Thomas Carter is a Principal Economist in the Canadian Economic Analysis (CEA) Department. His research interests include monetary and financial economics. He holds a Ph.D. in economics from Princeton University.
This note provides an update on Bank of Canada staff’s assessment of the Canadian neutral rate. The neutral rate is the policy rate needed to keep output at its potential level and inflation at target once the effects of any cyclical shocks have dissipated. This medium- to long-run concept serves as a benchmark for gauging the degree of monetary stimulus provided by a given policy setting.
In 1991, Canada became the second country to adopt an inflation target as a central pillar of its monetary policy framework. The regime has proven much more successful than initially expected, both in achieving price stability and in stabilizing the real economy against a wide range of shocks.
Recent years have seen renewed interest in the regulation of interbank markets. A review of the literature in this area identifies two gaps: first, the literature has tended to make ad hoc assumptions about the interbank contract space, which makes it difficult to generate convincing policy prescriptions; second, the literature has tended to focus on ex-post interventions that kick in only after an interbank disruption has come underway (e.g., open-market operations, lender-of-last-resort interventions, bail-outs), rather than ex-ante prudential policies.
In light of the financial crisis and its aftermath, several economists have argued that inflation-targeting central banks should reconsider the level of their inflation targets. While the appropriate level for the inflation target remains an open question, it’s important to note that any transition to a new target would entail certain costs.