Bank of Canada Review - Summer 2008

BoC Review - Summer 2008
Available as: PDF

Cover page

Chinese Coin Charms

The charms on the cover are part of the National Currency Collection of the Bank of Canada.

Photography by Gord Carter.

June 20, 2008

The Canadian Debt-Strategy Model

In its role as fiscal agent to the government, the Bank of Canada provides analysis and advice on decisions about the government's domestic debt portfolio. Debt-management decisions depend on assumptions about future interest rates, macroeconomic outcomes, and fiscal policy, yet when a debt-strategy decision is taken, none of these factors can be known with certainty. Moreover, the government has various financing options (i.e., treasury bills, nominal bonds, and inflation-linked bonds) to meet its objectives of minimizing debt-service charges while simultaneously ensuring a prudent risk profile and well-functioning government securities markets. Bank of Canada staff have therefore developed a mathematical model to assist in the decision-making process. This article describes the key aspects of the debt manager's challenge and the principal assumptions incorporated in the debt-strategy model, illustrated with specific results.
June 19, 2008

China's Integration into the Global Financial System

Despite having the world's largest GDP when measured in terms of purchasing-power parities, the third-largest share in world exports, and the world's largest foreign exchange reserves, China has only a minor role in the global financial system. Its banks have a modest international presence; China's currency, the renminbi, is virtually not used outside the country; and Chinese capital markets are not a significant source of financing for foreign borrowers. China's modest level of integration into the global financial system is explained by the emphasis given to domestic policy priorities. As the Chinese economy matures, and as reforms strengthen the domestic financial system, China will become more important in global financial markets. Changes are already occurring as China's financial might is being channeled towards overseas investments, and the authorities have committed to greater exchange rate flexibility. These changes will facilitate integration into the global financial system. In this article, the authors describe the current situation and speculate on the future evolution of Chinese financial institutions and markets.
June 18, 2008

House Prices and Consumer Spending

Flood, Morin, and Kolet examine the role of house prices in household consumption decisions. Considering a group of advanced economies, the authors find that the strength of the link between house prices and consumer spending depends on the institutional features of national mortgage markets.
June 17, 2008

A Tool for Assessing Financial Vulnerabilities in the Household Sector

In this article, the authors build on the framework used in the Bank of Canada's Financial System Review to assess the evolution of household indebtedness and financial vulnerabilities in response to changing economic conditions. To achieve this, they first compare two microdata sets generated by Ipsos Reid's Canadian Financial Monitor and Statistics Canada's Survey of Financial Security. They find that the surveys are broadly comparable, despite methodological differences. This enables them to use the combined information content for the identification of the threshold value of the debt-service ratio (DSR). The article then presents an innovative framework that uses household-level microdata to simulate changes in the distribution of the DSR under various stress scenarios. The authors show how this framework can be used by analyzing the effects of two different scenarios on the distribution of the debt-service ratio and the impact on vulnerable households. This tool will enable researchers to refine their analyses of current risks to the financial health of Canadian households. The article concludes with comments on future directions for refining the Bank's analyses of household sector risk.
June 16, 2008

A Money and Credit Real-Time Database for Canada

Model-based forecasts of important economic variables are part of the range of information considered for monetary policy decision making.