The CNB meeting is going to be today’s eye-catcher. The interventions against the koruna are once again on the table and the vote is once again going to be a tight one. Bear in mind that the August forecast basically justified the launch of interventions against the koruna. The exchange rate implied by the forecast – adjusted for the difference between the actual and predicted PRIBOR rate – has most likely been much weaker than the current exchange rate (our estimate of implied rate is EUR/CZK 26.2).
Since August, the macro-data have surprised slightly negatively (except of Q2 GDP) and the koruna has been stronger on average. All of this together may be an argument for interventions for some of the hesitant board members. On the other hand, there are serious arguments against FX interventions as well. Its effect on the economy is uncertain, at best. Nightmare scenario is that one in which the higher imported inflation (caused by weaker currency) weighs on real wages and further postpones the recovery of domestic demand. The CNB has not intervened on the market since 2002 and its own working papers evaluate the effectiveness of interventions as mixed. Furthermore it may not be easy to combine inflation targeting with interventions without consistency problems. That is why the board members have hesitated so far with the launch and the outcome of today’s meeting remains highly uncertain.
If CNB decides to launch interventions, we believe it is going to look for inspiration in Switzerland. SNB has set a fixed ceiling on the franc exchange rate. We believe the CNB would set a moving ceiling for CZK appreciation that would be implied by the current inflation forecast. In case of more strong economic recovery, it could gradually strengthen the ceiling with every new forecast and finally it could abolish the interventions completely. Such a policy is more probable than setting specific targets for FX reserves purchases – the way Israel central bank has implemented interventions.