The ink has barely dried on the Bank of Canada’s latest 0.5% interest rate hike, but economists are already buckling up for another increase in December.
According to a poll by Finder.com, 88% of economist respondents are anticipating yet another round of tighter monetary policy, as the central bank pushes towards a forecasted terminal rate of 4.5%.
“The sooner rates rise to at least 4.5%, the better,” stated panelist Sherry S. Cooper, Chief Economist for Dominion Lending Centres. She was among those who called for a 0.75% increase in today’s announcement, to front load the efforts against rising inflation.
Soaring inflation has been the main impetus for the BoC’s aggressive hiking approach, with six consecutive interest rate increases since March, bringing its Overnight Lending Rate from the pandemic low of 0.2% to 3.75% today. While that’s effectively slowed the pace of inflation -- bringing it from a high of 8.1% this summer to 6.9% -- it has yet to make a material dent in consumer pricing. It is clear the measure has peaked, according to unanimous response among Finder’s panelists.
There is concern, however, that the BoC’s approach has been too much, too fast, causing cracks in Canada’s economic stability.
"Historically, high household debt and overvalued housing in Canada make the economy acutely vulnerable to a sharp run-up in interest rates,” says Tony Stillo, Director of Canada Economics at Oxford Economics, who believes the nation’s economy is now acutely at risk given the Bank of Canada’s recent aggressive monetary policies. “We expect a moderate recession starting [in] Q4 2022, largely due to aggressive rate tightening by the Bank of Canada, higher inflation for longer, and weaker external demand from looming recessions in the US and other advanced economies.”
He’s calling for the BoC to take a beat and assess, and that while he appreciates the ongoing inflationary risks, both in the domestic labour market and in the global geopolitical arena, he and his colleagues do not believe inflationary pressures will remain in the long term. “We don't think higher inflation will become entrenched or lead to a wage-price spiral."
So, just how long can borrowers expect the interest rate pain to last? The good news, according to the economists, is the hikes are likely to stop this year; just 18% believe the BoC will make another rate hike in its January 2023 meeting though a small majority (6%) think it could implement another one in March.