December 16, 2000 This article describes the Bank's management of the liquid foreign currency portion of the government's official reserves. It broadly outlines the operations of the Exchange Fund Account (EFA), the main account in which Canada's reserves are held. It then briefly reviews the evolution of the objectives and management of the EFA over the past 25 years, particularly in light of the changing level of reserves and developments in financial markets. The EFA is funded by Canada's foreign currency borrowings in capital markets. The article focuses on the comprehensive portfolio framework used to manage the Account, which matches assets and liabilities. Under this framework, funds are invested in assets that match, as closely as possible, the characteristics of foreign currency liabilities issued, helping to immunize the portfolio against currency and interest rate risks.
December 15, 2000 Interest rate swaps and currency swaps are contracts in which counterparties agree to exchange cash flows according to a pre-arranged formula over a period of time. Since 1985, the federal government has been using such swaps to manage its liabilities in a cost-effective and flexible manner. The authors outline the characteristics of swap agreements and the ways in which the government uses them. They show that the swap program has been cost-effective, estimating that past and projected savings exceed $500 million. The authors also discuss the methods that the government uses to monitor the counterparty credit risk associated with these transactions.