Interest rate announcement: Clearly, the BOC is still feelin’ good

Here’s today’s announcement that the Bank of Canada is keeping the key interest rate steady at one per cent:

Ottawa, Ontario – The Bank of Canada today announced that it is maintaining its target for the overnight rate at 1 per cent. The Bank Rate is correspondingly 1 1/4 per cent and the deposit rate is 3/4 per cent.

Global growth prospects are unfolding largely as the Bank projected in its July Monetary Policy Report (MPR), with a widespread slowing of activity across advanced and emerging economies. The economic expansion in the United States continues at a gradual pace. Europe is in recession and its crisis, while contained, remains acute. In China and other major emerging economies, growth is decelerating somewhat more quickly than expected from previously-rapid rates, reflecting past policy tightening, weaker external demand, and the challenges of rebalancing towards domestic sources of growth. Notwithstanding the slower global momentum, prices for oil and other commodities produced by Canada have, on average, increased since July.

In Canada, while global headwinds continue to restrain economic activity, underlying momentum remains at a pace roughly in line with the economy’s production potential. Economic growth is expected to pick up through 2013, with consumption and business investment continuing to be its principal drivers, reflecting very stimulative financial conditions. Business investment remains solid. There are tentative signs of slowing in household spending, although the household debt burden continues to rise. Canadian exports are projected to remain below their pre-recession peak until the beginning of 2014, reflecting the dynamics of foreign demand and ongoing competitiveness challenges, including the persistent strength of the Canadian dollar.

Core inflation has been softer than expected in recent months but, with the economy operating near its production potential, it is expected to return, along with total CPI inflation, to 2 per cent over the course of the next 12 months.

Reflecting all of these factors, the Bank has decided to maintain the target for the overnight rate at 1 per cent. To the extent that the economic expansion continues and the current excess supply in the economy is gradually absorbed, some modest withdrawal of the present considerable monetary policy stimulus may become appropriate, consistent with achieving the 2 per cent inflation target over the medium term. The timing and degree of any such withdrawal will be weighed carefully against domestic and global economic developments.

And here’s July’s announcement (and no, you’re not seeing double):

Ottawa, Ontario – The Bank of Canada today announced that it is maintaining its target for the overnight rate at 1 per cent. The Bank Rate is correspondingly 1 1/4 per cent and the deposit rate is 3/4 per cent.

Global growth prospects have weakened since the Bank’s April Monetary Policy Report (MPR). While the economic expansion in the United States continues at a gradual but somewhat slower pace, developments in Europe point to a renewed contraction. In China and other emerging economies, the deceleration in growth has been greater than anticipated, reflecting past policy tightening and weaker external demand.  This slowdown in global activity has led to a sizeable reduction in commodity prices, although they remain elevated. The combination of increasing global excess capacity over the projection horizon and reduced commodity prices is expected to moderate global inflationary pressures. Global financial conditions have also deteriorated since April, with periods of considerable volatility. The Bank’s base case projection assumes that the European crisis will continue to be contained, although this assumption is subject to downside risks.

While global headwinds are restraining Canadian economic activity, domestic factors are expected to support moderate growth in Canada. The Bank expects the economy to grow at a pace roughly in line with its production potential in the near term, before picking up through 2013. Consumption and business investment are expected to be the primary drivers of growth, reflecting very stimulative domestic financial conditions.  However, their pace will be influenced by external headwinds, notably the effects of lower commodity prices on Canadian incomes and wealth, as well as by record-high household debt. Housing activity is expected to slow from record levels. Government spending is not projected to contribute to growth in 2012 and to contribute only modestly thereafter, in line with plans to consolidate spending by federal and provincial governments. Canadian exports are projected to remain below their pre-recession peak until the beginning of 2014, reflecting the dynamics of foreign demand and ongoing competitiveness challenges, including the persistent strength of the Canadian dollar.

The Bank projects that the economy will grow by 2.1 per cent in 2012, 2.3 per cent in 2013 and 2.5 per cent in 2014. The economy is expected to reach full capacity in the second half of 2013, thus operating with a small amount of slack for somewhat longer than previously anticipated.

Core inflation is forecast to remain around 2 per cent over the projection horizon as the economy operates near its production potential, growth in labour compensation stays moderate and inflation expectations remain well anchored. Given the recent drop in gasoline prices and with futures prices suggesting persistently lower oil prices, the Bank expects total CPI inflation to remain noticeably below the 2 per cent target over the coming year before returning to target around mid-2013.

Reflecting all of these factors, the Bank has decided to maintain the target for the overnight rate at 1 per cent. To the extent that the economic expansion continues and the current excess supply in the economy is gradually absorbed, some modest withdrawal of the present considerable monetary policy stimulus may become appropriate, consistent with achieving the 2 per cent inflation target over the medium term. The timing and degree of any such withdrawal will be weighed carefully against domestic and global economic developments.

The two statements are almost identical. In September, the Bank is still promising an interest rate hike sometime in 2013. That, as CIBC’s Avery Shenfeld pointed out this morning, “remains the big ‘if’.” China’s economy is sputtering amid a housing bubble of epic proportions and ridiculously high inventory levels. A Grexit in Europe looks likelier every day. And here at home the housing market shows signs of cooling and households seem to have started to keep spending more in check, as the Bank itself notes. Yet, governor Mark Carney is still feeling optimistic. Let’s hope he’s right.




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Interest rate announcement: Clearly, the BOC is still feelin’ good

  1. Anybody think that maybe Carney’s simply been too busy with his new job, so is just giving us a re-run of his greatest hits?

    • When perfectly reasonable comments made in a press conference receive such visceral reactions from some, I’d be inclined to be economical with the changes in the press release too.

      It’s not like the Bank of Canada is a polling firm that spends 5 pages of text explaining how a daily poll has moved 0.2% in a national election campaign.

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