The Financial Post reports in its Thursday, Nov. 24, edition that the Bank of Canada balance sheet has ballooned from $120-billion in early March, 2020, to $414-billion today. The Post's guest columnists Steve Ambler, Thorsten Koeppl and Jeremy Kronick write that several factors suggest the BOC's large balance sheet may be with us for a while. First, the BOC is not selling the bonds it purchased. Instead, it is letting them roll off its balance sheet as they mature. Second, Canada is modernizing its systems for clearing both retail payments and wholesale payments. Transactions will now settle in real time, which means financial institutions will want to hold larger settlement balances at the BOC to facilitate these payments -- which in turn means a larger balance sheet for the central bank. Third, there may be a BOC digital currency in our future. If people hold more of it than they do cash today the BOC's liabilities will increase. The result is a larger balance sheet. The BOC's balance sheet is likely to stay large. Though not an operational problem, it does carry the risk of government intervention and interference, threatening its independence. Legislation is needed to safeguard the BOC's independence.
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