Volumes have been written in the last few months about Canada's inflation rate, currently sitting at 0.25% annually, and the interest rates set by the Bank of Canada. As the 2009 recession is seemingly coming to an end, according to many government and private analysts, speculation exists as to how the interest and inflation rates will be affected.
According to the chief economist for the CIBC, Avery Shenfeld, there should not be any expected growth above non-inflationary potential until sometime in 2011. The economic slack created by the recession is quite large and is expected to persist for a couple of years. Although the Bank of Canada is rather optimistic in its projections, Shenfeld feels that inflation will still feel the downward pressure of a sizable output gap well into next year.
Shenfeld explained that the core inflation rate did not decelerate this year as much as the Bank of Canada predicted. The reason for this deceleration slowdown is due, in part, to a process that economists call the income effect. Essentially, the Bank of Canada has excluded most of the volatile items that have been deflating from the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
Putting aside economic evaluation, the real question is what this means for the average consumer. In real terms, a negative year-on-year inflation rate means an increase in buying power of the average wage. With lower gas prices at the pump, and new, lower mortgage bills, average Canadians will have more money in their pockets when they go shopping. Also important is the strength of the Canadian dollar. The strong dollar is having a dampening impact on retail prices of imported goods.
Mr. Shenfeld's report does not see the projected US recovery as having much benefit for Canada. The US stimulus programs, while spurring economic growth in that nation, contain trade barriers with Canadian manufacturers that historically have benefited from trade with the US. Thus, US recovery may actually dampen some of Canada's economic advancement.
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