August 11, 1996 This article compares different measures of real short-term interest rates for Canada over the period from 1956 to 1995. A new measure for the expected real interest rate is constructed using a proxy for inflation expectations that is based on the properties of past inflation. The history of inflation in Canada suggests that the characteristics of inflation have changed considerably over time. Past inflation can be characterized by three different types of behaviour: an environment in which average inflation is low and shocks to inflation have only temporary effects; an environment of moderate inflation with more persistent disturbances; and an environment of drifting inflation in which shocks have permanent effects on the level of inflation. The proxy for inflation expectations uses a statistical model, called a Markov Switching Model, to take account of changes in the behaviour of inflation over time. It is found that uncertainty about the changing characteristics of inflation behaviour leads to uncertainty about estimates of inflation expectations and thus about measures of real interest rates. Target ranges for keeping inflation low should help reduce the uncertainty about inflation behaviour. The behaviour of inflation and interest rates suggests that the credibility of the Bank of Canada's inflation-control objectives is growing. This should reduce inflation uncertainty and lead to lower nominal interest rates over time.
The purpose of this study is to test the hypothesis that inflation uncertainty increases at higher levels of inflation. Our analysis is based on the generalized autoregressive conditional heteroscedasticity (GARCH) class of models, which allow the conditional variance of the error term to be time-varying. Since this variance is a proxy for inflation uncertainty, a positive relationship between the conditional variance and inflation would be interpreted as evidence that inflation uncertainty increases with the level of inflation.
In this paper, the authors report estimates of two- and three-state Markov switching models applied to inflation, measured using consumer price indexes, in the G-7 countries. They report tests that show that two-state models are preferred to simple one-state representations of the data, and argue that three-state representations are more satisfactory than two-state representations for […]
The Canadian economy is currently in transition from a period of disinflation to one with a very low and relatively stable inflation rate. Against this background, the author asks whether reduced-form parameters should be expected to be invariant to changes in the inflation process. This raises two empirical issues. The first relates to whether shifts […]
In this paper, the author uses the term structure of nominal interest rates to construct estimates of agents' expectations of inflation over several medium-term forecast horizons. The Expectations Hypothesis is imposed together with the assumption that expected future real interest rates are given by current real rates. Under these maintained assumptions, it is possible to […]
The consumer price index (CPI) may be an imperfect measure of changes in the cost of living owing to measurement biases known as commodity substitution bias, new goods bias, quality bias and outlet substitution bias. When the sum of these individual biases is positive, the rate of change in the CPI overstates the increase in […]
This report shows that extreme conditions and volatility in markets are much more likely to result from systematic policy errors in gauging and responding to inflationary pressures in an economy than from unfortunate random shocks. We describe a simple model that incorporates the key features of the policy control process. We use two versions of […]
This paper examines wage and price dynamics in Canada with a view towards testing the implications of a wage-price dynamics, according to which unit labour costs are determined by a wage Phillips curve while prices are set as a markup over unit labour costs. This model is compared to an alternative model in which excess […]
The basic responsibility of a central bank is to preserve the value of money—that is, to maintain stability in the general level of prices. This report pulls together the main arguments for and against price stability as the appropriate goal for monetary policy. The available evidence suggests that the benefits of price stability are many […]
This paper analyzes the dynamic behaviour of a country's economy under different policy regimes, by examining the cyclical effects that occur when certain intermediate macroeconomic targets are adopted. To highlight the differences in the adjustment paths that result, the study deliberately limits policy choice: either money supply or nominal income as targets, and either real […]