May 9, 1995 In 1994, broad monetary aggregates such as M2+ grew at an unusually slow rate, indicating a continuation of low inflation. Narrow money, M1, ballooned early in the year, partly for technical reasons. However, its overall deceleration for the year as a whole would be consistent with lower output growth in the first half of 1995 than was seen the year before. During the first half of 1994, there was a continued shift by investors from deposits into equity, bond and mortgage mutual funds. In the second half of the year, following a rise in interest rates and a fall in the yields posted by mutual funds, there was a movement back into M2+. In this annual review of the monetary aggregates, the author discusses the reasons for these shifts and their implications for M2+.
May 8, 1995 Views in the economic literature on the main factors that influence exchange rates have evolved over time in response to economic developments and new trends in economic theory. This article provides a brief interpretative survey of the main theories of exchange rate determination. The factors that influence exchange rate developments are varied and complex. However, the authors show that the broad movements of the Canada-U.S. real exchange rate since the early 1970s can be captured by a simple equation that highlights the role of commodity prices and Canada-U.S. interest rate differentials. The equation is used to interpret the evolution of the real exchange rate over the last two decades. At times, the real exchange rate deviates significantly from what the equation would predict. One explanation is that the equation omits certain factors that can influence the exchange rate, particularly in the short run. These may include fiscal policy variables, international indebtedness, political uncertainty, and investor sentiments—factors that are difficult to quantify but that have been particularly relevant in recent years.
May 7, 1995 Canada has not been alone in making substantial progress towards price stability. Average inflation in the industrialized countries fell markedly in the first half of the 1990s, the third such episode of broad-based disinflation in the last 20 years. By the latter part of 1994, inflation in many countries had fallen to rates that had not been sustained since the early 1960s, generally converging to within a range of 1 to 3 per cent. Despite the decline in inflation to similar low levels, there were a number of interesting developments across the industrialized countries. For example, the pace of disinflation slowed noticeably after 1992 despite continued weak demand conditions. Inflation in countries that experienced a sharp depreciation in their exchange rates in the first half of the 1990s was, on average, no higher than elsewhere. The author identifies various factors affecting inflation outcomes in the industrialized countries. These include special factors, such as changes to indirect taxes, as well as more fundamental determinants of inflation, including the degree of economic slack. The presence of these factors, and perhaps the way in which inflation responded to them, varied across countries. One common element, however, was an increased commitment by monetary authorities across the industrialized economies to the goal of achieving and maintaining price stability.
May 6, 1995 In addition to its primary role as the country's central bank, the Bank of Canada also acts as the federal government's banker and financial adviser. One of the activities associated with this role as fiscal agent is managing the government's Canadian dollar balances. This function is examined in this article. The main priority is to ensure that the government has sufficient cash to meet its daily needs. This requires careful forecasting and monitoring of the government's daily receipt and expenditure flows, as well as an ongoing borrowing program to refinance maturing debt and to replenish the balances during periods when outflows, on average, exceed inflows. The cost of borrowing to raise cash balances for the government is considerably higher than the interest earned on any balances that are available "on demand." To reduce this net cost, balances in excess of those required for daily needs are invested in "term" deposits that earn a higher rate of interest than that earned on the demand balances. The net cost of holding government balances has also been reduced through the use of cash management bills, which are flexible, short-term borrowing instruments that complement the government's regular weekly issues of 3-, 6- and 12-month treasury bills.