In face of fiscal risks, Copom maintains key interest rate Selic at 13.75%
Central Bank’s building in Brasília — Foto: Reprodução/Facebook
Central Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee (Copom) kept intact the key interest rate Selic at 13.75% per year and its monetary policy message that foresees the maintenance of the rate at high levels for a sufficiently prolonged period.
Nevertheless, it intensified the tightening a little bit, by confirming at least a part of the financial market’s expectations that the current interest rate level in the country should be higher, due to fiscal uncertainties brought by President-elect Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s fiscal policy.
On Wednesday, the Copom found in its models an inflation rate of 3.3% for the 12-month period through June 2023. The percentage did not change much from the previous meeting’s estimate of 3.2% in October.
But this time the Central Bank uses in its projection a slightly higher interest rate path in the second half of 2023. In October, the assumption was that interest rates would start to fall in June, reaching 11.25% a year by the end of next year.
Now, the assumption is that interest rates will only fall in August, ending 2023 at 11.75% per year. That is, over the second half of 2023, the interest rates used in the projection are about 50 basis points higher.
The Central Bank uses, in its models, the trajectory for the Selic rate forecast by the market. Since all the fiscal uncertainty began with the strong break of the spending cap, economic analysts started to forecast slightly higher interest rates.
On Wednesday, with its projection, the Central Bank sent a message: the analysts are right in putting a little more interest rates on the Focus, the Central Bank’s weekly survey with analysts. If the interest rate cut were to start in June 2023, as previously expected, the projected inflation would probably be a bit higher, and further away from the target. The Copom is targeting an inflation rate of 3.125% for the 12-month period through June 2023, considering an average between the goals set for next year (3.25%) and the following year (3%).
For the time being, the Copom has confirmed only a little of the additional dose of interest rates that the market has incorporated. It has not gone as far as to legitimate all the huge risk premiums that are in the interest rate curve traded in the market, which has suffered a strong increase.
But, in a way, this upswing in market interest rates is entering into the Central Bank’s estimates, as it causes a strong deterioration in financial conditions.
This more hostile environment throws the economy down and widens the economic slack somewhat. But it does not necessarily slows down inflation, because the effect of fiscal uncertainty may prove to be stronger.
At the same time that it is incorporating some of the damage caused by fiscal uncertainty, the Copom is trying to maintain a degree of serenity, apparently so as not to worsen a picture that is complicated enough.
The Copom raised its inflation projection, but not too much, so as not to corroborate stronger interest rate hikes. Also, it stopped short from saying that its balance of risks for inflation has become asymmetric, tilting to the negative side, which could also require an even higher Selic rate.
The Copom sent the message that depending on how fiscal policy evolves, it may have to act. It referred to the “high” uncertainty in its balance of risks. And, although it preached serenity in the evaluation of fiscal policy, it said it will closely monitor how it will affect the foreign exchange rate and inflation expectations going forward.
*By Alex Ribeiro — São Paulo
Source: Valor International