Mr. Thiessen was appointed Governor of the Bank of Canada on 1 February 1994, for a term of seven years, retiring on 31 January 2001.
Born in South Porcupine, Ontario, Mr. Thiessen grew up in a number of different towns in Saskatchewan. After graduating from high school in Moosomin, Saskatchewan, he worked for a chartered bank in that province.
Mr. Thiessen studied economics at the University of Saskatchewan and received an Honours BA in 1960 and an MA in 1961. The following year he lectured in economics at the university. From 1965 to 1967 he attended the London School of Economics, from which he received his PhD in Economics in 1972.
He joined the Bank of Canada in 1963 and worked in both the Research and the Monetary and Financial Analysis Departments of the Bank. Mr. Thiessen spent the period from 1973 to 1975 as a visiting economist at the Reserve Bank of Australia.
At the Bank of Canada, Mr. Thiessen was successively appointed Adviser to the Governor in 1979, Deputy Governor in 1984, and Senior Deputy Governor in 1987. He has been a member of the Board of Directors of the Bank and of its Executive Committee since his appointment as Senior Deputy Governor.
In 1996, the government of Sweden awarded Mr. Thiessen the Order of the Polar Star in recognition of the assistance provided by the Bank of Canada to the Swedish central bank. In 1997, Mr. Thiessen received an honourary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of Saskatchewan.
We have just witnessed the dawn of a new era in Europe. Beginning this month, 11 of the 15 member countries of the European Union have joined in a currency union. And they are using the euro as their common currency. The currency union is yet another step on the road to greater economic, social, and political integration in Europe—a vision some 50 years in the making.
When the Asian crisis erupted in the summer of 1997, few observers anticipated that international financial markets would still be under its influence more than a year later.
As an economist who worked as a banker for most of his career, Douglas Gibson brought an interesting perspective to public policy issues, to the relationship between government and business, and to the contribution of outside economists to government policies.
This past year, we have had to deal with the implications for our economy and our currency of increased global uncertainty and pressures arising from the problems that originated in Southeast Asia. I am sure that the effects of these developments, especially on primary commodities, such as oil and nickel, are already very familiar to Newfoundlanders.
Globalization—that is, the growing integration and interdependence of national economies—is changing dramatically the economic landscape. Countries are trading more goods and services, an increasing number of firms now operate across national borders, and savers and borrowers have greater access than ever before to global financial markets.
It can take anywhere from one to two years for monetary actions to have their full effect on the economy. Because of this, the conduct of monetary policy must be based on a view of what the economy will be like—not tomorrow, not in a month—but rather in one to two years' time.
A year ago, in early 1997, prospects for global economic growth were very promising. World economic activity had strengthened and was expected to accelerate further, with the benefit of low inflation, reduced fiscal imbalances, and stable or declining interest rates. In Canada too, output and employment growth had picked up.
Today, we meet against a backdrop of some uncertainty in the international economy. I would like to begin my remarks with an assessment of what the recent financial and economic events in Asia could mean for Canada.
Today, I would like to talk about some of the important issues and challenges facing monetary policy in the period ahead and how the Bank of Canada proposes to deal with them. This is not an unusual topic for me since the business of central banking is seldom without challenges. But what a difference the past two years have made to the challenges we face!
It has been a little over two years since my last public speech to an audience in the United States. During this time, a lot has happened in terms of economic developments in our two countries. One thing that continues to impress me is the remarkable performance of the U.S. economy, which has achieved six years of steady economic expansion, with high rates of job creation and low inflation.
Once a year, the Bank of Canada's Board of Directors meets outside Ottawa, alternating among the provinces. I am delighted that this year's out-of-town meeting has brought us to the beautiful and historic city of Quebec. I would like to take this opportunity to talk to you about recent developments in our economy.
There is a good deal of discussion these days about Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) in Europe—about the benefits and difficulties of organizing such a union. However, today I would like to examine a somewhat different issue, one that is at the other end of the spectrum; namely, How is the international system of flexible exchange rates working these days?
Anyone who has read our last Monetary Policy Report, the winter issue of the Bank of Canada Review, or our just-released Annual Report knows that the Bank has been positive about Canada's economic outlook. Basically, we are looking for a solid pickup in the pace of economic expansion in coming months, with inflation remaining low. And, with improvements in the basic foundation of our economy, we see the potential for sustained good economic performance over the medium term.
Every year, the Bank of Canada's Board of Directors has one of its meetings outside Ottawa, in a different part of the country. I am delighted that this year's meeting has brought us to London today, giving me the opportunity to speak to you about recent developments in the Canadian economy.
Just over seven years ago, my predecessor, John Crow, delivered the Hanson Memorial Lecture at the University of Alberta. In it, he discussed a number of issues relating to the conduct of Canadian monetary policy, including the goal of monetary policy, the transmission mechanism, the use of monetary aggregates as policy guides, financial market uncertainty, and the role of the exchange rate