The Year of the Rate Cut Pivot: When Global Central Banks Are Expected to Act in 2024

In the current landscape where inflation is gradually easing its hold on most economies, investors are keeping a keen eye on interest rate decisions, with the market anticipating a series of rate cuts throughout the year.

According to a recent report by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), although interest rates are projected to stay relatively high throughout 2024 in many economies, economists foresee a gradual reduction later in the year.

This shift comes after most central banks implemented significant increases in policy rates starting in early 2022 to curb inflationary pressures.

However, amidst this general trend of tightening monetary policy, China and Japan stand out as exceptions. While Beijing has begun to slightly ease its rates, Japan’s central bank, according to the global intelligence firm, is expected to move away from its negative interest rate policy by the second quarter of the year.

Switzerland

Swiss inflation in February rose 1.2% from a year ago, the lowest reading in almost two and a half years, fueling hopes that the Swiss National Bank could trim interest rates in its March 21 meeting.

“The SNB’s current policy rate stands at 1.75%, and the central bank has an inflation target range of between 0% and 2%. According to LSEG, there’s a more than 40% chance of a 25-basis-point cut in March, which would take the SNB’s key rate down to 1.5%.”

Bank of Canada

In March, the Bank of Canada left rates unchanged for a fifth consecutive meeting. Its governor said that it was too early to consider a cut.

“Canada’s inflation slowed to 2.9% in January, compared with a year ago. That’s a drop from December’s 3.4% and within the BOC’s target range of 1% to 3%.”

United States

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell reiterated last week that he expects interest rates to start coming down this year should inflation signals cooperate, but stopped short of giving a specific timeline.

“Inflation as assessed by the Fed’s preferred gauge currently stands at an annual rate of 2.4%, remaining ahead of the Fed’s 2% goal.”

The Fed held rates steady in a range of 5.25% to 5.5% in its January meeting. Markets currently expect the Fed to start with a 25-basis-point rate cut in June.

The Year of the Rate Cut Pivot: When Global Central Banks Are Expected to Act in 2024
Fed signals rate cut if inflation cooperates, expects 2.4% inflation, targets 2% goal. (Credits: CNBC News)

Turkey

Turkey’s central bank kept its interest rate steady at 45% in February, ending its tightening cycle after eight straight hikes, with many expecting it to hold for most of 2024. The country’s inflation currently stands at around 65%.

“JPMorgan said in a research note that the Turkish central bank may cut its policy rate in November and December, keeping its year-end policy rate forecast of 45%.”

Australia

The Reserve Bank of Australia kept rates unchanged in February at a 12-year high of 4.35%.

“Nomura predicts the RBA will start cutting rates in August as inflation eases and unemployment rises. The firm said it expects the country to ‘narrowly avoid a recession.'”

“In a recent note, ANZ noted that Australia’s economy experienced a ‘continued slowdown’ in the second half of 2023 as fourth-quarter GDP grew just 0.2% from the prior quarter. That comes after third-quarter GDP edged 0.3% higher from the previous three-month period.”

Eurozone

The European Central Bank last week also held its policy rate at a record high of 4%, signaling that it won’t cut rates before June.

“The central bank acknowledged that inflation was easing faster than it anticipated and lowered its annual inflation forecast from an average of 2.7% to 2.3%. The ECB has a 2% inflation target.”

The Year of the Rate Cut Pivot: When Global Central Banks Are Expected to Act in 2024
ECB holds rates at 4%, anticipates inflation easing, lowers forecast to 2.3% from 2.7%. (Credits: Serrai Group)

New Zealand

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand kept the official cash rate steady at 5.5% in its February meeting, forecasting that inflation will re-enter the 1% to 3% per year target band by September.

“Auckland Savings Bank does not expect the RBNZ to start cutting the cash rate until November.”

Indonesia

Indonesia’s central bank kept its benchmark policy rate at 6% in its recent meeting.

“While the Southeast Asian nation’s consumer price inflation is now within the Bank Indonesia’s targeted range of 1.5% to 3.5% for the year, Indonesia’s central bank governor is considering a 75 basis point cut only in the second semester of the year.”

Bank of Japan

Unlike its peers, economists expect the Bank of Japan to raise interest rates this year instead of cutting.

“The BOJ is expected to move toward ending its negative interest rate policy by April, contingent on annual wage negotiations, said economists at Oxford Economics and Macquarie.”

South Korea

South Korea’s central bank in late February kept rates steady at 3.5%.

“The BOK governor reportedly said that most board members still deem it ‘premature’ to discuss any interest rate cuts while inflation is above target level.”

“The BOK could still be one of the first in Asia to cut rates, said Goldman Sachs senior Asia economist Goohoon Kwon, citing ongoing disinflation and subdued private consumption.”

So who’s first?

“The Bank of Canada is my candidate to be the first to cut,” Carl Weinberg, chief economist at High Frequency Economics told CNBC. He explained that Canada’s CPI, excluding shelter prices, is rising by just 1.7%. That’s below the central bank’s inflation target and Weinberg noted that all the prices the BOC can control in the economy are rising less than the inflation target mandates.

“2024 will be the year of the rate cut pivot,” Weinberg added.

But Asian central banks are unlikely to cut ahead of the Fed as a strong U.S. dollar means that most Asian currencies remain relatively weaker, said Morgan Stanley.

The potential for further depreciation could still lend some higher inflation risks to these countries, the investment bank’s economists said in a report.

“While inflation is coming off, in most of the region’s economies it has either just reached the target range or is still closing the gap to target range,” Morgan Stanley said.

Sajda Parveen
Sajda Parveen
Sajda Praveen is a market expert. She has over 6 years of experience in the field and she shares her expertise with readers. You can reach out to her at [email protected]
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