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Bank of Canada watching for potential spillovers from global banking stresses

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The Bank of Canada building is pictured in Ottawa on Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2022. A senior Bank of Canada official says the central bank is keeping a close eye on the stresses to the global banking system ahead of its next interest rate decision and monetary policy report in April. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

MONTREAL — A senior Bank of Canada official says the central bank is keeping a close eye on the stresses to the global banking system ahead of its next interest rate decision and monetary policy report in April.

In a speech to the National Bank financial services conference, Bank of Canada deputy governor Toni Gravelle said Wednesday the bank is watching for any further effects from the recent banking problems in the U.S. and Europe.

"We will consider the macroeconomic impact of this evolving situation as we put together our next projection," Gravelle said. 

"We’ll be looking specifically at potential spillovers into the real economy to the extent that financial conditions tighten and there are broader confidence effects." 

U.S. regulators had to take control of Silicon Valley Bank as well as Signature Bank earlier this month to prevent wider financial problems amid a run on deposits, while Swiss authorities helped UBS to acquire Credit Suisse after its rival ran into difficulties.

Gravelle said global banks are more resilient today than they were 15 years ago, at the outset of the global financial crisis. 

"With the reforms put in place since then, global banks are required to have substantially increased their capital and liquidity buffers, making the system safer and better able to withstand stress," he said.

Gravelle said while the Canadian banking system has an international reputation for stability, it is not immune to events happening elsewhere and that financial stresses that arise outside of Canada can negatively affect things here.

He said the Bank of Canada is ready to act in the event of severe market-wide stress and provide liquidity support to the financial system.

The Bank of Canada's next interest rate decision and monetary policy report is set for April 12.

The central bank kept its key policy rate on hold at 4.50 per cent at its interest rate decision on March 8. It was the first time the Bank of Canada did not raise rates since it began hiking them last year in an effort to bring inflation under control.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 29, 2023.

The Canadian Press