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Monetary Policy Statement March 2010

The Reserve Bank today left the Official Cash Rate (OCR) unchanged at 2.5 percent.

Policy assessment

The Reserve Bank today left the Official Cash Rate (OCR) unchanged at 2.5 percent.

The New Zealand economy is recovering broadly as expected and growth is predicted to pick-up further through 2010.

Trading partner activity has recovered a little faster than expected. Currently, growth is strongest in China, Australia, and emerging Asia, but is much more muted in other trading partners. At the same time, risks around the global outlook have increased, although not to the extreme levels seen at the height of the crisis.

We estimate the New Zealand economy grew at a stronger pace in the December and March quarters than in the prior two quarters. Looking forward, while growth is expected to increase to about four percent next year, this is subdued relative to previous recoveries.

Policy stimulus and improved consumer confidence have seen a pick-up in household spending. That said, households are still cautious with house sales and credit growth remaining subdued. Business spending is weak despite much improved confidence.

Annual CPI inflation is currently at two percent, and is expected to track within the target range over the medium term. In the short term, implementation of the amended Emissions Trading Scheme and increases in ACC charges will push CPI inflation toward the top of the target range.

Higher bank funding costs have reduced the level of stimulus that would normally be associated with any given level of the OCR. We expect these costs to persist over the projection reducing the extent of future increases in the OCR. Fiscal consolidation would also help reduce the work that monetary policy might otherwise need to do.

We continue to expect to begin removing policy stimulus around the middle of 2010.

Alan Bollard

Monetary Policy Statement media conference video - 11 Mar 2010