Bank of Canada Review - Spring 2014

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The five articles in this issue present research and analysis by Bank staff covering a variety of topics: the growth of Canadian-dollar-denominated assets in official foreign reserves; the emergence of platform-based digital currencies; methods of forecasting the real price of oil; measures of uncertainty in monetary policy; and the recent performance of the labour market in Canada and the United States.

The Bank of Canada Review is published twice a year. Articles undergo a thorough review process. The views expressed in the articles are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Bank.

The contents of the Review may be reproduced or quoted, provided that the publication, with its date, is specifically cited as the source.

May 13, 2014

The Canadian Dollar as a Reserve Currency

This article provides an overview of the growth of Canadian-dollar-denominated assets in official foreign reserves. Based on International Monetary Fund data and on internal Bank of Canada analysis, we estimate that the total reserve holdings of Canadian-dollar assets increased from negligible levels before 2008 to around US$200 billion in the third quarter of 2013. We discuss the determinants of this increase, as well as its potential impact on Canadian debt markets, for example, lower yields and therefore reduced financing costs for the Government of Canada, and the possible negative impact on market liquidity.
May 13, 2014

Understanding Platform-Based Digital Currencies

Given technological advances and the widespread use of the Internet, various digital currencies have emerged. In most cases, Internet platforms such as Facebook and Amazon restrict the functionality of their digital currencies to enhance the business model and maximize their profits. While platform-based digital currencies could increase the efficiency of retail payments, they could also raise some important policy issues if they were to become widely used outside of the platform. Thus, it is important to closely monitor the evolution of these digital currencies.
May 13, 2014

The Art and Science of Forecasting the Real Price of Oil

Forecasts of the price of crude oil play a significant role in the conduct of monetary policy, especially for commodity producers such as Canada. This article presents a range of recently developed forecasting models that, when pooled together, can generate, on average, more accurate forecasts of the price of oil than the oil futures curve. It also illustrates how policy-makers can evaluate the risks associated with the baseline oil price forecast and how they can determine the causes of past oil price fluctuations.
May 13, 2014

Measuring Uncertainty in Monetary Policy Using Realized and Implied Volatility

Uncertainty surrounding the Bank of Canada’s future policy rates is measured using implied volatility computed from interest rate options and realized volatility computed from intraday prices of interest rate futures. Both volatility measures show that uncertainty decreased following major policy actions taken by the Bank in response to the 2007–09 financial crisis. Findings also indicate that, on average, uncertainty decreases following the Bank’s policy rate announcements.
May 13, 2014

Beyond the Unemployment Rate: Assessing Canadian and U.S. Labour Markets Since the Great Recession

This article provides a broad perspective on the performance of the labour market in Canada and the United States since the Great Recession. It also presents a simple way to summarize much of this information in a single composite labour market indicator (LMI) for both countries. The LMI suggests that the unemployment rate in Canada has evolved largely in line with overall labour market conditions since the recession, but may have modestly overstated the extent of recent improvement. The U.S. unemployment rate, in contrast, appears to have substantially overstated the post-recession improvement in labour market conditions.

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