The last few months have proven the Bank of Canada wrong: National Bank chief economist
National Bank of Canada Chief Economist and Strategist Stéfane Marion is joining the growing chorus of voices calling on the Bank of Canada to act decisively to quell inflation not seen since 1991.
In an interview Friday, Marion said the central bank waited too long to begin increasing rates, given employment rates were steadily falling, indicating the economic recovery was well underway.
“To allow your inflation rate to surpass the unemployment rate means that the Bank of Canada was a little bit too permissive, and as of last November they were claiming that the unemployment rate was not a good measure of potentially inflationary pressure,” he said.
“The last few months have proven the Bank of Canada wrong, so now it’s catch-up mode.”
Marion’s comments come on the heels of Scotiabank Vice-President and Head of Capital Markets Economics Derek Holt declaring there’s a “solid case” for the Bank of Canada to deliver a full percentage point increase, though Holt believes a half percentage point remains the likely scenario at the June meeting.
Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem has acknowledged the need to rein in inflation, which hit 6.7 per cent last month, stating the central bank is “prepared to be as forceful as needed” when it comes to monetary tightening.
That was evidenced in part by the bank unleashing its first supersized half-percentage point hike in 22 years earlier this month, and there’s some speculation the Bank of Canada could go even further with a three-quarter of a percentage point increase in June.
In spite of that speculation, Marion is in the same camp as Scotia’s Holt, and still expects Macklem to move in half percentage point increments.
“My preference for now is to use 50 [basis points]: 50 is the new 25 when it comes to central bank moves at this point in time,” he said. “We move quickly towards two per cent and then we see what happens.”
That two per cent rate would still fall below the Bank of Canada’s view of the nominal neutral rate – essentially the rate that neither accelerate nor slows growth – which in its view is closer to 2.5 per cent.