In just 2 months, 20 central banks - including Singapore's - have eased monetary policy. Here's why

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) building at Shenton Way on March 13, 2014. The Reserve Bank of India surprised markets on Wednesday with a cut to its key lending rate for the second time this year, joining a worldwide trend of monetary
The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) building at Shenton Way on March 13, 2014. The Reserve Bank of India surprised markets on Wednesday with a cut to its key lending rate for the second time this year, joining a worldwide trend of monetary easing that is driving global interest rates to multiyear lows. -- PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The Reserve Bank of India surprised markets on Wednesday with a cut to its key lending rate for the second time this year, joining a worldwide trend of monetary easing that is driving global interest rates to multiyear lows.

Central banks from Singapore to Europe have eased monetary policy this year to boost flagging eoonomic growth or counter deflationary pressures stemming largely from collapsing oil prices.

Some like India and China have eased more than once. Denmark made four cuts in less than a month.

The easing - mostly by cutting interest rates, at times by buying assets - is targeted at boosting money supply as a way of stimulating economic activity.

Here's what central banks have done in just the last two months:

Jan 1 - UZBEKISTAN: Cuts refinancing rate to 9 per cent from 10 per cent.

Jan 7/Feb 4 - ROMANIA: Cuts key rate by a total of 50 basis points to a record low of 2.25 per cent.

Jan 15 - SWITZERLAND: The opposite of an easing move, the Swiss central bank stuns markets by scrapping the three-year-old cap on the franc's value against the euro, sending the franc surging. The imminent prospect of an Eeropean Central Bank (ECB) decision to unleash 1 trillion euros of quantitative easing in an effort to drive down the euro would have meant the Swiss would have had to spend even more billions defending the peg.

Jan 15//Mar 4 - INDIA: Surprises markets with a second 25-basis-point cut to its key rate to 7.5 per cent.

Jan 15 - EGYPT: Makes a surprise 50-basis-point cut in its main interest rates.

Jan 16 - PERU: Unexpectedly cuts its benchmark rate to 3.25 per cent from 3.5 per cent after the country posts its worst monthly economic expansion since 2009.

Jan 20 - TURKEY: Makes a 50-basis-point cut to key rate, but government ministers say it's not enough to support growth.

Jan 21 - CANADA: Cuts rates to 0.75 per cent from 1 per cent, where they had been since September 2010, ending the longest period of unchanged rates in Canada since 1950.

Jan 22 - ECB: Launches a government bond-buying programme which will pump over 1 trillion euros into the sagging euro zone economy, starting in March and running to September next year, and perhaps beyond.

Jan 24 - PAKISTAN: Cuts its key discount rate to 8.5 per cent from 9.5 per cent.

Jan 28 - SINGAPORE: The Monetary Authority of Singapore unexpectedly eases policy, saying in an unscheduled policy statement that it will reduce the slope of its policy band for the Singapore dollar because the inflation outlook has "shifted significantly" since its last review in October 2014.

Jan 28 - ALBANIA: Cuts its benchmark rate to a record low 2 per cent. Follows three rate cuts last year, the most re cent in November.

Jan 30 - RUSSIA: Unexpectedly cuts its key repo rate by two percentage points to 15 per cent, a little over a month after raising it by 6.5 points to 17 per cent, as fears of recession mount on plunging oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine.

Feb 3/Mar 3 - AUSTRALIA: Signaled it might need to ease again after unexpectedly holding key rate steady after cutting it to all-time low of 2.25 per cent in February.

Feb 4/28 - CHINA: Cuts rates for the second time in one month, after a cut to bank reserve requirements in early February.

Jan 19/22/29/Feb 5 - DENMARK: Cuts interest rates four times in less than three weeks and intervenes regularly in the currency market to keep the crown within the narrow range of its peg to the euro.

Feb 13 - SWEDEN: Cuts its key rate to negative 0.1 per cent from zero, where it had been since October, and said it would buy 10 billion Swedish crowns worth of bonds.

Feb 17 - INDONESIA: Unexpectedly cuts its benchmark rate by a quarter of a percentage point to 7.5 per cent, the first rate cut in three years.

Feb 18 - BOTSWANA: Cuts its benchmark lending rate by 1 percentage point to 6.5 per cent.

Feb 23 - ISRAEL: Lowers benchmark rate to 0.1 per cent from 0.25 per cent amid persistent deflation and a strengthening shekel.

Four in Asia holding out from easing:

The central banks of Malaysia, Taiwan, Thailand and the Philippines have held off easing in recent months, though they may change course at any time.

What's holding them back? Worries that a rate cut, which weakens a country's currency, could add to food inflation or to high household debt levels or to stock market speculation.

Sources: Reuters, Bloomberg