The Canadian government will pay 10.23 percent interest on the new series of Canada Savings Bonds (CSBs) for each of the seven years to maturity in 1986, finance minister John Crosbie announced today.
In order to shut off a wave of redemptions of earlier series of bonds, Ottawa also will increase the average annual payout to maturity on bonds issued in the past five years to the same 10.25 percent level.
While the rate is higher than was offered on the 1978-79 series, when the government raised more than $7 billion through CSB bonds, the new series seems to be designed as much to shut off redemptions as to raise new cash.
The Canadian rate is much higher than that paid by the U.S. government on its savings bonds -- currently 6 1/2 percent.
CSBs are available only to Canadian residents or certain Canadian trust and retirement plans. The maximum that can be bought is $25,000 -- jalf of the $50,000 limit a year ago. This indicates that Crosbie is not counting on a massive intake of cash through bond sales.
Bank of Canada officials estimated that $1.7 billion of savings bonds have been cashed in since the beginning of the year. The amount of bonds in the hands of the public is about $18.5 billion, representing roughly one-third of the national debt. The bonds can be cashed in at any time at face value plus accrused interest.
The cost of bonus payments and interest to cover the existing five series of bonds that will have their yield increased, is about $500 overall, or $300 million in 1979 dollars.
A similar bonus payment plan covering older bonds was announced by Ottawa earlier this year. The bonus payments on these are to be made Nov. 1 when the new bonds go on sale.
Crosbie has had a difficult week with the Bank of Canada raising its rate on loans to the banking system and Canadian banks boosting rates on loans, deposits and mortgages. These factors put pressure on Ottawa to produce a generous rate on the CSB if it wants to raise new cash.
If the rate is too generous, however, it could trigger a massive cashing in of the earlier bonds and the purchasp of the higher paying series. This would add to the government's debt service load.