Digital technologies—cloud computing, the Internet of Things, advanced robotics, big data analytics, artificial intelligence and machine learning, social media, 3D printing, augmented reality, virtual reality, e-money and distributed ledgers—are transforming the way busi-nesses operate. How does this transformation compare with past industrial revolutions? How are digital technologies changing production systems across industries? Agile firms that use knowledge intensively and have high levels of both organizational and human capital appear set to realize the greatest benefits from digitalization. Finally, what are the implications for productivity, labour markets, inflation and monetary policy as we transition to the digital economy?
Some suggest the global economy is facing a fourth industrial revolution. Bank researchers discuss the possible implications of digitalization on the economy. This issue also shares insights on the effectiveness of some unconventional monetary policies in a small open economy, how Government of Canada bonds are used throughout their life cycle, as well as how the Big Six Canadian banks choose their funding strategies and why. The final article examines the slow growth in business investment.
How do unconventional monetary policies like quantitative easing and negative interest rates affect domestic financial conditions and the broader economy in small open econo-mies, such as Canada? These policies are effective in depreciating the exchange rate in small open economies, while lower interest rates are also passed through to the economy, albeit only partially. When conventional monetary policy is close to its limits, fiscal policy may be a more important complement to monetary policy in a small economy, particularly if global demand for safe assets compresses long-term interest rates.
Data on the use of government securities in the repo, securities lending and cash markets suggest there are bond market clienteles in Canada. Shorter-term bonds are more prevalent in the repo market, while longer-maturity securities are more active in the securities lending market—consistent with the preferred habitat hypothesis. These results could help design better debt-management strategies and more-effective policies to maintain well-functioning financial markets.
The Big Six Canadian banks are a dominant component of the Canadian financial system. How they finance their business activities is fundamental to how effective they are. Retail and commercial deposits along with wholesale funding represent the two major sources of funds for Canadian banks. What wholesale funding instruments do the Big Six banks use? How do they choose between different funding sources, funding strategies and why? How have banks changed their funding mix since the 2007–09 global financial crisis?
Various drivers of business investment can be used to explain the underwhelming performance of investment in advanced economies since the global financial crisis, particularly since 2014. The slow growth in aggregate demand cannot by itself explain the full extent of the recent weakness in investment, which appears to be linked primarily to the collapse of global commodity prices and a rise in economic uncertainty. Looking ahead, business investment growth is likely to remain slower than in the pre-crisis period, largely because of structural factors such as population aging.
The results of the spring Business Outlook Survey reflect signs of a further strengthening of domestic demand following overall subdued activity over the past two years. This outlook is supported by foreign demand and an expected rebound in activity in energy-producing regions.