Canada

Canada’s Central Bank Head Wrote A Bizarre Opinion Piece To Say He’s Nailing It

Canada’s top banker made an unusual move and began explaining his actions in the news. In an opinion piece last week, the Bank of Canada (BoC) governor Tiff Macklem didn’t let his work speak for itself. Instead, he took the unusual step of writing his own defensive opinion piece. Let’s take a quick dive into his statements, and what they mean. 

Crafting The Narrative

The sitting head of the central bank made the unusual move of writing an opinion column. Instead of using fancy data points, he whipped out a pen and provided no evidence to explain the current inflation environment. It wasn’t his first time either, with economists previously asking him to provide any evidence for the statements he’s made.  

In it he explained his version of why inflation is high, it’s transitory, and changing the methodology of how it’s measured will prove him right. Let’s unpack each of these points because they have zero data to back them up. Canadian bank economists have warned these statements he’s made prior were completely not founded in any factual data.  

Inflation Is Higher Due To Plunging Prices Last Year? Tiff, Please

Macklem repeated his explanation that higher prices are due to a base effect. He believes, or at least keeps repeating, that inflation only looks high due to a base effect. That is, prices fell last year, and consequently, it’s amplified annual growth for inflation this year. 

“Why is inflation higher now? It’s mostly because of the unique circumstances of the pandemic. Prices for many goods and services plunged last year,” he explained in the piece. 

Just one problem — that’s not even close to true. The annualized 3-month rate of growth for CPI reached was 4.0% in June, indicating recent growth has accelerated. In fact, most of the annual growth is recent — not just when observed year over year. That isn’t a base effect at play. 

As for the fall last year, even a Big Six bank has said that’s not true. A few key commodities experienced brief price drops, such as oil. However, the bank’s economists said the majority of goods and services increased in price consistently. 

Inflation Is Low… After The Way It Was Measured Changed

The next point the central banker makes is that Statistics Canada has updated the basket used for inflation. The updated basket shows CPI’s annual growth fell to 3.1% in June, the first month it was used. It’s still a touch over the operating band they put in place, but not as high as the month before. “The updated index shows clearly that prices of many goods and services are rising quickly,” he said.

About that updated basket… the changes are almost certain to print lower inflation in the future. I explained this in detail a few weeks ago, but the gist is the basket will be updated to reflect “pandemic spending.” 

This will allow areas with higher spending last year to have a bigger impact going forward. Since those boosts in prices were considered temporary, it places more emphasis on the decline than the increase. Ultimately, inflation data would be kept lower. 

No, I’m not just some wacky inflation truther, a Big Six bank also agreed with that take. They presented it the opposite way, saying the new basket minimizes the areas with the highest expected growth. In the end, they said Canada is making a big “mistake,” that would chronically “underestimate” inflation going forward. That’s one way to keep inflation low, I guess. 

The attempt at narrative crafting is an odd one for Canada’s central bank. It’s a technique that became popular with the real estate industry on the West Coast a few years ago. When someone comes out of the woodwork to say “don’t worry about things,” it almost always means you should worry about them. 

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14 Comments

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  • Mike 2 months ago

    They can change the CPI however they want, everyone knows it’s nowhere near reality.

    • Fazid 2 months ago

      You need to adjust your substitutions to make the basket work. If you only eat every other day, you’ll actually save 25% at the current rate of inflation.

  • LT 2 months ago

    Bahahaha. You’re way too nice. I have a few hundred words I’d like to say about Tiff’s National Post propaganda piece, but you’ll delete my comment for language if I do.

    Absolute insanity happening right now. They don’t even care what people think at this point.

  • Terrance Yu 2 months ago

    The inflation is not transitory. Their numbers showing it will be. Two very different things.

  • Holton 2 months ago

    Macky should have listened to me before. Use inflation to combat real estate unaffordablilty. Keep a lid on real estate price p growth in Toronto and Vancouver. Let the excess capital burden (there is no practical way to recall all the magic money at this point) be shared by other cities. Keep rates low and spur a wage competition for workers when the recovery begin, this way wages will increase faster than housing. 10 years down the road inflation will even things out. Cost might cost 150% but if wages go up by 200% problem solved.

    This takes guts and skills, hence we can expect this strategy will be avoided if possible.

    • D 2 months ago

      US figures:
      Median household income 1990 – $30,000 ($60,000 in 2020 dollars)
      Median household income 2020 – $68,400

      They won’t ever raise wages fast enough because it will collapse the system if we get more than 100 basis point raise every year in median income. The system is design to make people poorer and the rich richer.

      – D

  • Bob Walter 2 months ago

    If I could print my own dollars I’d be smug about it too. Too bad its a crime when I do it.

  • D 2 months ago

    They never mention other forms of inflation like shrinkflation. Your food packages remain the same size but they add in extra air and less food, example your cereal boxes tipping over because it weights less. Another form of inflation is using cheaper material in your food/product. This explains why despite food package weights are decreasing, Canadians seem to be getting fatter and fatter. They stuff food with all sorts of chemicals, sugars, and salt at the determinant of our health. Every central banker is a criminal and certain crazy things should be done to them [in minecraft].

    – D

  • Marc Dubeous 2 months ago

    Not only is he a [email protected] – so too are the wee [email protected] who took his classes at U of T. This is who they learned from?

    He isn’t off the charts – because that’s what an Academic does – Changes the measurement tool – not the data. LOL

  • flipg 2 months ago

    “The merger of the Corporation
    And the State
    Overflow the Rich Man’s plate.”

    Thanks Tiff.

  • Dee 2 months ago

    What would be great is if some other better-known economist (there are certainly many more than Biff) wrote a piece pointing out his failures.

    In a way, we deserve it because we voted in these heartless people.

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