Op-Eds

In the debate over whether the Bank of Canada should issue a central bank digital currency, it is tempting to take a black-and-white perspective. But, the truth is subtler. There exists a spectrum of CBDC design possibilities and a proper evaluation of the different options is necessary.

As it turns out, a token-based CBDC – one that mimics cash quite closely – would respect privacy, create an environment for new forms of private money to grow and wouldn’t disrupt the functioning and stability of our financial system.

To understand why this option is optimal, it is first important to distinguish between public and private money. Public money consists of the physical notes and coins in circulation – the cash in your wallet…

Comme Don Quichotte qui livrait bataille aux moulins à vent, le candidat au leadership conservateur Pierre Poilievre s’en prend à la Banque du Canada et réclame la tête de son gouverneur, Tiff Macklem, lui reprochant de faire les basses œuvres du premier ministre Justin Trudeau.

Si d’aventure M. Poilievre réussissait son coup, il précipiterait une grave crise de confiance envers la banque centrale, comme celle de l’affaire Coyne, en 1961, avec des conséquences non moins sérieuses pour la réputation du pays.

À l’époque, un conflit entre James Coyne et le premier ministre conservateur John Diefenbaker a forcé la démission du gouverneur. Son successeur, Louis Rasminsky, a cependant obtenu une modification à la loi de la…

For the first time in years, the Bank of Canada is under attack.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the bank kept inflation well under control – remarkably close to its 2-per-cent target – for more than 25 years. Since early 2020, however, inflation has surged. Consumer prices are up almost 7 per cent year-over-year. People are angry, and politics reflects their anger. The answer is simple: The bank must get inflation back down.

Some of the attacks are personal; promises to fire Governor Tiff Macklem have made recent headlines. That does not help. Partly because it tempts the bank’s defenders to respond in kind – to denigrate the attackers or dismiss people’s anger about inflation. Those responses would make a bad situation…

Surging inflation over the past year has Canadians on edge. The erosion of purchasing power we notice every time we visit the store or pay a bill is unsettling for everyone and frightening for many. Higher interest rates, as lenders and the Bank of Canada react to inflation, will slow borrowing and spending, and have already sparked talk of a recession. As if that’s not bad enough, experience suggests higher inflation may cause another problem: strikes and lockouts that will be harmful enough on their own but will also worsen the production and supply-chain problems that have contributed to inflation in the first place.

Work stoppages are one of the dismal consequences of inflation that has been largely out of mind since the Bank…

Periods when inflation is low and few people are paying attention to central banking are happy times.

In Canada, these are not happy times. Inflation is high and the Bank of Canada is under scrutiny. Unhappiness will increase as the bank increases its policy interest rate to get inflation back to its 2-per-cent target, because tighter monetary policy will pinch consumers and businesses before it reduces inflation.

That poses risks – notably that politics will interfere with monetary policy. Since politicians don’t like monetary-policy pinches, interference could result in inflation staying higher for longer. Odd as it may seem when the Bank of Canada has already let inflation get so far above target, continuing to protect…