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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Polish Central Bank Raises Interest Rates

The Polish central bank raised their benchmark interest rate a third time this year today, as wage growth and household spending coupled with growing labour shortages threaten to push up inflation. The Monetary Policy Council lifted the seven-day reference rate by a quarter of a percentage point to 4.75 percent.

The Polish economy expanded 7.4 percent in the first quarter, which was the fastest pace in a decade. With wages rising at a record pace in the second quarter, policy makers have said inflation may exceed the central bank's 2.5 percent target by the end of the year unless interest rates are lifted again.

In fact average corporate wages grew at an annual rate of 9.3 percent in July, and at a record rate of 8.9 percent in the second quarter. Employment rose 4.7 percent from a year ago in July, while unemployment fell to 12.2 percent and retail sales rose at an astonishing annual 17.1 percent. The inflation rate fell to 2.3 percent in July from 2.6 percent in June. The central bank expects it to rise to 3.3 percent by December if borrowing costs are left unchanged.

The interesting thing to note here, as can be seen from the piece below from Bloomberg, is that the Zloty kept falling despite the rate increase. The weather is changing, and quickly.

Poland's zloty fell for a second day versus the euro as declines in global equity markets prompted investors to shun riskier emerging-market assets.

The zloty dropped along with Turkey's lira and the Slovak koruna as the NTX Index of stocks in central and eastern Europe's 30 biggest companies lost the most in almost two weeks. The Polish currency was the second-worst performer against the euro in Europe after the Romanian leu.

``Investors are growing increasingly nervous and the declines in equity prices are taking their toll on emerging market currencies,'' said Michal Dybula, central European economist at BNP Paribas SA in Warsaw. ``We may see more losses if U.S. stocks open lower today.''

Against the euro, the zloty fell to a one-week low of 3.8495 and was at 3.8454 by 11:36 a.m. in Warsaw from 3.8302 yesterday. It may extend its drop to 3.9 by the end of 2007, Dybula said.

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