Bank of Canada to start releasing rate decision summaries next year

FILE PHOTO: A sign is pictured outside the Bank of Canada building in Ottawa

By Julie Gordon and Steve Scherer

OTTAWA (Reuters) - The Bank of Canada on Wednesday said it would begin publishing a summary of its monetary policy deliberations starting next year, accepting a key recommendation from a transparency review by the International Monetary Fund.

The "Summary of Deliberations," similar to meeting minutes released by other central banks, will be published roughly two weeks after each interest rate decision, starting with the Jan. 25 meeting, Canada's central bank said.

"We do expect it to provide a high-level summary of the issues discussed by Governing Council, as well as insight into the key points of focus in their deliberations on economic developments and the risks," Managing Director of Communications Jeremy Harrison told reporters.

"Given our consensus-based decision-making system, the summary won't provide attribution to individual Council members, nor will it record votes because there are no votes in our system," he added.

The Bank of Canada has come under a rare attack from critics over its response to the pandemic, including misjudging inflation, which led to renewed calls for it to release minutes and be more transparent on its decision-making process.

The decision to release summaries comes as worries mount that the pace of rate increases - the central bank has lifted its policy rate by 300 basis points in six months - could lead to a recession.

Economists said providing summaries, similar to minutes released by the U.S. Federal Reserve and Bank of England, could help avoid unnecessary market volatility.

"They could add valuable context on how the Governing Council came to the decision, which would fill a gap that has been evident for some time," said Royce Mendes, head of macro strategy at Desjardins Group.

However, much will depend on how much new information is included, added Mendes.

The bank already includes some details on its talks in the news conference opening statement at its quarterly Monetary Policy Report and in speeches after other decisions.

"Even a basic overview can be useful in correcting or clarifying potential misunderstandings. And at very least, it won't be a negative for markets," said Andrew Kelvin, chief Canada strategist at TD Securities.

The IMF released its 98-page report on Wednesday, which followed a voluntary review with the Bank of Canada. The report included 10 recommendations, including that the bank publish summaries of its rate decisions and provide more transparency on its "bilateral collaborations" with government.

The IMF also recommended that the bank enhance its disclosures in the case of intervention in the foreign exchange markets. The Bank of Canada said providing more information was not a "priority," in part because the bank has not intervened on the foreign exchange markets since 1998.

The Canadian dollar was trading 0.3% higher at 1.3684 to the greenback, or 73.08 U.S. cents.

(Reporting by Julie Gordon and Steve Scherer in Ottawa; Additional reporting by Fergal Smith; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)