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The Bank of Canada apparently surprised the chattering classes and everybody else this week by dropping its benchmark interest rate.

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In a year-end interview, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty noted, “I find it just strange that I get some of the financial institutions telling me to mind my own business on regulatory matters — and then we have some worries about the level of consumer debt, and the banks are saying the government needs to move in and tighten standards.” The Minister’s remarks followed calls by some bank CEOS for the government to tighten lending standards for residential mortgages such as a reduction in amortization periods.