Bank of Canada maintains key rate at 1.75%
The Bank of Canada held steady on Wednesday, leaving its key benchmark interest rate unchanged at 1.75 per cent while warning about spillover risk from global trade conflicts that have already compelled other major central banks to lean toward cutting rates.
“Recent data show the Canadian economy is returning to potential growth. However, the outlook is clouded by persistent trade tensions,” the central bank said in its statement. “Taken together, the degree of accommodation being provided by the current policy rate remains appropriate.”
But what does the move to stay the course mean when placed against a U.S. Federal Reserve that seems intent on cutting rates?
Here’s a collection of economists’ reactions to Wednesday’s Bank of Canada decision:
“It sounds like the central bank is certainly globally aware but domestically focused, and this is how Governor [Stephen] Poloz is going to have to proceed. He’s going to have to acknowledge that central banks globally are cutting rates, that trade tensions are a massive downside risk, but … Canada is doing just fine.
“From my perspective, it looks like this is Governor Poloz telling us: ‘We’re going to sit on the sidelines. We’re staying patient.’”
- Manulife Asset Management Chief Economist Frances Donald
“The interesting thing to me is that the underlying macro considerations are not dissimilar, for instance, in Canada versus the U.S. Everyone is saying the same thing … Domestic is pretty good, the manufacturing globally is weaker, trade – of course – a concern. And yet (the Bank of Canada is) reaching somewhat of a different conclusion.
“I must confess that my own bias, then, is to think that maybe the Fed doesn’t get to cut quite as much as the market currently thinks and maybe the Bank of Canada ends up being a little more dovish than is currently priced-in and meeting, perhaps, somewhere in the middle. But, as its stands right now, Canada is the outlier.”
- RBC Global Asset Management Chief Economist Eric Lascelles
“Not wanting to be entirely left behind amid the chorus of dovishness from global central bankers, the BoC sounded a bit more dovish today... Despite the downgrade to the outlook, it's going to take a deeper deterioration to spark conversations about easing even as the Fed seems poised to lower rates at month end.”
- BMO Capital Markets Canadian rates and macro strategist Benjamin Reitzes
“The first brush of the statement leaves the impression of a central bank that is 'going it alone' in maintaining a balanced view of its policy setting as other major central banks prepare markets for easing.”
- TD Economics Senior Economist Brian DePratto
"Sometimes what’s not said is as important as what is said, so Governor Poloz’s reluctance to cheer too loudly about Canada’s recent economic news is telling. It suggests that while its base case could be described as an all-clear outlook ahead, it’s becoming somewhat more concerned about an alternative scenario for the global economy that would impede our expansion."
- CIBC Capital Markets Chief Economist Avery Shenfeld