Cameron MacDonald is a Principal Economist in the Financial Stability Department at the Bank of Canada. He is involved in the assessment of risks and vulnerabilities associated with financial institutions such as banks and life insurers. Other interests include stress testing, macroprudential policy, and mortgage finance. He holds an MA in economics from the University of Toronto.
Cryptoassets that reference a national currency (commonly known as stablecoins) aim to peg their value to the reference currency and typically use a reserve of traditional financial assets to maintain the peg. The market value of these fiat-referenced cryptoassets has grown more than thirtyfold between early 2020 and mid-2022. We explore some of their potential benefits and key risks.
The stability of the Canadian financial system, as well as its ability to support the Canadian economy, depends on the ability of financial institutions to absorb and manage major shocks. This is especially true for large banks, which perform services essential to the Canadian economy.
We use a suite of risk-assessment models to examine the possible impact of a hypothetical house price correction, centred in the Toronto and Vancouver areas. We also assume financial stress significantly amplifies the macroeconomic impact of the house price decline.
This note introduces several market-based indicators and examines how they can further inform the Bank of Canada’s vulnerability assessment of Canadian financial institutions. Market-based indicators of leverage suggest that the solvency risk for major Canadian banks has increased since the beginning of the oil-price correction in the second half of 2014.
What risks could stablecoins pose to the financial system? We argue that the stabilization mechanisms of stablecoins give rise to the risk of confidence runs, which can propagate to broader cryptoasset markets and the traditional financial sector. We also argue that stablecoins can contribute to financial stability risks by facilitating the buildup of leverage and liquidity mismatch in decentralized finance. Such risks cannot be addressed by ensuring the price stability of stablecoins alone. Finally, we explore the potential implications of stablecoins for the current system of bank-intermediated credit and for monetary policy.
Risk assessment models are an important component of the Bank’s analytical tool kit for assessing the resilience of the financial system. We describe the Framework for Risk Identification and Assessment (FRIDA), a suite of models developed at the Bank of Canada to quantify the impact of financial stability risks to the broader economy and a range of financial system participants (households, businesses and banks).
We use models to better understand and assess how risks could affect the financial system. In our hypothetical scenario, a house price correction and elevated financial stress weigh on the economy. An increased number of households and businesses have difficulty repaying loans. Nonetheless, the large banks remain resilient.
This report reviews the use of quantitative tools to gauge market participants’ assessment of banking system resilience. These measures complement traditional balance-sheet metrics and suggest that markets consider large Canadian banks to be better placed to weather adverse shocks than banks in other advanced economies. Compared with regulatory capital ratios, however, the measures suggest less improvement in banking system resilience since the pre-crisis period.
The Rise of Mortgage Finance Companies in Canada: Benefits and Vulnerabilities, by Don Coletti, Marc-André Gosselin and Cameron MacDonald, examines the increased importance of mortgage finance companies (MFCs) in the Canadian mortgage market. The authors discuss the MFC business model, highlighting MFCs’ relationship with mortgage brokers and banks, as well as the benefits they bring to Canadian borrowers. The authors conclude with a discussion of the impact of MFCs on financial system vulnerabilities.