BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazil’s central bank cut its benchmark interest rate to a record low 6.00% on Wednesday, making an aggressive move with the first reduction in borrowing costs since March 2018.
The following is the central bank’s translation of the text that accompanied the decision:
In its 224th meeting, the Copom unanimously decided to lower the Selic rate to 6.00% p.a.
The following observations provide an update of the Copom’s baseline scenario:
Recent data on economic activity suggest a possible resumption of the process of economic recovery. Copom’s baseline scenario assumes that this recovery will occur at a gradual pace;
The global outlook has become benign, owing to changes in monetary policy in major economies. Nevertheless, the risks associated with a slowdown in global growth remain;
The Committee judges that various measures of underlying inflation are running at comfortable levels. This includes the components that are most sensitive to the business cycle and monetary policy;
Inflation expectations for 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022 collected by the Focus survey are around 3.8%, 3.9%, 3.75%, and 3.50%, respectively; and
The Copom’s inflation projections in the scenario with interest rate and exchange rate paths extracted from the Focus survey stand around 3.6% for 2019 and 3.9% for 2020. This scenario assumes a path for the Selic rate that ends 2019 at 5.50% p.a. and remains at that level until the end of 2020. It also assumes a path for the exchange rate that ends 2019 at R$/US$ 3.75 and 2020 at R$/US$ 3.80. In the scenario with a constant interest rate, at 6.50% p.a., and a constant exchange rate, at R$/US$ 3.75*, the projections for both 2019 and 2020 stand around 3.6%.
The Committee emphasizes that risks around its baseline scenario remain in both directions. On the one hand, (i) the high level of economic slack may continue to produce lower-than-expected prospective inflation trajectory. On the other hand, (ii) a possible frustration of expectations regarding the continuation of reforms and necessary adjustments in the Brazilian economy may affect risk premia and increase the path for inflation over the relevant horizon for the conduct of monetary policy. Risk (ii) intensifies in case of (iii) reversal of the benign outlook for emerging economies. The Committee acknowledges that the balance of risks has evolved favorably, but risk (ii) still prevails.
Taking into account the baseline scenario, the balance of risks, and the wide array of available information, the Copom unanimously decided to lower the Selic rate to 6.00% p.a. The Committee judges that this decision reflects its baseline scenario for prospective inflation and the associated balance of risks, and is consistent with convergence of inflation to target over the relevant horizon for the conduct of monetary policy, which includes 2020.
The Copom reiterates that economic conditions prescribe stimulative monetary policy, i.e., interest rates below the structural level.
The Copom recognizes progress in the process of reforms and necessary adjustments in the Brazilian economy, but emphasizes that the continuation of this process is essential for the reduction of its structural interest rate and for sustainable economic recovery. The Committee stresses that the perception of continuation of the reform agenda affects current expectations and macroeconomic projections. In particular, the Committee judges that concrete progress in this agenda is fundamental for the consolidation of the benign scenario for prospective inflation.
In the Copom’s assessment, the evolution of the baseline scenario and, especially, of the balance of risks prescribes adjusting the degree of monetary stimulus, lowering the Selic rate by 0.50 percentage point. The Committee deems that the consolidation of the benign scenario for prospective inflation should permit additional adjustment of the degree of stimulus. The Copom emphasizes that communicating this assessment does not restrict its next decision and reiterates that the next steps in the conduct of monetary policy will continue to depend on the evolution of economic activity, the balance of risks, and on inflation projections and expectations.
The following members of the Committee voted for this decision: Roberto Oliveira Campos Neto (Governor), Bruno Serra Fernandes, Carlos Viana de Carvalho, Carolina de Assis Barros, Fernanda Feitosa Nechio, João Manoel Pinho de Mello, Maurício Costa de Moura, Otávio Ribeiro Damaso, and Paulo Sérgio Neves de Souza.
Reporting by Jamie McGeever in Brasilia