Bank of Canada Stephen Poloz chummy in debut

If Mark Carney was the rock star Bank of Canada governor you couldn't touch, then his successor Stephen Poloz may very well be the Canadian on the street that is speaking directly to you and me.

That's at least the vibe Poloz exuded on Wednesday as he delivered his first public speech. Under intense scrutiny, Poloz quickly set the tone by poking fun at his introduction, comprised of his career highlights. "That's more respect than I get around the house," he joked.

The speech itself was largely seen by market observers as providing few clues about the monetary policy outlook, with the bank's trendsetting rate stagnant at 1.0 per cent, though he assured his audience, in a tongue-in-cheek kind of way, he would think really hard about it between now and the next interest rate announcement on July 17.

But we did get some guidance about Poloz. He joked, laughed, hugged and answered questions in very simple language -- a courtesy rarely extended by central bankers. In this regard, his debut felt very much like a casual meet and greet.

In answering some questions at the press conference after the address, Poloz often referred back to his speech or the bank's Monetary Policy Report, which was issued in April and suggested economic growth would ramp up later this year on improved business investment.

He touched on key topics such as the potential impact of the U.S. Federal Reserve winding down its bond buying program. He also talked about high levels of uncertainty and external risks to Canada's economy, noting that the central bank is in unchartered territory on that front.

Other familiar and key topics included the inflation target, which he called "sacrosanct," domestic household debt and the real estate market.

Not surprisingly then, given Poloz's background as boss of Export Development Canada, the focus of his speech since taking over for Carney on June 3 urged stability and patience as business confidence and exports heal.

"We need business confidence to continue to heal. This matters very much to the Bank of Canada," said Poloz, in prepared remarks delivered to the Oakville Chamber of Commerce in Burlington, Ont. "Our understanding of these issues will be part of the rigorous distillation of information that drives our policy decisions."

He added the gathering momentum in foreign demand, especially in the United States, should help lift the confidence of Canada’s exporters, stressing this is critical for Canadian firms to boost their investment to expand their productive capacity.

"The sequence we can anticipate is the following: foreign demand will build; our exports will strengthen further; confidence will improve; existing companies will expand; companies will invest to increase capacity; and new ones will be created," said "This sequence may already be underway."

With that narrow focus, Poloz is treading cautiously and is likely "steering clear of swaying markets one way or the other in advance of the next month’s policy decision and Monetary Policy Report," said CIBC's Emanuella Enenajor.

So, now we've officially met Poloz in his new role as Bank of Canada governor. We know he's sort of funny and a little animated. He's not afraid to hug people in public or communicate using very plain language. (In his speech, he gave us that heads-up that he would " slide into more academic language"). When asked about interest rates, he told us to stay tuned. We will.

Search