|CPI Inflation Boosted By Temporary Factors
The Bank revised up its inflation forecast for this year but asserted once again that inflation would return to 2% in 2022. This is a controversial call consistent with central-bank mantras around the world. The BoC said, “Three sets of factors are leading to this temporary strength. First, gasoline prices have risen from very low levels a year ago and are above their pre-pandemic levels, lifting inflation. Second, other prices that had fallen last year with plummeting demand are now recovering with the reopening of the economy and the release of pent-up demand. Third, supply constraints, including shipping bottlenecks and the global shortage of semiconductors, are pushing up the prices of goods such as motor vehicles.
The BoC expects CPI inflation to ease by the start of 2022 as the temporary factors related to the pandemic fade. Economic slack becomes the primary factor influencing the projection for inflation dynamics thereafter. The uncertainty around the outlook for the output gap and inflation remains high. Because of this, the estimated timing for when slack is absorbed is highly imprecise. In the projection, this occurs sometime in the second half of 2022. After declining to 2% during 2022, inflation is expected to rise modestly in 2023 as the economy moves into excess demand. The excess demand and resultant increase in inflation to above target are expected to be temporary. They are a consequence of Governing Council’s commitment to keeping the policy interest rate at the effective lower bound until economic slack is absorbed so that the 2% inflation target is sustainably achieved.
Inflation is expected to return toward the target in 2024. The projection is consistent with medium- and long-term inflation expectations remaining well-anchored at the 2% target. Both businesses and consumers view price pressures as elevated in the near term. A large majority of respondents to the summer 2021 Business Outlook Survey now expect inflation to be above 2% on average over the next two years. Nonetheless, firms view higher commodity prices, supply chain bottlenecks, policy stimulus and the release of pent-up demand as largely temporary factors boosting inflation higher in the near term.
Only time will tell if the Bank of Canada is correct in believing that inflation pressures are temporary. Financial markets will remain sensitive to incoming data, but for now, bond markets seem willing to accept their view. The 5-year GoC bond yield has edged down from its recent peak of 1.0% posted on June 28th to a current level of .936%. As well, the Canadian dollar has weakened a bit, to US$0.7993, since the release this morning of the BoC policy statement. The loonie, however, remains among the strongest currencies this year vis a vis the US dollar.