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History taught the Bank of Canada what happens when it doesn't control high inflation – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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Nojoud Al Mallees, The Canadian Press


Published Thursday, July 21, 2022 5:42AM EDT


Last Updated Thursday, July 21, 2022 5:42AM EDT

Canadians are seeing the cost of borrowing rise rapidly as the Bank of Canada takes historic action to slow the soaring of prices, having learned costly lessons from history when central banks let inflation run rampant.

The Bank of Canada recently raised its key interest rate by a full percentage point — the largest single rate hike in more than two decades — as it tries to cool domestic demand and bring down inflation expectations.

An unusual move for an unusual time: inflation reached a 39-year-high of 8.1 per cent in June, after years of a low, stable and predictable consumer price index in Canada.

But throughout much of the 20th century, price stability wasn’t a given in the Canadian economy.

TD chief economist Beata Caranci said inflation today might feel especially challenging because Canadians have been shielded from inflation volatility for decades.

“We haven’t had this challenge in a while,” Caranci said.

Canada’s last experience with high inflation came in two waves during the 1970s and 80s and hit a peak of 12.9 per cent in 1981.

In 1973, adverse weather sparked a global food shortage and an embargo on OPEC oil drove energy prices up. Several years later, a second energy crisis was brought on by the Iranian Revolution in 1979.

And while the drivers of high inflation are relatively similar — global circumstances pushing up food and energy prices — inflation today isn’t expected to climb as high or be as persistent. 

That’s because the approach of central banks is now markedly different, said Western University economics professor Stephen Williamson. 

“A big difference now is sort of a strongly held notion that it’s mostly the job of the Bank of Canada to look after inflation control,” said Williamson. “In the 70s, that wasn’t true.” 

For the bulk of the 20th century, central banks had not yet developed strong and effective mandates to maintain a stable reading of inflation, Williamson said. Instead, they tried to control inflation through the money supply.

Economists at the time believed inflation could be managed by controlling the amount of money circulating in the economy. However, central banks found this tactic to be unsuccessful.

Caranci said another reason why the Bank of Canada was slow to raise rates was that central banks were historically hesitant to hinder economic growth through higher interest rates.

TD senior economist James Orlando wrote an analysis in April that compared high inflation today to the 1970s and 80s. He said the Bank of Canada was slow to raise interest rates in the 1970s, and by the time the bank acted, it was too late. 

“Inflation expectations adjusted upwards, resulting in even higher inflation over the subsequent years,” said Orlando.

Interest rates in the 1980s eventually rose to as high as 21 per cent.

In 1982, the Bank of Canada announced it would no longer target the money supply and instead would turn its focus to interest rates.

Canada’s turbulent experience with high inflation also led to the Bank of Canada’s mandate to maintain a target inflation rate. In 1991, the Bank of Canada and the minister of finance agreed on an inflation-controlled framework to guide monetary policy.

“We believe the Bank of Canada has learned from history,” Orlando wrote in his comparison of inflation in the two eras.

This time around, Canada’s central bank is still facing criticism for taking too long before starting to raise its key interest rate. By comparison, though, the Bank of Canada has acted faster and more forcefully.

“We’re hearing different dialogue coming out of the central bank today that there is a willingness to sacrifice growth, and to even have the unemployment rate rise,” said Caranci. 

In its latest rate announcement on July 13, which surprised economists who were expecting a three-quarters of a percentage point hike, the central bank’s message was clear: it’s not afraid to move aggressively to clamp down on skyrocketing inflation.

At the same time, economists like David MacDonald from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives have used history to warn raising rates too quickly can trigger a recession, as it did in the 80s.

However, Caranci said there are important differences between the two time periods, including a different makeup of the economy and the existence of safeguards such as mortgage stress tests.

“The challenge with doing comparisons of periods, especially when you get that far back in history is, there’s been so many differences at play,” said Caranci.

In May, Bank of Canada deputy governor Toni Gravelle delivered a speech that focused on why comparisons between stagflation in the 1970s and the current inflation environment were “unjustified,” citing strong economic growth, a tight labour market and historically low unemployment.

And of special importance, Gravelle said today’s Bank of Canada is equipped with the policy tools it needs to rein in inflation.

“Since the 1990s, we and other central banks around the world have had success with inflation targeting,” he said. “And we are committed to bringing inflation back to target.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 21, 2022.

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US bear market deepens: What that means for you – Al Jazeera English

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United States stocks slumped further this week as investors navigated a barrage of bad news.

Central banks around the world have been scrambling to fight soaring high inflation by increasing the cost of borrowing without hurting long-term growth prospects. Adding to the uncertainty and fear are rising tensions between the West and Russia following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

In the US, the S&P 500 – a proxy for the health of retirement and college savings accounts – this week fell to its lowest level in almost two years and was set for a monthly decline of nearly 8 percent.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 has dropped nearly 33 percent so far in 2022, the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost more than 20 percent while the world’s best-known cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, shed nearly 60 percent of its value. Home prices are also dropping as interest rates soar, making loans for potential buyers more expensive.

The Federal Reserve, the country’s central bank, is tasked with fighting the highest inflation in decades and has been doing that by raising interest rates. But can it increase the cost of capital to reduce demand and moderate prices without plunging the economy into a deep recession?

“It’s really a no-win situation at this point. Largely because of the number of shocks policymakers have had to deal with,” Cristian deRitis, leading economist at Moody’s, a research firm based in New York, explained to Al Jazeera.

How much further down can stocks go? What is a bear market exactly? And is there a light at the end of the tunnel?

Here’s the short answer.

I keep hearing that the US is in a bear market. What is that exactly?

A bear market occurs when a broad market index dips more than 20 percent from recent highs.

Why is the US currently in a bear market?

“Persisting concerns over inflation and the Fed’s ability to tame prices without a hard landing,” is how Peter Essele, head of portfolio management at Commonwealth Financial Network, a Massachusetts-based firm, explained it.

What’s the reason behind the high inflation and why are prices out of control?

Kenneth McLaughlin, professor of economics at Hunter College in New York, told Al Jazeera that one of the reasons is the federal government “injecting $5 trillion into the economy including through stimulus checks during the pandemic with kind of good intentions but with no plans to pay for it.”

In other words?

Think back to early 2020 when businesses shuttered and economies came to a standstill to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Millions of Americans found themselves under lockdown with nowhere to go and spend the fresh-off-the-press stimulus checks. That caused equity prices, be it stocks, Bitcoin and home prices across the US, to skyrocket. It also caused a surge in demand for goods and that, as we see now, has led to the highest rise in the cost of living seen in decades.

A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S
The war in Ukraine and growing tensions between the West and Russia are expected to continue to spook investors and roil markets [File: Brendan McDermid/Reuters]

How does this cause the stock market to go down?

As the Fed raises rates, which is essentially increasing the cost of borrowing in order to bring down the price of goods and services, people start to fear a slowdown in the economy. This pushes down the price of stocks and other investments.

Are the current economic conditions really just the consequence of what happened in the last 2 years?

The last two years have been unprecedented in many aspects. But what we are seeing today can also be attributed to the extremely low interest rates of the last decade when, following the financial crisis of 2007-2008, the government made it cheaper for Americans to borrow, Essele told Al Jazeera.

Didn’t the markets just have a rally?

Stocks did experience a rally in August. Things were looking up when petrol prices, which had soared in earlier months, dropped sharply. Investors held on to the hope that perhaps the Fed would ease on the interest rate hikes if the inflation numbers for August showed that consumer prices had cooled. But despite cheaper petrol, food and other essential goods, prices remained high – surging 8.3 percent in August compared with a year earlier.

Where are we now?

“Inflation is becoming more structural and investors are now concerned about stagflation,” Essele explained to Al Jazeera, suggesting that price hikes may be here to stay for the long haul. Stagflation is a mashup of the words “inflation” and “stagnation” and refers to a situation when inflation is high even as the rate of economic growth slows down.

So what does the future hold? And how long will this bear market last?

Expect above-average price pressures. The war in Ukraine and growing tensions between the West and Russia add to the uncertainty and will continue to spook investors and roil markets.

“But we are likely in three-quarters of the way through the bear market,” Essele predicted.

I don’t own any stocks, why should I care about a bear market?

While stock investors are the ones most directly affected by a US bear market, there are spillover effects to the rest of the economy primarily due to the “wealth effect”. That is, as households see the value of their retirement and stock portfolios decline, they will pull back on their spending.

“Given how dependent the US economy is on consumer spending, this impact can be significant and widespread,” Moody’s deRitis told Al Jazeera. “Discretionary sectors such as travel, leisure, and hospitality may feel the most immediate effect but other industries such as housing and retail trade will experience reduced demand as households grow cautious.”

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Ontario Securities Commission files allegations of fraud in multimillion-dollar crypto offering – CP24

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TORONTO – The Ontario Securities Commission says it has filed allegations against Troy Richard James Hogg related to a crypto token offering that raised US$51 million.

The statement of allegations says that between May 2017 and June 2019, Hogg, an Ontario resident, promoted and sold a crypto asset named Dignity token, previously called Unity Ingot, to investors around the world.

The regulator alleges that Hogg and his companies – Cryptobontix Inc., Arbitrade Exchange Inc. and Arbitrade Ltd. – defrauded investors with false and misleading statements in promotional materials, including that gold bullion supported the value of the tokens.

The OSC alleges that Hogg and his companies further defrauded investors by spending a significant amount of invested funds on things unrelated to crypto security tokens, including buying real estate and making payments to companies controlled by Hogg.

The regulator also alleges that Hogg did not file a prospectus for the token or obtain the necessary registration with the OSC to engage in trading activities.

The OSC says it was assisted in its investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which ran a parallel investigation and has levelled charges against Hogg and several U.S. residents.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 30, 2022.

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Lululemon settles lawsuit with Peloton over allegations of 'copycat' clothing – CBC.ca

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Two of North America’s biggest names in fitness have settled a lawsuit over allegations of “copycat” sports bras and workout tights.

Vancouver-based “athleisure” brand Lululemon has agreed to terms with American exercise bike company Peloton after negotiating a “mutually agreeable settlement” in the patent dispute, according to a notice of voluntary dismissal filed in a California district court on Friday.

The terms of that agreement have not been made public.

Lululemon filed suit in November, claiming Peloton’s Strappy Bra, Cadent Laser Dot Legging, Cadent Laser Dot Bra, High Neck Bra, Cadent Peak Bra and One Luxe tights were all rip-offs of its own products.

“Unlike innovators such as Lululemon, Peloton did not spend the time, effort and expense to create an original product line,” the Lululemon claim read.

“Instead, Peloton imitated several of Lululemon’s innovative designs and sold knock-offs of Lululemon’s products, claiming them as its own.”

Court documents show that the dispute dates back to a 2016 co-branding deal that allowed Peloton to put its logo alongside Lululemon’s on certain Lululemon products that were sold through Peloton stores.

In its own court filings, Peloton claimed the arrangement was “burdensome and time-intensive,” leading the company to end the partnership and develop “its own private label brand of fitness apparel.”

This image is included in a lawsuit filed by Lululemon against Peloton. Lululemon claimed the average customer would not be able to tell their products apart. (U.S. District Court)

Lululemon, in turn, claimed that Peloton had simply imitated some of its garments. The yoga wear firm sent Peloton a cease-and-desist letter on Nov. 11, 2021, asking the company to “immediately stop selling its copycat product.”

According to the Lululemon lawsuit, Peloton said it needed until Nov. 24 to respond to the accusations in the letter.

Instead, Peloton filed its own lawsuit in the Southern District of New York, alleging that Lululemon was making “baseless threats” and asking a judge to pre-emptively declare that Peloton had done nothing wrong.

News of the settlement in California comes just one day after a judge in New York dismissed Peloton’s lawsuit, ruling it “an improper anticipatory declaratory judgment action,” filed with the intention of beating Lululemon to the courthouse.

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