20th June 2017

Bloomberg: Tomsik Says Koruna Rally Curbs Need for Czech Rate Increase

Czech policy makers don’t need to rush with lifting interest rates from zero as a stronger koruna is already delivering part of the desired monetary tightening, central bank Vice Governor Vladimir Tomsik said.

Tomsik would consider keeping the benchmark rate at 0.05 percent for longer if the Czech currency maintains its strengthening trend that began after the removal of the Swiss- style limit on appreciation, he said in a June 15 interview in Prague. The monetary authority’s forecast from May signals the first increase in borrowings costs between July and September, but the vice governor said the move could be delayed until the final quarter.

“If the koruna keeps its current pace of appreciation, it’s appropriate to discuss shifting the start of rate hikes from the third quarter to the fourth,” Tomsik said. “For now, the exchange rate is doing a chunk of the work for us, so I can’t see any significant risk from a small postponement of rate hikes.”

Pondering the right moment for the first rate increase in nearly a decade, central bankers have said currency developments are the main source of uncertainty as they want to avoid cooling the economy too much after ending an unconventional stimulus in April. The koruna has rallied about 3 percent since the policy board scrapped the intervention regime that had held the exchange rate weaker than 27 per euro since 2013.

The monetary authority has said that a 1 percent exchange- rate appreciation delivers a similar tightening effect as a rate increase of a quarter of a percentage point.

“A bigger portion of the tightening could be delivered by the exchange rate rather than by interest rates,” Tomsik said.

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Members of the American Chamber of Commerce in the Czech Republic