The sharp depreciation of the Canadian dollar and the successful launch of the euro have spawned an animated debate in Canada concerning the potential benefits of formally adopting the U.S. dollar as our national currency. Some observers have suggested that this debate is largely irrelevant, since the Canadian economy is already highly "dollarized." Canadian businesses and households, they assert, often use the U.S. dollar to perform standard money functions in preference to their own currency. Very little evidence has been advanced, however, to support these claims.

The authors of this report examine the available data in an effort to overcome this informational deficiency and to draw some tentative conclusions about the extent to which Canada has already been informally dollarized. The evidence that they present suggests that many of the concerns (or hopes) that have been expressed about the imminent dollarization of the Canadian economy are misplaced. The Canadian dollar continues to be used as the principal unit of account, medium of exchange, and store of value within our borders, and there is no indication that dollarization is likely to take hold in the foreseeable future.