Governor Ingves and Deputy Governor Skingsley at the Riksdag Committee on Finance: hearing on monetary policy

Riksbank Governor Stefan Ingves and Deputy Governor Cecilia Skingsley today visited the Riksdag Committee on Finance for a hearing on the Riksbank’s monetary policy.

At the end of last year, the Riksbank raised the repo rate for the first time in seven years. Governor Ingves therefore began this year’s first monetary policy hearing by giving the reasons for the rate rise. “As inflation has become established close to the inflation target and confidence in the target has strengthened, the need for a highly expansionary monetary policy has decreased slightly,” Governor Ingves said. The Riksbank’s inflation forecast is based on the repo rate being raised slowly in the period ahead.

But Governor Ingves also pointed out how dependent the Swedish economy is on developments abroad and highlighted a number of uncertainty factors that may affect economic development going forward: the strength of the European economy, Brexit and the trade conflict between the United States and China. “Our repo rate path is a forecast, not a promise”, Governor Ingves said. “As always, monetary policy needs to be adjusted to the economic outlook and inflation prospects.” 

Governor Ingves also said that the Executive Board is considering going from six to five monetary policy meetings a year. “We think that five meetings a year is about the right number to be able to conduct a well-balanced monetary policy. It would free up resources that can be devoted to in-depth monetary policy analysis. But such a change requires some advanced planning and it will therefore not be a question of changing this year’s announced meetings, but from 2020 at the earliest,” Governor Ingves said.

In her introduction, Deputy Governor Skingsley discussed the distributional effects of recent monetary policy, in light of the debate on the subject.  However, the effects of an expansionary policy are not clear-cut from a distributional perspective. Certain groups have benefited from rising asset prices. At the same time, employment has increased to a historically high level. “The stronger labour market and reduced risk of unemployment play a major role for individuals with a weak connection to the labour market,” Deputy Governor Skingsley said. “Fundamentally, monetary policy is not an appropriate distribution policy tool, in part because its distributional effects are unclear, and also because it would be difficult to combine with the monetary policy task of maintain price stability,” Deputy Skingsley said in conclusion. 

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The Riksbank is Sweden's central bank and an authority under the Riksdag, the Swedish parliament. The Riksbank is responsible for monetary policy with the objective to maintain price stability. The bank has also been given the task to promote a safe and efficient payment system.