Sunday, November 1, 2009

Bank of Canada Rate

Greeting all, hope you all survived Halloween and are saving up for the next trip to the dentist. During our discussion about exchange rates last week, it was requested I take a look at the Bank of Canada Rate and it's influences, so today we're going to do just that.

Bank of Canada Rate
Here is a look at the historical Bank of Canada rate, going right back to 1935. Seems to chart a pattern much like the mortgage rates we're familiar with, but that's no surprise and we'll touch on that again toward the end.

Of note, we can see that currently it sits at it's lowest point in history. The prior low had been 1.22%, hit for one month, July of 1958. Before that it had an extended run at 1.50% in the mid-to-late 40's, toward the end of WWII and immediately following. The high was August of 1981, when it hit 21.03%, which was the only time it eclipsed 20%.

Bank of Canada Rate / Exchange Rate
Now we'll take a quick look at how the bank rate effected the exchange rate (with the US). There doesn't appear to be much rhyme or reason to the movements, though after the big recession in the early 80's through the turn of the century there does appear like there could be some relationship, but not so much since.

To get a better picture I think we need to include the American equivalent, the Fed Funds Rate, as just looking at the Canadian rate in a vacuum against another currency could be misleading.

Bank of Canada Rate / Fed Funds Rate
So, here is how those two chart out. As I've said here before, we tend to move lockstep with the US, so no big surprise that we share very similar patterns. Over the above period, the Bank of Canada rate averaged to be 0.93% higher, for what that's worth.

Bank of Canada Rate / Fed Funds Rate / Exchange Rate
Now we'll take a look at how the spread between the Bank of Canada Rate and Fed Funds Rate relate to movements in exchange rate... and I really can't say I see much of anything on that front. This shouldn't really be a surprise, as our policy tends to follow theirs very closely and can adjust very quickly in that regard.

So, for the most part it appears that exchange rate movements are more dependant on stimuli other then central bank rates. That's not to say they couldn't be, but because we're tied to the hip to the US, and our economy dependant on exporting to them, maintaining consistent policy (and thus exchange rate) is often viewed as desirable.

Bank of Canada Rate / Exchange Rate
Finally, we'll tie this back in to housing by comparing the Bank of Canada Rate to the average five-year-fixed mortgage rate and prime lending rate (what variable mortgages are tied to).

They seem to be fairly consistent in their behaviours, tracking together with the bank rate the lowest, the prime rate shifted above that, and the five-year-fixed rate another shift above that, with the odd deviation here or there. Noticably, in the mid-50's there appeared to be a larger spread then since, and there was a lot of turmoil during the runaway inflation of the 70's and resulting recession in the 80's, but the pattern largely persists.

Since 1951, the prime rate has averaged to be 1.42% higher than the bank rate... and the five-year-fixed rate 1.34% higher than prime (or 2.76% higher than the bank rate). It's remained in that ballpark over the last 20 year, and 10 year periods as well in case you were curious.

So, hopefully that answered any questions you may have had about the Bank of Canada rate! On tap for later this week will be the October resale stats release, and a long-term look at fixed vs. variable mortgages, and which performed better. Enjoy what's left of your weekend!