Kitchen sinks are just flying everywhere these days.
While the Bank of Canada kept its overnight rate at 0.25% as expected – as the alternative after three consecutive rate cuts would have been to cut below its effective lower bound of 0.25% and go NIRP – the central bank – which announced that the outlook is too uncertain at this point to provide a complete forecast – did surprise markets by joining the unprecedented QE bandwagon, when it announced that just like the Fed it would launch $10BN corporate QE (just investment grade for now, thank you, junk bonds coming next), while throwing in $50BN provincial QE to boot. It also
The Bank is also announcing today the development of a new Provincial Bond Purchase Program of up to $50 billion, to supplement its Provincial Money Market Purchase Program. Further, the Bank is announcing a new Corporate Bond Purchase Program, in which the Bank will acquire up to a total of $10 billion in investment grade corporate bonds in the secondary market. Both of these programs will be put in place in the coming weeks. Finally, the Bank is further enhancing its term repo facility to permit funding for up to 24 months.
These measures will work in combination to ease pressure on Canadian borrowers. As containment restrictions are eased and economic activity resumes, fiscal and monetary policy actions will help underpin confidence and stimulate spending by consumers and businesses to restore growth. The Bank’s Governing Council stands ready to adjust the scale or duration of its programs if necessary. All the Bank’s actions are aimed at helping to bridge the current period of containment and create the conditions for a sustainable recovery and achievement of the inflation target over time.
Also similar to the Fed, which in its last statements and minutes “forgot” to provide forecast, the bank said that “the outlook is too uncertain at this point to provide a complete forecast.” However, Bank analysis of alternative scenarios suggests the level of real activity was down 1-3 percent in the first quarter of 2020, and will be 15-30 percent lower in the second quarter than in fourth-quarter 2019. CPI inflation is expected to be close to 0 percent in the second quarter of 2020. This is primarily due to the transitory effects of lower gasoline prices.
Separately, the Bank said it will continue to purchase at least $5 billion in Government of Canada securities per week in the secondary market, and will increase the level of purchases as required to maintain proper functioning of the government bond market. Also, the Bank is temporarily increasing the amount of Treasury Bills it acquires at auctions to up to 40 percent, effective immediately.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.