Bank of Canada Review Article

  • December 22, 2002

    Recent Changes to Canada's Financial Sector Legislation

    Significant legislative developments have occurred in Canada's financial services sector over the past decade. This article chronicles those developments and gives an overview of the key provisions contained in Bill C–8, the legislation to reform the sector that came into force in October 2001. The article briefly describes some of the restructuring trends in the financial services sector since the early 1990s and the legislative changes that affected federal financial institutions over the period 1992–2001, as well as the process leading up to the 2001 legislation and some of its key provisions. The 2001 financial sector legislation was wide-ranging. It maintained the principle of wide ownership of large banks and introduced a number of changes, including a holding company option that can give greater organizational flexibility to banks and life insurance companies; the creation of the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada to enforce consumer-related provisions as they relate to federal financial institutions; and changes to the Canadian Payments Association and the access to and governance of the payments system.
  • December 21, 2002

    Exchange Rate Regimes in Emerging Markets

    A series of major international financial crises in the 1990s, and the recent introduction of the euro, have renewed interest in alternative exchange rate systems. The choice of exchange rate regime is particularly relevant for emerging-market countries because other countries are perceived either as having no alternative to their current exchange rate arrangement or as highly unlikely to change. This article examines the evolution of exchange rate regimes in emerging markets over the past decade and compares the strengths and weaknesses of the various available systems. These include intermediate regimes, such as the adjustable pegged exchange rate popular throughout much of the post—war period, and the two extreme exchange rate regimes: permanently fixed or freely floating exchange rate regimes. Two recently proposed alternatives are also evaluated: the Managed Floating Plus and Baskets, Bands, and Crawling Pegs. Both try to combine the best elements of the flexible and fixed exchange rate systems, but the Managed Floating Plus is deemed to be the more promising alternative.
  • December 20, 2002

    Transparency and the Response of Interest Rates to the Publication of Macroeconomic Data

    The benefits of transparency—the outcome of the measures taken by the central bank to allow financial markets and economic agents to understand the factors it takes into account in formulating monetary policy—are now widely recognized. These benefits include smoother implementation of monetary policy and increased effectiveness as markets improve their ability to anticipate the Bank's policy decisions and account for them in their operations. How interest rates respond to the publication of macroeconomic data depends on the degree of transparency in monetary policy, as the rates will rise or fall as a reflection of the market's revised expectations. Before the Bank of Canada adopted initiatives to improve transparency, such as the inflation-control targets, the semi-annual publication of the Monetary Policy Report and Updates, and the fixed announcement dates, changes to the overnight rate created some volatility in interest rates, and publishing Canadian macroeconomic data did not appear to have a major impact on rates. This article shows how the Bank of Canada's steps towards greater transparency have increased the impact of Canadian data on short-term interest rates and have improved financial markets' understanding of how monetary policy decisions are taken.
  • November 21, 2002

    Is Canada Dollarized?

    The sharp depreciation of the Canadian dollar and the successful launch of the euro have sparked a lively debate in Canada about the possible benefits of formally adopting the U.S. dollar as our national currency. Some observers have suggested that this debate is largely irrelevant, since Canada is already highly "dollarized." Canadian businesses and households, they assert, often use the U.S. dollar to perform standard money functions in preference to their own currency. Very little evidence has been provided, however, to support these claims. The authors review the available data with a view to drawing some tentative conclusions about the extent to which Canada has already been informally dollarized. The evidence suggests that many of the concerns that have been expressed about the imminent demise of the Canadian dollar have been misplaced. The Canadian dollar continues to be used as the principal unit of account, medium of exchange, and store of value within our borders. Moreover, there is no indication that dollarization is likely to take hold in the foreseeable future. Indeed, in many respects, the Canadian economy is less dollarized now than it was 20 years ago.
  • November 20, 2002

    CLS Bank: Managing Foreign Exchange Settlement Risk

    In the foreign exchange market, where average daily turnover is in trillions of dollars and trades span time zones, legal systems, and domestic payments systems, participants take on various risks. The most serious risk is credit risk—the risk that one party will fail to pay. Central banks, private sector financial institutions, and domestic payments systems operators laboured for more than a decade to develop a multi-currency settlement system to deal with these risks. The result, the CLS Bank, began operations in September 2002. It virtually eliminates the credit risk inherent in foreign exchange transactions by providing a payment-versus-payment arrangement for settlement. The CLS Bank is regulated by the Federal Reserve Board in consultation with the central banks that have currencies settling through its system. At present there are seven currencies, including the Canadian dollar. The Bank of Canada acts as banker for the CLS Bank, providing it with a settlement account and making and receiving payments on its behalf through the Large Value Transfer System. With the participation and support of the world's largest foreign-exchange-dealing institutions, and growing membership, the CLS Bank has the potential to become the dominant global mechanism for settling foreign exchange transactions.
  • November 19, 2002

    Purchasing-Power Parity: Definition, Measurement, and Interpretation

    This article examines the concept of purchasing-power parity (PPP) and its implications for the equilibrium value of the Canadian exchange rate. PPP has two main applications, as a theory of exchange rate determination and as a means to compare living standards across countries. Concerning exchange rate determination, PPP is mainly useful as a reminder that monetary policy has no long-run impact on the real exchange rate, since the exchange rate can deviate persistently from its PPP value in response to real shocks. To compare living standards across countries, PPP exchange rates constructed by comparing the prices of national consumption baskets are used to translate per capita national incomes into a common currency. These rates are useful because they offset differences in national price levels to obtain comparable measures of purchasing power, but they are not an accurate measure of the equilibrium value of the exchange rate. The authors conclude that the current deviation of the Canadian exchange rate from the PPP rate does not imply that the exchange rate is undervalued, but that this deviation reflects the impact of persistent real factors, in particular, lower commodity prices.
  • August 21, 2002

    Monetary Policy and Uncertainty

    Central banks must cope with considerable uncertainty about what will happen in the economy when formulating monetary policy. This article describes the different types of uncertainty that arise and looks at examples of uncertainty that the Bank has recently encountered. It then reviews the strategies employed by the Bank to deal with this problem. The other articles in this special issue focus on three of these major strategies.
  • August 20, 2002

    Information and Analysis for Monetary Policy: Coming to a Decision

    This article outlines one of the Bank's key approaches to dealing with the uncertainty that surrounds decisions on monetary policy: the consideration of a wide range of information from a variety of sources. More specifically, it describes the information and analysis that the monetary policy decision-makers—the Governing Council of the Bank of Canada—receive in the two or three weeks leading up to a decision on the setting of the policy rate—the target overnight interest rate. The article also describes how the Governing Council reaches this decision.
  • August 19, 2002

    Models in Policy-Making

    This article examines another strategy in the Bank's approach to dealing with an uncertain world: the use of carefully articulated models to produce economic forecasts and to examine the implications of the various risks to those forecasts. Economic models are deliberate simplifications of a complex world that allow economists to make predictions that are reasonably accurate and that can be easily understood and communicated. By using several models, based on competing paradigms, the Bank minimizes policy errors that could result from relying on one view of the world and one philosophy of model design. The authors review some of the models currently used at the Bank, as well as the role of judgment in the projection process.
  • August 18, 2002

    The Role of Simple Rules in the Conduct of Canadian Monetary Policy

    The third strategy employed by the Bank when dealing with uncertainty is the consideration of appropriate simple reaction functions or "rules" for the setting of the policy interest rate. Since John Taylor's presentation of his much-discussed rule, research on simple policy rules has exploded. Simple rules have several advantages. In particular, they are easy to construct and communicate and are believed by some to be robust, in the sense of generating good results in a variety of economic models. This article provides an overview of the recent research regarding the usefulness and robustness of simple monetary policy rules, particularly in models of the Canadian economy. It also describes and explains the role of simple rules in the conduct of monetary policy in Canada.

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