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Guatemala Monetary Policy January 2023

Guatemala: Banguat delivers another rate increase in January

At its meeting on 18 January, the Monetary Board of the Central Bank of Guatemala (Banguat) raised the key policy rate once again—this time by 50 basis points to 4.25%. This brought the cumulative increase in the policy rate to 250 basis points since the Bank commenced its tightening cycle in May 2022.

Compared to November’s 75 basis point hike, January’s increase was smaller, in part because inflation in December came in at 9.3%, beating expectations on the downside. Nevertheless, price pressures remained firmly above Banguat’s 3.0–5.0% tolerance band, which motivated the further tightening of its monetary policy stance. A robust domestic economy in 2022 and forecasts for sustained GDP growth this year gave the Bank room to maneuver.

Banguat did not provide any concrete forward guidance. However, it reaffirmed its commitment to bring the rate of inflation and inflation expectations within target while closely monitoring domestic and external developments that could necessitate further policy changes. With inflation forecast to trend down throughout 2023, our panel sees Banguat adopting a more accommodative policy stance and lowering its policy rate by the end of the year.

Commenting on the outlook, analysts at the EIU said:

“We expect Banguat to lift its policy rate to 4.75% by mid-2023 […] and to keep it there for an extended period in 2023 before embarking on a mild easing cycle. That said, we believe that the balance of risk is tilted towards further tightening in the current cycle, depending on the pace of disinflation. Over the medium term, Banguat will ease the rate slightly, taking it towards 3.00% (or possibly lower), as conditions normalise. In any case, the low level of financial intermediation in the country will limit the impact of interest-rate rises on the wider economy.”

The next monetary policy meeting is scheduled for 22 February.

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