Gordon Thiessen

Former Governor (1994 - 2001)

Past Governors of the Bank

Read about past governors of the Bank of Canada since 1934 in the Bank's history section.

Bio

Mr. Thiessen was appointed Governor of the Bank of Canada on 1 February 1994, for a term of seven years, retiring on 31 January 2001.

Born in South Porcupine, Ontario, Mr. Thiessen grew up in a number of different towns in Saskatchewan. After graduating from high school in Moosomin, Saskatchewan, he worked for a chartered bank in that province.

Mr. Thiessen studied economics at the University of Saskatchewan and received an Honours BA in 1960 and an MA in 1961. The following year he lectured in economics at the university. From 1965 to 1967 he attended the London School of Economics, from which he received his PhD in Economics in 1972.

He joined the Bank of Canada in 1963 and worked in both the Research and the Monetary and Financial Analysis Departments of the Bank. Mr. Thiessen spent the period from 1973 to 1975 as a visiting economist at the Reserve Bank of Australia.

At the Bank of Canada, Mr. Thiessen was successively appointed Adviser to the Governor in 1979, Deputy Governor in 1984, and Senior Deputy Governor in 1987. He has been a member of the Board of Directors of the Bank and of its Executive Committee since his appointment as Senior Deputy Governor.

In 1996, the government of Sweden awarded Mr. Thiessen the Order of the Polar Star in recognition of the assistance provided by the Bank of Canada to the Swedish central bank. In 1997, Mr. Thiessen received an honourary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of Saskatchewan.


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Speeches

October 17, 2000

Can a Bank Change? The Evolution of Monetary Policy at the Bank of Canada 1935–2000

Lecture Gordon Thiessen Faculty of Social Science, University of Western Ontario
Over this period, there has been a fundamental transformation in the way monetary policy is conducted in Canada and in most other industrial countries. While globalization and technological change have played an important role in this area, as in so many others, they have not, to my mind, been the principal driving force behind this transformation. Far more important has been the interaction of experience and economic theory.
May 16, 2000

Opening Statement before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance

Opening statement Gordon Thiessen House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance
Last week, we released our eleventh Monetary Policy Report. Since our November Report, the Canadian economy has outperformed expectations. Bolstered by vigorous external and domestic demand, Canada's economic expansion strengthened in the second half of 1999 and into early 2000.

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Bank Publications

Bank of Canada Review articles

December 16, 1999

Economic and Financial Developments to 16 February 2000: An Update to the Monetary Policy Report

Highlights * The pace of economic activity in the United States remains strong, exceeding earlier expectations. * With the stronger momentum of external demand, the Bank now expects Canada's real GDP growth in 2000 to be in the upper half of the 2.75 to 3.75 per cent range projected in the last Monetary Policy Report. * Core inflation was below expectations in November, partly because of price discounting on certain semi-durables. * The Bank expects core inflation to increase to 2 per cent in the first quarter of 2000. * Because of higher energy prices, the rate of increase in total CPI is expected to rise to close to 3 per cent early in the year. * Developments during the last three months underscore the risks to Canada's economic outlook highlighted in the last Report : stronger momentum of demand for Canadian output from both domestic and external sources and potential inflationary pressures in the United States. Information received since 14 January, when the update to our November Monetary Policy Report was completed, continues to point to a strengthening outlook for the world economy and for Canada. In the United States, real GDP again exceeded expectations—rising at an annual rate of 5.8 per cent in the fourth quarter. While some price and cost pressures are evident in the United States, strong productivity growth has thus far held unit labour costs down. Because of the rapid expansion of demand above the growth of potential capacity, however, and the associated inflation risks, the Federal Reserve increased its federal funds rate by 25 basis points to 5.75 per cent on 2 February. Although trend inflation remains low in the industrial countries, a number of other major central banks have also raised their policy rates in the last couple of weeks because of concern about future inflation pressures, given strengthening demand. The buoyancy of external demand, particularly that coming from the United States, continues to show in our latest merchandise trade numbers. Export growth in November remained strong, with the overall trade balance in large surplus. World prices for our key primary commodities also continue to firm in response to rising global demand. On the domestic side, the latest information on demand and production points to continued robustness. Real GDP (at factor cost) rose 0.6 per cent (4.6 per cent year-over-year) in November, and employment continued to grow strongly through year-end and into January. Other indicators, including the latest data on the monetary aggregates, support this strong economic picture. The Bank now expects real GDP growth in 2000 to be near the top of the 2.75 to 3.75 per cent range projected in November. Our core measure of inflation was 1.6 per cent (year-over-year) in December, slightly below expectations, partly because of temporary discounts on certain items. Core inflation is still expected to move up to the midpoint of the Bank's 1 to 3 per cent target range in the first quarter. Over the same period, the total CPI will likely rise to close to 3 per cent because of the recent sharp step-up in energy prices but is still expected to come down towards the core rate during the course of 2000 as energy prices moderate. The Bank of Canada raised its Bank Rate by 25 basis points to 5.25 per cent on 3 February. The factors behind this decision included the strong momentum of demand in Canada from both external and domestic sources, the importance of approaching full capacity in a prudent way, and the risk of a spillover of potential inflation pressures from the United States.
August 9, 1995

Uncertainty and the transmission of monetary policy in Canada (HERMES-Glendon Lecture)

Gordon Thiessen, Governor of the Bank of Canada, delivered the HERMES-Glendon Lecture at York University, Toronto, in March 1995. The speech focussed on the interrelationships of uncertainty and the transmission of monetary policy to the economy. It looked at how the various types of uncertainty influence the behaviour of economic actors, and at how uncertainty affects the transmission of monetary policy through the economy. The first part of the lecture outlines the Bank of Canada's view of the transmission mechanism, with considerable attention paid to the role of uncertainty. In the second part, the various ways in which the Bank has tried to reduce uncertainty are discussed. The various kinds of uncertainty that impinge on the economy and on the policy process are addressed.

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