This Selected Issues paper reviews empirical evidence on the main determinants of the real bilateral exchange rate between the Canadian and the U.S. dollars, with particular emphasis on the role played by cyclical and longer-term economic factors. The paper aims to identify the nature of the shocks that have contributed to the recent downward trend in the Canadian dollar. The analysis shows that fluctuations in the real bilateral exchange rate can be explained reasonably well by its long-term fundamentals. The paper also analyzes inflation and the natural rate of unemployment in Canada.
This paper answers key questions in considering a value-added tax (VAT) for Central and Eastern European countries. The paper emphasizes that in Western countries tax policy derives from the assumption that the market achieves an optimal allocation of resources. Efficiency in resource allocation and, by extension, the neutrality advantages of the VAT cannot be attained if prices continue to be controlled by the government and enterprises continue to be subject to undue regulation and direction from the center. If a VAT is not to resemble the kind of bookkeeping exercise of the old turnover taxes, then its introduction should be preceded by a substantial degree of price liberalization and enterprise autonomy. Finally, a VAT is a “democratic tax,” in the sense that, in the main, taxpayers must comply voluntarily with the obligations imposed on them. Also, they have the right to disagree with the tax liability as ascertained by the tax office. This requires carefully crafted procedures and sustained efforts to elicit taxpayer cooperation.