Publications

  • December 23, 2003

    The Comparative Growth of Goods and Services Prices

    For several decades, the prices of services have been rising more rapidly than the prices of goods in Canada and the other major industrialized countries. In 2002, this gap between the growth rates of these two components of the consumer price index (CPI) widened considerably, leading researchers to ask if this was the beginning of a trend. Analysis reveals, however, that the gap is based on short-term dynamics and that it appears to be independent of the trend in the development of the overall price level. Evidence also shows that the gap is eventually reabsorbed. The authors examine a number of potential causes for the prices of services to rise faster than those of goods. These include the more rapid pace of productivity growth in the goods sector, the greater openness of goods to foreign trade, and stronger growth in the demand for services.
  • December 23, 2003

    Financial System Review - December 2003

    Financial System Review - December 2003
    This section of the Financial System Review examines the recent performance of the Canadian financial system and the factors, both domestic and international, that are influencing it.
  • December 22, 2003

    Current Account Imbalances: Some Key Issues for the Major Industrialized Countries

    The resurgence of sizable current account imbalances in the major economies in recent years, particularly the tripling of the U.S. deficit, has led to renewed academic and public discussions about their sustainability. Jacob's main objective is to show that current account balances are simply the outcome of various relative structural and cyclical forces between trading partners. He reviews the factors behind the changes in the current account positions of the three largest industrial economies (the United States, Japan, and the euro area). Two strong determinants shaping the current account balances are the faster increase in U.S. productivity compared with that of other major economies and, more recently, the loosening in the U.S. fiscal stance. Jacob also reviews a range of outside assessments from such sources as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the International Monetary Fund, as well as the academic literature, to determine the possible risks to macroeconomic and financial stability.
  • December 21, 2003

    The Rationale for Cross-Border Listings

    Technological progress and the liberalization of capital flows have both contributed to the considerable changes in global equity markets over the past few decades. Yet obstacles to international capital flows still exist, leading to segmentation of markets and creating incentives for corporate managers to adopt financial policies such as international cross-listing. In exploring the costs and benefits of cross-listing, Chouinard and D'Souza find that U.S. exchanges are attracting an increasing share of cross-listed firms. The empirical studies they review suggest that the cost of equity capital declines following a foreign listing as a result of lower transactions costs or an improvement in the quality and quantity of firm-specific information available to investors. As well, informational asymmetries across countries prevent simultaneous price discovery across exchanges.
  • November 23, 2003

    An Evaluation of Fixed Announcement Dates

    When it launched a new system for regularly announcing its decisions regarding the overnight rate of interest in December 2000, the Bank of Canada had a number of key objectives in mind. These included reduced uncertainty in financial markets, greater focus on the Canadian rather than the U.S. economic environment, more emphasis on the medium-term perspective of monetary policy, and increased transparency regarding the Bank's interest rate decisions. Evidence to date suggests that all four objectives have been met to a substantial degree. Fixed announcement dates have provided regular opportunities for the Bank to communicate its views on the state of the Canadian economy to the public. This has helped to improve understanding of the broad direction of monetary policy and of the rationale behind the Bank's policy decisions although the decisions themselves are not always fully anticipated.
  • November 23, 2003

    Bank of Canada Review - Autumn 2003

    BoC Review - Autumn 2003

    Cover page

    Internment Camp Money

    Pieces pictured on the cover measure from approximately one to two inches in width. They form part of the National Currency Collection, Bank of Canada.

    Photographed by Gord Carter, Ottawa.

  • November 22, 2003

    Recent Labour Market Developments in Canada

    In the year and a half leading up to mid-2003, both employment and labour force participation increased at an unusually rapid pace compared to domestic economic activity. Gains in employment were unusually large, relative to output growth, compared to gains in total hours worked. This is explained by a faster rate of increase in the participation rate of the 55 and older age group, many of whom opted for part-time employment. This shift in the composition of employment contributed to a reduction in the length of the average workweek in 2002. As a result, labour input progressed at a rate that was markedly slower than for employment and more in line with its historical relationship to output growth. The authors anticipate that the 55 and older age group will continue to participate strongly in the labour force, but that as the economy rebounds and uncertainty diminishes, the cyclical component in the growth of part-time work should diminish and that of full-time employment increase. Employment growth should moderate in relation to output growth and there may be a cyclical rebound in labour productivity as total hours worked increases during the initial recovery in output growth.
  • November 21, 2003

    Developments, Issues, and Initiatives in Retail Payments

    Innovations in basic information technologies, in payment applications, and in the availability of global markets, as well as substantial changes in financial sector policy, have fundamentally changed how the retail payments system in Canada operates. Principally, the volume and types of electronic payments have grown, and there is increased participation by diverse groups of financial and non-financial institutions as providers of retail payment services. The resulting policy problem for payment systems is how best to benefit from efficiency gains while managing payment risks. O'Connor examines the effect of the technological and legislative changes and the initiatives developed by the public and private sectors in such areas as the market arrangements for services; customer risks and costs for settling large-value retail payments; the security of payment information and the efficiency with which it is transmitted; and the effects of differing regulatory regimes on competition among providers of retail payment services.
  • November 20, 2003

    Technical Note: Elimination of Retroactive Settlement in the ACSS

    Effective 1 November 2003, the Bank of Canada abandoned its practice of backdating the results of settlement of payments through the Automated Clearing Settlement System (ACSS). It has adopted instead a system of "next-day" settlement under which the results of the settlement process will appear on the central bank's books on the day the items actually settle in the ACSS. Since July 1986, settlement of these items had occurred at noon the day after items were presented for clearing, but the results were recognized on the Bank's books the previous day, through backdating, or "retroactive" settlement. The new system should simplify the payments process and improve the reporting of settlement risk, as well as promote cost-effectiveness within the payments systems. ACSS participants have agreed among themselves to implement an interest-compensation mechanism in order to avoid imposing a float charge on their customer base.

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