BoC should monitor household debt “very closely”: former central banker


As the Bank of Canada pledges to stay the course with historically low interest rates, policymakers need to closely monitor household debt levels, according to a former deputy chief governor of the central bank.”There is certainly recognition of this in the [Bank of Canada’s] Monetary Policy Report. And yes, it is clearly something that needs to be managed and monitored very carefully, “said Paul Jenkins, now a senior fellow at the CD Howe Institute, in an interview with Amanda Lang of BNN Bloomberg on Friday. Jenkins’ tenure at the Bank of Canada lasted from 2003 to 2010.

“I think everyone will have to stay on the bridge if you want to continue monitoring these vulnerabilities,” he said.

He added that the central bank may have to resort to new means of monitoring these risks in addition to the “macro-information tools that we are putting in place”, referring to the previous policies of the Bank of Canada.

His comments come two days after the Bank of Canada announced that it would keep its key interest rate at 0.25% and that it would keep rates low for the foreseeable future while prioritizing to the economic recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic.

“If you have a mortgage, or you plan to make a large purchase, or you are a business and you plan to make an investment, you can be sure that rates will be low for a long time,” Bank of The Governor of Canada , Tiff Macklem, said at a press conference after the tariffs were announced.

Jenkins also praised the various levels of government in Canada for their management of the pandemic, describing the federal, provincial and local responses as energetic and “timely” so far.

But he also said that more could be done to build consumer confidence. And what is needed to achieve this, he said, is better communication on “the intersection of health and the economy.”

“If we are convinced that our progress on the virus is under control, it will strengthen our confidence to re-enter the economy, get out and spend.” Similarly, having confidence in employment and income will strengthen our will to continue to behave well. Frankly, at the end of the day, it will be the behavior of each of us that gets us out of the other end, ”Jenkins said.

“I think the only thing that could be done more forcefully is to have a strong story or story from our decision makers, our leaders, which will help us make sure that we have this confidence, that we understand this intersection, so that when we move forward, we make progress on both fronts. And you only have to look in other jurisdictions to realize what can happen if it gets out of hand. “


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