Note: Average monthly exchange rates arecited here.
However the National Bank ofHungary48 decided that the negative consequences of this phenomenonsuffered by exporters would be short-lived, this being an acceptable price tobe paid for improving the situation as regards inflation. This standpoint isinteresting enough, especially when compared to that of the Central Bank of theRF which during the same period of time was considering the possibility ofsetting the existing inflation targets at a higher level while maintaining thesame policy of gradual rouble depreciation and increasing currency reserves.Besides, the dynamics of Hungary’s foreign exchange and gold reserves (FEGR) is also of especialinterest. It is still too early to make any conclusions but so far it has beenobvious that neither the appreciation of the national currency nor openingcapital account has produced any serious impact on the state of those reserves.The fact that there has been no further growth of the reserves after the reformwas initiated is quite compatible with the antiinflationary policy.
Also, the positive dynamics of the balancedemonstrated by the current account in the balance of payments should be noted.Usually the real and nominal consolidation of a national currency is associatedwith the worsening of this index. As far as the situation in question isconcerned, there is quite a reverse tendency (Fig. 17). To a certain extentthis is of course compatible with the lowering prices of energy carriers whosedynamics has been influencing the balance of payments in a manner quiteopposite to that in Russia.
Inflation, having reached its peak valuein May, began to go down.
One of the factors responsible for itsdecrease, among others, has been appreciation of the forint. A certain role hasalso been played by external factors, one of them being the falling oil prices.On the whole, the inflation rate (CPI), according to preliminary data, duringthe year in question was 9.2%.
One of the main instruments of the policyof the National Bank of Hungary has been manipulating interest rates which isquite natural if we remember that the monetary market in that country iswell-developed. Besides, it can be noted that manipulating short rates is a keyinstrument in most countries following the policy of inflationtargeting49. Stability on the interbank market of short-term resources isexpressed exactly in the ability to maintain the corridor of interest rates. Inpractice this means that the National Bank grants and takes “overnight” creditson certain conditions and at certain interest rates. The upper limit of thecorridor is established by REPO transactions, the lower limit - by the dailydeposit rates set by the National Bank. From December 10, 2001 onward the basicinterest rate of the National Bank went down, the corridor limits became8.25-11.25%.
Within the framework of theintiiflationary policy some legislative reforms were carried out. In the summerof 2001 a new law on the National Bank was enacted where the principal goal ofthe central bank was stipulated as that of achieving and maintaining pricestability. The law also imposed a ban on crediting the government bodies.
By the way, the policy ofRussia’s closestneighbor Kazakhstan has been developing approximately in the same vein.On December 8, 2001 the Board of the National Bank of Kazakhstan approved theMain Directions for the monetary policy in the years 2002-2004. This programdocument is medium-term, and the program itself has stated that beginning withthe year 2002 the targets of the monetary policy are to be established by theNational Bank for three years ahead, with subsequent annual adjustments everyyear, which is associated with a relative macroeconomic stability that has beenachieved in that country.
The National Bank in its program declareda change-over to a new monetary policy regime. The main direction for themonetary policy of the National Bank of Kazakhstan in the next three years isto be a preparation and transition toward the principles of inflation targetingwhich means a gradual change-over from targeting the monetary base and gold andforeign exchange reserves to targeting inflation.
The main goal of the monetary policy willbe to maintain inflation within the 5-7% limits in 2002 and the 4-6% limit in2004. In three years, the total inflation level is going to be 18-20%. Thehistory of inflation processes in Kazakhstan looks a little better than that inRussia.
Note: the index for the year 2001 ispreliminary, those for the years 2002-2004 are target values.
Source: the National Bank of Kazakhstan
We should note that the antiinlationarypolicy so far has not been hindering the economic growth visible in Kazakhstan.It is expected that in the year 2001 the economic growth will exceed the 2000index (9.8%) and exceed 10%.
The National Bank intends to maintain theregime of a freely floating exchange rate of the tenge and not to interferewith its level, keeping the tenge currency market at a minimum level.
It is supposed that the main instrumentsof the monetary policy in the years 2002-2004 will remain open marketoperations, official interest rates and rediscount bill transactions. TheNational Bank will place an especial emphasis on the operations on the openmarket. It is expected that with the increasing volumes of open marketoperations and rediscounts of bills the regulating role of the discount rateand the rates on REPO operations set by the National Bank will become more andmore important, and these rates at the same time will be the officialrefinancing interest rates.
Another promising direction of themonetary policy, in the opinion of the National Bank, will also be furtherliberalization of exchange control which will primarily involve certain changesin currency exchange regulation and control over outward and inwardinvestments. Liberalization of outward investments will include stage-by-stageabolition of licensing or expansion of the range of non-licensed operationsconcerning certain kinds of currency transactions relating to capital flow. Itshould be borne in mind that presently the residents-performed transactionsclassified as capital export are subject to compulsory licensing. Similarly,opening accounts with foreign banks by residents is subject to licensing.Compulsory sale of currency earnings was abolished in Kazakhstan on November15, 1999. The actual steps to be taken by the National Bank as regards capitalcontrol regime have not yet been outlined.
Certain interesting changes have takenplace in the monetary policy of Slovenia. Sloveniahappened to be one of the few countries with economies in transition where themeasures against inflation based upon money supply targeting turned out to besuccessful. Since 1997 the object of regulating has been the aggregate M3.Targeting was done throughout the 1990s in the form of corridor.
At the same time, the Bank of Slovenia hasbeen intentionally and persistently engaged in regulating the exchange rate fortwo main reasons. The first one is the small size and high degree of opennessof Slovenia’seconomy (the volume of foreign trade is over 100% of the GDP) which makes theexchange rate an important inflation factor. The problem of the competitivecapacity of domestic goods is also very important, from the point of view ofthe Bank of Slovenia. The second reason which is common enough for allcountries with economies in transition has been that at the initial stage ofthe transition, the presence of foreign currencies in a national economy issubstantial, and besides, the financial and banking systems are underdeveloped.Thus the foreign currency market sometimes is the most (if not the only)efficient means of influencing the situation as regards money circulationavailable to the central bank. In other words, in addition to theexplicitly identified monetary anchor, the Bank of Slovenia has been pursuing acertain exchange rate policy that can be characterized as guided floating. Atthe same time there occurs smooth depreciation of the tolar in relation toEuropean currencies. The real effective exchange rate has remained practicallyunchanged since 1995; in part, this has been achieved due to the fact thatinflation is kept within the corridor between exchange rate fluctuations asregards the euro and the USA dollar (Fig. 19).
In 2001 the Bank of Slovenia published itsmedium-term monetary policy program. This document is of interest because thepolicy whose actual meaning could be judged mostly by its results has now beenformulated more precisely: firstly, it is stressed that the policy is based onthe country’sdesire to join the EU; secondly, the level of inflation is defined as themain goal of the monetary policy. The targeting goal is to bring its level bythe end of the year 2003 to 4%. Thus, the elements of inflation targeting areclearly traced in the policy. Thirdly, the status of money supply (M3) has beenlowered from an intermediate goal to reference value. Nevertheless the highsignificance of this index has been stressed again.
Conceptually significant is thestipulation that in an economy in the state of transition toward market theprincipal method of influencing the situation as regards money circulation onthe part of the central bank is represented by the operations on the currencymarket.
The development toward liberalization ofcapital operations is under way. Primarily this is concerned with capitalexport, including foreign bank accounts opened by residents and purchasing offoreign financial assets by residents. The procedure of making long-termportfolio investments in Slovenia is being simplified. At the same time, thelimitations imposed on the inflow of short-term investments have beenpreserved.
Slovenia’s policy in the area ofmonetary policy is also of interest because on the surface it resembles thepolicy of the Bank of Russia. Naturally, we cannot compare here the twoeconomies which are different in principle by their scopes and peculiarities.The subject discussed here is the formulation of their tasks and goals. Oneshould remember that in the years 1999-2000 the Bank of Russia was alsoformally founding its policy on the basis of money supply (target M2). Howeverin contrast to Slovenia which nevertheless could stay within the limits of awide corridor, in Russia the deviation from the set goals was so great that itbecame clear that the policy from the very beginning had been based on otherprinciples - on the operations on the currency market. In 2001 the CB of the RFalso lowered the status of monetary aggregates to that of an informationvariable. Slovenia seems more successful from the point of view of achievingfinancial stability, and in the real sector she is one of the most (ifnot the most) successful among the countries with economies in transition. Dueto the experience of the previous practice and the stimulating effect of thenecessity to meet European criteria it seems likely that the establishedinflation targets can be achieved.
Touching briefly upon other East Europeancountries, it can be said that Romania, within the framework of the above-mentioned world-wide trend inthe monetary policy, has been planning a change-over to direct inflationtargeting in the year 200350. At the present moment, as far as one can understand, the targetsare set according to inflation and the monetary base. Great attention has beenpaid to the state of foreign exchange and gold reserves and exchange ratemanagement (a real annual appreciation by 2-3% is considered acceptable), i.e.the so-called “managed floating” occurs. The inflation rate in Romania is high- in 2000 the CPI index (December-to-December) was 40.7%, in 2001 it isexpected to be slightly below 30%.
In Bulgariathe currency board regime that was introduced in1997 is still maintained. No serious problems have yet occurred, the inflationlevel in 2001 will be around 4.5% which is a sign of progress as compared tothe previous level of 11.4% in 2000. However if we take into consideration thedevelopments in Argentine, a number of alarming circumstances can be pointedout. The first one is the high level of external debt, the second - theon-going (since 1998) worsening of the situation as regards the balance oftrade and the current account. The latter, according to the estimates made bythe Ministry of Finance of Bulgaria, is going to decrease from the 5.8% GDPindex in 2000 to 6.7% in 2001. This can be explained both by the slowed downeconomic growth in Europe and by the crisis in Turkey in early 2001. Acompensating factor has been represented by the lowering prices of energycarriers on the world market.
Poland is stillpursuing the policy of inflation targeting. In the “Guidelines on the MonetaryPolicy” for the year 2002 the inflation target was set at 5% with an acceptabledeviation of +/-1%. The medium-term goal - an inflation level below 4% - hasbeen confirmed. It is still too early to speak of the results of the year 2001,but it can be stated that the inflation level in the year 2001 has beencontinuously going down. A possible source of problems can be the situation asregards the state budget. The management of the National Bank has made a rathercritical statement concerning the budgetary process in the year200251.
Certain changes have also occurred in themonetary policy of Czechia. This policy is still based on the principles of inflationtargeting but there have been certain developments as far as the definition ofthe targeting goal is concerned.
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