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Residential Market Commentary - Treading water in a rising tide

Sep 9, 2019
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First National Financial LP

In the rising tide of interest-rate-cut expectations, the Bank of Canada is treading water.  The central bank did meet expectations by holding its policy rate at 1.75% for a seventh consecutive setting, last week.

The reasons are fairly apparent: inflation is on target, GDP growth is good (Q2 was far better than expected even if it was based on some one-off stats), job growth is steady and unemployment is at a generational low of 5.7%.

It seems pretty clear that the BoC really does not want to trim its trend setting rate.  The economic numbers do not warrant it and we are in a federal election cycle.  The Bank has a long history of stepping to the sidelines during elections in an effort to preserve its reputation for political neutrality.

But the BoC is under a lot of external pressure to cut its rate.  Canada is one of just a handful of developed economies with a policy rate above zero.  Of course, the United States is one of the others and it is already making cuts.

The U.S. Fed says it is trying to ensure the economy does not stall in the months ahead.  Being as the U.S. is the biggest economy in the world, others – including Canada – will likely have to take out some insurance of their own.

The next BoC setting is October 30th.  That is close to, but after, the October 21st election so it is politically doable.  The next opportunity is December 4th, just in time for Christmas.