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COLUMN: Shopping locally stimulates the economy – Nelson Star

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By Tom Thomson

For many of us, holiday shopping lists still linger as we hit the streets hoping to stretch our spending as far as possible. Keep your shopping close to home and buy locally where a purchase at a local store or restaurant has the greatest community impact.

The reasons for shopping locally can easily be forgotten in a cyber shopping world but the fact is, keeping money circulating in our greater community is an important consumer decision for us, and one that needs to be top of mind, something the Chamber of Commerce has been working on over the years

All these folks — shopkeepers, restaurateurs, retailers, service providers, professionals and more — live and work in our region and they’re already spending their dollars in our community or region. They pay for salaries, supplies, rent, taxes, utilities and so on. They also stay in the community and buy their groceries, clothe their kids and rely on local services such as hairdressers and accountants. The effects are far-reaching and important.

The fourth quarter of the year is significant for businesses but for retail it is critical. This is when they make a substantial part of their annual revenue, counting on a surplus in the last final months to keep the doors open in the cold months of January and February. Now is the time to show your support for the work they do.

We live in the age of online shopping. Most everything we might need is available with a few keystrokes. The lure of Amazon, with a multitude of merchandise options and free delivery beckons. No traffic, no parking hassles, no crowds. Why, then, would we choose to shop locally?

There is no real methodology keeping track of how much money flows out of the area from shopping excursions, or online purchases, but you can safely say it is in the millions of dollars. Those dollars would be put to much better use keeping our own regional economy vibrant, creating or at the very least retaining jobs!

Local shops, restaurants, and services create jobs that keep the economy stable, and the property taxes, sales taxes and payroll taxes help support services we have come to expect and what many deem essential to our community. When was the last time Amazon sponsored your local soccer team, or supported Mural Fest or a performance at the Capitol Theatre?

Shopping locally is the most basic form of trickle-down economics — and we all stand to gain. Successful businesses give thousands of dollars a year to much-needed local charities. A thriving business sector contributes to the coffers of the municipality through taxes, helping to fund all manner of public works, from parks to sidewalks, that enhance the quality of life for everyone.

As homeowners, we have watched our monthly bills increase dramatically through the years. For businesses, take those expenses, double them, or even more, add in payroll costs and other business expenses and you see the pressures.

Costs of leases have been squeezed upwards as landlords pass along increases in municipal, regional, and provincial business levies. Water, sewer, and hydro costs continue a steep upward curve for homeowners, but for businesses, the local commercial tax multiplier is over two times what residential tax increases have been, and utility rates for water, sewer, hydro etc. are also at a fixed rate higher than personal residences.

In some ways, I get it. By shopping online, you are just trying to get the best deal, find a greater selection and keep the costs lower for you and your family, but at what cost to our community?

When you shop in our region, you’ll find our local businesses offer a great selection with competitive pricing and quality that’s second-to-none, local experts with product knowledge you won’t find online, plus home-grown customer service and easy return policies.

In addition to the vital economy we all want, there are other benefits to shopping locally. For example, it is true that most business owners employ an array of supporting services by buying locally themselves. They hire architects, designers, cabinet shops, sign makers and building contractors/developers for construction and local accountants, insurance brokers, computer consultants, and attorneys to help run it.

Local owners, typically having invested much of their life savings in their businesses, have a natural interest in the community’s long-term health.

As a community we should continue to Think Local First so shopping locally is our first choice. We have wonderful retail, accommodation, dining, and service providers in the Nelson area. If you find what you want locally, if the price is competitive and the quality meets your needs, your decision should be easy: Buy it here!

Tom Thomson is the executive director of the Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce

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ECB's latest stimulus expected to have little impact on euro zone economy – Reuters poll – Cape Breton Post

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By Richa Rebello

BENGALURU (Reuters) – The European Central Bank’s new policy package will have little effect on the euro zone’s coronavirus-ravaged economy, according to the forecasts of a Reuters poll of economists, who nearly halved their outlook for first-quarter growth.

Despite the ECB’s decision to top up its pandemic emergency purchases by half a trillion euros to 1.85 trillion euros and extend the programme for nine months, the bloc’s economic outlook remains bleak.

The Reuters poll consensus of over 80 economists forecast the euro zone economy shrank 2.5% last quarter after expanding 12.5% in the third quater and was expected to grow 0.6% this quarter, nearly half the 1.1% predicted a month ago.

It was then expected to expand 2.3%, 1.9% and 1.0% in the second, third and fourth quarters, largely unchanged from last month’s forecasts collected just before the ECB introduced more stimulus.

Over 70% of economists, or 28 of 39 who replied to an additional question, said the ECB’s latest policy moves would have little impact on the euro zone economy. The others said it would provide a significant boost.

“Interest rates are already so low and policy is ultra-loose, so for now, monetary policy cannot impact investment or consumer demand. Thus we do not think the ECB can influence the economy strongly at this time,” said Christoph Weil, senior economist at Commerzbank.

“We expect a bitter couple of months. Lockdowns will dampen the economy and we expect falling GDP in the last quarter of 2020 and in the first quarter of this year. So technically a recession”.

Graphic: Reuters Poll – Euro zone economic growth and inflation outlook: https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/polling/rlgvdgleepo/Euro%20zone%20economic%20outlook.PNG

Of the participants in the Jan. 11-15 survey, over 25% expected the euro zone – where growth plumbed to an historic low in the first half of 2020 – to have again entered a technical recession, defined as two consecutive quarters of contraction.

On an annualised basis, the economy was expected to have shrunk 7.3% in 2020, roughly in line with the last poll, but for this year, the median was downgraded to 4.5% from 5.0% last month. For 2022, the growth forecast was upgraded to 3.9% from 3.5%.

“The start of the year continues to bring bad news for Europe as the health situation deteriorates. With lockdowns already being extenin several countries, short-term risks to the economic outlook are clearly skewed to the downside, especially as the vaccination roll-out is still slow,” said Angel Talavera, head of Europe economics at Oxford Economics.

“The new and more transmissible variants of the virus mean a further deterioration could happen very quickly.”

Over 70% of respondents, or 30 of 42, who replied to a separate extra question said the economy would return to pre-crisis levels within two years, including six who said within a year. The others said it would be more than two years.

Graphic: Reuters Poll – Euro zone economy and the European Central Bank’s policy outlook: https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/polling/xegpbemwgvq/Reuters%20Poll%20-%20Euro%20zone%20and%20ECB%20policy%20outlook%20-%20January%202021.PNG

The two largest euro zone economies were expected to grow much slower in 2021 compared with expectations in October. Germany was forecast to grow 3.7%, down from 4.6%, and the outlook for France was downgraded to 5.9% from 6.9%.

Euro zone inflation, which remained in negative territory for five straight months last year, was expected to remain below the ECB’s target of just under 2%, averaging 0.9% in 2021 and 1.3% in 2022.

A slim majority, over 52% of economists, or 21 of 40 who answered a separate question, said a significant pick-up in inflation was likely. Seventeen said it would remain around the same as 2020 and two said deflation was more likely.

“If history is any guide, any too-high expectations of inflation can be shattered. But we have very supportive fiscal policy and a number of structural factors that could support higher inflation a little further down the road,” said Florian Hense, senior Europe economist at Berenberg.

(For other stories from the Reuters global economic poll:)

(Reporting by Richa Rebello; Polling by Sujith Pai and Swathi Nair; editing by Jonathan Cable and Larry King)

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China's economy grows 2.3% in 2020 as recovery quickens – CNN

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The world’s second largest economy expanded 2.3% in 2020 compared to a year earlier, according to government statistics released Monday.
It’s China’s slowest annual growth rate in decades — not since 1976 has the country had a worse year, when GDP shrunk 1.6% during a time of social and economic tumult.
But during a year when a crippling pandemic plunged major world economies into recession, China has clearly come out on top. The expansion also beat expectations. The International Monetary Fund, for example, predicted that China’s economy would grow 1.9% in 2020. It’s the only major world economy the IMF expected to grow at all.
The pace of the recovery appears to be accelerating, too: GDP grew 6.5% compared to a year ago, faster than the third quarter’s 4.9% growth.
“The performance was better than we had expected,” said Ning Jizhe, a spokesman for China’s National Bureau of Statistics, at a press conference in Beijing.
The country scrapped its growth target last year for the first time in decades as the pandemic dealt a historic blow to the economy. GDP shrank nearly 7% in the first quarter as large swaths of the country were placed on lockdown to contain the spread of the virus.
Since then, though, the government has attempted to spur growth through major infrastructure projects and by offering cash handouts to stimulate spending among citizens.
Industrial production was a particularly big driver of growth, jumping 7.3% in December from a year earlier.
“In and out of lockdown ahead of everybody else, the Chinese economy powered ahead while much of the world was struggling to maintain balance,” wrote Frederic Neumann, co-head of Asian economics research at HSBC, in a Monday research report.
This has “put a floor under growth” in other regional markets, he added. Surging Chinese investment in infrastructure and property, for example, has been a boon to countries like Australia, South Korea and Japan that exported supplies to China.
Trade has also been strong. China’s overall surplus for the year hit a record $535 billion, up 27% from 2019, according to statistics released last Friday. Analysts pointed out that the country benefited from a lot of demand for protective gear and electronics as people around the world worked from home.
Chinese markets reversed opening losses Monday to rise following the announcement. The Shanghai Composite (SHCOMP) gained 0.8%, while the Shenzhen Component Index — a benchmark for the city’s tech-heavy exchange — rose 1.6%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index (HSI) increased 1%.
There are still some weak spots, though. Retail sales lost a little steam in December, rising 4.6% compared to November’s 5%. For the entire year, retail sales slumped 3.9%. Ning, the National Bureau of Statistics spokesperson, blamed the waning sales on a resurgence of coronavirus in some places.
The “sporadic” cases in China “will bring uncertainty to [our] economic recovery,” he added.
Even so, Ning said the country believes the pandemic is under control, and said authorities expect people to spend more money this year.
Analysts from Capital Economics, meanwhile, believe the outlook is “bright” in the near term.
“Despite the latest dip in retail sales, we see plenty of upside to consumption as households run down the excess savings they accumulated last year,” wrote Julian Evans-Pritchard, senior China economist for Capital Economics, in a Monday note. “Meanwhile, the tailwinds from last year’s stimulus should keep industry and construction strong for a while longer.”

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ECB's latest stimulus expected to have little impact on euro zone economy – Reuters poll – The Guardian

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By Richa Rebello

BENGALURU (Reuters) – The European Central Bank’s new policy package will have little effect on the euro zone’s coronavirus-ravaged economy, according to the forecasts of a Reuters poll of economists, who nearly halved their outlook for first-quarter growth.

Despite the ECB’s decision to top up its pandemic emergency purchases by half a trillion euros to 1.85 trillion euros and extend the programme for nine months, the bloc’s economic outlook remains bleak.

The Reuters poll consensus of over 80 economists forecast the euro zone economy shrank 2.5% last quarter after expanding 12.5% in the third quater and was expected to grow 0.6% this quarter, nearly half the 1.1% predicted a month ago.

It was then expected to expand 2.3%, 1.9% and 1.0% in the second, third and fourth quarters, largely unchanged from last month’s forecasts collected just before the ECB introduced more stimulus.

Over 70% of economists, or 28 of 39 who replied to an additional question, said the ECB’s latest policy moves would have little impact on the euro zone economy. The others said it would provide a significant boost.

“Interest rates are already so low and policy is ultra-loose, so for now, monetary policy cannot impact investment or consumer demand. Thus we do not think the ECB can influence the economy strongly at this time,” said Christoph Weil, senior economist at Commerzbank.

“We expect a bitter couple of months. Lockdowns will dampen the economy and we expect falling GDP in the last quarter of 2020 and in the first quarter of this year. So technically a recession”.

Graphic: Reuters Poll – Euro zone economic growth and inflation outlook: https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/polling/rlgvdgleepo/Euro%20zone%20economic%20outlook.PNG

Of the participants in the Jan. 11-15 survey, over 25% expected the euro zone – where growth plumbed to an historic low in the first half of 2020 – to have again entered a technical recession, defined as two consecutive quarters of contraction.

On an annualised basis, the economy was expected to have shrunk 7.3% in 2020, roughly in line with the last poll, but for this year, the median was downgraded to 4.5% from 5.0% last month. For 2022, the growth forecast was upgraded to 3.9% from 3.5%.

“The start of the year continues to bring bad news for Europe as the health situation deteriorates. With lockdowns already being extenin several countries, short-term risks to the economic outlook are clearly skewed to the downside, especially as the vaccination roll-out is still slow,” said Angel Talavera, head of Europe economics at Oxford Economics.

“The new and more transmissible variants of the virus mean a further deterioration could happen very quickly.”

Over 70% of respondents, or 30 of 42, who replied to a separate extra question said the economy would return to pre-crisis levels within two years, including six who said within a year. The others said it would be more than two years.

Graphic: Reuters Poll – Euro zone economy and the European Central Bank’s policy outlook: https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/polling/xegpbemwgvq/Reuters%20Poll%20-%20Euro%20zone%20and%20ECB%20policy%20outlook%20-%20January%202021.PNG

The two largest euro zone economies were expected to grow much slower in 2021 compared with expectations in October. Germany was forecast to grow 3.7%, down from 4.6%, and the outlook for France was downgraded to 5.9% from 6.9%.

Euro zone inflation, which remained in negative territory for five straight months last year, was expected to remain below the ECB’s target of just under 2%, averaging 0.9% in 2021 and 1.3% in 2022.

A slim majority, over 52% of economists, or 21 of 40 who answered a separate question, said a significant pick-up in inflation was likely. Seventeen said it would remain around the same as 2020 and two said deflation was more likely.

“If history is any guide, any too-high expectations of inflation can be shattered. But we have very supportive fiscal policy and a number of structural factors that could support higher inflation a little further down the road,” said Florian Hense, senior Europe economist at Berenberg.

(For other stories from the Reuters global economic poll:)

(Reporting by Richa Rebello; Polling by Sujith Pai and Swathi Nair; editing by Jonathan Cable and Larry King)

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