Policy rate raised to 0.25 percent
Norges Bank’s Monetary Policy and Financial Stability Committee has unanimously decided to raise the policy rate from zero percent to 0.25 percent.
“A normalising economy now suggests that it is appropriate to begin a gradual normalisation of the policy rate,” says Governor Øystein Olsen.
The reopening of society has led to a marked upswing in the Norwegian economy, and activity is now higher than its pre-pandemic level. Unemployment has fallen further, and capacity utilisation appears to be close to a normal level. Infection rates have risen after summer, but a high vaccination rate has reduced the need for Covid-related restrictions. The economic upswing will likely continue through autumn. Underlying inflation is low, but increased activity and rising wage growth will help push inflation up towards the inflation target of 2 percent.
A normalising economy suggests that there is no longer a need to maintain the current degree of monetary accommodation. The objective of countering the build-up of financial imbalances also suggests higher interest rates. Uncertainty surrounding the effects of higher interest rates warrants a gradual rise in the policy rate.
In its discussion of the balance of risks, the Committee was concerned with the uncertainty surrounding the evolution of the pandemic and the restraining effect that new virus variants could potentially have on the economic upturn. At the same time, there is still a risk that the pandemic will have lasting consequences for employment. This favours supporting economic growth to enable the unemployed to return to work more quickly. On the other hand, capacity constraints may result in faster-than-expected price and wage inflation. Nevertheless, the Committee judges that the risk of inflation becoming too high is limited.
“Based on the Committee’s current assessment of the outlook and balance of risks, the policy rate will most likely be raised further in December,” says Governor Øystein Olsen.
The policy rate forecast implies a gradual rate rise in the coming years. The policy rate path is a little higher than in the June 2021 Monetary Policy Report.
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