The Neutral Rate of Interest in Canada
A measure of the neutral policy interest rate can be used to gauge the stance of monetary policy. We define the neutral rate as the real policy rate consistent with output at its potential level and inflation equal to target after the effects of all cyclical shocks have dissipated. This is a medium- to longer-run concept of the neutral rate. Under this definition, the neutral rate in Canada is determined by the longer-run forces that influence savings and investment in both the Canadian and global economies. Structural forces have likely reduced the neutral rate by more than a percentage point since the mid-2000s. The Bank’s estimates of the real neutral policy rate currently stand in the 1 to 2 per cent range, or 3 to 4 per cent in nominal terms. The current gap between the policy rate and the neutral rate reflects policy stimulus in response to significant excess supply and in the face of continuing headwinds. As long as these headwinds persist, a policy rate below neutral will be required to maintain inflation sustainably at target.