Thailand’s central bank Governor Sethaput Suthiwartnarueput said he’s seeing the tail end of the monetary tightening cycle while ruling out any rate cuts in the offing as authorities strive to navigate a “smooth landing” for the economy.
(Bloomberg) — Thailand’s central bank Governor Sethaput Suthiwartnarueput said he’s seeing the tail end of the monetary tightening cycle while ruling out any rate cuts in the offing as authorities strive to navigate a “smooth landing” for the economy.
“We have changed our language by removing the ‘gradual and measured’ approach. This means we are close to a turning point,” Sethaput said on Wednesday, referring to the Bank of Thailand’s monetary policy statement after the Aug. 2 rate hike. “Next time, there is a chance that we will hold or raise. But the thing you won’t see is a cut as it’s not the right time to cut.”
Bank of Thailand has delivered a total of 175 basis points of increases since August last year that has taken the benchmark rate to the highest in nine years, even as headline inflation slowed to below 1% from 7.9% a year ago. Policymakers are watchful that tourism revival and sustained economic rebound won’t rekindle price pressures, stressing that they’re outlook-driven instead of data-dependent.
The monetary panel will weigh the long-term outlook and settle on a rate that ensures the right balance for the economy, Sethaput told a seminar in Chiang Mai in northern Thailand. The BOT will trim its gross domestic product growth forecast of 3.6% for this year at next month’s meeting due to sluggish exports, Sethaput said.
Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy is still poised to expand more than 3% in 2023 and 2024, from 2.6% last year, amid the political impasse that’s seen to delay state budget. Almost three months after the May election, Thailand is yet to form a new government, delaying the prime minister vote as pro-establishment parties blocked the pro-democracy Move Forward from taking power.
The central bank’s relatively hawkish stance may help support the currency, which has fallen about 2% in August, among the worst performers in Asia. The baht has turned volatile in recent months as traders assess the delay in forming a government since a May election. It traded 0.2% higher at 2:14 p.m. local time Wednesday, poised to halt five days of declines.
“We don’t want policies that could worsen economic stability,” Sethaput said. The central bank had already factored in two quarters of delay in the budget, he said.
For now, authorities are focused on ensuring that the economy expands at its potential of 3%-4%, inflation is within the 1%-3% target durably and the level of interest rate triggers no financial imbalances, the governor said.
–With assistance from Karl Lester M. Yap.
(Updates with Thai baht in sixth paragraph.)
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