Today's Statement (12/08/2021)

The Bank of Canada today held its target for the overnight rate at the effective lower bound of 0.25%, with the Bank Rate at 0.5% and the deposit rate at 0.25%. The Bank’s extraordinary forward guidance on the path for the overnight rate is being maintained. The Bank is continuing its reinvestment phase, keeping its overall holdings of Government of Canada bonds roughly constant.

The global economy continues to recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Economic growth in the United States has accelerated, led by consumption, while growth in some other regions is moderating after a strong third quarter. Inflation has increased further in many countries, reflecting strong demand for goods amid ongoing supply disruptions. The new Omicron COVID-19 variant has prompted a tightening of travel restrictions in many countries and a decline in oil prices and has injected renewed uncertainty. Accommodative financial conditions are still supporting economic activity.

Canada’s economy grew by about 5.5% in the third quarter, as expected. Together with a downward revision to the second quarter, this brings the level of GDP to about 1.5% below its level in the last quarter of 2019, before the pandemic began. Third-quarter growth was led by a rebound in consumption, particularly services, as restrictions were further eased and higher vaccination rates improved confidence. Persistent supply bottlenecks continued to inhibit growth in other components of GDP, including non-commodity exports and business investment.

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Recent economic indicators suggest the economy had considerable momentum into the fourth quarter. This includes broad-based job gains in recent months that have brought the employment rate essentially back to its pre-pandemic level. Job vacancies remain elevated and wage growth has also picked up. Housing activity had been moderating but appears to be regaining strength, notably in resales. The devastating floods in British Columbia and uncertainties arising from the Omicron variant could weigh on growth by compounding supply chain disruptions and reducing demand for some services.

CPI inflation is elevated and the impact of global supply constraints is feeding through to a broader range of goods prices. The effects of these constraints on prices will likely take some time to work their way through, given existing supply backlogs. Gasoline prices, which had been a major factor pushing up CPI inflation, have recently declined. Meanwhile, core measures of inflation are little changed since September. The Bank continues to expect CPI inflation to remain elevated in the first half of 2022 and ease back towards 2% in the second half of the year. The Bank is closely watching inflation expectations and labor costs to ensure that the forces pushing up prices do not become embedded in ongoing inflation.

The Governing Council judges that in view of ongoing excess capacity, the economy continues to require considerable monetary policy support. We remain committed to holding the policy interest rate at the effective lower bound until economic slack is absorbed so that the 2 percent inflation target is sustainably achieved. In the Bank’s October projection, this happens sometime in the middle quarters of 2022. We will provide the appropriate degree of monetary policy stimulus to support the recovery and achieve the inflation target.


Bank of Canada Rate Statement Explained

The Bank of Canada Rate Statement is the primary tool the Bank of Canada uses to communicate with investors about monetary policy. It contains the outcome of their decision on interest rates and commentary about the economic conditions that influenced their decision.

The announcement conveys to the financial markets and investors what, if any, changes in policy might be. The main focus is the target set for the overnight rate (BoC Rate Decision). The policy is framed around keeping the annual rate of inflation as measured by the consumer price index (CPI) within a 1 percent to 3 percent range and close to the 2 percent midpoint over the longer run. To this end, the BoC also monitors an adjusted measure of the CPI that excludes a range of volatile categories in order to get a better handle on underlying trends.

BoC Rate Decision

Bank of Canada determines interest rate policy at eight meetings during the year and they are an influential event for the markets. Prior to each meeting, market participants speculate about the possibility of an interest rate change. A post-meeting statement is issued after each meeting. Unlike the Federal Reserve, there are no post-meeting minutes. The Bank has an inflation target range of 1 percent to 3 percent with a specific focus on the 2 percent midpoint.

Although the Bank monitors many economic indicators, as indeed all central banks do, the Bank converted its inflation barometer for operational purposes to a consumer price index measure that subtracts eight volatile components to better reflect core inflation. It also takes the foreign exchange rate for the Canadian dollar into its monetary policy decisions.

Monetary policy goals are to aid and abet solid economic growth along with rising living standards. To achieve these goals, inflation is kept low, stable, and predictable. The inflation-control target is at the heart of Canadian monetary policy that the Bank and the Government have established. The level of interest rates and the exchange rate determine the monetary environment in which the Canadian economy operates.

The level of interest rates affects the economy. Higher interest rates tend to slow economic activity; lower interest rates stimulate economic activity. Either way, interest rates influence the sales environment. In the consumer sector, few homes or cars will be purchased when interest rates rise. Furthermore, interest rate costs are a significant factor for many businesses, particularly for companies with high debt loads or who have to finance high inventory levels. This interest cost has a direct impact on corporate profits. The bottom line is that higher interest rates are bearish for the financial markets, while lower interest rates are bullish.