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Effect of interest rate hikes on Canadian economy will be ‘more powerful’ than people think, Poloz says

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Former Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz delivers a keynote address to a business conference in Ottawa, on Nov. 24.Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

The full effects of interest rate hikes have yet to be felt – and will be “even more powerful” than many anticipate, said former Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz Thursday in a speech about ways Canada can chart a path toward economic growth during uncertain times.

Speaking at a conference hosted by Western University’s Ivey Business School in Ottawa on Thursday, the former governor warned today’s economy is more sensitive to interest rates than it was 10 years ago.

“Does anybody here think the sensitivity of the economy to interest rate movements is less today than it was five or 10 years ago?” Poloz asked. “I think it’s more sensitive today than it was before.”

Poloz estimates annual inflation will fall to about four per cent on its own as external factors, such as higher commodity prices, ease. Statistics Canada’s most recent annual inflation rate sat at 6.9 per cent in October.

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He said policy action will need to do the rest of the work to get inflation back down to the central bank’s two per cent target.

“I think that the actions that are being taken to get us there will turn out to be even more powerful than a lot of people think,” Poloz said, citing higher debt loads in the Canadian economy as a vulnerability.

The former governor is the chair of the Lawrence National Centre for Policy and Management, an independent think tank hosted at Ivey.

Poloz began his remarks by sharing his thoughts on the drivers of high inflation and where prices are headed. His speech also offered a set of recommendations on how Canada can improve long-term economic growth during volatile times.

He said the think tank will offer a summary of the recommendations to Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland next week.

Poloz finished his seven-year term as Bank of Canada governor a few months into the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, the central bank has dramatically shifted gears from the extraordinary stimulus measures of 2020 to rapid monetary policy tightening.

The Bank of Canada began raising interest rates in March to clamp down on rising inflation. Since then, the central bank raised its key interest rate six consecutive times, embarking on one of the fastest monetary policy tightening cycles in its history.

Its key rate currently stands at 3.75 per cent and is expected to rise again next month.

The aggressive rate hikes are expected to slow the Canadian economy significantly. And though many economists are cautiously optimistic that the slowdown won’t be severe or long-lasting, labour groups in particular have been concerned about the consequences of a potential recession.

Is the Bank of Canada overshooting with its rate hikes? “It’s impossible to say,” Poloz said in an interview.

Economists estimate interest rate hikes take one to two years to take full effect in the economy. That lag makes it difficult to judge whether rate hikes are too much or too little, the former governor said.

Poloz said trying to slow inflation with interest rate hikes is like trying to stop a car with bad brakes.

“It takes a long time to actually slow down and so you stand on the brake really hard. Well, then you’re going to cause an accident too,” he said.

Though high inflation has persisted longer than the Bank of Canada’s initial projections, Poloz defended the use of the word “transitory” to describe inflation pressures, noting in his speech that international contributors to inflation such as supply chain delays are already dissipating.

“In other words, the part of inflation that is externally driven, really is transitory. It’s OK to use the word transitory,” he said.

However, the former central bank governor says it takes time for that development to be reflected in the annual inflation rate.

Bank of Canada governor Tiff Macklem notably called inflation “transitory” – meaning temporary – when it first started rising.

Since then, he’s backed away from that characterization and has emphasized that the domestic economy is overheated and inflation won’t return to target without action from the central bank.

While high inflation has come to the forefront of economic policy discussions, many economists are concerned about what Canada is – or isn’t – doing to promote long-term growth.

During his speech, Poloz made the case for government policies that promote stability and clarity for businesses. The less uncertainty there is about trade policy and projects, for example, the more businesses will invest in their operations and improve their productivity, he said.

“Clarity is the obvious antidote to uncertainty.”

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No, Britain’s Economy Isn’t On The Rocks.

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How bad is Britain’s economy?

It depends on what you read.

For instance, the Atlantic magazine headlined a recent feature “How the U.K. Became One of the Poorest Countries in Western Europe.”

The features continues with the following: “The U.K. is now an object lesson for other countries dealing with a dark triad of deindustrialization, degrowth, and denigration of foreigners.”

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In other words, the Atlantic has some pretty brutal thoughts on the U.K.’s economy.

Unfortunately, none of that reflects the reality I have lived and the economic data.

Let’s start with some basics.

UK Post-pandemic Growth Shines

First up is inflation-adjusted GDP since the beginning of 2021. In that case, the UK leads the pack of the three largest European economies. It grew 7.4% last year following by 3.6% this year, according to data from the International Monetary Fund.

Contrast that with France which grew 6.8% last year and 2.5% this year, then Germany which limped along at 2.6% in 2021 and 1.5% so far this year.

It shouldn’t take a PhD in mathematics to see that the UK is growing faster than the others over that period. Its not a huge difference in the case of France, but still its not like Britain is a basket case.

Fewer Jobless

UK unemployment is also far lower than either France or Germany. Britain’s jobless rate is a mere 3.6%, according to TradingEconomics. That compares with 5.5% and 7.3% for Germany and France respectively.

Some observers say the UK’s rate is so low because many people have stopped looking for work. Its a fair point, but only at the margin. In other words, its a relatively small issue. People who aren’t looking for work can hardly be unemployed. Second, if the UK rate was adjusted for the lower participation its hard to see the jobless figures jump to the current levels in France or Germany.

Modest Debt

Despite claims to the contrary that cutting taxes would send an already-indebted country into economic oblivion, the U.K. could probably afford to borrow bit more cash.

That’s because there’s massive hole in the assertion that Britain is in hock up to its eyeballs, its plainly wrong, especially compared to other rich countries.

The UK’s debt-to-GDP ratio is around 97%, again according to TradingEconomics. However, for France the figure is 113%, and the U.S. is 137%. Germany stands out at 69%.

In other words, the U.S. (generally considered to be a strong economy,) and France (a bedrock economy of the European Union) are much more in debt than Britain and yet observers seem excited to bash the U.K. like it was going out of fashion.

Germany does have a better debt ratio, but it is also a country that spends proportionately far less on defense than the other comparison countries. That’s something that the world has scrutinized closely since the invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

Illegal Migrants

However, perhaps the trump card in demonstrating the strength of the UK’s economy is the wave of illegal migration into the country.

Wave may understate the matter.

Its more of a tsunami.

This year so far more than 40,000 people have made the life-threatening journey across the channel from France to England. That’s up from less than 30,000 last year, and under 10,000 in 2020. Many of the people who make that journey get granted refugee status.

When considering this information its important to understand that migrants are leaving a democratic country will at top notch record on human rights and with a strong economy. Its also worth remembering that France has better weather than the U.K., and finer food.

It’s the Economy, Stupid

So why would so many people risk their lives crossing by far the world’s busiest shipping lane at night in a rubber dinghy to get to Britain? People can and do die on that trip with banal regularity.

Maybe they really do like the abundant grey skies, and drizzle that the country has to offer. Perhaps they really like British food in the way a native enjoys them.

But what about this: There’s a chance that the U.K.’s market driven economy is attractive to people in a similar way that America is attractive to migrants of all types.

On top of that, the Atlantic is wrong about Britons not liking foreigners. In fact, the U.K. population embraces people from all over the world.

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Charting the Global Economy: OECD Raises Inflation Forecast

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(Bloomberg) — Central banks around the world must be steadfast in their inflation fight even though economies will suffer as a result, the OECD said this week.

The organization boosted its 2023 inflation estimates and said it expects price increases the following year will remain above the targets set by many global central banks. While economies will slow because of tighter monetary policies, the OECD didn’t forecast a recession.

Though a survey of US manufacturers showed a fifth month of shrinking activity, another report indicated a healthy increase in business investment. A survey of the euro area businesses indicated that any downturn may not be severe as initially expected.

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Meantime, the Bank of China eased reserve requirements for banks to help bolster the world’s second-largest economy.

Here are some of the charts that appeared on Bloomberg this week on the latest developments in the global economy:

World

The world’s central banks must keep raising interest rates to fight pervasive inflation, even as the global economy sinks into a significant slowdown, according to the OECD. The organization raised inflation projections for next year and said that while the global economy will suffer a “significant growth slowdown,” it’s not forecasting a recession.

This week saw more major rate hikes across the world, with 75 basis-point hikes in Sweden, New Zealand and South Africa and full percentage-point moves in Pakistan and Nigeria. Turkey went the opposite way, cutting rates by 150 basis points.

US

Business activity contracted for a fifth month in November as demand faltered, while inflationary pressures continued to slowly ease. The S&P Global flash composite purchasing managers’ index slid to the second-lowest level since the immediate aftermath of the pandemic.

Orders placed with US factories for business equipment rebounded in October, suggesting capital spending plans are holding up in the face of higher borrowing costs and broader economic uncertainty. Core capital goods shipments jumped the most since the start of the year, suggesting a solid start to fourth-quarter gross domestic product.

Europe

Euro-area businesses see tentative signs that the region’s economic slump may be easing as record inflation cools and expectations for future production improve. A gauge measuring activity in manufacturing and services unexpectedly rose in November, according to S&P Global.

Sweden’s home-price decline accelerated in October, as the Nordic country gripped by the most severe housing slump in three decades shows what may lie ahead for many other developed economies.

Asia

For the second time this year, China’s central bank cut the amount of cash lenders must hold in reserve, ramping up support for an economy racked by surging Covid cases and a continued property downturn. The People’s Bank of China reduced the reserve requirement ratio for most banks by 25 basis points.

Signs are growing in China that local government debt burdens are becoming unsustainable. China’s 31 provincial governments have a stockpile of outstanding bonds that’s close to the Ministry of Finance’s risk threshold of 120% of income. A major cause of the financial squeeze is the property crisis.

Australia has spent big to attract swathes of Indian tourists to its shores, signed a free-trade deal with post-Brexit Britain and uncovered new Middle East markets during its 30-month trade rift with China. Still, outside iron ore and other key commodities, there’s been substantial pain for exporters.

Emerging Markets

Chile is set to lead the world into a steep interest rate-cutting cycle next year as inflation slows and its economy goes from boom to bust, according to swap markets. Traders are forecasting more than 5 percentage points in cuts in the next 12 months after a surprise inflation print last month and as the economy teeters on the edge of recession.

Shipments of boats, vehicles and computer parts are leading Mexico’s export boom, showing growing US demand for industrial products from its southern neighbor. The export of boats produced in Mexico increased 266% in September compared to a year ago, the fastest-growing item among Mexican exports worth more than $100 million.

–With assistance from Maya Averbuch, Sebastian Boyd, Valentina Fuentes, Sybilla Gross, William Horobin, John Liu, Yujing Liu, Swati Pandey, Reade Pickert, Jana Randow, Niclas Rolander, Zoe Schneeweiss and Ben Westcott.

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Canada’s Best Credit Cards for 2023

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Canada’s Best Credit Cards for 2023

Choosing the best credit card in Canada can get confusing. Not only are there so many options, but everyone has different goals, desires, and credit histories – all of which come into play when choosing a credit card. For example, parents with a large family would likely benefit from a credit card that has great cash-back rewards on groceries and gas while a digital nomad might enjoy points and comprehensive insurance from a card that rewards travel purchases.

 

However, rewards aren’t the only thing to consider. You should also take into account the annual percentage rate (APR), annual fee, and welcome bonuses. To help you decide which is Canada’s best credit card for 2023, we’ve broken them down by category and included all the important details.

Best Credit Cards in Canada 2023

No matter your financial situation or goals, there is a credit card out there for you. Here’s a breakdown of Canada’s best credit cards in 2023:

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Best Cash Back Credit Card

CIBC Dividend Visa Infinite Card

 

  • Welcome bonus: $200
  • Annual fee: $120 after the first year
  • Regular APR: 20.99% – 24.99% (variable)

 

This card gives you 10% cash back on $2,500 in purchases over the first four billing cycles. Additionally, you can earn 4% cash back on groceries and gas, 2% cash back on dining, transportation, and recurring bills, and 1% cash back on all other purchases.

 

Best Travel Credit Card

American Express Cobalt

 

  • Welcome bonus: 2,500 Membership Rewards points
  • Annual fee: $155.88 ($12.99 per month)
  • Regular APR: 20.99%

 

You can earn 2 American Express Membership Rewards per dollar spent on travel or gas, and 3 points per dollar on travel bookings made through the Amex Travel Portal. This card also comes with travel insurance coverage and a $100 USD hotel credit.

 

Best Business Credit Card

CIBC Aeroplan Visa Business Plus Card

 

  • Welcome bonus: 60,000 Aeroplan Points
  • Annual fee: $120 (rebated in the first year)
  • Regular APR: 19.99%

 

This is the best credit card in Canada for anyone that travels for business. This card offers annual earnings of $456.68 when you book Air Canada and $430.63 in value when you book other any travel, including non-Air Canada flights, cruise lines, rental car companies, and tour companies. You can also benefit from a Buddy Pass to anywhere Air Canada flies in North America, including Hawaii and Mexico.

 

Best Credit Card for Bad Credit

KOHO Prepaid Mastercard

 

  • Welcome bonus: None
  • Annual fee: None
  • Regular APR: None

 

This card is almost a credit/debit card hybrid, and an excellent option for anyone with bad or no credit. The card is loaded with money from your bank account or a direct deposit paycheque. It can be used as a debit card for free, or you can request to open a line of credit to work on building or repairing your credit. If you choose to open a line of credit, there is a $10 per month fee.

Final Thoughts

These are only a few of the best credit cards in Canada for 2023. Give them a try next year and see if your choice helps improve your financial situation!

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