Chile: Central Bank slashes rates again in September
At its 5 September meeting, the board of the Central Bank of Chile (BCCh) decided to cut the monetary policy rate to 9.50% from 10.25%, in line with market expectations and following a 100 basis-point cut at the prior meeting.
The decision was driven by sharp falls in headline and core inflation in recent months. Moreover, two-year market inflation expectations sit at the Central Bank’s 3.0% target.
The Bank suggested it would continue to cut the policy rate going forward, given that inflation is seen continuing to trend down ahead and converge with the target in H2 2024. The Consensus is for around 175 basis points of additional easing by end-2023. However, there is a large 200 basis point spread among end-of-year policy rate forecasts, and recent peso weakness—the currency has depreciated around 7% since end-June—could stoke price pressures and encourage the BCCh to slow the pace of monetary easing.
On the outlook, Itau Unibanco analysts said:
“Monetary policy continues to be very contractive considering that at 6% it is still well above the central bank’s real neutral range estimate of 0.5%-1.0%. The communiqué reaffirms the expectation of a yearend rate outlined in the previous decision (7.75-8.0%), implying rate cuts of a similar magnitude in October and December.”
On the currency, EIU analysts said:
“The government’s currency intervention will help to reduce (but not eliminate) the risk of currency overshooting as the BCCh continues its aggressive cuts. There is a risk that the peso will depreciate more than we expect, which could raise inflationary pressures and may cause the BCCh to take a more cautious approach to monetary easing.”