2 Aug 2011

NZ dollar above intervention level again

6:40 am on 2 August 2011

The New Zealand dollar is above the level at which the Reserve Bank first attempted to bring the currency down in 2007.

The bank previously intervened in the currency markets on 11 June 2007 in an attempt to bring down the kiwi down. It sold the dollar once it reached US74.48 cents on a trade-weighted basis.

On Monday, the dollar hit a new post-float high against the greenback, reaching US88.2 cents following an agreement between political parties in America to raise the federal debt ceiling and disappointing growth figures.

Currency analyst Imrie Speizer from Westpac is putting the chances of an intervention in the currency markets by the Reserve Bank in the next couple of weeks at greater than 50%.

Mr Speizer says the New Zealand dollar is overvalued and the threshold for the central bank intervening in the markets and selling the dollar is close at hand.

However, he believes the Reserve Bank is unlikely to do so just yet while investor appetite for the dollar remains strong.

Mr Speizer says there is more than an even chance that the central bank will intervene in the next couple of weeks, but it will wait for a dip in the currency first.

The Labour Party says the Reserve Bank should at least consider intervening again to take pressure off the currency. Finance spokesperson David Cunliffe says consideration should be given to selling the New Zealand dollar to bring its value down.

PM warns against intervention

Prime Minister John Key said on Monday that interventions in the currency markets have not been successful in other countries, including Japan and Switzerland.

"If you go and have a look at the track record of countries that have intervened in their exchange rate, then they've been spectacularly unsuccessful.

"And there's no particular reason to believe that New Zealand will be any different."

Mr Key says it is up to the Reserve Bank to decide what to do, but he is wary of intervention, and the Government's approach to the high dollar is to put policies in place to make New Zealand companies as competitive as possible.

Business New Zealand says the strong dollar is hurting exporters. However, chief executive Phil O'Reilly is wary of supporting intervention, as it is unlikely to work and could expose taxpayers to big losses if the kiwi continues to rise.