A woman walks past the Bank of Canada building, in Ottawa, Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017. The Bank of Canada will say this morning what it will do with its key interest rate at a time when there is very little economic drama for the first time in years. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

A woman walks past the Bank of Canada building, in Ottawa, Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017. The Bank of Canada will say this morning what it will do with its key interest rate at a time when there is very little economic drama for the first time in years. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Bank of Canada keeps key interest rate target on hold but warns of ‘slow, choppy’ recovery

The bank says its key rate will stay at near-zero until economic slack is absorbed

The Bank of Canada sought Wednesday to temper economic excitement about a sharper-than-expected rebound from the depths of the COVID-19 crisis, pointing to worrying trends that signal all is still not well.

In a statement, the central bank’s governing council said the bounce-back activity in the third quarter looks to be faster than it anticipated in July, as provinces opened up their economies even more over the summer.

Household spending spiked over the summer as a result of pent-up spending demand from previous months as some households had money to spend, but nowhere to spend it with businesses closed.

Also helping things along has been massive government spending to support those whose incomes dried up, the statement said.

But the bank warned of indicators that point to a slow and choppy recovery process.

The rebound in employment has been uneven, particularly for mothers with young children, visible minorities, students and low-wage workers. Energy price remain weak. Exports have gone up in line with foreign demand, but remain below pre-pandemic levels, the bank said, while 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,” the statement said.

Governor Tiff Macklem is scheduled to speak on Thursday to the Canadian Chamber of Commerce about the uneven effects the COVID-19 pandemic has had on different sectors and groups of people.

What won’t change for some time is the central bank’s key interest rate, which was held Wednesday at 0.25 per cent.

The central bank’s key rate has remained at its lower effective bound since March when COVID-19 lockdowns plunged the economy into crisis and pushed inflation below the bank’s two-per-cent target.

Inflation is running close to zero, driven down from low gasoline prices and drops in travel spending.

The bank said inflation will remain below its two-per-cent comfort zone “in the near term,” meaning the key rate will stay at near-zero until economic slack is absorbed and its inflation target is “sustainably achieved.”

“That’s a situation which we see as not materializing until years into the future,” CIBC senior economist Royce Mendes wrote in a note.

The statement reiterated that the central bank stands ready to do whatever is necessary to aid the economy as it recuperates from the COVID-19 crisis, which will include ongoing purchases of federal government bonds.

Experts noted that the bank’s language on its quantitative easing efforts, which is a way for central banks to push money into the economy to encourage lending and investment.

The bank’s statement said its “QE” efforts will be adjusted to provide whatever monetary stimulus is needed to help the economy recover, and bring inflation back on target.

“It’s crystal clear that road to a full recovery and a closing of the output gap will a very long one,” wrote Benjamin Reitzes, BMO’s director of Canadian rates and macro strategist, adding it will likely take years.

The Bank of Canada will provide a more detailed analysis of its long-run assumptions for the domestic economy when it updates its monetary policy outlook later next month.

ALSO READ: B.C. records 429 new COVID-19 cases, two deaths over Labour Day long weekend

Jordan Press, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Coronaviruseconomy

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The famous band calls Fernie home. (Photo Contributed)
Shred Kelly gets creative with pandemic performances

CBC Radio recently promoted the band, highlighting their recent virtual tour and upcoming plans

A woman wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 uses walking sticks while walking up a hill, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Interior Health reports 83 more COVID-19 infections overnight

46 cases are now associated with a COVID-19 community cluster in Revelstoke

Green spaces have offered many a sense of peace throughout the pandemic. (Photo Contributed)
Nature Conservancy of Canada matches all donations on Dec. 1

The initiative honours Giving Tuesday, an initiative created to combat Black Friday’s consumerism

Signs are posted at the entrance of newly deactivated roads. (Photo Contributed)
Teck hosts virtual Annual Outdoor Recreationalist Meeting

The Dec. 2 meeting will touch on biodiversity, reclamation, and road rehabilitation

A man wearing a face mask to prevent the spread of COVID-19 walks past a mural in Vancouver on Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
212 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health over the weekend

A total of 490 cases remain active; 15 in hospital

A tongue-in-cheek message about wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 on a sign outside a church near Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection count climbs back up to 656

20 more people in hospital, active cases still rising

A logo for Netflix on a remote control is seen in Portland, Ore.,Aug. 13, 2020. Experts in taxation and media say a plan announced Monday by the government will ultimately add to the cost of digital services and goods sold by foreign companies. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Jenny Kane
‘Netflix tax’ for digital media likely to raise prices for consumers, experts say

The government says Canadian companies already collect those taxes when they make digital sales

BIG SALMON ranch in Washington State. (Center for Whale Research handout)
Non-profit buys Chinook ranch in hopes of increasing feed for southern resident killer whales

The ranch, which borders both sides of Washington State’s Elwha River, is a hotspot for chinook salmon

Gaming content was big on YouTube in 2020. (Black Press Media files)
What did Canadians watch on Youtube during isolation? Workouts, bird feeders

Whether it was getting fit or ‘speaking moistly,’ Canadians had time to spare this year

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

(Needpix.com)
Fraudsters projected to use pet scams to gouge over $3M from customers: BBB

The pandemic heavily contributed to the number of puppy scams

A teacher places the finishing touches on the welcome sign at Hunter’s Glen Junior Public School which is part of the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) during the COVID-19 pandemic in Scarborough, Ont., on Sept. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Hindsight 2020: How do you preserve a year many Canadians would rather forget?

Figuring out how to preserve the story of the pandemic poses a series of challenges

Haley Callison. (Facebook photo)
Former B.C. pro hockey player frustrated with COVID-deniers after horrific bout with virus

Haleigh Callison hopes people will follow precautions and tone down the rhetoric

A man stands in the window of an upper floor condo in Vancouver on March 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Change made to insurance for B.C. condo owners amid rising premiums

Council CEO Janet Sinclair says the change will mean less price volatility

Most Read