attention to the RBNZ’s concerns over a potentially heating housing market, which would become even more heated if the central bank cut its rates further. The Kiwi ended the day higher against its counterparts.

BOJ: “…”

Can a central bank become the biggest market mover of the week by doing nothing? I guess you can if you’re the Bank of Japan (BOJ). Last week the BOJ caused sharp yen gains by keeping its interest rates at -0.1% and its asset-buying program at 80 trillion JPY a year.

With Japan’s indicators deteriorating and USD/JPY dropping to notable lows, forex traders had anticipated a reaction from the BOJ. Instead, the central bank pulled an ECB and decided to wait for the impact of its previous changes to take effect.

The lack of changes would’ve been fine if Kuroda and his gang haven’t DOWNGRADED their growth and inflation forecasts. The BOJ is now expecting inflation to hit its 2.0% some time in 2017-2018 rather than in H1 2017. Yipes!

RBA: “Aaaand CUT!”

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) proved that it means business when it comes to achieving its inflation targets. As speculated in my Australian economy snapshot, the recent drop in quarterly inflation numbers got the RBA’s attention.

The central bank cut its interest rates from 2.0% to a record low of 1.75%. The RBA explained that while the quarterly data contains temporary factors, factoring in the subdued labor costs, low global inflation, and a not-so-overheated housing market significantly changes the central bank’s previous inflation forecasts.

As if a rate cut isn’t enough, the RBA delivered its second punch through its inflation estimates. The RBA is now expecting a 1% to 2% inflation range in 2016, way lower than its 2% to 3% estimates just three months ago. Not surprisingly, the Aussie took another step back across the board.

There you have it, folks! I hope you’ve learned a thing or two about the latest central bank decisions! Will the changes above be enough for you to change your currency biases? Why or why not?