Russia Unexpectedly Hikes Rates to 7.5%


The Bank of Russia raised its key rate by 25bps to 7.5 percent on September 14th 2018, beating markets that expected no changes. It is the first rate hike since December of 2014, as external uncertainties and volatility in financial markets increased inflationary risks. The central bank increased inflation forecasts to 3.8-4.2 percent in 2018 from 3.5-4 percent and said will consider further tightening if necessary.

Excerpts from the Information Notice of Bank of Russia:

On 14 September 2018, the Bank of Russia Board of Directors decided to raise the key rate by 0.25 pp to 7.50% per annum. Changes in external conditions observed since the previous meeting of the Board of Directors have significantly increased proinflationary risks. The Bank of Russia forecasts annual inflation to be 5-5.5% in 2019 and return to 4% in 2020. This forecast takes into account the decisions taken with regard to the key rate and to the suspension of foreign currency purchases in the domestic market under the fiscal rule. The Bank of Russia will consider the necessity of further increases in the key rate, taking into account inflation and economic dynamics against the forecast, as well as risks posed by external conditions and the reaction of financial markets.

The ruble’s depreciation is related to capital outflow due to changes in external conditions. At the same time, the current account balance remains high thanks to stable prices of Russian export goods and significantly exceeds the amount of external debt repayments scheduled for the coming months. In this context, the Bank of Russia’s decision to suspend foreign currency purchases in the domestic market under the fiscal rule will serve to curtail exchange rate volatility and its influence on inflation over the next few quarters.

According to the Bank of Russia forecast that takes into account the decisions taken with regard to the key rate and to the suspension of foreign currency purchases in the domestic market under the fiscal rule, by the end of 2018 the consumer price growth rate will be 3.8-4.2%. Annual inflation will peak in the first six months of 2019 reaching 5.0-5.5% by the end of 2019. Quarterly year-on-year consumer price growth rate will draw close to 4% as early as in the second half of 2019. Annual inflation will slow down to 4% in the first half of 2020 when the effects of ruble’s weakening and the VAT rise peter out.

The Bank of Russia keeps unchanged its 2018 annual GDP growth forecast of 1.5-2%, which corresponds to the potential economic growth rate.

The economic growth forecast for 2019-2021, included in the baseline scenario, was updated to take into account changes in external conditions and the estimated influence of the set of fiscal and structural measures to be taken by 2024 on economic performance. In 2019, the forthcoming VAT increase might have a slight constraining effect on business activity, mostly in the beginning of the year. Newly attracted budgetary funds will be used to boost government spending, including spending on investments, as early as 2019. As a result, according to the Bank of Russia forecast, GDP growth in 2019 will range between 1.2% and 1.7%. The following years might see higher growth rates as planned structural measures are implemented.

The balance of risks has further shifted towards proinflationary risks. Main risks stem from highly uncertain external conditions and their impact on financial markets.

Further yield growth in advanced economies, capital outflow from emerging markets together with geopolitical factors might cause volatility in financial markets to persist, and affect exchange rate and inflation expectations.

The Bank of Russia will consider the necessity of further increases in the key rate, taking into account inflation and economic dynamics against the forecast, as well as risks posed by external conditions and the reaction of financial markets.

Russia Unexpectedly Hikes Rates to 7.5%


Bank of Russia | Joana Taborda | joana.taborda@tradingeconomics.com
9/14/2018 10:53:41 AM