Bank of Canada Review Article

  • December 23, 2005

    70 Years of Central Banking in Canada

    Remarks by David Dodge, Governor of the Bank of Canada, to the Canadian Economics Association
  • December 22, 2005

    70 Years of Central Banking: The Bank of Canada in an International Context, 1935–2005

    Bordo and Redish examine the evolution of central banking over the past 70 years and identify periods where Canada was either a notable innovator with regard to central banking practices or appeared to be following a slightly different course. They note that global forces seemed to play an important role in determining inflation outcomes throughout the 70-year period, and that Canada and the United States experienced roughly similar inflation rates despite some important differences in their monetary policy regimes. Canada, for example, was comparatively late in establishing a central bank, launching the Bank of Canada long after most other industrial countries had one. Canada also operated under a flexible exchange rate through much of the Bretton Woods period, unlike any other country in the 1950s and early 1960s; adopted inflation targets well before most other central banks; and introduced a number of other innovative changes with regard to the implementation of monetary policy in the 1990s.
  • December 18, 2005

    Free Banking and the Bank of Canada

    Economists in the nineteenth century spent considerable time discussing the merits of a free-banking system, in which each commercial bank would be able to issue its own notes and deposits, subject to a convertibility requirement backed by its own gold reserves. Such a system, the proponents argued, would be able to deliver price-level stability yet be flexible enough to withstand the vicissitudes of the business cycle. Moreover, there would be no need for central banks. While this idea has received less attention in recent years, some economists still put it forward as a practical alternative to the current system. Laidler suggests that the centralizing tendencies in banking would inevitably undermine competition within a free-banking system, and lead to the natural emergence of one dominant bank. Other developments in the twentieth century, most notably the demise of the gold standard and widespread agreement that governments should play a determining role in setting monetary policy goals, have also limited the practicality of such a system. Laidler examines the Bank of Canada's history from the free-banking perspective and concludes that the current system of inflation targeting provides a much better anchor for orderly price-level behaviour than the free-banking system's convertibility could ever guarantee.
  • December 8, 2005

    Towards a Made-in-Canada Monetary Policy: Closing the Circle

    When the Bank of Canada was first established in 1935, it had two very different models to choose from—the Bank of England and the U.S. Federal Reserve—in terms of the instruments that it might use for implementing monetary policy. Although some aspects of the Bank's early monetary policy practices, including the role of discount facilities and moral suasion, reflect the British example, other important differences shaped a distinctly Canadian approach. Chant describes what he argues are distinctively Canadian innovations: the Bank's favoured means of managing chartered bank liquidity through transfers of government deposits, the adoption of lagged reserve requirements, and the two periods in which it decided to float the Bank Rate. He also describes the series of bold initiatives that were undertaken in the 1990s with regard to simplifying clearing and settlement procedures, reducing reserve requirements, and setting the Bank's target for the overnight rate. Chant suggests that these changes have improved market efficiency, reduced risk and uncertainty, and strengthened the Bank's influence over its short-term operating target.
  • December 2, 2005

    From Flapper to Bluestocking: What Happened to the Young Woman of Wellington Street?

    Helliwell traces the changes that have occurred at the Bank of Canada since the early 1960s, when he first began a long and extensive relationship with the institution and its staff. He begins with his work on the Royal Commission on Banking and Finance (the Porter Commission) and continues over the next 40 years, giving particular focus to the Bank's analytic and research activities. Although he is careful to note the benefits of alternative analytical and information-gathering techniques, such as the extensive mail and direct interview survey that he and his colleagues conducted as part of the Royal Commission, Helliwell devotes most of his attention to the Bank's econometric modelling efforts, starting with RDX1 and RDX2 in the late 1960s and early 1970s. He cites some of the internal, as well as external, obstacles that had to be overcome as the Bank's modelling efforts advanced, and how shifting trends in the economics profession have sometimes posed a challenge. Helliwell concludes that these developments helped the Bank to come of age and take its place in the front ranks of the world's evidence-based policy-research institutions.
  • October 25, 2005

    Exports, Imports, and the Appreciation of the Canadian Dollar

    An objective assessment of the effects of the appreciation of the Canadian dollar in 2003 and 2004 on exports and imports requires a detailed review of the numerous other factors which may have been at play. Dion, Laurence, and Zheng discuss the influences that have affected Canada's international trade over the past two years, including exchange rate movements, global and sector-specific shocks, constraints on the domestic supply of a few products, and competition from emerging economies, most notably, China. The analysis is complemented with econometric models developed at the Bank which provide statistically valid estimates of the contribution of the Canadian-dollar appreciation to the recent developments in exports and imports.
  • October 22, 2005

    How the Appreciation of the Canadian Dollar Has Affected Canadian Firms: Evidence from the Bank of Canada Business Outlook Survey

    To track how firms were affected by the appreciation of the Canadian dollar in 2003 and 2004 and the steps they took in response, the Bank included supplementary questions in the quarterly Business Outlook Survey conducted by its regional offices. About half of the firms surveyed reported being adversely affected, one-quarter experienced a favourable impact, and the remainder reported no effect. Jean Mair classifies and summarizes the firms' responses, identifying the sectors that were most and least affected. Causes of the impacts are identified, as well as the actions firms took as a result of the appreciation. The article looks at these actions over time to see what they tell us about firms' adjustment process.
  • October 18, 2005

    What Drives Movements in Exchange Rates?

    Understanding what causes the exchange rate to move has been on ongoing challenge for economists. Despite extensive research, traditional macro models of exchange rate determination—with the exception of the Bank of Canada's exchange rate equation—have typically not fared well, motivating economists to explore new ways to model exchange rate movements that incorporate more complex and realistic settings. Within the context of the sharp appreciation of the Canadian dollar in 2003 and 2004, Bailliu and King review the macroeconomic models of exchange rates, as well as the micro-structure studies that highlight the importance of trading mechanisms, information asymmetry, and investor heterogeneity for explaining short-term dynamics in exchange rates. In addition to summarizing the current state of knowledge, they highlight recent advances and identify promising alternative approaches.
  • October 5, 2005

    The Exchange Rate and Canadian Inflation Targeting

    An essential element of the Bank of Canada's inflation-targeting framework is a floating exchange rate that is free to adjust in response to shocks that affect the Canadian and world economies. This floating rate plays an important role in the transmission mechanism for monetary policy. A practical question is how the Bank of Canada incorporates currency movements into the monetary policy decision-making process. Only after determining the cause and persistence of exchange rate change, and its likely net effect on aggregate demand, can the Bank decide on the appropriate policy response to keep inflation low, stable, and predictable. Ragan reviews the need to target inflation and the transmission mechanism for monetary policy, including the role of the exchange rate, before describing two types of exchange rate movements and their implications for monetary policy.
  • June 25, 2005

    Changes in the Indicator Properties of Narrow Monetary Aggregates

    Although many countries have abandoned monetary targeting in recent decades, monetary aggregates are still useful indicators of future economic activity. Past research has shown that, compared with other monetary aggregates and expressed in real terms, net M1 and gross M1 have traditionally provided superior leading information for output growth.

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