Financial Conditions Indexes for Canada

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The authors construct three financial conditions indexes (FCIs) for Canada based on three approaches: an IS-curve-based model, generalized impulse-response functions, and factor analysis. Each approach is intended to address one or more criticisms of the monetary conditions index (MCI) and existing FCIs. To evaluate their three FCIs, the authors consider five performance criteria: the consistency of each FCI's weight with economic theory, its graphical ability to predict turning points in the business cycle, its dynamic correlation with output, its in-sample fit in explaining output, and its out-of-sample performance in forecasting output. Using monthly data, the authors find, in general, that housing prices, equity prices, and bond yield risk premiums, in addition to short- and long-term interest rates and the exchange rate, are significant in explaining output from 1981 to 2000. They also find that the FCIs outperform the Bank of Canada's MCI in many areas.