1. What is the Bank of Canada’s current policy interest rate?
  2. When does the Bank of Canada announce its overnight rate?
  3. When is the next announcement?
  4. What factors did Bank of Canada consider in its latest decision?

Bank of Canada’s Overnight Rate

On July 15, the Bank of Canada maintained its target for the overnight benchmark rate at 0.25%

The Bank of Canada has once again announced that it is holding its key interest rate target at 0.25%. The Bank has announced that it will also continue to buy Canada bonds at a cost of at least $5 billion per week, to help keep interest rates low and markets functioning well. Together, these measures are intended to promote continued economic recovery. The Bank noted that global and Canadian economies are rebounding in line with its expectations in its July Monetary Policy Report, as governments continue to lift lockdown measures around the world.

The Bank continues to expect this strong reopening phase to be followed by a protracted and uneven recuperation phase, which will be heavily reliant on policy support. The pace of the recovery remains highly dependent on the path of the COVID-19 pandemic and the evolution of social distancing measures required to contain its spread.

Bank of Canada’s 2020 Schedule for Policy Interest Rate Announcements

Bank of Canada announces its decision for the overnight rate target eight times a year, typically on a Wednesday. The schedule for 2020 is as follows:

  • January 22
  • March 4
  • April 15
  • June 3
  • July 15
  • September 9
  • October 28
  • December 9

The next interest rate announcement is scheduled for October 28, 2020. The next Monetary Policy Report (MPR) will also be published on the same day.

“Bank of Canada maintains commitment to current level of policy rate…”

Read the release below:

The rebound in the United States has been stronger than expected, while economic performance among emerging markets has been more mixed. Global financial conditions have remained accommodative. Although prices for some commodities have firmed, oil prices remain weak.

In Canada, real GDP fell by 11.5 percent (39 percent annualized) in the second quarter, resulting in a decline of just over 13 percent in the first half of the year, largely in line with the Bank’s July MPR central scenario. All components of aggregate demand weakened, as expected.

As the economy reopens, the bounce-back in activity in the third quarter looks to be faster than anticipated in July. Economic activity has been supported by government programs to replace incomes and subsidize wages. Core funding markets are functioning well, and this has led to a decline in the use of the Bank’s short-term liquidity programs. Monetary policy is working to support household spending and business investment by making borrowing more affordable.

Household spending rebounded sharply over the summer, with stronger-than-expected goods consumption and housing activity largely reflecting pent-up demand. There has also been a large but uneven rebound in employment. Exports are recovering in response to strengthening foreign demand, but are still well below pre-pandemic levels. Business confidence and investment remain subdued. While recent data during the reopening phase is encouraging, the Bank continues to expect the recuperation phase to be slow and choppy as the economy copes with ongoing uncertainty and structural challenges.

CPI inflation is close to zero, with downward pressure from energy prices and travel services, and is expected to remain well below target in the near term. Measures of core inflation are between 1.3 percent and 1.9 percent, reflecting the large degree of economic slack, with the core measure most influenced by services prices showing the weakest growth.

As the economy moves from reopening to recuperation, it will continue to require extraordinary monetary policy support. The Governing Council will hold the policy interest rate at the effective lower bound until economic slack is absorbed so that the 2 percent inflation target is sustainably achieved. To reinforce this commitment and keep interest rates low across the yield curve, the Bank is continuing its large-scale asset purchase program at the current pace. This QE program will continue until the recovery is well underway and will be calibrated to provide the monetary policy stimulus needed to support the recovery and achieve the inflation objective.

Interest Rate Archives

Bank maintains overnight benchmark rate at 0.25%

As expected, the Bank of Canada announced that it is holding its key interest rate target at 0.25%, acknowledging an “extremely uncertain” economic outlook and the hefty impact of COVID-19. The Bank will also continue to buy Canada bonds at a cost of at least $5 billion per week, to help keep interest rates low and markets functioning well. Together, these measures are intended to promote economic recovery as restrictions continue to ease across the country.

The next interest rate announcement is scheduled on September 9, 2020. Read the release below:

While economies are re-opening, the global and Canadian outlook is extremely uncertain, given the unpredictability of the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. Reflecting this, the Bank’s July Monetary Policy Report (MPR) presents a central scenario for global and Canadian growth rather than the usual economic projections. The central scenario is based on assumptions outlined in the MPR, including that there is no widespread second wave of the virus.

After a sharp drop in the first half of 2020, global economic activity is picking up. This return to growth reflects the relaxation of necessary containment measures put in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus, combined with extraordinary fiscal and monetary policy support. As a result, financial conditions have improved. The prices of most commodities, including oil, have risen from very low levels. In the central scenario, the global economy overall shrinks by about 5 percent in 2020 and then grows by around 5 percent on average in 2021 and 2022. The timing and pace of the recovery varies among regions and could be hampered by a resurgence of infections and the limited capacity of some countries to contain the virus or support their economies.

The Canadian economy is starting to recover as it re-opens from the shutdowns needed to limit the virus spread. With economic activity in the second quarter estimated to have been 15 percent below its level at the end of 2019, this is the deepest decline in economic activity since the Great Depression, but considerably less severe than the worst scenarios presented in the April MPR. Decisive and necessary fiscal and monetary policy actions have supported incomes and kept credit flowing, cushioning the fall and laying the foundation for recovery. Since early June, the government has announced additional support programs, and extended others.

There are early signs that the reopening of businesses and pent-up demand are leading to an initial bounce-back in employment and output. In the central scenario, roughly 40 percent of the collapse in the first half of the year is made up in the third quarter. Subsequently, the Bank expects the economy’s recuperation to slow as the pandemic continues to affect confidence and consumer behaviour and as the economy works through structural challenges. As a result, in the central scenario, real GDP declines by 7.8 percent in 2020 and resumes with growth of 5.1 percent in 2021 and 3.7 percent in 2022. The Bank expects economic slack to persist as the recovery in demand lags that of supply, creating significant disinflationary pressures.

CPI inflation is close to zero, pulled down by sharp declines in components such as gasoline and travel services. The Bank’s core measures of inflation have drifted down, although by much less than the CPI, and are now between 1.4 and 1.9 percent. Inflation is expected to remain weak before gradually strengthening toward 2 percent as the drag from low gas prices and other temporary effects dissipates and demand recovers, reducing economic slack. 

As the economy moves from reopening to recuperation, it will continue to require extraordinary monetary policy support. The Governing Council will hold the policy interest rate at the effective lower bound until economic slack is absorbed so that the 2 percent inflation target is sustainably achieved. In addition, to reinforce this commitment and keep interest rates low across the yield curve, the Bank is continuing its large-scale asset purchase program at a pace of at least $5 billion per week of Government of Canada bonds. This QE program is making borrowing more affordable for households and businesses and will continue until the recovery is well underway. To support the recovery and achieve the inflation objective, the Bank is prepared to provide further monetary stimulus as needed.

The necessary efforts to contain the COVID-19 pandemic have caused a sudden and deep contraction in economic activity and employment worldwide. In financial markets, this has driven a flight to safety and a sharp repricing of a wide range of assets. It has also pushed down prices for commodities, especially oil. In this environment, the Canadian dollar has depreciated since January, although by less than many other currencies. The sudden halt in global activity will be followed by regional recoveries at different times, depending on the duration and severity of the outbreak in each region. This means that the global economic recovery, when it comes, could be protracted and uneven.

The Canadian economy was in a solid position ahead of the COVID-19 outbreak, but has since been hit by widespread shutdowns and lower oil prices. One early measure of the extent of the damage was an unprecedented drop in employment in March, with more than one million jobs lost across Canada. Many more workers reported shorter hours, and by early April some six million Canadians had applied for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.

The outlook is too uncertain at this point to provide a complete forecast. However, Bank analysis of alternative scenarios suggests the level of real activity was down 1-3 percent in the first quarter of 2020, and will be 15-30 percent lower in the second quarter than in fourth-quarter 2019. CPI inflation is expected to be close to 0 percent in the second quarter of 2020. This is primarily due to the transitory effects of lower gasoline prices.

The pandemic-driven contraction has prompted decisive policy action to support individuals and businesses and to lay the foundation for economic recovery once containment measures start to ease. Fiscal programs, designed to expand according to the magnitude of the shock, will help individuals and businesses weather this shutdown phase of the pandemic, and support incomes and confidence leading into the recovery. These programs have been complemented by actions taken by other federal agencies and provincial governments.

For its part, the Bank of Canada has taken measures to improve market function so that monetary policy actions have their intended effect on the economy. This helps ensure that households and businesses continue to have access to the credit they need to bridge this difficult time, and that lower interest rates find their way to ultimate borrowers. The Bank has lowered its target for the overnight rate 150 basis points over the last three weeks, to its effective lower bound. It has also conducted lending operations to financial institutions and asset purchases in core funding markets amounting to around $200 billion.

These actions have served to ease market dysfunction and help keep credit channels open, although they remain strained. The next challenge for markets will be managing increased demand for near-term financing by federal and provincial governments, and businesses and households. The situation calls for special actions by the central bank. To this end, the Bank is furthering its efforts with several important steps.

Under its previously-announced program, the Bank will continue to purchase at least $5 billion in Government of Canada securities per week in the secondary market, and will increase the level of purchases as required to maintain proper functioning of the government bond market. Also, the Bank is temporarily increasing the amount of Treasury Bills it acquires at auctions to up to 40 percent, effective immediately.

The Bank is also announcing today the development of a new Provincial Bond Purchase Program of up to $50 billion, to supplement its Provincial Money Market Purchase Program. Further, the Bank is announcing a new Corporate Bond Purchase Program, in which the Bank will acquire up to a total of $10 billion in investment grade corporate bonds in the secondary market. Both of these programs will be put in place in the coming weeks. Finally, the Bank is further enhancing its term repo facility to permit funding for up to 24 months.

These measures will work in combination to ease pressure on Canadian borrowers. As containment restrictions are eased and economic activity resumes, fiscal and monetary policy actions will help underpin confidence and stimulate spending by consumers and businesses to restore growth. The Bank’s Governing Council stands ready to adjust the scale or duration of its programs if necessary. All the Bank’s actions are aimed at helping to bridge the current period of containment and create the conditions for a sustainable recovery and achievement of the inflation target over time.

Bank drops overnight benchmark rate to 1.25%

As was widely expected, the Bank of Canada announced that it is dropping its benchmark interest rate by 50 basis points. The Bank’s overnight interest rate target currently sits at 1.25 per cent, down from 1.75 per cent. Despite Canada’s economy and inflation both hovering at expected levels, the Bank cites global and Canadian economic shocks due to coronavirus concerns.

The next interest rate announcement is scheduled on April 15, 2020. Read the release below:

Before the outbreak, the global economy was showing signs of stabilizing, as the Bank had projected in its January Monetary Policy Report (MPR). However, COVID-19 represents a significant health threat to people in a growing number of countries. In consequence, business activity in some regions has fallen sharply and supply chains have been disrupted. This has pulled down commodity prices and the Canadian dollar has depreciated. Global markets are reacting to the spread of the virus by repricing risk across a broad set of assets, making financial conditions less accommodative. It is likely that as the virus spreads, business and consumer confidence will deteriorate, further depressing activity.

In Canada, GDP growth slowed to 0.3 percent during the fourth quarter of 2019, in line with the Bank’s forecast, although its composition was different. Consumption was stronger than expected, supported by healthy labour income growth. Residential investment continued to grow, albeit at a more moderate pace than earlier in the year. Meanwhile, both business investment and exports weakened.

It is becoming clear that the first quarter of 2020 will be weaker than the Bank had expected. The drop in Canada’s terms of trade, if sustained, will weigh on income growth. Meanwhile, business investment does not appear to be recovering as was expected following positive trade policy developments. In addition, rail line blockades, strikes by Ontario teachers, and winter storms in some regions are dampening economic activity in the first quarter.

CPI inflation in January was stronger than expected, due to temporary factors. Core measures of inflation all remain around 2 percent, consistent with an economy that has been operating close to potential.

In light of all these developments, the outlook is clearly weaker now than it was in January. As the situation evolves, Governing Council stands ready to adjust monetary policy further if required to support economic growth and keep inflation on target. While markets continue to function well, the Bank will continue to ensure that the Canadian financial system has sufficient liquidity.

The Bank continues to closely monitor economic and financial conditions, in coordination with other G7 central banks and fiscal authorities.

As was widely expected, the Bank of Canada has announced that it will maintain its overnight interest rate target at 1.75 per cent, marking its tenth straight hold since it last raised its interest rate.

The Bank cites positive activity including a stabilizing global economy and recent trade developments. However, uncertainty looms and geopolitical tensions have re-emerged. The Bank revised its outlook for the Canadian economy since the October Monetary Policy Report (MPR). Canada’s short-term growth will be weaker and the output gap wider than was originally expected. The Bank now estimates growth of 0.3 per cent for Q4 of 2019 and 1.3 per cent in Q1 of 2020.

The next interest rate announcement is scheduled on March 4, 2020. Read the full release below:

The Bank of Canada today maintained its target for the overnight rate at 1 ¾ percent. The Bank Rate is correspondingly 2 percent and the deposit rate is 1 ½ percent.

The global economy is showing signs of stabilization, and some recent trade developments have been positive. However, there remains a high degree of uncertainty and geopolitical tensions have re-emerged, with tragic consequences. The Canadian economy has been resilient but indicators since the October Monetary Policy Report (MPR) have been mixed.

Data for Canada indicate that growth in the near term will be weaker, and the output gap wider, than the Bank projected in October. The Bank now estimates growth of 0.3 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2019 and 1.3 per cent in the first quarter of 2020. Exports fell in late 2019, and business investment appears to have weakened after a strong third quarter. Job creation has slowed and indicators of consumer confidence and spending have been unexpectedly soft. In contrast, residential investment was robust through most of 2019, moderating to a still-solid pace in the fourth quarter.

Some of the slowdown in growth in late 2019 was related to special factors that include strikes, poor weather, and inventory adjustments. The weaker data could also signal that global economic conditions have been affecting Canada’s economy to a greater extent than was predicted. Moreover, during the past year Canadians have been saving a larger share of their incomes, which could signal increased consumer caution. This could dampen consumer spending but help to alleviate financial vulnerabilities at the same time.

Looking ahead, Canadian business investment and exports are expected to contribute modestly to growth, supported by stronger global activity and demand. The Bank is also projecting a pickup in household spending, supported by population and income growth, as well as by the recent federal income tax cut. In its January MPR, the Bank projects the global economy will grow by just over 3 percent in 2020 and 3 ¼ per cent in 2021. For Canada, the Bank now forecasts real GDP will grow by 1.6 percent this year and 2 per cent in 2021, following 1.6 per cent growth in 2019.

While the output gap has widened in recent months, measures of inflation remain around 2 percent. This is consistent with an economy that, until recently, has been operating close to capacity. The Bank expects inflation will stay around the 2 percent target over the projection horizon, with some fluctuations in 2020 from volatility in energy prices. Meanwhile, labour markets in most regions have little slack and wages continue to firm.

In determining the future path for the Bank’s policy interest rate, Governing Council will be watching closely to see if the recent slowdown in growth is more persistent than forecast. In assessing incoming data, the Bank will be paying particular attention to developments in consumer spending, the housing market, and business investment.