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Montreal beat Tampa Bay to keep alive Stanley Cup hopes

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Montreal netminder Carey Price kept alive his team’s slim hopes of winning the Stanley Cup as the Canadiens emerged with a 3-2 overtime victory over the defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning in Game Four on Monday.

Price made 32 saves, including several key stops in overtime, before Josh Anderson‘s second goal of the game sealed victory for the Canadiens, who now trail Tampa Bay 3-1 in the NHL’s best-of-seven championship series.

Alexander Romanov had Montreal’s other goal while Price, who was shaky in a 6-3 loss that pushed his team to the brink on Friday, flashed the brilliant form that helped his team reach the final.

“We are a resilient group,” said Price, whose team were a 50-to-1 longshot when the playoffs began and overcame a 3-1 series deficit in the first round.

“We faced adversity all season long and have responded well and we got a lot of work left to do,” he told reporters.

Barclay Goodrow and Pat Maroon scored for Tampa Bay, who twice came back from one-goal deficits but failed to take advantage of a golden opportunity with a four-minute powerplay that spanned the third period and start of overtime.

“We had chances to end that sucker in regulation. Sometimes you can play well and like your game and you don’t win,” said Tampa Bay head coach Jon Cooper. “You can’t pick your adversity, you have to fight your way through it.

“It is why you go up in series, to give yourself a chance or multiple chances to knock a team out and now we have to regroup and see if we can do it in Game Five.”

DAUNTING TASK

Montreal are in search of a record-extending 25th Stanley Cup but it would be Canada’s first since they last won it in 1993. Of the 27 previous teams to fall behind 3-0 in the Stanley Cup Final series, only the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs fought back to win.

Despite the daunting task facing Montreal, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is not giving up hope.

“It’s not over ’til it’s over,” he tweeted after the game.

Montreal grabbed their first lead of the series with under five minutes left in the opening period when Nick Suzuki found Anderson alone in front of the net and the forward sent his shot over the glove of Andrei Vasilevskiy.

Tampa Bay tied the score late in the second when Ryan McDonagh corralled a rebound outside the crease and flipped a no-look pass to Goodrow, who fired it into a wide-open net with Price out of position.

Montreal moved in front midway through the third period when Romanov scored his first career playoff goal but Maroon tied it up five minutes later.

Montreal lost captain Shea Weber to a four-minute high-sticking penalty with a minute left in regulation and while the Lightning had chances to put the game away the Canadiens stood firm before Anderson slammed home a loose puck for the win.

Tampa Bay, who won last year’s Stanley Cup without any fans present inside the NHL’s biosecure bubble in Edmonton, will host Montreal when the series resumes on Wednesday with their arena at full capacity.

“Obviously we are in a tough situation but we are still alive so we’re looking forward to the opportunity to go to Tampa and steal one there,” said Anderson.

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Additional reporting by Steve Keating; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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Calgary researcher looks at what Alberta's economic diversification could look like – Calgary Herald

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‘We are facing more challenges than in recent decades, and I think it’s time we be more thoughtful and focused on the longer term’

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As calls for economic diversification are renewed in Alberta amid work to recover from the economic toll of the COVID-19 pandemic, a Calgary researcher says traditional diversification may not be the answer to stabilizing the province’s economy.

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When things get tough in Alberta, people often say the province needs to diversify by stepping away from a reliance on oil and gas toward new or better industries, said Robert Mansell, a professor emeritus of economics at the University of Calgary and research fellow at the School of Public Policy.

The shocks of low oil prices and the COVID-19 pandemic have revived the discussion, Mansell said.

However, he argued that effective diversification is more likely to include increasing the range of goods and services produced by existing sectors in the province, promoting growth of markets for exports and creating competitive substitutes for imports.

“We can’t think there’s a quick fix to changing the industrial structure. There are things we can do, in terms of diversifying markets, expanding the range of products and improving the investment climate for new industries,” Mansell said Thursday.

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Mansell and his fellow researchers determined that Alberta’s rate of employment diversification is one of the best in the country, but is worse off when it comes to income diversification and value-added — or GDP — due to the size of the oil and gas industry.

Some of his suggestions for improving the stability of Alberta’s economy include reintroducing a heritage fund to save money, rebalancing federal procurement and repatriating the federal carbon tax.

“We do have a record of building strength in adversity,” said Mansell.

“We are facing more challenges than in recent decades, and I think it’s time we be more thoughtful and focused on the longer term. As opposed to looking for short-term fixes, let’s have a serious conversation about what we need to do over the next decade or more, and how we’re going to do it.”

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The paper concludes that the instability of the province’s oil and gas sector remains the highest risk to Alberta’s long-term prosperity. However, the province has the tools to adapt and innovate in a way “that will be critical in achieving a successful transition for this dominant sector.”

Mansell’s report is one of 24 research papers by the School of Public Policy, which will ultimately be grouped together to create three e-books published by the school. The research for the Alberta Futures Project is anticipated to form a basis for new policy to revitalize the province, with information on alternatives for Alberta’s fiscal, economic and policy future.

The reports touch on various topics — including financial planning and sustainability, Alberta’s energy sector and poverty — from a number of experts and researchers. And the project will also look at the future of Alberta’s health care, as the province transitions out of its pandemic response in the coming months.

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“This is to bring together thoughtful analysis of where we’ve been, where we are and what the future looks like, and what we should be doing to anticipate it,” said Mansell.

“Not everybody agrees and some talk about some of the hard choices that need to be made, like if we’re ultimately going to have a sales tax.”

Two of the reports — written by authors Mansell and Robert Ascah — were released Thursday as pre-publications.

Ascah’s research looks more closely at the province’s debt, the importance of addressing debt and how Alberta’s current fiscal crisis compares to those of the past.

sbabych@postmedia.com
Twitter: @BabychStephanie

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Drama over the debt ceiling is the last thing America's economy needs – CNN

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If Congress doesn’t raise the debt ceiling, the federal government will likely run out of cash by October or November, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is already vowing that Republicans will not vote to raise the federal borrowing limit — even though failing to do so risks a default that would tank the economy.
This raises the specter of Washington repeating the mistakes of the 2011 debt ceiling debacle by gambling with the full faith and credit of the United States. That episode sent markets into a tailspin and resulted in the unprecedented downgrade of America’s prized AAA credit rating.
“The last thing the economy needs is an artificial crisis,” said Joe Brusuelas, chief economist at RSM. “The risk is that the political polarization in Washington is so intense that politicians who should know better begin to throw around words like ‘default.'”
A default would be disastrous. US debt is considered among the safest securities on the planet, the benchmark for measuring all other risk. Even a near-default could send interest rates spiking, lifting the cost of borrowing on everything from car loans to mortgages. Markets would tumble.
“Few policy matters in Washington have such destructive economic capability,” Chris Krueger, managing director at Cowen Washington Research Group, wrote in a note to clients Thursday.

‘Cascading catastrophe’

During a hearing in May, JPMorgan Chase (JPM) CEO Jamie Dimon urged lawmakers not to even think about going down this path again. An actual default, Dimon said, “could cause an immediate, literally cascading catastrophe of unbelievable proportions and damage America for 100 years.”
Brusuelas echoed that sentiment. “If one wants chaos across financial markets and a replay of the global financial crisis, this would be the quickest road to hell,” he said. “The adults in the room need to take control.”
Yet this week McConnell signaled a brewing fight over the debt ceiling.
“I can’t imagine there will be a single Republican voting to raise the debt ceiling after what we’ve been experiencing,” the Senate minority leader said in an interview with Punchbowl News published Wednesday.
President Joe Biden responded by pointing out that Republicans had no problem raising the borrowing limit when a Republican was in the White House.
“You know, for the last four years, they’ve just extended the debt limit,” Biden told reporters.
In 2019, Congress voted to suspend the debt limit altogether, but that two-year suspension expires at the end of this month.
The Treasury Department can take extraordinary steps to keep the lights on — but not for long. Those measures will most likely be exhausted in October or November, the nonpartisan CBO estimated on Wednesday.

‘We’ve been here before’

This situation adds to the numerous question marks facing the US economy over when soaring inflation will cool off and the summer spike in Covid-19 cases driven by the Delta variant will taper.
“The timing of the debt limit deadline and the intersection of the issue with the broader fiscal debate is likely to lead to elevated uncertainty in late September when Congress will need to extend spending authority,” economists at Goldman Sachs wrote in a report sent to clients Wednesday night.
Wall Street seems unfazed, for now at least.
Despite Monday’s slide, the US stock market remains within striking distance of all-time highs. There are no signs of alarm about this issue in the Treasury market, either.
“We’ve been here before,” Guy LeBas, chief fixed income strategist at Janney Capital Markets, wrote in an email.
LeBas said investors would become concerned only if there was a “real risk” that the US Treasury would fail to make payments on maturing Treasury bills. And he added that would probably be three to four months after emergency cash measures begin, suggesting “there’s plenty of time” for Congress to raise the debt ceiling.

The end game

Goldman Sachs economists expect Congressional Democrats will combine the debt limit vote with a must-pass spending bill, a brinksmanship gambit that has been done in the past.
“While Senate Republican Leader McConnell has indicated that Republicans will not vote for suspending the debt limit, they might ultimately support it if the alternative is voting against spending authority, which would lead to a government shutdown,” Goldman Sachs economists wrote in the note.
Ed Mills, Washington policy analyst at Raymond James, doubts this will get settled through bipartisanship. He predicts Democrats will lift the debt ceiling through budget reconciliation as part of a major spending program, which requires only a simple majority.
“To me, this has always been the end game,” Mills said.
Even though many see a way to avoid a debt ceiling disaster, the brinksmanship itself only amplifies concerns about the political health of the United States.
Fitch Ratings warned earlier this month that it could remove America’s perfect credit rating due in part to worsening political polarization and the ongoing assault on democracy displayed by the January 6 insurrection.
Fitch concluded that governance is a “weakness” in the United States — and another standoff over the debt ceiling will only solidify its thinking.

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Perspective | The delta variant is scary, but it won't sink the economy – The Washington Post

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In recent days, major fear has been evident in financial markets and elsewhere that the delta variant of the coronavirus will spread widely and be a considerable impediment to continued economic growth: On Monday, the Dow tumbled 700 points, for example.

At least based on trends we’ve seen so far, these fears appear to be unfounded.

It is highly unlikely that the delta variant will lead to shutdowns of major sectors of the economy, of the sort we saw last spring and summer. The basic story is that in the states where the variant is causing the most infections and deaths, governors and other public officials are resistant to taking steps to contain the pandemic, especially if they carry an economic cost. So most economic enterprises will continue to do business, if not always at full capacity.

These states may face a public-health crisis but probably not an economic one. Meanwhile, the states where political leaders have been more responsive to public health concerns have far higher vaccination rates, and therefore the delta variant is not likely to pose a major health threat. Businesses therefore will continue to operate at a brisk pace.

We should expect this strong growth to continue (although the 7.6 percent rate is higher than we can expect to be sustained). The increased spread of the pandemic due to delta variant may shave a few tenths of a percentage point off our growth path, but it will not reverse it.

Before looking at the economics more closely, it is worth getting some perspective on the health risk posed by the delta variant, because public health and economics intersect. I am an economist, not an epidemiologist — and much is still subject to debate among the epidemiological experts — but it seems clear that a vaccinated population faces relatively little risk, even from delta.

Israel is often cited as a country where the delta variant has taken over rapidly — which is true, as a proportion of cases. But the death rates there remain nothing like they were at the pandemic’s peak, last winter. While cases have risen from essentially zero per 100,000 citizens in early June to roughly 10 per 100,000 citizens this week, death rates remain low: This week, that rate was .01 to .03 per 100,000, compared with more than 1 death per 100,000 people in mid-January. That’s partly because 60 percent of the population is fully vaccinated.

There is a similar story in Britain, where the delta variant has led to an explosion of cases but a limited uptick in deaths. The country reported .01 deaths per 100,000 citizens on Tuesday, compared with more than 2.5 deaths per 100,000 at the January peak. There is a lag between infections and deaths, so the full picture on deaths may not yet be evident, but vaccines weaken the link between cases and deaths; even when vaccinated people become infected, they rarely get seriously ill or die.

Currently, roughly 250 people are dying in the United States of covid daily — a figure that’s up significantly from two weeks ago. But while there is a huge range of uncertainty, we will almost certainly not see anything like the disaster in January, when we had close to 3,500 deaths a day. We probably will not even see a picture anywhere near as bad as last August, when deaths hit almost 1,200 a day at their peak.

And again, regional disparities are important as we attempt to grasp the economic situation. States such as Vermont and Massachusetts, where more than 80 percent of the population over 18 has received at least one dose, are seeing relatively few infections and deaths. Massachusetts, with a population of 6.9 million, has been averaging just three deaths a day from the pandemic. Each death is a tragedy, but such rates are unlikely to interfere with the state’s economic rebound.

By contrast, states such as Alabama and Louisiana, where just over 50 percent of the adult population has gotten at least one vaccine dose, are seeing cases soar and deaths climb. Alabama, with a population of 4.9 million, has been averaging five deaths a day, almost double the rate in Massachusetts. Louisiana, with a population of 4.6 million, has been averaging nine a day, roughly three times the Massachusetts rate.

Even without government action — restrictions on capacity and the like, which seem unlikely in the low vaccination states — there will be some economic hit, as people with serious immune issues, or other reasons to fear the pandemic, will avoid going to restaurants and other public places. But this is not going to have a large impact on the economy. Such people constitute a relatively small segment of the population, and such expenses represent a relatively small share of their normal spending. (Rationally, more unvaccinated people should be curtailing some of their activities, to protect themselves. But we are talking about what they are likely to do, not about what they ought to do.)

And of course, there are states that fall between the extremes of Vermont and Louisiana. In New York, for example, the proportion of fully vaccinated adults is 67 percent, with large variations across the state. It is very plausible that, if infection rates grow, New York state or New York City would impose restrictions on some activities such as indoor dining — although even in these cases, we are probably talking about limiting seating, not complete bans. The same could hold for theater and other activities involving indoor crowds. This will pinch parts of the New York economy, but restrictions on theater capacity will have little effect on the national economy.

In short, we have gotten lucky with the delta variant. It seems that our vaccines are largely effective in preventing death and serious illness — which makes a world of difference where the economy is concerned. The unvaccinated population is at greater risk, which is a huge public health issue, but the political leadership in the states where they are concentrated is not likely to take major steps to contain the pandemic — steps that would also hurt the economy.

There is, however, a hugely important point that we should all recognize. While our vaccines may be effective against the delta variant, the more the pandemic is allowed to spread around the world, the greater the risk that we will see a new variant against which they are not effective. That would lead to a whole new round of disease, death and economic shutdowns. Then economic pessimism would be warranted.

We should be mounting a World-War-II-scale, all-out effort to get the world vaccinated as quickly as possible. The humanitarian case for such an effort is overwhelming, but the case is compelling even on narrow self-interested grounds. If we fail to act, and a new strain forces another round of shutdowns, we would have only ourselves to blame for the economic calamity.

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