December 11, 1996 In the first, mostly theoretical, part of this article, the author analyses the factors that affect the pass-through of exchange rate movements to consumer prices. In the second part, she studies the recent Canadian experience in this area, starting from 1992. The analysis in the first part of the article is used to investigate why the depreciation of the Canadian dollar by almost 20 per cent between 1992 and 1994 did not produce as much of an increase in the inflation rate as predicted by conventional estimates of the exchange rate pass-through. The author first explains this phenomenon using the factors described in the theoretical part of the article: demand conditions, the costs of adjusting prices, and expectations about the depreciation's duration. She then examines the role of more specific factors, such as the abolition of customs duties on trade between Canada and the United States and the restructuring of the retail market. It is clear that the latter two factors helped neutralize the effect of the depreciation on prices.
December 10, 1996 In this article, the author examines the maturity structure of the household sector's balance sheet and the degree of interest rate variability of household loans and financial assets. The bulk of households' interest-bearing assets and financial liabilities consists of medium- and long-term, fixed-rate instruments. The pattern of personal consumption is therefore influenced more by the wealth effects of interest rate changes than by their income effects, and the full impact of a permnent shift in interest rates on consumption will become apparent only after a lag.
December 9, 1996 A conventional bond is a debt instrument consisting of a series of periodic coupon payments plus the repayment of the principal at maturity. As the name suggests, a zero-coupon bond has no coupon payments. It has only a single payment consisting of the repayment of the principal at maturity. The zero-coupon bond is sold at a discount and then redeemed for its face value at maturity. The return to the investor is the difference between the face value of the bond and its discounted purchase price. In this article, the author examines the investment characteristics of zero-coupon bonds. In particular, a type of zero-coupon bond known as a strip bond is discussed. A strip bond is created by stripping coupon payments from conventional bonds. The strip bond market in Canada has grown substantially since the late 1980s and is now an integral part of Canadian fixed-income markets. As well, the opportunity to trade in the strip bond market improves the liquidity and efficiency of Canadian fixed-income markets, thus helping to reduce the overall cost of borrowing to the government.