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The road back to 2% inflation

Inflation has been at the forefront of national and global discussions and concerns since part way through the COVID-19 pandemic, RBNZ Chief Economist Paul Conway says in a speech published today.

Coming out of this crisis, annual consumer price inflation in New Zealand, and most other countries, reached rates not seen since the inflation-targeting era began more than a generation ago.

Inflation in New Zealand has slowed significantly recently. But it remains higher than both pre-pandemic levels and the Monetary Policy Committee’s (MPC’s) 1 to 3% target range. 

Inflation spiked higher during the pandemic on a mix of supply and demand-related factors. Shortages of labour and materials, in an environment of high demand, were key in driving up inflation. 

“Compared to other countries, tightness in the labour market, brought about by the border closure, played an important role in generating inflation in New Zealand,” says Mr Conway in an online webinar from Wellington. 

“Looking ahead, there are some remaining challenges in bringing inflation sustainably back to target, with some risks and uncertainties attached,” says Mr Conway. 

Our recent research highlights that emerging spare capacity in the economy will feed through into lower domestically generated inflation. 

“Lower inflation expectations of firms and households will help reinforce the slowdown in inflation, with less pressure to raise prices and demand higher wages. As inflation continues to fall, businesses will be less able to make large price increases, which will help lower inflation persistence.

We are using these research insights to help guide our monetary policymaking under flexible inflation targeting.

The extent to which broad momentum in domestic inflation continues is a key upside risk.

This is partially offset by the potential for a quicker fall in inflation expectations and a more rapid passthrough of weaker demand to prices. Overall, a period of restrictive policy is necessary to give us confidence that inflation will return to target over a reasonable timeframe,” he says. 

Watch the livestream

Download the speech (PDF, 1 MB)

More information

Read our 4 Analytical Notes supporting this speech

  • The resurgence of the New Zealand Phillips curve: Willy Alanya-Beltran, Maui Brennan and Punnoose Jacob
  • A Bernanke-Blanchard model decomposition of New Zealand inflation - The pandemic and beyond: Gerelmaa Bayarmagnai and Punnoose Jacob
  • Decomposing supply and demand driven retail inflation in New Zealand: Lydia Dudson
  • Comparing services inflation in New Zealand to overseas: James Antwis

We discuss trends and the outlook inflation in New Zealand in more detail in our May 2024 Monetary Policy Statement.

Media contact

James Weir
Senior Adviser External Stakeholders
Mobile: 021 103 1622
Email: [email protected]