Economics & Finance & Trade

Economy tepid at best

The fourth quarter of 2019 saw the Canadian economy nearly at a standstill and with little signs of recovery due to the global spread of the Covid-19 virus. Real GDP was an annualized 0.3 per cent in the latest three months, albeit subject to revision when current-quarter data are published by Statistics Canada. Growth for 2019 overall was up by a preliminary 1.6 per cent compared with 2.0 per cent in 2018. [node:read-more:link]

Canadians increasingly worried about Covid-19

As Canada recorded its first death linked to Covid-19, the Angus Reid Institute has released the results of a survey which indicates that more Canadians se the threat as “real and serious.” The percentage of respondents with that view has increased to 42 from less than 33 a month and fewer evidently believe the risk of infection has been exaggerated. [node:read-more:link]

Economy takes oil price hit

Canada’s economy, notably in the oil-producing provinces, is being hit hard by the fallout from a pricing squabble between Saudi Arabia and Russia. Domestic production cuts would reduce provincial royalties and also undercut federal and provincial tax revenues. A one-day drop in the benchmark West Texas Intermediate price of a barrel of crude was the largest since the 1991 Gulf War, before settling at $31.13 US per barrel, down $10.15. [node:read-more:link]

Central bank rate reduced again

The Bank of Canada reduced its benchmark interest rate 13 March by a further 50 basis points, to 0.75 per cent. An emergency measure designed to ease financial pressures resulting from concerns about COVID-19, it was announced just nine days after the rate was reduced to 1.25 per cent from the 1.75 per cent which had prevailed since October 2018. [node:read-more:link]

Another parliamentary recall

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wants Parliament recalled again to deal with proposed legislation which would provide for additional financial support for Canadians and businesses economically impacted by COVID-19. Meanwhile, Finance Department officials expect the support to be available in three to six weeks. [node:read-more:link]

Trump comments troubling

Even as various state governments intensify their crackdown on COVID-19, President Donald Trump said 23 March that “America will again, and soon, be open for business.” He had used social media a few hours earlier to state that “we cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself” and that “we will make a decision” by the end of the month. [node:read-more:link]

G-7 leaders move to virtual meetings

President Donald Trump, scheduled to host a G-7 economic summit at Camp David in June, now says it will be a video conference because of COVID-19. His spokesman also says other G-7 leaders’ virtual meetings, like one earlier this month, can be expected in April and May. [node:read-more:link]

Exports to China to be monitored

New federal regulations are designed to ensure that Canadian companies are not complicit in human rights abuses in China's Xinjiang province. Exports of Canadian products to China would be prohibited if there is a chance they could be used for surveillance, repression, arbitrary detention or forced labor. [node:read-more:link]

COVID-19: more travel restrictions?

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau warned Jan. 19 that the government could impose new travel restrictions “without advance notice” at any time to curb COVID-19 transmission. “It’s not the time to be traveling abroad,” he said, concerned about the emergence of more contagious variants and urging that any booked trips should be canceled. [node:read-more:link]

Central bank holds the line

The Bank of Canada elected Jan. 20 to maintain its benchmark overnight lending rate at 0.25 per cent, determined to keep it there until an economic recovery” is well underway.” It has cut the rate several times since the COVID-19 pandemic was evolving early last year. The bank also forecast 2.5 per cent GDP shrinkage in the first quarter of 2021 but is looking to an overall rebound of four per cent this year. [node:read-more:link]

Federal transfer payments to soar

Parliamentary budget Officer Yves Gioux says that reforms to a federal support program for provinces will rise sharply in fiscal 2021-2022. He projects them at some $4.5 billion, up $2.9 billion as Ottawa transfers cash to provinces suffering steep declines in their own revenues. [node:read-more:link]

Biden quickly undoes Trump policies

Within hours of being sworn in as the 46th U.S. President Jan. 20, Joe Biden signed a flurry of executive orders designed to undo many key policy decisions by his Republical predecessor, including some affecting Canada. Most notable was his reversal of Donald Trump’s renewal of a permit to build the Keystone XL pipeline. [node:read-more:link]

Back-to-work bill faces challenge

Draft federal back-to-work legislation against striking Port of Montreal workers faces opposition from the Canadian Union of Public Employees. “The union will contest the validity” of Bill C-19, a spokesman said, explaining that it had lodged a complaint with the International Labour Organization. The Official Opposition voted with the government today, setting up for Senate consideration April 30. [node:read-more:link]

G-7 foreign minister meet

Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau is in London for a meeting with his counterparts from the other G-7 countries: Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the U.S. It is their first in-person meeting since the COVID-19 pandemic began. [node:read-more:link]

Trudeau ends self-isolation

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau ended nearly a month of self-isolation by arriving on Parliament Hill 08 April for his first live cabinet meeting since his wife tested positive for COVID-19 after attending an event in Britain. He told reporters that the government is keeping current mitigation measures in place “for many more weeks” to give authorities time to consider how to reboot the economy without causing more problems. [node:read-more:link]


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