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BLAKE DOYLE: Mid-pandemic cultural economic shifts – The Journal Pioneer

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CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. —

This year, 2021, was the optimistic window of economic recovery, with an assured mass vaccination program and an imagined return to normalcy.

As with previous pandemics, once confidence was restored the economy boomed; but enthusiasm seems deferred until much later this year, or into 2022.

Government investments have been far more prevalent through this crisis than any preceding.

There are those that are starting to argue the supports have been too liberal and now must be tapered.

Vaccine procurement and distribution have been abysmally delayed domestically (according to current Oxford data, Canada has distributed 3.52 single doses per 100 people; Israel has distributed 79.48, and even the U.S. has distributed 17 per 100 persons).

Early vaccines are complicated to move across the vastness of our large country, but is our effectiveness more a reflection of Canada’s diminishing global positioning?

Locally, has P.E.I. become a beacon for health management, or have we “jumped the shark” in our irrational vigilance and fear of the outside community?

Can an economy 99 per cent dependent on external factors ever thrive in post pandemic/rolling variant environment?

Has our cultural attitude shifted so profoundly that a return to 2019 is no longer an aspiration?

Blake Doyle - Contributed
Blake Doyle – Contributed

By casual observation, any street in our urban settings remain about 30 per cent occupied by vehicles.

The loss of traffic has not diminished the voracity of metre-hornets trying to make up for lost metre revenue, but the decline in traffic volume is concerning for urban small business owners.

Equally perplexing is the consistent swell of volumes in the evenings and weekends.

The casual policy decisions to force public employees to work from home has not only impacted productivity but decimated downtown retail and service trades shifting energy to post workday evening socialization and food services.

Is this positive, or negative, or just a shift we need to recognize and adapt to?

With tourism all but deferred until 2022 and unsettling trends occurring in our labour market, can the economy absorb job seekers if the volume of local employment options is diminishing?

U.S. jobless claims are exceeding estimates, labour participation rates in Summerside and Charlottetown are declining as people opt out of the workforce and the CERB/EI benefits will be expiring in the coming quarter.

All pointing to structural labour challenges.

2020/2021 business profits will hold a key to forecast trending.

Pandemic impacts, coupled with misaligned Federal government taxation policies, have stripped business from incentive to invest, almost certainly ushering a period of business stagnation. Declining investment will signal decline in growth and cascade any challenges presenting in the labour force.

So where are the opportunities?

Relying on the multiplication factors of local expenditure investment will not satisfy the economy or provincial government expenditures.

We require the infusion of capital and people.

This week, the federal government, remaining committed to their immigration targets, made a surprise move to approve six times the number of express entry applicants in a single period.

This is great if our province has a strong retention strategy. If not, it may signal a concern for local businesses relying on foreign labour.

The economy is starving for economic stewardship.

Not unscheduled press junkets to relay irrelevant information, but the articulation of a plan, actions for recovery and a path to empower economic drivers and regain control of our economic future.

We can’t control the movement of a coronavirus, as we can’t administer “the cold”; but we do need to return to a functional adaptive economy.

As spring warms the air – so to does enthusiasm for employment, activity and profits.

Blake Doyle is The Guardian’s small business columnist.

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Toronto Stock Exchange rises 0.64% to 19,310.74

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tsx

* The Toronto Stock Exchange’s TSX rises 0.64 percent to 19,310.74

* Leading the index were Ero Copper Corp <ERO.TO​>, up 13.6%, Nexgen Energy Ltd​, up 12.6%, and Denison Mines Corp​, higher by 10.5%.

* Lagging shares were Kinaxis Inc​​, down 5.2%, Ballard Power Systems Inc​, down 3.9%, and Cominar REIT​, lower by 3.5%.

* On the TSX 132 issues rose and 93 fell as a 1.4-to-1 ratio favored advancers. There were 30 new highs and 1 new low, with total volume of 246.0 million shares.

* The most heavily traded shares by volume were Enbridge Inc, Suncor Energy Inc and Manulife Financial Corp.

* The TSX’s energy group rose 3.28 points, or 2.7%, while the financials sector climbed 2.69 points, or 0.8%.

* West Texas Intermediate crude futures fell 0.58%, or $0.38, to $65.31 a barrel. Brent crude  fell 0.29%, or $0.2, to $68.68.

* The TSX is up 10.8% for the year.

This summary was machine generated May 5 at 21:03 GMT.

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Merkel wants Europe, United States to aim for new trade deal

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BERLIN (Reuters) – A trade agreement between the United States and the European Union would “make a lot of sense”, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in a speech in which she welcomed the United States’ return to the multilateral fold under President Joe Biden.

German enthusiasm for a trade deal and stronger transatlantic ties may have to contend with a more cautious approach in France, where President Emmanuel Macron has made a priority of reducing European reliance on rival superpowers.

Merkel said that while Germany had no interest in a world divided into camps as it was in the Cold War, it was good that the United States, Europe’s “most important ally”, stood alongside Europe in rivalries with China and Russia.

“I have always supported a trade agreement between the United States of America and the European Union,” she told a Berlin conference on the future of transatlantic ties.

“We have trade agreements with so many of the world’s regions. It would make a lot of sense to develop such a trade agreement here, similar to what we have done with Canada,” she added.

Merkel’s transatlantic coordinator Peter Beyer told Reuters in February that Germany and the new U.S. administration should “think big” and aim for an ambitious agenda including a trade deal to abolish industrial tariffs and a WTO reform to increase pressure on China.

The European Union has put reform of the World Trade Organization at the heart of its trade strategy for the next decade, saying global rules on commerce must be greener, take more account of state subsidies and be enforced.

The EU itself feels bruised by trade wars, Brexit and what it sees as unfair competition from China, which it perceives as a “systemic rival”, and is taking more assertive measures to enforce global trade rules and ensure a level playing field.

Merkel said that despite issues with its ratification in the EU, the bloc’s planned investment agreement with China, the comprehensive agreement on investment (CAI), is a “very important undertaking, because it gives us more reciprocity in market access”.

At the same time, it was necessary to address “the whole range of issues” with China, including its human rights record, she added.

The EU executive has hailed the CAI, struck at the very end of 2020, as a means to secure better access for European companies to Chinese markets and redress unbalanced economic ties.

But concerns over China’s human and labour rights record and scepticism from the United States had already cast doubt on the deal’s approval process even before Chinese blacklisting of five members of the European Parliament in tit-for-tat sanctions.

 

(Reporting by Thomas Escritt, Paul Carrel and Michael Nienaber; EDiting by Giles Elgood)

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Canadian dollar posts three-year high as risk appetite climbs

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Canadian dollar

By Fergal Smith

TORONTO (Reuters) – The Canadian dollar strengthened to its highest level in more than three years against its U.S. counterpart on Wednesday, supported by improved investor sentiment and the Bank of Canada‘s recent shift to more hawkish guidance.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average hit a record high as the market recovered from a steep tech sell-off, after investors were encouraged by U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen’s new comments on interest rates and a positive private jobs report.

“Risk-on conditions” and the recent move higher in commodity prices bolstered the Canadian dollar,” Ronald Simpson, managing director, global currency analysis at Action Economics, said in a note. “In addition, the BoC’s tapering of its QE program appears to have shifted USD-CAD’s trading range down a notch.”

Last month, the Bank of Canada cut the pace of its bond purchases and signaled it could hike interest rates in late 2022.

Further clues to the central bank’s policy outlook could come from Canada‘s April employment report, due for release on Friday.

The Canadian dollar was trading 0.2% higher at 1.2280 to the greenback, or 81.43 U.S. cents, having touched its strongest intraday level since February 2018 at 1.2252.

U.S. crude oil futures settled 0.1% lower at $65.63 a barrel as traders used weekly inventory figures as an excuse to pull back from the recent rally. Oil is one of Canada‘s major exports.

Home sales in Toronto, Canada‘s most populous city, fell nearly 13% in April from March. That bucked the regular spring trend, as demand began to ease after months of blistering growth.

Canadian government bond yields were mixed across the curve, with the 10-year little changed at 1.521%.

 

(Reporting by Fergal Smith; Editing by Kirsten Donovan and Nick Zieminski)

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