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Summaries of Central Bank Policy Deliberations: A Canadian Context

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This paper provides the context, rationale and key considerations that informed the Bank of Canada’s decision to publish a summary of monetary policy deliberations. It includes an analysis of how other central banks disclose minutes and summaries of their monetary policy deliberations.

Most other central banks surveyed publish some sort of summary of deliberations. The Bank of Canada’s existing communications already include aspects of these summaries. However, the Bank does not normally provide some information that they contain, such as:

  • a review of the policy choices that were discussed
  • a diversity of viewpoints on the economic outlook and policy choices
  • the perspectives of individual members

Publishing a summary of deliberations could enhance transparency, accountability and credibility and also reinforce the Bank’s independence. However, these benefits must be balanced against the potential for constraints on internal debate or the sending of mixed messages about the Bank’s outlook and decisions. The Bank of Canada Act empowers the Governor to make decisions, but in practice, decisions are made by consensus among members of the Bank’s Governing Council. This decision-making by consensus could have implications for what could or should be included in a summary.

In the Canadian context, assuming the Bank will provide additional information, we also discuss some advantages and disadvantages of providing a summary of deliberations as a separate communication product or as an enhancement to current communications products.

The material in the paper originally served as background information for internal discussions at the Bank of Canada around publishing a summary of policy deliberations. Following those discussions, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) published a review of the Bank of Canada’s transparency, concluding that the Bank “… sets a high benchmark for transparency” (IMF 2022). In that review, the IMF provided a recommendation on how the Bank could further improve its transparency by providing more information on its monetary policy deliberations. In response to the IMF review and internal discussions at the Bank, the Bank has publicly committed to providing a summary of its policy deliberations beginning in February 2023.

JEL Code(s): D, D8, D83, E, E5, E58

DOI: https://doi.org/10.34989/sdp-2023-2