Excerpts from the Statement by the Executive Board of the Riksbank:
The economic outlook abroad is brighter in the near term, and the recovery is continuing in line with earlier forecasts. At the same time, there is considerable political uncertainty in several areas of the world, which means that the risks of setbacks have increased.
In Sweden, the Riksbank's expansionary monetary policy has contributed to high growth, falling unemployment, rising inflation and inflation expectations that are back at 2 per cent. CPIF inflation was close to 2 per cent in December, but the recent upturn has been primarily driven by a temporary rise in energy prices. Excluding energy prices, inflation is still low. The strong economic activity creates good conditions for inflation to continue rising. However, inflation is not expected to stabilise around 2 per cent until the end of 2018.
The krona exchange rate continues to create uncertainty about the development in inflation. Since December, the krona has been clearly stronger than expected. This rapid appreciation is not expected to continue, however. The Riksbank's forecast is for the krona to appreciate slowly as economic activity improves.
To ensure inflation stabilises around the target, it is necessary for economic activity to remain strong and for the krona to appreciate at a not too rapid pace. The political uncertainty abroad is enhancing the need for monetary policy to remain expansionary. The Executive Board has decided to hold the repo rate unchanged at -0.50 per cent. The repo rate path reflects the fact that there is still a greater probability that the rate will be cut than that it will be raised in the near term, and that slow increases will not begin until the start of 2018. Purchases of government bonds will continue for the first six months of 2017, as decided in December 2016. Until further notice, maturities and coupon payments will be reinvested in the government bond portfolio. The Executive Board has also taken a decision to extend the mandate that facilitates a quick intervention on the foreign exchange market.
The Executive Board is still prepared to make monetary policy more expansionary if the upward trend in inflation were to be threatened and confidence in the inflation target weakened. All of the tools that the Riksbank has described earlier, most recently in the September 2016 Monetary Policy Report, can as always be used if necessary.
Monetary policy needs to be expansionary to safeguard the role of the inflation target as nominal anchor for price-setting and wage formation. But the low interest rate levels also entail risks, such as those linked to the high and increasing household indebtedness. To achieve long-term sustainable development in the Swedish economy, these risks need to be managed via targeted measures within housing policy, fiscal policy and macroprudential policy.