January 21, 2016
The Bank of Canada announced this morning that it is maintaining its overnight rate at 0.5 per cent. In the press release accompanying the decision, the Bank noted that inflation is evolving as expected with total CPI continuing to test the bottom of the Bank's 1-3 per cent target range due to low energy prices. However, the Bank expects that inflation will rise over the next year, reaching its 2 per cent target by mid-2017. On the economy, the Bank sees economic growth firming after a slowdown in the fourth quarter of last year. The Bank projects that the Canadian economy will grow a modest 1.5 per cent this year before strengthening to 2.5 per cent in 2017.
In not moving on interest rates this morning, the Bank is recognizing that there is little that monetary policy can do to offset a significant supply-side shock such as the dramatic decline in oil prices. Indeed, given Canada's floating exchange rate, the loonie has already adjusted to help partially absorb the negative impact of falling commodity prices on exports. Keeping in mind that the Canadian economy is still projected to grow at a rate very close to its somewhat diminished potential for 2016 and that inflation will be spurred by a dramatically lower Canadian dollar, we anticipate that the Bank will reassess the need for monetary stimulus once the worst of the oil-shock had passed. That means, barring a significant deterioration in the economy, the Bank will more than likely remain sidelined for 2016.