The Canadian Press
RIO DE JANEIRO — In a time of so much loss, it is rare for an individual death to stir a country. And it is extraordinary for national grief to be triggered by the passing of a puppet.
But so it was in Brazil on Monday, as an outpouring of emotion followed news that the puppeteer behind Louro José – a 2-foot tall parrot that is a fixture on the country’s most popular morning show – had died.
Puppeteer Tom Veiga suffered a stroke caused by an aneurysm at his home in Rio de Janeiro, at age 47. For more than two decades, his green-and-yellow bird was comic relief on the program “Mais Voce,” somewhere between sidekick and co-host to Ana Maria Braga. The program was a welcome source of levity in a country accustomed to news of violence, inequality, plus political and economic turbulence.
“I woke up today and kept thinking how I was going to manage to get here and say ‘Good morning’ to you, because it hurts a lot,” Braga, 71, told viewers, barely holding herself together while standing in front of a drawing of Louro José with a halo. “It’s really like a mom who loses a son, a companion.”
Her homage reflects in part why “Mais Voce” became so popular. While featuring standard morning show fare – an upbeat mix of recipes, celebrities and the like – Braga didn’t shy from disclosing personal struggles, according to Mauricio Stycer, a prominent television critic and columnist. And Louro José complemented her with his carefree mocking and sarcastic jokes.
“The commotion it’s causing is because it’s a doll that, together with a person, came into your home Monday to Friday for two decades,” Stycer said. “As strange as it may seem, it became natural. The character became part of people’s lives. It’s perhaps the only show in the world hosted by a woman and a parrot.”
Louro José often wore costumes, and even travelled for reports. Veiga had previously described his character as “a troublemaker, grumpy, a flirt, a charmer, but very funny, intelligent,” and also as a “big kid.”
The program drew 13 million daily viewers on average in 2020, the most in Brazil for its time slot, according to Globo, the channel that airs it. Brazilians wrote condolence messages on social media; some even posted fan art. Celebrities including singers Ivete Sangalo and Luan Santana, as well as YouTube influencer Felipe Neto, shared their sorrow with their tens of millions of followers.
“Louro José was one of the greatest creations in the history of Brazilian television,” wrote Neto, who TIME magazine recently named one of the world’s 100 most influential people.
Louro José was initially conceived of to entertain a young audience — and that he did — but his jokes were hardly infantile, according to Lígia Mesquita, a former newspaper columnist focused on television production and now a producer herself. The parrot’s wit and double entendres went right over kids’ heads, she said.
“That puppet-character was the representation on TV, in a program primarily directed toward housewives, of that Brazilian characteristic to laugh at oneself even in the worst moments,” Mesquita added. “They transmitted a message of optimism and inspiration even after laughing at themselves. And that brought to the program a male audience, which wasn’t interested in the culinary arts.”
Also unique about Lauro José was how adults interacted with the puppet as though it were sentient. That reflects the “genius and creativity of Tom Veiga,” J.B. Oliveira, who previously directed “Mais Voce” at Globo, said in a statement to The Associated Press.
“The colorful little animal gained humanity and was seen by all, viewers and guests, as a real person,” Oliveira said.
On Monday’s broadcast, “Mais Voce” shared tear-filled tributes to Veiga from about two dozen of his friends and colleagues at the network. People on set dressed all in black, with photos of Veiga upon their chests. Globo said the day’s ratings were the highest in 20 years.
Veiga’s funeral will be held on Tuesday, with a burial the following day.
Globo didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment about whether it plans to find a new actor to bring Louro José to life.
The network shared a video with some of Louro José’s many appearances, including one in which he fainted upon receiving a kiss from model Gisele Bünchen. In another, he dressed up like Michael Jackson, dancing on the countertop to the King of Pop’s song “Bad” as Braga bopped along beside him.
“Thank you for everything Louro José, Tom Veiga,” one Twitter user identifying as Lia Carioca said. “Your work was happy, inspiring, cute and cheered the mornings of many Brazilians who were down.”
David Biller, The Associated Press
Canadian regulator lifts banks’ capital buffer to record, priming for post-pandemic world
Canada‘s financial regulator raised the amount of capital the country’s biggest lenders must hold to guard against risks to a record 2.5% of risk-weighted assets, from 1% currently, in a surprise move that could pave the way for them to resume dividend increases and share buybacks.
The new measures, which take effect on Oct. 31, is a sign that the economic and market disruptions stemming from the coronavirus pandemic have abated and banks’ capital levels have been resilient, the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) said in a statement.
But the regulator acknowledged that key vulnerabilities, including household and corporate debt levels, as well as asset imbalances caused by steep increase in home prices over the past year, remain.
In a sign of concern about the housing market, OSFI and the Canadian government raised the benchmark to determine the minimum qualifying rate for mortgages, starting June 1.
The increase in the Domestic Stability Buffer (DSB) to the highest possible level raises the Common Equity Tier 1 (CET1) capital – the core bank capital measure – to 10.5% of risk-weighted assets; a 4.5% base level, a “capital conservation buffer” of 2.5%, and a 1% surcharge for systemically important banks, plus the DSB.
The change “gives OSFI more leeway to loosen a restriction down the road, namely the freeze on buybacks and dividend increases,” National Bank Financial Analyst Gabriel Dechaine said.
OSFI felt it was “useful for the banks to understand what our minimal capital expectations are and to give them time to adjust to that… ahead of any lifting of the temporary capital distribution restrictions,” Assistant Superintendent Jamey Hubbs said on a media call.
Even with the higher requirement, Canada‘s six biggest banks would have excess capital of about C$51 billion, dropping from C$82 billion as of April 30, according to Reuters calculations.
That was driven in part by a moratorium on dividend increases and share buybacks imposed by OSFI in March 2020, although a pandemic-driven surge in loan losses has so far failed to materialize.
The Canadian banks index slipped 0.25% in morning trading in Toronto, while the Toronto stock benchmark fell 0.1%.
The increase is the first since the last one announced in December 2019, which did not come into effect as planned in April 2020, as OSFI made an out-of-schedule change https://www.reuters.com/article/canada-mortgages-regulation-idUSL1N2B636J that dropped the rate to 1% in March. It has maintained that level at its twice yearly reviews.
Prior to that, OSFI had raised the required level by 25 basis points at every twice yearly review since it was introduced at 1.5% in June 2018.
($1 = 1.2326 Canadian dollars)
(Reporting By Nichola Saminather; Editing by Marguerita Choy and Jonathan Oatis)
Canada Economic Indicators
The economic indicators used to gauge the performance of an economy and its outlook are the same across most nations. What differs is the relative importance of certain indicators to a specific economy at various points in time (for instance, housing indicators are closely watched when the housing market is booming or slumping), and the bodies or organizations compiling and disseminating these indicators in each nation.
Here are the 12 key economic indicators for Canada, the world’s 10th-largest economy:1
Statistics Canada, a national agency, publishes growth statistics on the Canadian economy on monthly and quarterly bases. The report shows the real gross domestic product (GDP) for the overall economy and broken down by industry. It is an accurate monthly/quarterly status report on the Canadian economy and each industry within it.2
Employment Change and Unemployment
Key data on the Canadian employment market, such as the net change in employment, the unemployment rate, and participation rate, is contained in the monthly Labour Force Survey, released by Statistics Canada. The report contains a wealth of information about the Canadian job market, categorized by the demographic, class of worker (private sector employee, public sector employee, self-employed), industry, and province.3
Consumer Price Index
Statistics Canada releases a monthly report on the consumer price index (CPI) that measures inflation at the consumer level. The index is constructed by comparing changes over time in a fixed basket of goods and services purchased by consumers. The report shows the change in CPI monthly and over the past 12 months, on an overall and core (excluding food and energy prices) basis.4
International Merchandise Trade
This monthly report from Statistics Canada shows the nation’s imports and exports, as well as the net merchandise trade surplus or deficit. The report also compares the most current data with that for the preceding month. Exports and imports are shown by product category, and also for Canada’s top ten trading partners.5
Teranet – National Bank House Price Index
This composite index of house prices across Canada was developed by Teranet and the National Bank of Canada and represents average home prices in Canada’s six largest metropolitan areas. A monthly report shows the change in the index monthly and over the past 12 months, as well as monthly and 12-month changes in Canada’s six and 11 largest metropolitan areas.6
RBC Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index – PMI
Released on the first business day of each month, this indicator of trends in the Canadian manufacturing sector was launched in June 2011 by Royal Bank of Canada, in association with Markit and the Purchasing Management Association of Canada. RBC PMI readings above 50 signal expansion as compared to the previous month, while readings below 50 signal contraction. The monthly survey also tracks other information pertinent to the manufacturing sector, such as changes in output, new orders, employment, inventories, prices, and supplier delivery times.7
The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index
The Conference Board of Canada’s Index of Consumer Confidence measures consumers’ levels of optimism in the state of the economy. It is a crucial indicator of near-term sales for consumer product companies in Canada, as well as an indicator of the outlook for the broad economy since consumer demand comprises such a significant part of it. The index is constructed on the basis of responses to four questions by a random sampling of Canadian households. Survey participants are asked how they view their households’ current and expected financial positions, their short-term employment outlook, and whether now is a good time to make a major purchase.8
Ivey Purchasing Managers Index – PMI
An index prepared by the Ivey Business School at Western University, the Ivey PMI measures the monthly variation in economic activity, as indicated by a panel of purchasing managers across Canada. It is based on responses by these purchasing managers to a single question: “Were your purchases last month in dollars higher, the same, or lower than in the previous month?” An index reading below 50 shows a decrease; a reading above 50 shows an increase. Panel members indicate changes in their organization’s activity over five broad categories: purchases, employment, inventories, supplier deliveries, and prices.9
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) issues a monthly report on the sixth working day of every month, showing the previous month’s new residential construction activity. The data is presented by region, province, census metropolitan area, and dwelling type (single-detached or multiple-unit). The indicator is an important gauge of the state of the Canadian housing market.10
This key indicator of housing activity is compiled by the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and is based on the number of home sales processed through the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) Systems of real estate boards and associations in Canada. The monthly report from the CREA shows the change in home sales across Canada, as well as for major markets, from month to month. The report also includes other important housing-related information, such as the change (as a percentage) in newly listed homes, the national sales-to-new listings ratio, months of housing inventory, the change in the MLS Home Price Index, and the national average price for homes sold within the month.11
Statistics Canada releases a monthly report on retail sales activity across Canada, with changes shown on month-over-month and year-over-year bases. The headline number shows the percentage change in national retail sales on a dollar basis; the percentage change in volume terms is also shown. The retail sales figures are shown by industry and for each province or territory, and provide insights into Canadian consumer spending.12
The building permits survey conducted monthly by Statistics Canada collects data on the value of permits issued by Canadian municipalities for residential and non-residential buildings, as well as the number of residential dwellings authorized. Since building permit issuance is one of the very first steps in the process of construction, the aggregate building permits data are very useful as a leading indicator for assessing the state of the construction industry.13
The Bottom Line
The 12 economic indicators briefly described above show the health of key aspects of Canada’s economy: consumer spending, housing, manufacturing, employment, inflation, external trade, and economic growth. Taken together, they provide a comprehensive picture of the state of the Canadian economy.
Canada adds jobs for fourth straight month in May
Canada added 101,600 jobs in May, the fourth consecutive month of gains, led by hiring in the education and health services sector as well as in professional and business services, a report from payroll services provider ADP showed on Thursday.
The April data was revised to show 101,300 jobs were gained, rather than an increase of 351,300. The report, which is derived from ADP’s payrolls data, measures the change in total nonfarm payroll employment each month on a seasonally-adjusted basis.
(Reporting by Fergal Smith; Editing by Alex Richardson)