December 17, 2001 The Canadian fixed-income market is in the midst of a structural transformation similar to those occurring in other national financial markets around the world. The authors examine recent developments and trends in the market and discuss their possible effects. The simultaneous shrinking of the federal government's financial requirements and steady rise in issues of corporate securities have significantly altered the composition of Canada's fixed-income market. Government of Canada securities constitute a predominant portion of outstanding fixed-income securities and play a pivotal role, serving as benchmarks for the valuation of other traded securities and as a hedging vehicle for market participants trying to control their exposure to risk. The reduced issuance of federal government securities has contributed to a decline in the liquidity of the benchmark market. This raises broader issues regarding the future of the Canadian fixed-income market, since the corporate market is still fairly underdeveloped and illiquid compared with that for Government of Canada issues. There are thus currently few benchmark and hedging alternatives. The federal government is, however, committed to preserving the integrity of the market for benchmark issues and is adopting initiatives to enhance market liquidity and alleviate some of the pressures on the effective supply of these securities. Another evolving trend in the market is the emergence of electronic trading platforms. These platforms have the potential to facilitate the price-discovery mechanism, increase cost efficiency, and improve the liquidity and transparency of the market.
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