Singapore expected to tighten monetary policy – but by how much?

Doing well: People are seen walking in the financial district of Singapore. Some economists feel that the downside growth risks due to the current geopolitical tensions are manageable for the country. — AFP

SINGAPORE’S central bank is likely to tighten its policy settings at its review this month, the third time in a row, as inflationary pressures intensify due to global supply-side disruptions and an easing of the city-state’s border controls.

All 15 economists polled by Reuters forecast the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to tighten its policy, but they are divided on how aggressive the central bank is likely to be and which of its various settings it will change.

Instead of interest rates, MAS manages policy by letting the local dollar rise or fall against the currencies of its main trading partners within an undisclosed band, known as the Nominal Effective Exchange Rate.

It adjusts its policy via three levers: the slope, mid-point and width of the policy band.

Of the economists polled, two expect MAS to only raise the slope of the band, while another five expect MAS to raise the slope of the band along with an upward re-centering of its mid-point.

“Downside growth risks due to current geopolitical tensions are manageable, in our view,” ANZ economist Khoon Goh said in a research note.

“Tightening resource pressures in the economy and upside inflation risks mean MAS has to be more forceful in normalising monetary policy.”

Adjusting the mid-point is typically seen as a more “aggressive” tool than only adjusting the slope, while width is usually used to control how much the Singapore dollar can fluctuate.

Five forecast the MAS re-centering the mid-point higher, with no change to the width or the slope.

Morgan Stanley expects the slope to be steepened alongside a widening of the band – a move last made in 2010, while Barclays and Bank of America are predicting a change to all three parameters.

“With the heightened uncertainty from geopolitics, the upside risk to inflation, and the downside risk to growth, we now think MAS could undertake both a slope steepening and a band widening,” Morgan Stanley analysts said.

MAS tightened monetary policy in January this year in an out-of-cycle move, which followed a tightening in October.

February headline prices rose at their fastest pace in nine years.

This was due to higher private transport costs, while core prices eased for the first time since June last year.

MAS is expecting core inflation to come in within 2% to 3% this year, up from 0.9% last year, while headline inflation is projected to average between 2.5% and 3.5%.

The government had projected gross domestic product to expand 3% to 5% in 2022 in a forecast provided before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Singapore’s finance minister Lawrence Wong said in March the city-state’s economy should continue to expand this year.

However, he added that authorities were ready to deploy more fiscal and monetary policy measures if a worsening Russia-Ukraine crisis impacted growth and inflation.

Last month, Singapore made its biggest reopening moves from the Covid-19 pandemic, easing local restrictions and allowing vaccinated travellers from anywhere in the world to enter without having to quarantine. — Reuters

Chen Lin and Aradhana Aravindan write for Reuters. The views expressed here are the writers’ own.

Article type: metered
User Type: anonymous web
User Status:
Campaign ID: 1
Cxense type: free
User access status: 0
Subscribe now to our Premium Plan for an ad-free and unlimited reading experience!


Next In Business News

Sunway Dora achieves 89% take-up rate
SC expects capital market to stabilise in 2H23
Govt to complete subsidised diesel control system draft by 2H23: Ahmad Maslan
Infomina bags RM23.9mil purchase order from Philippines National Bank
Asian FX tumbles after turmoil in global banking system returns
Vietnam's VPBank completes US$1.5bil stake sale to Japan's Sumitomo Mitsui
Sundra Rajoo returns to helms AIAC
First Citizens to buy Silicon Valley Bank, FDIC says
Bursa Malaysia enhances Main Market listing requirements
SC continuously searching for ways to address adequacy of retirement savings

Others Also Read