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Bank of Canada keeps benchmark interest rate steady at 1%

Bank of Canada keeps benchmark interest rate steady at 1%
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Bank of Canada keeps benchmark interest rate steady at 1%

‘Lot of things that have to come together’ before next rate hike, Stephen Poloz says

Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz says a lot of things need to come together before the bank is confident it’s time for another interest rate increase, including a better understanding of the impact of recent rate hikes on the country’s historic level of debt.

In an exclusive broadcast interview with CBC Radio’s The House, Poloz said the bank is taking a cautious approach to interest rates and is treading lightly when it comes to debt Canadians are taking on.

“It’s the one thing I would say we’re the most cautious about,” Poloz told host Chris Hall during an interview Wednesday in a boardroom at the recently renovated Bank of Canada headquarters kitty-corner from Parliament Hill.

While the economy is doing well, the “debtors club” is growing, he said, mostly from first-time home buyers taking on hefty mortgages because of hot housing markets.

Increasing interest rates could have a big impact on people’s ability to spend if they already have a lot of debt.

  • “Because of all that debt, we aren’t as sure as we normally would be what would be the response of the economy to a higher rate of interest,” he said.

The bank hiked its rate twice this year — once in July and again last month — after staying on the sidelines for the previous two years. Earlier this week, it chose to leave its benchmark interest rate steady at one per cent, prompting questions as to when the next increase might come.

Poloz said that will happen, but not yet.

“As the economy continues to evolve as it has been, it will be the case that it will need less monetary stimulus in the future,” he told The House.

“There are a lot of things that have to come together before we feel confident that we’re all the way there.”

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