Bank of Canada Review - Summer 2012

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This issue features three articles that present research and analysis by Bank of Canada staff. The first updates previous Bank estimates of measurement bias in the Canadian consumer price index; the second uses a new term-structure model to analyze the relationship between the short-term policy rate and long-term interest rates; and the third examines indicators of balance-sheet risks at financial institutions in Canada.

August 16, 2012

Measurement Bias in the Canadian Consumer Price Index: An Update

The consumer price index (CPI) is the most commonly used measure to track changes in the overall level of prices. Since it departs from a true cost-of-living index, the CPI is subject to four types of measurement bias—commodity substitution, outlet substitution, new goods and quality adjustment. The author updates previous Bank of Canada estimates of measurement bias in the Canadian CPI by examining these four sources of potential bias. He finds the total measurement bias over the 2005–11 period to be about 0.5 percentage point per year, consistent with the Bank’s earlier findings. Slightly more than half of this bias is caused by the fixed nature of the CPI basket of goods and services.
August 16, 2012

Global Risk Premiums and the Transmission of Monetary Policy

An important channel in the transmission of monetary policy is the relationship between the short-term policy rate and long-term interest rates. Using a new term-structure model, the authors show that the variation in long-term interest rates over time consists of two components: one representing investor expectations of future policy rates, and another reflecting a term-structure risk premium that compensates investors for holding a risky asset. The time variation in the term-structure risk premium is countercyclical and largely determined by global macroeconomic conditions. As a result, long-term rates are pushed up during recessions and down during times of expansion. This is an important phenomenon that central banks need to take into account when using short-term rates as a policy tool.
August 16, 2012

An Analysis of Indicators of Balance-Sheet Risks at Canadian Financial Institutions

This article examines four indicators of balance-sheet risks—leverage, capital, asset liquidity and funding—among different types of financial institutions in Canada over the past three decades. It also discusses relevant developments in the banking sector that could have contributed to the observed dynamics. The authors find that the various risk indicators decreased during the period for most of the non-Big Six financial institutions, but remained relatively unchanged for the Big Six banks. In addition, the balance-sheet risk indicators became more heterogeneous across financial institutions. The observed overall decline and increased heterogeneity follow certain regulatory changes, such as the introduction of the liquidity guidelines on funding in 1995 and the implementation of bank-specific leverage requirements in 2000. Given that these regulations required more balance-sheet risk management, they have likely contributed to the increased resilience of the banking sector.