Renewing Canada’s Inflation-Control Agreement – 2011-2016 Research Priorities

In the lead-up to the 2016 agreement renewal, the Bank focused its review and research in three areas: The Level of the Inflation Target, Financial Stability Considerations in the Formulation of Monetary Policy, and Measuring Core Inflation. Read more about these three research priorities

Research Priorities, 2011-2016

In the lead-up to the 2016 agreement renewal, the Bank focused its review and research in three areas:

  1. The Level of the Inflation Target
  2. Financial Stability Considerations in the Formulation of Monetary Policy
  3. Measuring Core Inflation

1. The Level of the Inflation Target

Canada targets 2 per cent inflation, the midpoint of a 1 to 3 per cent inflation-control target range. Since 2011, the experience of advanced economies with interest rates near the effective lower bound has put the 2 per cent target under increased scrutiny. The Bank undertook a careful analysis of the costs and benefits of adjusting the target.

Key Supporting Material

Downward Nominal Wage Rigidity, Inflation and Unemployment: New Evidence Using Micro‐Level Data

Staff Analytical Note 2017-6 Dany Brouillette, Natalia Kyui
Recent evidence suggests that the extent of downward nominal wage rigidity (DNWR) in the Canadian labour market has risen following the 2008–09 recession (see Brouillette, Kostyshyna and Kyui 2016).

Forward Guidance at the Effective Lower Bound: International Experience

Staff Discussion Paper 2015-15 Karyne B. Charbonneau, Lori Rennison
Forward guidance is one of the policy tools that a central bank can implement if it seeks to provide additional monetary stimulus when it is operating at the effective lower bound (ELB) on interest rates. It became more widely used during and after the global financial crisis.

Quantitative Easing as a Policy Tool Under the Effective Lower Bound

Staff Discussion Paper 2015-14 Abeer Reza, Eric Santor, Lena Suchanek
This paper summarizes the international evidence on the performance of quantitative easing (QE) as a monetary policy tool when conventional policy rates are constrained by the effective lower bound (ELB). A large body of evidence suggests that expanding the central bank’s balance sheet through large-scale asset purchases can provide effective stimulus under the ELB.

The International Experience with Negative Policy Rates

Staff Discussion Paper 2015-13 Harriet Jackson
A key issue in the renewal of the inflation-control agreement is the question of the appropriate level of the inflation target. Many observers have raised concerns that with the reduction in the neutral rate, and the experience of the recent financial crisis, the effective lower bound (ELB) is more likely to be binding in the future if inflation targets remain at 2 per cent.

The Optimal Level of the Inflation Target: A Selective Review of the Literature and Outstanding Issues

Staff Discussion Paper 2015-8 Oleksiy Kryvtsov, Rhys R. Mendes
Bank of Canada research done prior to the most recent renewal of the inflation-control agreement in 2011 concluded that the benefits associated with a target below 2 per cent were insufficient to justify the increased risk of being constrained by the zero lower bound (ZLB) on nominal interest rates.
November 13, 2014

Should Forward Guidance Be Backward-Looking?

When constrained by the zero lower bound, some central banks have communicated a threshold that must be met before short-term interest rates would be permitted to rise. Simulation results for Canada show that forward guidance that is conditional on achieving a price-level threshold can theoretically raise demand and inflation expectations by significantly more than unemployment thresholds. This superior performance is attributable to the fact that the price-level threshold depends on past inflation outcomes. In practice, however, history-dependent thresholds such as this might be more challenging for central banks to communicate.

The Neutral Rate of Interest in Canada

Staff Discussion Paper 2014-5 Rhys R. Mendes
A measure of the neutral policy interest rate can be used to gauge the stance of monetary policy. We define the neutral rate as the real policy rate consistent with output at its potential level and inflation equal to target after the effects of all cyclical shocks have dissipated.
May 16, 2013

Unconventional Monetary Policies: Evolving Practices, Their Effects and Potential Costs

Following the recent financial crisis, major central banks have introduced several types of unconventional monetary policy measures, including liquidity and credit facilities, asset purchases and forward guidance. To date, these measures appear to have been successful. They restored market functioning, facilitated the transmission of monetary policy and supported economic activity. They have potential costs, however, including challenges related to the greatly expanded balance sheets of central banks and the eventual exit from these measures, as well as the vulnerabilities that can arise from prolonged monetary accommodation.

Is There a Quality Bias in the Canadian CPI? Evidence from Micro Data

Staff Working Paper 2013-24 Oleksiy Kryvtsov
Rising consumer prices may reflect shifts by consumers to new higher-priced products, mostly for durable and semi-durable goods. I apply Bils’ (2009) methodology to newly available Canadian consumer price data for non-shelter goods and services to estimate how price increases can be divided between quality growth and price inflation.
Content Type(s): Staff research, Staff working papers Topic(s): Inflation and prices, Potential output JEL Code(s): E, E3, E31, M, M1, M11, O, O4, O47
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.

Unconventional Monetary Policy and the Great Recession: Estimating the Macroeconomic Effects of a Spread Compression at the Zero Lower Bound

Staff Working Paper 2012-21 Christiane Baumeister, Luca Benati
We explore the macroeconomic effects of a compression in the long-term bond yield spread within the context of the Great Recession of 2007-2009 via a time-varying parameter structural VAR model.
May 19, 2011

Unconventional Monetary Policy: The International Experience with Central Bank Asset Purchases

As part of their policy response to the financial crisis of 2007–09, central banks introduced numerous unprecedented monetary policy measures to provide monetary easing. This article defines and documents these measures, focusing on central bank asset purchases and their impact on central bank balance sheets. It then discusses the challenges of identifying the effects of these measures and explores possible exit strategies. The potential costs of these policies are also analyzed, as well as the broader implications for monetary policy frameworks.

Aggregate and Welfare Effects of Redistribution of Wealth Under Inflation and Price-Level Targeting

Staff Working Paper 2008-31 Césaire Meh, José-Víctor Ríos-Rull, Yaz Terajima
Since the work of Doepke and Schneider (2006a) and Meh and Terajima (2008), we know that inflation causes major redistribution of wealth – between households and the government, between nationals and foreigners, and between households within the same country.

Inflation, Nominal Portfolios, and Wealth Redistribution in Canada

Staff Working Paper 2008-19 Césaire Meh, Yaz Terajima
There is currently a policy debate on potential refinements to monetary policy regimes in countries with low and stable inflation such as the U.S. and Canada. For example, in Canada, a systematic review of the current inflation targeting framework is underway.

2. Financial Stability Considerations in the Formulation of Monetary Policy

In 2011, the Bank concluded that monetary policy should be the last line of defence against financial imbalances. More recently, financial stability risks have been taken into account as part of the Bank’s risk-management approach to monetary policy. To more fully understand the circumstances under which it could be appropriate for the Bank to use monetary policy for financial stability purposes, the Bank continued its research into how best to integrate price stability and financial stability, the effectiveness of macroprudential tools, and the optimal mix of policy tools.

Key Supporting Material

Housing Market Dynamics and Macroprudential Policy

Staff Working Paper 2016-31 Gabriel Bruneau, Ian Christensen, Césaire Meh
We perform an analysis to determine how well the introduction of a countercyclical loanto- value (LTV) ratio can reduce household indebtedness and housing price fluctuations compared with a monetary policy rule augmented with house price inflation.

On the Nexus of Monetary Policy and Financial Stability: Is the Financial System More Resilient?

Staff Discussion Paper 2016-12 Patricia Palhau Mora, Michael Januska
Monetary policy and financial stability are closely intertwined, and the resilience of the financial system carries weight in this relationship. This paper explores whether the financial system is more resilient as a result of the G20’s post-crisis agenda for financial regulatory reform.

On the Nexus of Monetary Policy and Financial Stability: Effectiveness of Macroprudential Tools in Building Resilience and Mitigating Financial Imbalances

Staff Discussion Paper 2016-11 H. Evren Damar, Miguel Molico
This paper reviews the Canadian and international evidence of the effectiveness of macroprudential policy measures in building resilience and mitigating financial imbalances. The analysis concludes that these measures have broadly achieved their goal of increasing the overall resilience of the financial system to the buildup of imbalances and increasing the financial system’s ability to withstand adverse shocks.

On the Nexus of Monetary Policy and Financial Stability: Recent Developments and Research

Staff Discussion Paper 2015-7 Oleksiy Kryvtsov, Miguel Molico, Ben Tomlin
Because financial and macroeconomic conditions are tightly interconnected, financial stability considerations are an important element of any monetary policy framework. Yet, the circumstances under which it would be appropriate for the Bank to use monetary policy to lean against financial risks need to be more fully specified (Côté 2014).
June 12, 2014

Making Banks Safer: Implementing Basel III

Éric Chouinard and Graydon Paulin review the progress to date in implementing Basel III, the new framework of global regulatory standards for the banking sector developed by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision. The report highlights the expected net benefits of implementing Basel III, as well as the challenges in ensuring international consistency in measuring the risk-weighted capital of banks. It includes a discussion on how implementing Basel III has affected the banking system in Canada and other important jurisdictions, and demonstrates the need for ongoing assessment of the effects on the financial system and the macroeconomy.
November 15, 2012

Monetary Policy and the Risk-Taking Channel: Insights from the Lending Behaviour of Banks

The financial crisis of 2007-09 and the subsequent extended period of historically low real interest rates have revived the question of whether economic agents are willing to take on more risk when interest rates remain low for a prolonged time period. This increased appetite for risk, which causes economic agents to search for investment assets and strategies that generate higher investment returns, has been called the risk-taking channel of monetary policy. Recent academic research on banks suggests that lending policies in times of low interest rates can be consistent with the existence of a risk-taking channel of monetary policy in Europe, South America, the United States and Canada. Specifically, studies find that the terms of loans to risky borrowers become less stringent in periods of low interest rates. This risk-taking channel may amplify the effects of traditional transmission mechanisms, resulting in the creation of excessive credit.

August 19, 2010

Should Monetary Policy Be Used to Counteract Financial Imbalances?

The authors examine whether monetary policy should and could do more to lean against financial imbalances (such as those associated with asset-price bubbles or unsustainable credit expansion) as they are building up, or whether its role should be limited to cleaning up the economic consequences as the imbalances unwind.

3. Measuring Core Inflation

While the Bank of Canada aims for low, stable, and predictable inflation, there will always be sharp movements in the Consumer Price Index (CPI), driven by volatile price changes in a small number of goods and services. In setting monetary policy, the Bank seeks to “look through” such transitory movements in the CPI, using “core” inflation measures as an operational guide to help it achieve the target for CPI inflation.

From 2001 to 2016, CPIX was the Bank’s preferred measure of core inflation. The properties of alternative measures of core inflation were re-examined to determine whether the Bank should continue the practice of identifying one preeminent measure as its operational guide, and if so, whether CPIX should continue to play that role. The Bank decided that starting in January 2017, it would cease using CPIX as its preferred measure of core inflation and focus instead on three new measures—CPI-trim, CPI-median and CPI-common.

Key Supporting Material

A Comprehensive Evaluation of Measures of Core Inflation for Canada

Staff Discussion Paper 2015-12 Mikael Khan, Louis Morel, Patrick Sabourin
This paper evaluates the usefulness of various measures of core inflation for the conduct of monetary policy. Traditional exclusion-based measures of core inflation are found to perform relatively poorly across a range of evaluation criteria, in part due to their inability to filter unanticipated transitory shocks.

The Common Component of CPI: An Alternative Measure of Underlying Inflation for Canada

Staff Working Paper 2013-35 Mikael Khan, Louis Morel, Patrick Sabourin
In this paper, the authors propose a measure of underlying inflation for Canada obtained from estimating a monthly factor model on individual components of the CPI. This measure, labelled the common component of CPI, has intuitive appeal and a number of interesting features.
June 11, 2006

Evaluating Measures of Core Inflation

Since the Bank of Canada adopted inflation targeting in 1991, it has focused on a measure of core inflation as a shorter-term guide for monetary policy. When the targets were renewed in 2001, the Bank adopted CPIX as its measure of core inflation because of the advantages it offered. Leflèche and Armour review the experience with CPIX and whether the criteria used to select it in 2001 still favour the measure today. They describe the various measures of core inflation monitored by the Bank and evaluate them on the basis of the volatility of the components, the volatility of the core measures themselves, absence of bias relative to total CPI, predictive power, and certain practical criteria, including timeliness and credibility. They conclude that CPIX still satisfies all the empirical and practical criteria.
November 18, 2001

A New Measure of Core Inflation

While the Bank of Canada's inflation-control target is specified in terms of the rate of increase in the total consumer price index, the Bank uses a measure of trend or "core" inflation as a short-term guide for its monetary policy actions. When the inflation targets were renewed in May 2001, the Bank announced that it was adopting a new measure of core inflation. This measure excludes the eight most volatile components of the CPI and adjusts the remaining components for the effect of changes in indirect taxes. In this article, the author discusses the definition of the new measure of core inflation and describes some of its advantages relative to the previous measure. He notes that the new measure has a firmer statistical basis, has a better correspondence with economic theory, and does a better job of predicting future changes in overall inflation. While the new measure has these advantages, the Bank will continue to monitor a broad range of indicators when assessing the likely future path for inflation.

Additional Supporting Material

Integrating Uncertainty and Monetary Policy-Making: A Practitioner’s Perspective

Staff Discussion Paper 2014-6 Stephen S. Poloz
This paper discusses how central banking is evolving in light of recent experience, with particular emphasis on the incorporation of uncertainty into policy decision-making.

Commodities and Monetary Policy: Implications for Inflation and Price Level Targeting

We examine the relative ability of simple inflation targeting (IT) and price level targeting (PLT) monetary policy rules to minimize both inflation variability and business cycle fluctuations in Canada for shocks that have important consequences for global commodity prices.
May 17, 2012

Inflation Targeting: The Recent International Experience

In the years since the 2006 renewal of Canada’s inflation-control agreement, monetary policy regimes have faced significant shocks, including the global economic and financial crisis. This article reviews the recent experience with inflation targeting, including the debate about the appropriate role of monetary policy in maintaining financial stability. In the aftermath of the crisis, both […]