Understanding the Volatility of the Canadian Exchange Rate
24 Pages Posted: 21 Feb 2018
Date Written: February 8, 2018
In this Commentary, we document the nature of the Bank of Canada’s current monetary policy regime by focusing on the following questions: what are the historical determinants of the Canadian–US dollar nominal exchange rate, and can they be used in real-time forecasting applications?
We find that the current real exchange rate is more useful than commodity prices for forecasting changes in the nominal exchange rate. In fact, short-run forecasts based on the real exchange rate are as good as random-walk forecasts according to which the future exchange rate is expected to be the same as today’s. Strikingly, medium- and long-run forecasts based on the real exchange rate are superior to random-walk forecasts. We argue that these findings reflect the fact Bank of Canada and the U.S. Federal Reserve System follow similar inflation-targeting regimes and neither actively manages exchange rates.
A fundamental question is whether Canadian policymakers are satisfied with the current inflation targeting regime. A cost of the current regime is that it allows for very volatile nominal and real exchange rates. A benefit is that consumers and firms can avoid many of the changes in prices and wages that would be required if the nominal exchange rate did not adjust in a flexible manner. In this Commentary, we take no stand on the merits of the current regime. Instead, we highlight the tradeoffs that policymakers face. Evaluating the costs and benefits of those tradeoffs should play an important role in the process leading to the Bank of Canada’s next five-year agreement with the government.
Keywords: Monetary Policy
JEL Classification: E44; E52; E58
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation