Kazakhstan: Central Bank hikes base rate again in September
At its meeting in mid-September, the National Bank of Kazakhstan (NBK) decided to raise the base rate by 25 basis points to 9.50%, marking the second consecutive hike since late July after holding rates for eight successive meetings. Meanwhile, the corridor was kept at plus or minus 1.0 percentage point.
The decision was again aimed at countering mounting inflationary pressures, with consumer price growth coming in at 8.7% in August and inflation expectations running even higher. Overall, the hike was relatively small considering the recent sharp rise in inflation, but slower economic momentum amid reemerging Covid-19 cases discouraged the NBK from adopting a tougher policy stance. Notably, the Bank downgraded its 2021 GDP growth forecasts amid a slower-than-expected recovery.
In terms of forward guidance, the Bank maintained a hawkish tone, noting that recent government measures taken to reduce price pressures, together with tighter monetary policy, will help to return inflation to its target range of 4.0%–6.0% by 2022.
Meanwhile, President Tokayev addressed the nation on 1 September, speaking about a range of policy issues. Reflecting on his comments on monetary policy and inflation, Artem Zaigrin, chief economist at SOVA Capital, noted:
“Mr. Tokayev expressed dissatisfaction with the National Bank of Kazakhstan’s (NBK) efforts to curb inflationary pressures, which are above the target level […]. Both the NBK and the government should take measures to bring inflation into the targeted range. One mechanism being considered is price monitoring throughout the supply chain, and the body responsible for this should be chosen in a month’s time.”
The next monetary policy decision is scheduled to take place on 25 October.