This week the New Zealand stock exchange ‘shockingly’ came out in favor of looser monetary policy. The main reason the NZX is pushing this ‘bold’ reform appears to be that interest rates are inconveniently high.
The NZX50 has essentially doubled since 2003 despite New Zealand consistently having some of the highest interest rates in the OECD. Unsatisfied with this very solid performance the NZX has apparently been watching the low interest rate fueled Dow over the past couple of years and come to the conclusion that things could be even more fun if only those killjoy central bankers weren’t so fixated on controlling inflation.
Of course Wall Street hasn’t looked so hot over the past couple of weeks. The resulting panic has also knocked around the NZX, which suggests a second reason that NZX management may be interested in monetary policy reform. They may be trying to create a kiwi version of the ‘Greenspan Put’. Essentially a Reserve Bank that takes a ‘balanced view’ would chop interest rates whenever the markets take a tumble, helping to mitigate losses. Such a policy reduces the risk inherent in the share market and thus tends to increase valuations, which wouldn’t upset the NZX in the slightest.
While a ‘balanced’ monetary policy may well be in the best interests of the NZX, a come what may attitude to inflation has some serious downsides. Contrary to some reports inflation is very far from dead. In fact it is likely to be back about thirty seconds after we conclude it doesn’t matter anymore. To paraphrase a famous quote, ‘The price of stable money is eternal vigilance’.