An already busy year for interest-rate cuts from central banks is likely to get busier. And you might even see some rate increases, too.
The countries poised to raise interest rates by the most this year include the U.S., Brazil, Mexico and Nigeria, according to median estimates in Bloomberg surveys of economists around the world. After keeping rates at a record low of zero to 0.25 percent since 2008, the Federal Reserve is expected to raise its benchmark interest rate to a range of 0.5 to 0.75 percentage point by the end of the year. It will be joined in such an increase by Brazil and Mexico and will be trumped by Nigeria, which will raise rates by 1 percentage point, based on the surveys conducted this year.
A better economic outlook for this year is helping some central bankers justify a move away from ultra-accommodative monetary policy after years of using low rates and stimulus measures to try and bolster weak growth.
The U.S. economy will expand 3.1 percent, on average, this year, according to Bloomberg surveys, and will see its unemployment rate fall to 5.2 percent by the end of 2015. Nigeria’s economy will expand 4.9 percent and Mexico is set for growth of 3.2 percent.
On the other end of the spectrum, Russia will see the biggest projected central bank rate cut this year. Central bankers in Moscow have already proven themselves to be an unusually active bunch. In November, the central bank shifted to a free-floating exchange rate ahead of schedule and in December announced a 6.5 percentage-point interest-rate increase, the largest since 1998, before reversing course with a surprise 2-point cut on Jan. 30. This U-turn followed worries of recession and warnings from politicians and business leaders that the high borrowing costs were choking banks and companies. Economists now expect the Russian central bank to cut the key rate to 11 percent from 15 percent by the end of the year, almost entirely offsetting its December tightening.
Other cuts for central banks this year will come in under the 1 percentage-point mark. India and Turkey are projected to lower rates by a half percentage point, while Canada, Norway, Australia and South Korea should all decrease by a quarter percentage point. (The Turkey forecast came from a Bloomberg News survey conducted in January, before Tuesday’s decision by the central bank to cut its benchmark rate by 25 basis points.)
Investors looking to make some money off the higher interest rates of some of these countries may also look at Brazil, India, South Africa and China. Those are the investment-grade countries with the highest projected central bank rates for 2015. Trading the U.S. dollar for those currencies could potentially reap the benefits of higher interest rates in what the foreign-exchange world calls the carry trade.
Here are the results for the countries with current surveys, in order from the biggest rate cuts to the largest increases:
Russia — 4 percentage-point cut
India — 0.5 percentage-point cut
Turkey — 0.5 percentage-point cut
China — 0.35 percentage-point cut
Canada — 0.25 percentage-point cut
Norway — 0.25 percentage-point cut
Poland — 0.25 percentage-point cut
South Korea — 0.25 percentage-point cut
Australia — 0.25 percentage-point cut
Peru — 0.25 percentage-point cut
Sweden — no change
Switzerland — no change
Denmark — no change
Euro Area — no change
Japan — no change
Chile — no change
New Zealand — no change
South Africa — no change
Kenya — no change
Ghana — no change
Malaysia — no change
Colombia — no change
Philippines — 0.125 percentage-point increase
U.K. — 0.25 percentage-point increase
Mexico — 0.5 percentage-point increase
U.S. — 0.5 percentage-point increase
Brazil — 0.5 percentage-point increase
Nigeria — 1 percentage-point increase