The Bank of Canada has a new Governor. And it could be said that everything old is new again.
Current Governor Stephen Poloz will step down, as scheduled, at the start of next month. He will be replaced by Tiff Macklem, an old hand at the central bank.
Macklem is currently the dean of the Rotman School of Business at the University of Toronto, but he has a long history at the Bank of Canada and was the senior deputy governor under Mark Carney. He was also a deputy to finance minister Jim Flaherty and helped guide Canada through the Global Financial Collapse and the Great Recession.
Macklem’s experience with that crisis appears to have been a key factor in his appointment, as Canada now faces the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.
Macklem and the Bank of Canada are in a tight spot. They have run out of room to reduce interest rates and they are spending billions of dollars a week buying government bonds. Macklem has already expressed his reluctance to see interest rates go negative, calling that move “a new source of disruption”, in an already disrupted financial system.
Given Macklem’s record we can look forward to a more staid, Carney-like, Governor. (Stephen Poloz has been positively lively compared to many of his predecessors.) As during the last crisis, the Bank could work to calm markets and investors with more forward guidance. And, it is unlikely Macklem will tinker with the Bank’s 2% target for inflation, which he helped develop back in 1991.