November 14, 1997 The European Union, which currently consists of 15 states, occupies an important place among the advanced economies. The final stage of the European economic and monetary union (EMU) is scheduled to begin in January 1999 with the adoption of a common currency called the "euro." A decision on which countries will participate in the euro area in 1999 will be made next spring based in part on the achievement of the economic criteria laid out in the Maastricht Treaty. In this article, the authors, after a brief discussion of the historical background, cast some light on the institutional aspects of the EMU, on the formulation and implementation of economic policy, as well as on the internal and external effects of EMU completion. For Canada, the direct implications of the shift to the euro appear to be relatively modest, at least in the short run.
November 13, 1997 As a guide for the conduct of monetary policy, most central banks make use of a trend inflation index similar to that employed by the Bank of Canada: the CPI excluding food, energy, and the effect of indirect taxes. In addition to their basic reference index, some central banks regularly publish statistical measures of the trend rate of inflation. The method used for producing these measures is, for the most part, based on the hypothesis that extreme price fluctuations generally reflect temporary shocks to the inflation rate, rather than its underlying trend. In this paper, the author offers a broad survey of studies on the measurement of trend inflation that have been published by the Bank of Canada and presents the results of the most recent work on the subject. Particular attention is paid to two statistical measures that the Bank follows more closely than other measures; namely, the CPIX, a price index that excludes eight of the most volatile CPI components, and CPIW, a measure that retains all the components of the overall index but gives a lower weighting to the most volatile.
November 12, 1997 Clearing and settlement systems are essential to the smooth functioning of a modern market-based economy such as Canada's. During the past decade, there have been significant efforts in Canada and abroad to improve electronic clearing and settlement systems that handle payments obligations, either uniquely or in conjunction with transactions related to the purchase and sale of a broad range of financial instruments such as debt, equity, foreign exchange, or derivatives. This article examines some of the risks faced by participants and end-users of these systems and reviews the Bank of Canada's role in relation to these systems. For a number of years, the Bank has been involved informally with major clearing and settlement systems with a view to ensuring that systemic risk is adequately controlled. In July 1996, the Payment Clearing and Settlement Act was proclaimed. This Act formalized the role of the Bank in the oversight of clearing and settlement systems for the purpose of controlling systemic risk. The article provides an overview of the Bank's responsibilities. It also describes certain new powers that the Act made available to the Bank that could be exercised in its dealings with clearing and settlement systems.