December 12, 1998 This article summarizes the proceedings of a conference hosted by the Bank of Canada in May 1998. This was the second Bank conference to focus directly on issues concerning financial markets. The topic for 1998—the extraction of information from the prices of financial assets—has been an area of extensive research by central banks worldwide because of its connection to monetary policy. The Bank wanted to encourage such work by Canadian researchers as well as solicit feedback on work conducted internally. It also wanted to broaden the understanding of the interplay in the markets between central banks and other participants. It therefore assembled a wide mix of researchers, central bankers, and market participants. The summary briefly outlines the papers presented as well as the wrap-up discussion.
May 13, 1998 Long-term Canada-U.S. interest spreads have changed remarkably during the 1990s. The unusually wide spreads of the first half of the decade have given way to an unprecedented run of negative yield differentials. In this article, the author examines the conceptual aspects of yields on international assets and their application to the Canada-U.S. situation. Prior to 1995, investors were unsure that, over the long run, inflation would meet the targets set by the government and the Bank. Policy credibility was undermined by large budget deficits and political uncertainty. In the second half of the decade, confidence was re-established as the fiscal positions of governments improved, long-run price stability became established, and political concerns about Quebec lessened. As long as these fundamentals hold, long-term rates should remain relatively low, even when short-term rates rise.