The global economy continues to grow at a moderate pace, though recent data suggest a softening in major economies other than the United States. Inflation remains below target in most of the advanced economies due to spare capacity and declining commodity prices. Monetary policy is expected to remain very supportive for some time.
New Zealand’s economic growth is running at an annual rate of around 3½ percent. While dairy prices have declined sharply, domestic demand has retained momentum, supported by the ongoing growth in consumption and construction activity. Interest rates are low by historical standards and continue to support domestic demand. The exchange rate does not reflect the decline in export prices this year and remains unjustifiably and unsustainably high. We expect to see a further significant depreciation.
CPI inflation remains modest, at 1 percent in the year to September. Weak global inflation, falls in international oil prices and the high exchange rate are the main influences. Inflation in the non-tradeables sector remains subdued with capacity pressures having less impact than usual.
Growth is expected to remain at or above trend through 2016, with unemployment continuing to decline. Modest inflation pressures suggest the expansion can be sustained for longer than previously expected with a more gradual increase in interest rates. Underpinning this, the economy’s productive capacity is being boosted by high labour force participation, strong net immigration and continued investment growth.
Risks to the growth outlook include dairy prices, which are expected to recover in 2015, the overvalued exchange rate, and the strength of construction activity. Inflation risks include the impact of rising capacity pressures on domestic inflation, the response of house prices to the strong migration inflows, and the impact of lower oil prices.
With output projected to grow at or above capacity, CPI inflation is expected to approach the 2 percent midpoint of the Reserve Bank’s target range in the latter part of the forecast period. Some further increase in the OCR is expected to be required at a later stage. Further policy adjustments will depend on data emerging over the assessment period.
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