December 22, 2002 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 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 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.