Bank of Canada Interest Rate Decision - June 5, 2012

No surprises from the Bank of Canada’s interest rate decision this morning. The Bank opted to keep its overnight rate at 1 per cent, where it has been for nearly two years.  The statement released in support of the interest rate decision noted that, in the Bank’s judgement, Canadian economic growth and inflation are unfolding largely as anticipated. A wave of risk aversion due to heightened anxiety over the Euro-crisis has sent Canadian bond-yields plummeting and market expectations for Bank of Canada rate increases have sharply reversed course. However, in today’s statement the Bank once again signaled to markets its preference for higher interest rates over the medium term and its intention to modestly withdraw stimulus as slack in the Canadian economy is absorbed. 

The  Bank also stated that any such withdrawal will be weighed against domestic and global economic developments.  In its last interest rates announcement, the Bank suggested that the Euro-crisis had moved from an acute to chronic phase. While this turned out to be a misdiagnosis, it does suggest that the Euro-mess does not have to be completed resolved for the Bank to begin tightening policy, but it does need to be stable.  At this point, with policymakers and politicians in Europe still struggling to put out a number of fires, it is difficult to see a clear path to a stable Europe in the coming months. Therefore, it is increasingly unlikely that the Bank will begin raising interest rates in late 2012, though it has certainly left that door open.

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