No Comments

Bank of Canada Interest Rate Announcement – July 14, 2021

The Bank of Canada maintained its overnight rate at 0.25 per cent this morning, a level it considers its effective lower bound. The Bank reiterated what it calls “extraordinary forward guidance” in committing to leaving the overnight rate at 0.25 per cent until slack in the economy is absorbed and inflation sustainably returns to its 2 per cent target. The Bank projects that will not occur until the second half of 2022.  The Bank announced that it is adjusting its quantitative easing (QE) program down to purchasing $2 billion per week Government of Canada bonds per week. In the statement accompanying the decision, the Bank noted that it expects a strong pick-up in economic growth over the second half of the year as vaccinations progress and restrictions are lifted.  The Bank expects growth of close to 6 per cent this year, followed by 4.5 per cent growth in 2022.

As we hopefully approach the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, the issue of inflation has arisen as the most hotly debated topic among economists and analysts.  Specifically, whether current elevated inflation of around 3.5 per cent is a sign of accelerating prices or merely the transitory effect of supply constraints brought on by the pandemic.  The Bank of Canada is firmly on the side of believing higher than normal inflation is a temporary phenomenon. In today’s announcement, the Bank noted that base-year effects, meaning we are comparing prices in a recovered economy now to one in which prices were falling amidst a severe recession one year ago, rising gasoline prices and pandemic related bottlenecks in supply chains account for most of the increase in inflation.  The Bank expects inflation to remain above 3 per cent through the remainder of this year before easing back toward its 2 per cent target in 2022.  Given that outlook, and uncertainty surrounding timing of when the economy may be fully back to normal, the Bank seems to be on a path to raising its policy rate between the end of 2022 and early 2023.

No Comments

Bank of Canada Interest Rate Announcement – April 21, 2021

 

“The Bank of Canada maintained its overnight rate at 0.25 per cent this morning, a level it considers its effective lower bound. The Bank reiterated what it calls “extraordinary forward guidance” in committing to leaving the overnight rate at 0.25 per cent until slack in the economy is absorbed and inflation sustainably returns to its 2 per cent target. The  Bank is now projecting that will occur in the second half of 2022 rather than in 2023. The Bank is also continuing its quantitative easing (QE) program, though it will be reducing its bond purchases from  at least $4 billion of Government of Canada bonds per week down to $3 billion per week. In the statement accompanying the decision, the Bank noted that the economic recovery has been considerably stronger than forecast and noted risk associated with the rapid rise in home prices, a risk the Bank will continue to monitor. Strong growth in exports and business investment, along with additional fiscal stimulus from the federal and provincial governments are expected to push Canadian Real GDP growth to 6.5 per cent in 2021 and nearly 4 per cent in 2022.

A dramatic re-set of market expectations for growth and inflation prompted a jump in government bond yields over the second half of February. However, since then bond markets have calmed with rates trending sideways for the past several weeks. As a result, Canadian mortgage rates have plateaued around 2.14 per cent on a five-year fixed rate.  However, the Bank’s announcement of a tapering of its QE program and an earlier date for potential future rate increases  may put some upward pressure on mortgage rates in coming months, which along with the proposed 5.25 per cent minimum qualifying rate, could have a moderating influence on home sales through the summer.”

No Comments

BCREA: “Canadian Real GDP Growth (Q4’2020) -March 2, 2021”

“The Canadian economy expanded at a 9.6 per cent annual rate in the fourth quarter of 2020. Growth was led by increased government spending, business investment and investment in new home construction and renovations as well as a large change in business inventories as large drawdowns of inventory from previous quarters reversed.  For 2020 as a whole, the Canadian economy shrank 5.4 per cent, the steepest decline since quarterly GDP data were first recorded in 1961. Interestingly, the households savings rate registered 12.7 per cent, the third consecutive quarter of double digit saving rate.  Remarkably, total household savings in 2020 matched the cumulative savings of the previous seven years combined. That accumulated savings, and how it gets spent over the next year, will be a key component of what we expect to be a robust economic recovery in 2021. 

Following an unprecedented 2020, we expect the Canadian economy will enjoy two years of very strong growth with the economy expanding by 5 per cent this year and a 4.3 per cent in 2022.  An expected acceleration of vaccinations appears to be on the immediate horizon. As that roll-out progresses, we expect pent-up spending throughout the economy to be unleashed, driving a strong economic recovery. While the Bank of Canada has not changed its commitment to keeping its overnight rate unchanged until 2023, there has been substantial upward pressure on long-term Canadian interest rates as markets price in a faster than expected recovery along with the impact of the $1.9 trillion US COVID-19 relief package.  As 5-year government  bond yields move higher,  5-year fixed mortgage rates have also started to rise from a record low average of 1.8 per cent to a still very low level of 1.95 per cent.  For context, the average 5-year fixed rate prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic was about 2.9 per cent.”

No Comments

Bank of Canada Interest Rate Announcement – December 9, 2020:

“The Bank of Canada maintained its overnight rate at 0.25 per cent this morning, a level it considers its effective lower bound. The Bank is also continuing its quantitative easing (QE) program, purchasing at least $4 billion of Government of Canada bonds per week and re-affirmed its forward guidance on future interests moves, committing to holding the policy rate at 0.25 per cent until slack in the economy is absorbed and inflation is sustainably trending at 2 per cent.   In the statement accompanying the decision, the Bank noted that the recovery underway will be choppy due to rising cases of COVID-19 and will continue to require extraordinary monetary support from the bank.

Current slack in the economy, along with low energy prices, is holding Canadian inflation well below its target of 2 per cent. Total CPI inflation is trending under 1 per cent while the Bank of Canada’s measures of “core” inflation remain below target despite the massive expansion of the Bank’s balance sheet necessary to facilitate its quantitative easing program. With the arrival of viable vaccines, we may see the Canadian economic recovery materially accelerate in the second half of 2021. If that occurs, the first stage of tighter monetary policy from the Bank will be how and when it decides to taper purchases of government bonds over the next year. As it does,  we may start to see a divergence in variable and fixed rates by early summer as bond yields rise and fixed mortgage rates move marginally higher.”