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Canada’s economy to take a hit from the second wave, economist says

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The Canadian economy faces a long, slow recovery from COVID-19, and some industries are never bouncing back to where they were, according to a new forecast from a business think tank.

The prediction, from the Conference Board of Canada, says things won’t get back to anywhere close to normal until there’s a vaccine to battle COVID-19, likely sometime next June.

“Until we’re seeing COVID fully behind us, it’s going to be a rough ride. We won’t see a complete recovery until there’s a vaccine and this has been brought under control. The biggest risk is if a vaccine ultimately isn’t found,” said Conference Board chief economist Pedro Antunes in an interview.

The Conference Board’s argument was bolstered by a report from Statistics Canada on Wednesday showing the size of the Canadian economy is still six per cent smaller than in February, and that just a quarter of industries have hit their pre-pandemic size.

Statistics Canada showed Canadian Gross Domestic Product grew by three per cent in July, after having grown by 6.5 per cent in June. The StatsCan report also said data is expected to show that the economy grew by just one per cent in August.

While the economy started to bounce back in May and June as COVID-related restrictions eased up, the start of the second wave spells more trouble, said Antunes.

“Before, we were trying to flatten the curve of new COVID cases. Now, it’s a case of COVID flattening the recovery,” Antunes said.

Consumer spending picked up as restrictions started to loosen, Antunes said, partly because of pent-up demand, and partly because of government support programs including the Canada Emergency Response Benefit and the Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy.

 

“It was consumers to the rescue with a lot of borrowed government money,” said Antunes, who predicted the CEWS will eventually be extended until next June.

Some sectors will struggle more than others as the second wave continues, Antunes said, singling out the hospitality, travel and cultural industries.

Other industries are seeing disruptions which are likely permanent, he added. Among the most heavily-affected sectors in the long term, Antunes predicted, will be bricks and mortar retailers, and commercial real estate, particularly office buildings. Simply put, companies are realizing that having employees doing their jobs from home works just fine.

“I think telecommuting will become permanent in a lot of cases. And that also means there will be a lot of office space on the market,” said Antunes.

For retailers, a gradual move to e-commerce turned into a tidal wave because of COVID-19, and many customers won’t be going back once COVID ends.

“I think a lot of those changes are permanent. We had more of an increase in e-commerce in a few months than we did in six years,” said Antunes.

That assessment is backed up by retail analyst Lisa Hutcheson.

“The longer people shop online, the less likely they are to go back,” said Hutcheson, managing director of retail consultancy J.C. Williams Group.

The speedy rise in e-commerce, which Hutcheson said was equivalent to a decade’s worth of increases, has already knocked some companies out of business entirely.

 

“The retailers who weren’t making these changes are likely the ones who’ve gone out of business,” said Hutcheson.

 

In a recent survey, J.C. Williams Group found that 39 per cent of Canadians say they’ll stick with their current shopping habits even once an effective treatment for COVID-19 is found, Hutcheson said.

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Top officials and business leaders discuss a possible 'reset' for the global economy – CNBC

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The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted the global economy and put millions of jobs on the line in the process. With that in mind, some of world’s top economic officials and business leaders are debating how to recover from the crisis in a way that looks beyond mainstream financial metrics like GDP.

Hear from European Commissioner for the Economy Paolo Gentiloni, OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria, World Economic Forum Managing Director Saadia Zahidi, Unilever CEO Alan Jope and Manpower CEO Jonas Prising on how they’re thinking about an economic “reset,” in a WEF panel hosted by CNBC anchor Steve Sedgwick.

Subscribe to CNBC on YouTube. 

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Building A Circular Economy In New York City And Beyond – Forbes

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New York City is the second largest city in the world in terms of consumption—$1 trillion worth of products and services in 2015. (First is Tokyo). So for those interested in building a circular economy, from entrepreneurs to civic leaders, it’s a good place to focus on.

With that in mind, a group called the New York Circular City Initiative recently produced “Complex Challenges, Circular Solutions,” a report about, among other things, how to create a circular system in the Big Apple and, by extension, elsewhere in the U.S. and globally. (It’s also where that $1 trillion figure comes from).

Convened by law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, the initiative’s 20 members range from circular economy startup Queen of Raw to the New York City Economic Development Corporation.

The report concludes the circular approach could create over 11,000 new jobs across the income spectrum in New York City, deliver more than $11 billion in economic benefits and reduce waste to zero. “From economic regeneration to addressing income inequality, these are the type of programs New York City is looking hard at,” says Timothy Wilkins, global partner for client sustainability at Freshfields.  

Furthermore, the timing might be especially right: Covid has shrunk supply chains, since suppliers need to be closer to one another, creating a need for more-local solutions.

What is a circular economy, anyway? The core idea is that, as the ever-skyrocketing global population puts an increasingly untenable pressure on natural resources, economies have no choice but to overhaul the design, manufacturing and, ultimately, end life of products. In a circular system, goods would be created with the intention of not just recycling, but reusing, them—basically. The result: No more waste. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation, a member of the initiative, describes it as “an industrial system that is restorative or regenerative by design.”

Levers

This is a tall order. To achieve it in New York City and elsewhere, the report investigates 10 “levers” that must be tapped—actions and innovations that cut across sectors.

One important lever for New York City, which buys $19 billion worth of goods and services each year, is procurement, according to Oliver Dudok van Heel, head of client sustainability and environment at Freshfields and the report’s lead author. To that end, one move the report suggests is for the city to target 5% of procurement to be made through circular business models. “You’d be unleashing demand for those kinds of products and you could really kickstart the market,” he says.

Also important, says Dudok van Heel, is the idea of a marketplace. That includes two models. One is consumer-oriented, with the creation of what he calls a “circular mall” where everything for sale is “second life” or second-hand.

For a model, you can look at ReTuna, a mall in  Eskilstuna, Sweden, where all retailers must sell used and repurposed goods. Residents can also can drop off their recycling and donations, which stores can then resell or reuse. Also, in Sweden, there’s a 25% reduction in the value-added tax on second-hand goods, according to Dudok van Heel.

The other model is b-to-b, what you might call a materials market. Waste, of course isn’t only created when consumers throw away the finished product. The production of goods also results in a large amount of excess stuff. Thus there’s an opportunity for businesses to form marketplaces where waste that would typically be tossed could be traded and bought, creating new value for the material.

A case in point is Queen of Raw, a New York City-based startup with an online marketplace that matches buyers and sellers of unused fabric, from organic cotton to faux fur. Founder Stephanie Benedetto also built MateriaMX, a service for enterprise sellers aimed at helping them find waste in their supply chains in real-time. 

Another likely industry: construction, where all waste is usually thrown away because component materials can’t be separated out. If a recycling organization could separate, say, timber from metals, it all could all be traded on a marketplace, turning that unwanted trash into a newly valuable commodity.

With the right industrial planning processes, such an approach could also work among states. So rather than sourcing stuff from the other side of the world, at a significant cost, New York State could engage in a marketplace with, say, Rhode Island.

One city-specific example is in Austin. Through the Austin Materials Marketplace, an online platform launched in 2014, businesses and other groups can trade anything from discarded lumber to towel racks, turning their unwanted waste into someone else’s raw material. “Waste is no longer waste. It’s a resource,” says Dudok van Heel.

Other levers include finance, since these initiatives will all need innovative funding to get off the ground, and education, that is, “getting people to understand how as citizens they can become part of the solution,” he says.

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Both Biden and Trump victories present implications for Canada's economy, shows new report from RSM Canada – Canada NewsWire

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  • Analysis of policies and data from both candidates suggests that a victory for either could pose risks for Canada’s economy
  • Canada’s increasing economic dependence on the U.S. also a large factor in any potential headwinds
  • COVID-19: Canadian economic growth expected to be gradual, with economy projected to contract 5.5 per cent in 2020, followed by a 6 per cent expansion in 2021
  • Consumer sector has been pivotal to Canada’s economic recovery process to date, while labour and manufacturing are still in shock

TORONTO, Oct. 20, 2020 /CNW/ – RSM Canada (“RSM”), the leading global provider of audit, tax and consulting services focused on middle market businesses, today launched its third 2020 issue of “The Real Economy: Canada” – a quarterly report that provides Canadian businesses with economic analysis and insights into factors driving growth, or economic headwinds, in Canada’s middle market.

With the U.S. presidential election taking place in just a matter of weeks, and Canada looking to navigate a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, the latest Real Economy: Canada report shines a light on how the election outcome, combined with Canada’s reliance on the U.S. economy, might alter Canada’s  recovery and longer-term outlook.

This report also looks at how Canadian industries have fared since the onset of the pandemic and explores measures the federal government and other authorities can take as the recovery process continues.

Key findings in this quarter’s report include:

  1. Recovery for both Canadian and U.S. economies are closely intertwined
    • Growing dependence on the U.S. due to CUSMA and deteriorating relationship with China has hampered Canada’s ability to chart its own economic course.
    • Data shows total trade between CanadaChina has trended downward since the beginning of the U.S.-China Trade War in 2018. In comparison, total trade between Canada and the United States increased during this period.
    • Current administration’s struggles to cap COVID-19 cases suggest a Trump re-election would present economic risks to Canada due to close economic ties.
  2. ‘America first’ policies likely to continue, regardless of election outcome
    • Biden’s proposed ‘Made in America’ tax incentive, which offers tax credits for companies in the U.S. that expand employment and salaries domestically, could potentially discourage future Canadian market expansion.
    • Trump’s protectionist tendencies would indicate Canada may see further headwinds with its largest trading partner if he’s re-elected.
    • Biden’s willingness to adopt Trump’s tough stance on China if elected suggests Canada will likely continue to be negatively affected by U.S.-China trade relations.
  3. U.S. election adds to the uncertainty of Canada’s oil & gas sector
    • Canadian oil pricing will be hit hard if Biden follows through on his campaign promise to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline, a critical venture for Western Canada oil producers that would provide direct access to the Gulf Coast refineries and world markets.
  4. The consumer sector accounts for most of Canada’s growth during recovery process
    • Consumer confidence’s summer comeback have influenced forecasts of a V-shaped GDP recovery in the coming quarters and sustained growth into 2022.
    • However, the recent resurgence of new infections has dealt a blow to recovery and consumer expectations.
  5. Labour market turnaround will be critical to continued economic progress, while turbulent times remain ahead for manufacturing sector
    • The service sector, which now employs nearly 80 per cent of the total labour force, lost 850,000 jobs since the start of the pandemic.
    • Danger of lingering damage to labour force through loss of skills & productivity, and the ability of an idle labour force to keep up with the acceleration in technological changes.
    • New manufacturing orders 11 per cent below their pre-crisis peak and roughly 5 per cent less than last year.

“Despite a rocky relationship between Canada and the current U.S. administration in recent years, it’s clear that a victory for either Trump or Biden would pose risks to Canada’s economy,” says Alex Kotsopoulos, vice president, projects and economics with RSM Canada. “The issue is that Canada has become increasingly dependent on its neighbour south of the border, and when you combine this with the strong ‘America First’ policies of both presidential candidates, Canada will feel the brunt of those decisions. Therefore, it’ll be important for the Canadian government to proactively engage with the new administration to shore up trade and supply chains, which will be vital in the Canada’s own recovery.”

Joe Brusuelas, chief economist with RSM US LLP, added: “When looking at Canada’s economic recovery data from the pandemic so far, it’s clear that the resurgence of Canada’s consumer sector has led the charge after a lengthy shutdown. However, to achieve stronger growth the labour force and industrial sector will be critical pieces of the puzzle, and while there is no meaningful or complete recovery until there is a vaccine, further expansion of the real economy by fiscal and monetary authorities will be important to keep recovery moving in the right direction.”

For more information on RSM Canada’s ‘The Real Economy: Canada‘, or to download the report, please visit: https://rsmcanada.com/our-insights/the-real-economy/the-real-economy-canada-volume-7.html

About RSM

RSM’s purpose is to deliver the power of being understood to our clients, colleagues and communities through world-class audit, tax and consulting services focused on middle market businesses. The clients we serve are the engine of global commerce and economic growth, and we are focused on developing leading professionals and services to meet their evolving needs in today’s ever-changing business environment.

RSM Canada LLP provides public accounting services and is the Canadian member firm of RSM International, a global network of independent audit, tax and consulting firms with more than 43,000 people in 120 countries. RSM Alberta LLP is a limited liability partnership and independent legal entity that provides public accounting services. RSM Canada Consulting LP provides consulting services and is an affiliate of RSM US LLP, a member firm of RSM International. For more information visit rsmcanada.com, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and/or connect with us on LinkedIn.

SOURCE RSM Canada

For further information: Media contact: Ben Rose or Stephen Colle, FleishmanHillard HighRoad, 416-214-0701, [email protected]

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