Toni Gravelle: The Bank of Canada's market liquidity programs - lessons from a pandemic

Remarks by Mr Toni Gravelle, Deputy Governor of the Bank of Canada, at the National Bank Financial Services Conference, Montreal, Quebec, 29 March 2023. 

Central bank speech  | 
04 April 2023

Introduction

Good afternoon. Thank you for inviting me to talk about some of the actions the Bank of Canada took at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic to keep markets liquid and functioning.

That's what you've been promised, and it's what I plan to do today. But I would be remiss in a speech about market liquidity if I didn't speak first about recent turmoil in the banking system in the United States and overseas. So let me start with a few words from our perspective.

The recent global banking stresses

In the United States, the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank on the same weekend revealed how the combination of a large and concentrated uninsured depositor base and falling asset values can lead to bank runs. US authorities have responded by taking control of both banks and offering extraordinary support to their depositors. And the Federal Reserve stepped in with a new term funding facility for banks requiring liquidity support.

Shortly thereafter, Credit Suisse came under severe market pressure, and the Swiss authorities facilitated its takeover by UBS, ensuring continuity of operations for Credit Suisse's clients and financial counterparties. While these events introduced some degree of stress in the financial system, markets are functioning.

Global banks are more resilient today than they were 15 years ago, at the outset of the global financial crisis. With the reforms put in place since then, global banks are required to have substantially increased their capital and liquidity buffers, making the system safer and better able to withstand stress.