By Erica Alini - Wednesday, February 27, 2013 - 0 Comments
Update: As expected, GDP growth in the last quarter of 2012 was a dismal 0.6 per cent annualized, and the economy shrank 0.2 per cent in December. Despite that, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said today the government might further trim spending in the next budget, as lower-than-expected growth impacts revenue flows the bean counters were banking on. NDP House leader Nathan Cullen called the finance minister’s concern over balance budgets at a time of withering growth “a manufactured crisis.”
Here we explain why the economy stalled in late 2012 and why it might take some time for it to pick up speed again.
Canada’s fourth-quarter GDP figures, out on Friday, are expected to show the clearest picture yet of the shift the economy has been undergoing for the per past year or so. For the first time in nearly seven years, monthly GDP numbers have already revealed, Canada underperformed the U.S. in 2012.
In January, the Bank of Canada forecast Octoober-to-December growth would come in at one per cent, but Governor Mark Carney hinted this week he expects the actual number to be lower.
Why the slowdown? Largely, because consumer spending and the housing market, which propelled Canada out of the recession as the rest of the global economy dwindled, are losing steam. And now that the economy can’t run on internal combustion alone anymore, it’s not clear how much of lift it’s going to get from the outside.
Here’s what happened over the past decade:
Exports, Canada’s traditional engine of growth, have been shrinking as a share of the economy: down to around 30 per cent of non-inflation adjusted GDP from a record 46 per cent in 2000. As the chart shows, the 2008-2009 crisis delivered a considerable blow to Canadian exports, which fell faster than GDP and haven’t come close to recovering. But the decline started long before global demand seized up in the wake of Lehman Brothers etc. The long-term trend reflects a loss of competitiveness and failure to diversify away from the U.S. and toward Asian economies, as the Bank of Canada has long been saying.
Consumer spending, by contrast, expanded as a share of the economy during the recession, limiting the magnitude of the contraction and picking up the slack from declining net trade:
By Andrew Hepburn - Thursday, September 13, 2012 at 10:55 AM - 0 Comments
Budget deficits, whether provincial or federal, tend to get all the press. The other big Canadian deficit—the current account deficit—usually flies well under the radar. Until this week, that is, when Statistics Canada released numbers indicating that our trade deficit with the world expanded from $1.9 billion to $2.3 billion in July.
The current account surplus or deficit is a measure of a country’s trading relationship with the world. You’ve probably heard of a key part of the current account, the trade balance, or exports minus imports. In addition, the current account also measures net investment income, i.e. interest earned from foreign holdings minus interest paid to foreigners, and net financial transfers over a given period.
Canada’s current account balance is significantly in the red. To be precise, as of the second quarter of 2012, our deficit has reached 3.6 per cent of GDP on an annualized basis. As BMO’s Nesbitt Burns noted, this represents a marked deterioration from the 2.8 per cent deficit recorded in 2011. Canada, they wrote, has only seen two years—1975 and 1981—when the current account deficit exceeded 4 per cent of GDP. We’re close what have typically been extreme readings.
Many experts, including economists at BMO, National Bank and the OECD have pointed to the strong Canadian dollar as responsible for much of the deterioration in Canada’s trade balance. The value of Canada’s net merchandise exports have declined precipitously from almost $70 billion in 2001 to barely above zero in 2011. That number is now negative.
By Econowatch - Wednesday, August 22, 2012 at 12:01 PM - 0 Comments
Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney was the first Canadian central banker to speak in front of the country’s auto workers today. Here’s the text of the speech he delivered to the Canadian Auto Workers union’s annual conference in Toronto: