Singapore central bank to reveal FX intervention, improving transparency

The logo of the Monetary Authority of Singapore at its building in Singapore
The logo of the Monetary Authority of Singapore at its building in Singapore Reuters

Singapore's central bank said on Wednesday it will disclose more information on the actions it takes to implement monetary policy, including releasing data on foreign exchange intervention every six months.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) manages policy through exchange rate settings rather than interest rates, letting the Singapore dollar rise or fall against the currencies of its main trading partners within an undisclosed policy band.

"MAS has ... decided to disclose further information on its monetary policy operations, without compromising their effectiveness," the MAS said in a statement.

"This further disclosure initiative will provide market participants a better indication of the actions that MAS has undertaken to implement its monetary policy stance."

The first set of data will be for the second half of 2019 and will be released in mid-2020.

The MAS discloses less information than most other major central banks about how it comes to its decisions, including not releasing minutes of its monetary policy meetings, and it only announces policy decisions twice a year.

"It's going to be useful for market watchers," said Selena Ling, head of treasury research at OCBC bank.

"Net purchases of FX data alone is not going to give you full clarity but it probably will be a better guide to market understanding of how they run monetary policy over time."

Vishnu Varathan, an economist at Mizuho Bank, said the MAS could be responding to more global economic concerns.

"Global policy uncertainty is very high, making it more difficult for markets to wrap their heads around where policy is headed," Varathan said.

"(Releasing forex data) takes away the noise and possible inadvertent consequences of market speculation."

The MAS also said it will be transferring S$45 billion ($33 billion) out of its S$404 billion ($297 billion) in foreign exchange reserves to Singapore's sovereign wealth fund GIC for longer-term investments.

"This amount is the excess over what MAS deems necessary to maintain confidence in Singapore's exchange rate-centred monetary policy," the MAS statement said.

The MAS transfers foreign exchange to the GIC periodically but it has not previously disclosed the amounts.

GIC is among the world's 10 biggest sovereign investors with $390 billion worth of assets, according to the Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute.