With the announcement of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) on September 30th, one of the few hurdles that remained in the way of the Bank of Canada taking the next step in its rate-hiking journey has been pushed aside. Now, it’s not as though the USMCA was a material game changer from the trade perspective. In fact, the USMCA looks a lot like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that is was intended to replace. Instead, what it did was remove a great deal of uncertainty around the economic outlook, particularly for trade and the business investment that it supports.
Primed by an email exchange with some folks in the media, the Institute of Fiscal Studies and Democracy (IFSD) thought we would dig into the numbers to see how much of the current federal fiscal predicament is the result of deliberate decisions or exogenous forces. To do this we’ve compiled the economic forecasts from Budget 2015 through Budget 2018 and the fiscal impact estimates of economic shocks published in said budgets, as well as drawing from the 2015 Liberal Party of Canada election platform, analysis from the Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO), and the Bank of Canada’s July 2015 Monetary Policy Report.
The reality show which is U.S. trade policy continues to lurch forward, with each episode seemingly ending in a “To be continued …” as opposed to a season finale. The Trump administration remains hellbent on raising the cost of imports for American consumers and businesses by slapping tariffs on a hodgepodge of goods from abroad. Canada has been drawn into the fray as a consequence, reluctantly putting retaliatory tariffs on imports from the US in July following the introduction of levies on steel and aluminum headed to the Good Ole US of A.
The market for Government of Canada securities is closely scrutinized by analysts, market participants, and government officials themselves. The market for provincial bonds generally receives less attention. However, at $642 billion in 2017 and representing 27% of capital markets in Canada, the market for provincial bonds was larger in size than that of the federal government at 23%. As some provinces will likely continue to finance important deficits by borrowing from financial markets and diversifying their borrowing methods, it is crucial to understand the dynamics at play in this segment of the market.
An accurate measurement of the labour market is essential for making useful macroeconomic forecasts. Even the best models are only as good as the input data––as the saying goes, garbage in, garbage out. Statistics Canada has two programs to measure employment levels and trends: the Labour Force Survey (LFS) and the Survey of Employment, Payroll and Hours (SEPH). In the private sector, Automatic Data Processing, Inc. (ADP) publishes a report—the ADP Canada National Employment Report (NER)—that seeks to align with the SEPH. The ADP NER is relatively new to Canada and is not followed as closely as the LFS or the SEPH, but its timeliness is a plus. In contrast, the SEPH is the most delayed measure, but because of the nature of its underlying data, it provides very useful insights into short-term dynamics of the economy.
Following the release of Statistics Canada’s June 2018 Labour Force Survey (LFS), the Institute of Fiscal Studies and Democracy (IFSD) has updated its Canada JØLTS for May 2018. It has also launched its new Nowcast of the Bank of Canada’s (BoC’s) Wage Common measure of underlying wage growth.
On June 11, 2018, the federal government announced its redesigned homeless program, Reaching Home. While details remain scant, Reaching Home leaves the impression that the government is prepared to take a number of bold and promising steps forward but is willing to risk progress with one big step backwards.
Moments of major change can set a country, a policy issue, or an organization on a new course. But how do you get there? Can you force that change or is there a magical alignment of interests and forces required for a critical juncture? Not all change has to come from major shocks, sometimes change can be gradual and build up over time, creating important – albeit gradual – shifts in course and outcomes. Major change, however, tends to come from a major shock.
In its March 2018 Fiscal Monitor, the federal government stated that is deficit estimate for the 2017-18 fiscal year was “… broadly in line with a $19.4-billion deficit projected in Budget 2018 for 2017–18.” For any government, a deficit outlook in line with the recent planning expectations is always good news, being second only to an upside surprise. And, indeed, at the Institute for Fiscal Studies and Democracy (IFSD) we think there is room for the deficit in the 2017-18 fiscal year to come in slightly smaller than was anticipated in Budget 2018 and the Fiscal Monitor.
You don’t have to be a builder to appreciate the importance of a sturdy foundation. When it comes to houses, a solid foundation keeps the house dry and warm, and protects it against the natural movements of the earth around it.