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Using our balance sheet to support monetary and financial stability

Released: 15 March 2023 03:00 pm
Next release: 19 April 2023 03:00 pm
Source: Reserve Bank of New Zealand
Periodicity: Monthly

The core functions of the Reserve Bank include the provision of physical currency, using monetary policy to achieve price stability and support maximum sustainable employment, and promoting a sound and efficient financial system. To fulfil these functions, we carry out a wide range of tasks that require us to hold substantial amounts of financial assets and liabilities. These assets and liabilities form our balance sheet, which provides a snapshot of the financial position of the Reserve Bank at a given point in time.

In response to COVID-19 we’ve introduced a range of initiatives to provide additional monetary stimulus and to support the smooth functioning of New Zealand’s financial markets. These initiatives have enlarged our balance sheet from its December 2019 (pre-COVID-19) level of $24.60bn to $104.38bn at the end of February 2023. During the month of February the size of our balance sheet increased by $4.15bn. 

Assets (NZ$ million) Programme/Purpose Dec-19 Feb-23
NZ Government Bonds
Large Scale Asset Purchase - Nominal Bonds - 44,094
Large Scale Asset Purchase - Inflation-Indexed Bonds - 2,006
Early Repurchases 248 230
Non-Market Bonds - Domestic Liquidity 3,512 4,181
Bond Market Liquidity Support - 78
New Zealand Local Government Funding Agency Large Scale Asset Purchase - Nominal Bonds - 1,225
Bond Market Liquidity Support - 105
Crown Indemnity for Large Scale Asset Purchase Programme Large Scale Asset Purchase - 8,753
Cash Lending Funding for Lending Programme - 19,414
Term Lending Facility - 1,712
Term Auction Facility - -
Foreign Investment Assets using FX Swaps proceeds Monetary Policy Implementation and Liquidity Management 7,302 6,698
Reverse Repurchases 600 75
Foreign Reserve Management Assets Foreign Reserves 12,383 14,050
Other assets 554 1,758
Total 24,599 104,379


Liabilities and Equity (NZ$ million) Programme/Purpose Dec-19 Feb-23
Crown Settlement Account Payment System
3,048 32,114
Bank Settlement Accounts 7,493 53,152
Currency in Circulation 7,557 9,043
Reserve Bank Bills Monetary Policy Implementation and Liquidity Management 1,225 3,847
Repurchase Agreements - 194
Term Liabilities NZD Financing by The Treasury 1,592 1,406
Other Liabilities 932 1,815
Equity Share Capital, Retained Earnings and FX Gains/Losses 2,752 2,808
Total 24,599 104,379

Note: The above table is consistent with the R1 figures published on the RBNZ website on 14th March 2023 and includes unaudited financial data.


The initiatives below have increased the size of our assets in the balance sheet.

We bought NZ Government and Local Government Funding Agency (LGFA) bonds to provide stimulus to the economy and support market functioning

We bought NZ Government Bonds, Local Government Funding Agency Bonds and, NZ Government Inflation-Indexed Bonds, as a part of a Large Scale Asset Purchase (LSAP) programme. We halted additional asset purchases under the LSAP programme on 23 July 2021 as per the decision made by the Monetary Policy Committee on 14 July 2021. The Committee agreed that further asset purchases under the LSAP programme were no longer necessary for monetary policy purposes. In February 2022 the Monetary Policy Committee agreed to commence the gradual reduction of the Reserve Bank’s bond holdings under the LSAP programme through both bond maturities and managed sales back to New Zealand Debt Management (NZDM). Reducing bond holdings will provide the Committee more scope to use LSAPs in the future and will support the management of liquidity in the financial system. Bonds will be sold at a rate of $5 billion per fiscal year. Local Government Funding Agency Bonds will be held to maturity.

The LSAP programme remains an important tool for supporting the efficient functioning of the New Zealand debt market if required, and remains an important monetary policy tool if needed.

The Crown has agreed to indemnify the Bank in respect to financial losses associated with the LSAP programme. Under the letter of indemnity issued by the Minister of Finance, the Crown will reimburse the Bank for any net losses from the LSAP programme and, conversely, any surplus from the programme must be paid to the Crown. If, for example, we have net mark-to-market losses from LSAP bonds, we will have a corresponding receivable from the Crown, which will be accounted for as an asset in our balance sheet. Movements in this balance have no impact on the consolidated Crown balance sheet, as they are claims between the RBNZ and the Crown. The Crown indemnity balance for the LSAP programme can be found in the table above and is on the asset side of our balance sheet. This is due to mark-to-market losses on our LSAP bond holdings driven by the increase in market bond yields. We expect the Crown indemnity balance to fluctuate in line with market movements.

More information on Large Scale Asset Purchases 

More information on Expanded Large Scale Asset Purchases 

More information on Indemnity arrangements with the Minister of Finance 

More information on halting Large Scale Asset Purchases 

More information on the gradual reduction of the LSAP portfolio 

We introduced a Bond Market Liquidity Support (BMLS) programme to bolster the functioning and liquidity of the NZ Government and LGFA bond markets. The programme complements our activities above by allowing us to purchase small amounts of bonds at short notice, to provide confidence to market participants.

More information on Bond Market Liquidity Support 

As part of our Non-market bonds – Domestic Liquidity portfolio, we hold a proportion of every Government Bond on issue to use in our Open Market Operations and Bond Lending Facility, where we act as a lender of last resort. This is part of our normal operations and differs from temporary asset purchase facilities such as LSAP and BMLS.

We ensured banks could access enough cash to keep lending at low interest rates

In December 2020, we introduced a new longer-term funding scheme for banks called the Funding for Lending Programme (FLP). FLP aimed to lower the cost of borrowing for businesses and households, thereby supporting economic activity.  Access to the FLP closed on 6 December 2022.

More information on the Funding for Lending Programme 

We pre-emptively reinstated our Term Auction Facility (TAF) in March 2020, which was last used during the Global Financial Crisis as a way to alleviate pressures in funding markets and to provide banks with an alternative source of short-term funding (up to 1 year term).

The final tenders for TAF were held on 16 March 2021, as financial market and liquidity conditions had improved significantly since March 2020 and the demand for special facilities had fallen.

More information on the Term Auction Facility 

In May 2020, we introduced a longer-term funding scheme for banks called the Term Lending Facility (TLF) in support of the Government’s Business Finance Guarantee Scheme (BFGS). The purpose is to allow banks to access low-cost funding so they can lend to businesses at low interest rates.

The Government closed the BFGS on 30 June 2021 and the TLF was subsequently closed following the completion of the final scheduled facility window on 28 July 2021.

More information on the Term Lending Facility

More information on the ending of the Term Lending Facility

We increased the Crown overdraft facility to assist with the potential for larger-than-usual fluctuations in Crown cash flows

We provide a Crown overdraft facility to help the Government manage short-term fluctuations in its cash flows. We temporarily increased the overdraft from $5bn to $10bn for a three month period to 1 July 2020, to assist with the potential for some larger-than-usual changes in cash flows. The overdraft facility was utilised for a short period coinciding with the Government’s April 2020 bond maturity, and the account has since been replenished following the issuance of additional bonds and Treasury bills.

We manage the amount of cash in the banking system to ensure that payments can be settled and interest rates remain near the OCR

We initially injected large amounts of NZ dollars (in exchange for other assets) to meet increased demand for cash in the banking system. Our NZ dollar lending through the foreign exchange (FX) swap market saw our foreign currency assets increase from $7.30bn in December 2019 to $18.67bn during March 2020, but this has since reduced as increased cash level in the banking system reduced the need for FX swap activity.

More information on our liquidity management and monetary policy implementation 

We hold foreign currency reserves to provide us with the capability to affect the NZ dollar exchange rate

We are responsible for managing dysfunction in the foreign exchange market and in the financial system. We can also, in some circumstances, use foreign exchange intervention as a monetary policy tool when there is significant divergence in the New Zealand dollar from its fair value. These responsibilities require us to maintain a portfolio of foreign currency reserves. There has been no specific need to use the foreign reserves to affect the exchange rate recently.

More information on Foreign Reserves


The initiatives above and below have also seen changes to our liabilities in the balance sheet.

We introduced a Standing Repurchase (Repo) Facility to improve the anchoring of wholesale short-term interest rates at the Official Cash Rate (OCR)

The Standing Repo Facility, originally introduced from July 2022, allows eligible counterparties to lend NZD in the following tenors: overnight, tomorrow to the next day, and tomorrow for 1 week (ordinarily 7 days), all on a secured basis.  The collateral provided by the Reserve Bank as security for the NZD are nominal NZ Government Bonds (NZGBs) as general collateral.  NZD deposited through the Standing Repo Facility are remunerated at a set spread below the Official Cash Rate (OCR).

More information on the Standing Repurchase (Repo) Facility

More information on announced changes to Standing Repurchase Facility

We provide the Government with an account that it uses to deposit surplus funds

If the balance in the Crown Settlement Account (CSA) is positive, our balance sheet shows a liability. If the Government is overdrawn, the overdraft is an asset on the balance sheet (see overdraft facility above).

We provide banks with accounts to settle inter-bank payments

Banks in New Zealand also hold accounts with us and use these accounts to settle inter-bank payments. These accounts cannot be overdrawn unlike the CSA.

We influence the total size of banks’ settlement account balances when we conduct our operations. For example, when we purchase bonds from banks through our Large Scale Asset Purchases (outlined above), banks deposit the cash proceeds back into their settlement accounts at the Reserve Bank. As we purchase more bonds, this results in an increase in the amount of assets on our balance sheet, but also increases the amount of liabilities (i.e. deposits) that banks leave with us (as we have replaced their bond holdings with cash).

We supply New Zealand dollar notes and coins

We are the sole supplier of NZ dollar banknotes and coins. Currency is a liability on our balance sheet because banks that deal directly with the Reserve Bank to buy physical currency can return it to us in exchange for a deposit in their account at the Reserve Bank. Our currency liabilities initially increased by $0.8bn from $7.2bn in February 2020 as banks filled ATMs in preparation for potential disruptions to supply chains ahead of the COVID-19 lockdown.

More information on notes and coins 

Equity acts as a buffer against potential losses from our operations

The difference between our total assets and liabilities makes up our equity on the balance sheet. Our equity is held by the Crown and acts as a buffer against the potential for losses arising from our operations. We pay dividends to the Government when our profits cause our equity to rise above what we need to hold in reserve as a buffer.

As stated in our annual report for 2022, the Reserve Bank agrees its dividend principles with the Minister of Finance. In accordance with these principles, the Minister of Finance has decided that no dividend will be paid to the Crown for 2021/22.

For the latest news and data about our operations, and the development of the Reserve Bank’s balance sheet see:

The RBNZ Domestic Markets pages (includes new releases and facilities at a glance)

D3 - Daily open markets operations

D12 - Daily standing facilities

D10 - Monthly summary of influences on settlement cash 

Monthly summary of our balance sheet (position as at month-end). We present the positions in three different ways:

R1 - Reserve Bank balance sheet 

R2 - Reserve Bank statistical balance sheet 

R3 - Reserve Bank analytical accounts 

For more detail about our operations in foreign currency and resulting positions see F5 - Reserve Bank foreign currency assets and liabilities.