Bank of Canada will maintain current level of policy rate until inflation objective is achieved, continues its quantitative easing program
The Bank of Canada today maintained its target for the overnight rate at the effective lower bound of percent, with the Bank Rate at percent and the deposit rate at percent. The Bank is maintaining its extraordinary forward guidance, reinforced and supplemented by its quantitative easing (QE) program, which continues at its current pace of at least $4 billion per week.
The rebound in the global and Canadian economies has unfolded largely as the Bank had anticipated in its October Monetary Policy Report (MPR). More recently, news on the development of effective vaccines is providing reassurance that the pandemic will end and more normal activities will resume, although the pace and breadth of the global rollout of vaccinations remain uncertain. Near term, new waves of infections are expected to set back recoveries in many parts of the world. Accommodative policy and financial conditions are continuing to provide support across most regions. Stronger demand is pushing up prices for most commodities, including oil. A broad-based decline in the US exchange rate has contributed to a further appreciation of the Canadian dollar.
Canadian Federal Fall Economic Statement 2020
Canadas Federal Finance Minister provided a first multi-year peek at the impact of the pandemic on the Canadian economy and its finances in her Fall Economic Statement 2020. The deficit is set to soar to $381 bn (17.5% of GDP) in FY21an increase of about $40 bn since July estimates. At the same time, the government acknowledges it could be as high as $400 bn under alternative scenarios of extended and/or escalating COVID-19 cases.
The blow to government revenues contributes to a quarter of the shortfall, while COVID-19 spending will add another $275 bn of deficit financing this year. The bulk of increases in pandemic spending had already been announcedbut not costedprior to the update, whereas new announcements reflect about $25 bn. This includes a $17 bn top-up to the wage subsidy program to bring its coverage back up to 75% for the remainder of the fiscal year.
Debt as a share of the economy is expected to swell to 50% this year, peaking close to 53% in 2021 and declining thereafter. But this is only a baseline that does not incorporate a new stimulus package of up to $100 bn promised over the next three years that would see debt soar to around 58% of GDP by 2024 under various scenarios.
The new stimulus package will be designed in the coming months with an intent to jumpstart the recovery. Its withdrawal would not be time-based, rather contingent on closing the output gap, loosely defined in terms of employment metrics. These so-called guardrails will guide fiscal policy until the economy has recovered and the government will then return to a prudent and responsible fiscal path.
Markets are likely to temporarily adjust to the implied bump in expected federal borrowing requirements (although an abundance of scenarios leaves this open to a wide range of interpretations), but this will be digested in an environment where global drivers are largely shaping bond market dynamics.