Interbank Market News Scan: The Bank of Canada held its policy rate today, but I was nervous about USD-CAD

The Bank of Canada today held its policy rate at .25% citing the effectiveness of its quantitative easing program which is currently comprised of asset purchases of CAD 2 billion a week. While seeing a recovery in its economy, Covid-19 and supply chain disruptions were noted as the usual suspects for dampening of economic growth in certain sectors.

The Bank noted contraction in its export sector, in particular its auto industry with consumption, business investment, and government spending contributing to Canada’s economy.  Inflation is running around 3.7%, much hotter than its 2% target.

From a yield and inflation aspect, I could not see why Americans would want to move dollars into Canada’s economy.  Granted U.S. inflation, at 5.4% over the last 12 months, is running hotter than inflation in Canada.  However, according to data from Bloomberg, ten-year treasury yields are higher in the U.S. (1.35%) than they are in Canada (1.21%).

Yesterday, data from Reuters showed the USD/CAD closing around 1.2621 and I quite frankly thought (in my gut) that the exchange rate would decrease by 11:00 am EST but decided to hold out for the Bank of Canada narrative on rates.  I did not see much change in this report versus last month’s monetary policy release.  I also did not see any calls for changes in monetary policy which added support, in my opinion, to an expected increase in USD/CAD.

The takeaway for me is there is nothing wrong with listening to your gut but always challenge the feeling with data and vice versa. 

Please feel free to share thoughts on central bank decisions and foreign exchange.  

Happy Star Trek Day!

Alton Drew

8 September 2021

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Interbank Market News Scan: The Fed speak not providing much to shift foreign exchange markets …

A Bloomberg interview with Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas president Robert Kaplan along with remarks by Federal Reserve Board vice-chair Richard Clarida and Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta president Raphael Bostick did not provide much information to attribute to any shifts in the foreign exchange markets. 

In a 9 August 2021 interview with Bloomberg, Mr Kaplan expressed confidence about where the fed funds rate, the overnight rate for loans between Fed member banks, stood.  The current target range of the fed funds rate is between 0 and .25%. 

Mr Kaplan expressed caution that the fed funds rate and the effects of asset purchases by the Federal Reserve be looked at separately.  Currently the Federal Reserve is purchasing $120 billion a month of US Treasury securities and agency-backed securities as part of a strategy to keep liquidity in the credit markets while keeping borrowing rates low.  The Federal Reserve’s monetary policy is designed to add fuel to U.S. economic growth by making lower cost credit available to businesses.    

In remarks made the following day, Federal Reserve vice-chair Clarida noted that the U.S. was out of the recession precipitated by government lock down of the economy in March 2020.  He expects the economy to continue its expansion through next year while cautioning that growth will be tempered by a variant of the coronavirus responsible for the Covid-19 pandemic.  Vice-chairman Clarida does see unemployment continuing to fall through 2023 along with inflation which he forecasts to be around 2.2% in 2022 and 2023.

The Federal Reserve is today following a flexible rate policy that will allow the economy to run periodically over its inflation target of 2%.  Dallas Fed president Kaplan did note that businesses are expecting to raise prices, in line with Federal Reserve forecasts on inflation.  Mr Kaplan also noted that there was an active debate regarding when the Federal Reserve would start cutting back on its monthly $120 billion a month asset purchases. Mr Kaplan also believes that adjusting asset purchases now would put less pressure on the fed funds rate.

As Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta president Bostick shared today, the two percent inflation target number is thought by the Federal Reserve to be the appropriate numerical goal to mitigate the risks of deflation.  The rate, as a pre-condition to a healthy economy, is seen as appropriate in assisting households protect themselves from any changes in purchasing power.

The takeaway for traders is that sluggish growth in the US in 2022 and 2023 may result in tempered appreciation of the dollar’s value in those years.  So far, the Federal Reserve is seeing little change in relative income or price changes.  Nor does the Federal Reserve seem to signaling much in relative interest changes, at least in the short to intermediate term.  

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