Cryptocurrencies not a way to ‘opt out of inflation’: Bank of Canada official

Click to play video: 'Bank of Canada forecasts nearly 6% average inflation outlook in 1st half of 2022'
Bank of Canada forecasts nearly 6% average inflation outlook in 1st half of 2022
Testifying to Canada's Finance Committee on Monday, Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem said the organization's latest outlook for inflation in the first half of 2022 is an average of nearly six per cent, adding that it'll remain above the one per cent to three per cent range throughout the year. "High inflation affects everyone," said Macklem – Apr 25, 2022

A senior Bank of Canada official poured water on the idea that cryptocurrencies are a good hedge against inflation as the federal finance committee asked central bank leadership about the path to getting surging prices back under control.

Bank of Canada governor Tiff Macklem and senior deputy governor Carolyn Rogers were asked by Liberal MP Yvan Baker at Monday’s committee whether the use of digital currencies such as Bitcoin is an effective strategy to “opt out of inflation.”

“I think if Canadians are looking for a stable source of payment and a stable source of value, cryptocurrencies don’t really meet that test,” Rogers said.

“We don’t see cryptocurrencies as a way for Canadians to opt out of inflation or a stable source of value.”

Conservative Party leadership candidate Pierre Poilievre has made that claim amid a move to embrace the technology.

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But Rogers said various digital currencies have been more volatile than gasoline prices, most commodities and the Canadian dollar exchange rate.

Rogers did say there was “some promise” in cryptocurrencies, citing the possibility of the tech bringing “more efficiency to payments” and more “competition to the financial sector.”

She said the federal government’s legislative review of the technology could show a path to embrace crypto while protecting consumers.

“There’s some important innovations there and I think the legislative review will allow us to explore those innovations but also look for ways that we can get at those benefits in a more regulated environment,” she said.

While the Bank of Canada has recently moved from studying crypto to a “development stage,” Rogers said it will be a decision for Parliament whether or not the central bank adopts its own digital currency.

Macklem shot down the idea of replacing the Canadian dollar with a crypto alternative, however.

“We certainly expect the Canadian dollar will remain at the centre of the Canadian financial system.”

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How much will interest rates rise in June?

Macklem said Monday that inflation in Canada will likely be higher for longer than first anticipated, as the war in Ukraine and lingering COVID-19 pandemic continue to disrupt global supply chains.

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The central bank expects inflation to ease towards the end of the year as supply chain kinks are resolved, he said.

Asked for his forecast, Macklem said it’s a “tough call” whether inflation tops out at last month’s reading of 6.7 per cent, the highest level in more than 30 years.

“It could go a little higher, it could be the peak. I do think we’re close to the peak.”

The Bank of Canada took the rare step of raising its benchmark interest rate by half a percentage point earlier this month in an attempt to rein in inflation and take steam out of Canada’s strong economy.

He said he expects the bank “will be considering taking another 50-point step” at its next decision in June, but didn’t shut down the idea of a 75-basis-point hike when asked on Monday.

“I’m not going to rule out other options but anything above 50 points would be unusual,” he said.

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