In what may have been a watershed moment in monetary policy – which awkwardly was missed by almost everyone as a result of the concurrent launch of the latest North Korean ballistic missile which immediately drowned out all other newsflow – late on Thursday, the Bank of Canada held a conference on inflation targeting and monetary policy titled “Bank of Canada Workshop ‘Monetary Policy Framework Issues: Toward the 2021 Inflation-Target Renewal” in which, in a stunning shift of monetary orthodoxy, BoC Senior Deputy Governor Carolyn A. Wilkins said that Canada was open to changes in the BoC mandate.
WILKINS: OPEN TO LOOKING AT `SENSIBLE’ ALTERNATIVES TO MANDATE Or in other words, lowering or outright abolishing the central bank’s inflation target, or explicitly targeting financial conditions and asset prices.
While still early in the process, the BOC may be setting a precedent, one which other DM central banks may have no choice but to follow: If the Bank of Canada is going to look at alternatives to their mandate (with an emphasis on inflation), it – as several trading desks have suggested – could become the first central bank to officially change its mandate to reflect financial conditions that are too loose in the context of the current low r-star lowflation environment.
In practical terms, this would mean that instead of seeking chronically easier conditions to hit legacy inflation targets around ~2.0% while inflating ever greater asset bubbles, one or more central banks could simply say that 1.5% (or less) is sufficient for CPI and call it a day, in the process soaking up record easy financial conditions and bursting countless asset bubbles. In the context of a “new supply paradigm” in retail (where even FOMC members now blame Amazon for lack of inflation) and energy (same but with OPEC) which appears to be gaining traction within central banks, as well as frustration with distortion in asset markets, It would make much sense for the Fed to lower the inflation target to 1.5%, declare victory, and normalize policy.
Why? Because as several banks noted after the BoC conference, we know that central banks world-wide are concerned about the size of their balance sheets and associated dysfunctionality in government and other bond markets, and the ever-increasing risks from the ultimate unwind as the QE programs continue to grow in a war against inflation where the victory looks increasingly Pyrrhic. Furthermore, negative rates have caused money markets to become dysfunctional and less efficient, which could be a structural issue “if the temporary was allowed to become permanent.”
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Sep 15, 2017.