Mexico: Banxico cuts rate for fourth time in a row in December
At its 19 December meeting, the Governing Board of the Bank of Mexico (Banxico) opted to cut the target for the overnight interbank interest rate by 25 basis points to 7.25%, marking the fourth consecutive cut and coming in line with market expectations. Notably, only one of the five Board members voted for a sharper, 50-basis-point reduction, whereas two had done so in the previous November meeting.
As in last month’s meeting, the Board’s decision was motivated by contained headline inflation, increased economic slack and the behavior of yield curves at home and abroad. Inflation has remained contained recently, landing at Banxico’s 3.0% target for the third straight month in November. That said, the stickiness of core inflationary pressures remained a key concern for the Board. Meanwhile, GDP data continued to disappoint, with the latest release revealing that the economy had slipped into a technical recession earlier in 2019 and stagnated overall through Q3. Moreover, the Bank indicated that the fourth quarter would be no different, implying a wider negative output gap.
In terms of forward guidance, considering that only one member voted for a looser stance this time around, it seems that the Bank will take a more cautious approach going forward. Further reinforcing a likely less dovish stance in setting policy ahead, the Board noted the risk of increased cost pressures stemming from revisions to the minimum wage, which the government recently announced it will hike by 20% in 2020. That said, the Bank continued to acknowledge the presence of both upside and downside risks to inflation. Persistent core inflationary pressures, which could be buoyed further by the higher minimum wage; a weaker peso; a deterioration in public finances; and higher-than-expected price growth for energy and farm products could stoke inflation, while an appreciation of the currency and wider-than-anticipated slack could weigh on inflation. Accordingly, as in November’s meeting, the Bank stressed that it will maintain a prudent stance going forward and policy will be adjusted in a timely and firm manner should risks materialize.
The next monetary policy meeting is scheduled for 13 February.