Closed-Door Poloz Speech Breaks Bank of Canada’s Custom

Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz is breaking with an almost decade-long practice by taking a speech to an annual meeting of financial economists behind closed doors.

His Aug. 25 remarks in Kingston, Ontario to the Canadian Association for Business Economics -- whose members include representatives of the country’s major banks -- are closed to media according to the group’s description of the event, and the audience will be told not to share the contents. The Ottawa-based central bank doesn’t mention this year’s event in its schedule.

Bank of Canada policy makers have given public talks at the end-of-summer gathering for each of the past eight years. The speeches came days before early-September interest-rate decisions, and sometimes signaled new thinking about the world’s 11th largest economy, triggering currency moves.

“It would be my preference to see more public commentary forthcoming,” said Mark Chandler, head of fixed-income strategy at Royal Bank of Canada’s RBC Capital Markets unit in Toronto. “It would be disturbing” if the bank saw shocks affecting the economic outlook and didn’t say anything, he said.

Poloz’s address, “Integrating Uncertainty and Monetary Policymaking: A Practitioner’s Perspective,” is the keynote for the conference on “Stagnation or Growth: Can we have policies to promote balanced growth in Canada?” Speeches at the 53-year-old event, held in a hotel overlooking Lake Ontario, have traditionally been closed to the media, except those in recent years by Bank of Canada policy makers.

Poloz asked for his talk to be private, CABE organizer Paul Jacobson said. “This was at Poloz’s request,” he said by telephone. “I suspect he wants the freedom to have a fairly technical discussion.”

‘Private Speeches’

Bank of Canada spokeswoman Josianne Menard said “the Bank and CABE agreed that the speech would be private,” adding that the decision “was made months ago.”

“This will not be the only private speech given by the Governor in 2014: he will deliver a few others as well,” Menard said in an e-mail. “The Bank is committed to openness and transparency: should it have an important message to deliver to Canadians, it will do so in a public manner, not at a private event.”

CABE’s website describes this year’s theme as a discussion of how Canada’s economy is facing “more muted” growth prospects. “Led by the presentation by Bank of Canada Governor Poloz, we are going to focus on the issues of what policies are feasible and hold the greatest promise for overcoming Canada’s economic headwinds.”

Poloz took over as Governor from Mark Carney in June 2013. This year, he began a new policy of holding press conferences following publication of the bank’s semi-annual report on financial system risks. His last public appearance was a July 16 press conference, and his last public speech was April 24 in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. According to the bank’s website, his next public speech will be Sept. 16 in Drummondville, Quebec, almost two weeks after the Sept. 3 interest-rate announcement.

In his first year as governor, Poloz did not speak at the conference. Former Deputy Governor John Murray did attend and spoke in a public session.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.