4.6.1 Determinants Of Interest Rates

Comprehensive guide for understanding the determinants of interest rates, including factors such as demand and supply, default risk, foreign interest rates, central bank policies, and inflation.

Determinants of Interest Rates

A broad range of factors influences interest rates. Understanding these determinants is critical for both investors and policymakers. Below are some of the key factors:

Demand and Supply

Interest rates are significantly affected by the dynamics of demand and supply in the market. Several scenarios can influence these dynamics:

  • Increase in Demand: A large government deficit or a boom in business investment raises the demand for capital. This increased demand for capital can cause interest rates to rise.
  • Increase in Supply: Unless there is an equivalent increase in the supply of capital, the cost of borrowing (interest rates) will also increase.
  • Savings Effect: Higher interest rates may encourage savings from government, businesses, and consumers. An increase in savings can reduce the demand for borrowing, subsequently leading to lower interest rates.

Default Risk

Default risk is the risk that borrowers might fail to repay their loans. This risk influences interest rates in several ways:

  • Higher Interest Rates: A higher default risk causes lenders to demand higher interest rates to compensate for the increased risk. This leads to a default premium added to the interest rate.
  • Government Risk: If the central government is at risk of defaulting on its debt, it can cause interest rates to rise across the board.

Foreign Interest Rates and Exchange Rates

With Canada’s open economy, foreign interest rates and exchange rates play a crucial role in determining domestic interest rates:

  • Investment Shifts: A rise in foreign (e.g., U.S.) interest rates can attract Canadian investors to move their money to foreign investments, affecting the local currency and interest rates.
  • Central Bank Intervention: The Bank of Canada may intervene by adjusting interest rates to stabilize the value of the Canadian dollar against foreign currencies.

Central Bank Credibility

Central banks, including the Bank of Canada, have the authority to influence interest rates directly through monetary policies:

  • Adjustment Mechanism: By raising or lowering short-term interest rates, central banks can influence overall economic activity.
  • Inflation Control: Central banks strive to control inflation, impacting long and short-term interest rates.


Inflation exerts significant pressure on interest rates. Higher inflation rates demand higher interest rates to maintain purchasing power:

  • Inflation Compensation: Lenders charge higher interest rates when they expect higher inflation. This adjustment compensates for the potential erosion of money’s value over time.
  • Credibility of Central Bank: When the Bank of Canada’s commitment to low inflation is credible, it keeps interest rates lower by reducing the inflation risk premium.

FAQs: Determinants of Interest Rates

Q1: How does government borrowing influence interest rates?

Government borrowing increases the demand for capital, which can lead to a rise in interest rates if the supply of capital does not increase proportionately.

Q2: What is a ‘default premium’?

The default premium is the additional interest rate charged by lenders to compensate for the risk of borrower default.

Key Takeaways

  • Interest rates are influenced by a complex interplay of demand and supply, default risk, foreign interest rates, central bank policies, and inflation expectations.
  • Central banks have a profound impact on interest rates through their monetary policies and their credibility regarding inflation control.
  • Foreign economic conditions and investment decisions can also exert pressure on domestic interest rates and exchange rates.

Glossary and Definitions

  • Default Risk: The risk that a borrower will not be able to repay the debt.
  • Default Premium: The extra interest rate to compensate for the increased risk of default.
  • Foreign Exchange Rate: The value of one currency for the purpose of conversion to another.
  • Monetary Policy: The process by which a central bank manages the supply and the cost of money in an economy.
  • Purchasing Power: The value of currency expressed in terms of the amount of goods or services that one unit of money can buy.

Diagram: Factors Influencing Interest Rates

    graph TD
	    A[Determinants of Interest Rates] --> B[Demand and Supply]
	    A --> C[Default Risk]
	    A --> D[Foreign Interest Rates]
	    A --> E[Central Bank Influence]
	    A --> F[Inflation]

Chapter Summary

Having a solid understanding of these determinants will enable investors to make informed decisions regarding interest-sensitive investments, optimize their investment strategies, and anticipate changes in market conditions effectively.

CSC® Exams Practice Questions

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Welcome to the Knowledge Checkpoint! You'll find 10 carefully curated CSC exam practice questions designed to reinforce the key concepts covered. These questions will help you gauge your grasp of the material, identify areas that need further review, and ensure you're on the right track towards mastering the content for the Canadian Securities certification exams. Take your time, think critically, and use these quizzes as a tool to enhance your learning journey. 📘✨

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## What may happen to interest rates if there is an increase in business investment without a corresponding increase in the supply of capital? - [ ] Interest rates will decrease. - [ ] Interest rates will remain unchanged. - [x] Interest rates will rise. - [ ] Interest rates will fluctuate randomly. > **Explanation:** A rise in the demand for capital, such as from a boom in business investment, typically leads to higher interest rates unless there is an equivalent increase in the supply of capital. ## What is the likely response of consumers, businesses, and the government when interest rates rise? - [ ] They will tend to borrow more. - [ ] They will tend to spend more. - [x] They will tend to save more. - [ ] There will be no noticeable change in behavior. > **Explanation:** Higher interest rates encourage saving because the return on saved capital increases, leading consumers, businesses, and the government to save more and borrow less. ## What is a default premium? - [ ] A premium paid to borrowers for maintaining a perfect repayment history. - [ ] A premium paid to lenders for a short-term loan. - [x] An additional interest rate demanded by lenders due to the risk of borrower default. - [ ] A discount on the interest rate due to low risk of default. > **Explanation:** A default premium is an additional interest rate over the base rate, demanded by lenders to compensate for the higher risk that the borrower may default on the loan. ## How can foreign interest rates impact Canadian interest rates? - [ ] They have no impact on Canadian interest rates. - [x] They can lead to changes in the value of the Canadian dollar and influence domestic interest rates. - [ ] They only affect exchange rates and not interest rates in Canada. - [ ] They solely impact the import prices in Canada. > **Explanation:** Foreign interest rates can lead to capital flows between countries, affecting the supply and demand for currencies and subsequently influencing domestic interest rates to induce investors to hold domestic over foreign investments. ## What role does the Bank of Canada play in the context of interest rates? - [ ] It sets fixed interest rates for all loans in Canada. - [ ] It provides loans directly to consumers. - [x] It influences the economy by raising and lowering short-term interest rates. - [ ] It regulates savings accounts in Canada. > **Explanation:** The Bank of Canada exercises its influence on the economy by adjusting short-term interest rates to manage inflation and support economic stability. ## How does expected inflation affect interest rates? - [ ] It causes interest rates to decrease. - [ ] It has no impact on interest rates. - [x] It causes interest rates to increase. - [ ] It makes interest rates fluctuate unpredictably. > **Explanation:** When inflation is expected to rise, lenders demand higher interest rates to compensate for the eroded purchasing power of money over the term of the loan. ## Why might the Bank of Canada raise short-term interest rates in response to a fall in the value of the Canadian dollar? - [ ] To decrease the cost of borrowing. - [ ] To increase the supply of Canadian dollars. - [x] To encourage investors to continue holding Canadian investments. - [ ] To decrease foreign investment in Canada. > **Explanation:** Raising short-term interest rates makes Canadian investments more attractive, helping to stabilize the Canadian dollar by discouraging investors from moving their capital to foreign investments. ## What tends to happen to borrowing costs if the central government's risk of default increases? - [ ] Borrowing costs remain the same. - [x] Borrowing costs increase. - [ ] Borrowing costs decrease. - [ ] There is no direct relationship. > **Explanation:** If the central government's default risk rises, the perceived risk of lending increases, leading to higher borrowing costs across the board due to the requirement for a default premium. ## What effect does an increase in savings typically have on interest rates? - [ ] It increases interest rates. - [ ] It has no impact on interest rates. - [x] It decreases interest rates. - [ ] It fluctuates interest rates randomly. > **Explanation:** An increase in savings increases the supply of capital, which typically lowers interest rates due to the reduced demand for borrowing. ## In what type of economy can foreign interest rates and financial conditions influence domestic interest rates? - [x] An open economy. - [ ] A closed economy. - [ ] A micro economy. - [ ] A command economy. > **Explanation:** In an open economy, capital flows freely across borders, meaning that foreign interest rates and financial conditions can influence domestic interest rates through factors like exchange rate adjustments and capital movements.

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