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Next Czech central bank chief proposes end to rate hikes

Thursday, May 12, 2022
Next Czech central bank chief proposes end to rate hikes © Reuters. The Czech National Bank is seen in central Prague, Czech Republic, August 3, 2017. REUTERS/David W Cerny

By Jan Lopatka and Robert Muller

PRAGUE (Reuters) -The Czech National Bank's (CNB) next governor, Ales Michl, called for an end to fast interest rate hikes to fight the strongest inflation pressures in almost three decades after his appointment to lead the bank on Wednesday.

President Milos Zeman appointed Michl, a bank board member since 2018 and an opponent of the rapid policy tightening that has brought the key rate up by 550 basis points to a 23-year high of 5.75% in a ceremony at Prague Castle.

Michl has voted for stable rates at each policy meeting since last June when the central bank embarked on its tightening course. He will replace outgoing Governor Jiri Rusnok from July.

His arrival may sway the bank's views on using rates against inflation - especially if Zeman appoints like-minded people to three other seats on the seven-strong board.

Michl, 44, said after his appointment that his main goal would be to return inflation to the bank's 2% target from a peak of 15% that he and the central bank see in the summer, which will be a process he expected to take two years.

But he said higher rates were no remedy given inflation was mainly driven by energy prices.

"I expect interest rates to be at a level (when I take over in July) that is sufficient to tame demand-driven inflation, should it happen," he said.

"I expect I will propose, at the first meeting I lead in the summer, stability of interest rates for some time. We will evaluate impacts of monetary policy to date, new indicators coming from the economy, and after certain period decide what next."

Before the change at the helm, the central bank's board is due to decide once more on rates at a June meeting.

Some expect it to deliver another big hike after inflation soared to 14.2% in April, its highest since 1993.

The central bank's latest macroeconomic outlook, published last week, showed rates should soar this quarter but ebb after that, suggesting a pause from the summer may not be a huge change in the rate path in the near-term.

The Czech crown continued its dive to eight-week lows after news of Michl's appointment, trading down 1.2% on the day at 25.347 to the euro. It had fallen by 2% on Friday after first reports that he would be appointed.

FILLING OUT THE BOARD

Michl's appointment comes as the terms of Vice-Governor Tomas Nidetzky and board member Vojtech Benda - who have both been in the 5-2 majority favouring rate hikes - expire alongside Rusnok's.

They are eligible for reappointment, but Zeman has yet to decide on their positions or on Michl's current position, which will also open up when he moves into the governor's chair.

At Wednesday's ceremony, Zeman said he agreed that interest rate increases had ceased to be an inflation fighter, suggesting he shared Michl's views.

Economists said Michl clashing with the central bank's experts could pose risks, however.

"If (Michl's) conclusions diverge so substantially from the analytics of the central bank, it is not clear to me how does Michl himself see his job at the helm," said Jaromir Baxa from the Institute of Economic Studies at Faculty of Social Sciences of the Charles University.

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18-05-2022 14:24:25 (UTC+7)

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 EUR/USD1.0516Buy
 GBP/USD1.2421↑ Sell
 USD/JPY129.23↑ Buy
 AUD/USD0.7012Neutral
 USD/CAD1.2824↑ Sell
 EUR/JPY135.89Buy
 EUR/CHF1.0476↑ Buy
 Gold1,813.10↑ Buy
 Silver21.597↑ Buy
 Copper4.2045Neutral
 Crude Oil WTI110.92↑ Buy
 Brent Oil112.90↑ Buy
 Natural Gas8.181↑ Sell
 US Coffee C228.63Neutral
 Euro Stoxx 503,740.55Neutral
 S&P 5004,088.85↑ Buy
 DAX14,190.26↑ Buy
 FTSE 1007,513.44↑ Buy
 Hang Seng20,588.00↑ Buy
 Small Cap 20001,840.30Neutral
 IBEX 358,526.00↑ Buy
 BASF50.410Neutral
 Bayer64.09↑ Sell
 Allianz201.40↑ Sell
 Adidas182.52↑ Sell
 Lufthansa6.842Neutral
 Siemens AG116.65↑ Buy
 Deutsche Bank AG9.531Sell
Mua/Bán 1 chỉ SJC
# So hôm qua # Chênh TG
SJC Eximbank6,825/ 6,925
(0/ 0) # 1,842
SJC HCM6,825/ 6,925
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