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Economy

Posthaste: What Canada’s mysterious rise in insolvencies says about the economy – Financial Post

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Good Morning!

So what’s up with rising household insolvencies in Canada? In September they saw a 19% spike from a year earlier, the biggest annual gain since 2009. So far this year, there have been 102,023 consumer insolvencies, the second-most for the first nine months of a year in records dating back to 1987. True, the gains come from low levels, but they are accelerating at a pace that’s normally seen in times of economic distress.

“Obviously, this is not the typical cyclical climb in household credit stress,” write CIBC economists Benjamin Tal and Avery Shenfeld in a report this week.

We are not in a recession; unemployment before November was near multi-decade lows. Nor is this an Alberta problem. Ontario saw just as big a spike as this province which is enduring a prolonged downturn. The only provinces that escaped the national increase were Quebec and Saskatchewan.

Tal and Shenfeld say clues to why we are seeing higher insolvencies in what looks like a healthy environment — and a lesson for investors, lenders and monetary policy makers — can be found in the type of debt experiencing rising write-off rates.

Mortgage debt, where arrears have “trended steadily downward,” is not the problem. “It’s the performance of non-mortgage consumer debt that is the canary in the coal mine we need to watch for turning points in the credit cycle,” says their report.

More specifically debt where rates are tied to the prime rate that rose with Bank of Canada hikes in 2018. CIBC says writeoffs are up sharply on both unsecured lines of credits (ULOCs) and secured lines of credit (HELOC), but credit card debt, where rates are not tied to monetary policy, is not seeing this trend.

“Households have been shifting debt from credit cards to lines to save on interest costs but were then squeezed as rate on ULOCs began to climb.”

Tal and Shenfeld say there is a clear trend that increases in delinquencies are coming from interest-rate-sensitive products and much of that increase took place after rate hikes by the Bank of Canada pushed up the prime rate.

The takeaway is that the Canadian “economy, with its legacy of higher household debt, would be more sensitive to interest rate hikes than in the past.”

“If raising the overnight rate to only 1.75% could set off a climb in insolvencies, before any major job losses have been seen, it’s clear that taking rates to anywhere near what was historically neutral, or even where some models might currently put neutral, could prove to be overkill,” the economists conclude.

Here’s what you need to know this morning:

  • Bank of England releases interest rate decision
  • Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development and Minister responsible for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, Steve Clark, Ontario Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing and John Tory, Mayor of Toronto, make an announcement in Toronto related to housing in Ontario
  • RCMP hold news conference in Edmonton about charges laid in $15-million money-laundering operation linked to illegal online cannabis sales
  • Notable earnings: Nike
  • Today’s data: Canadian wholesale trade, U.S. existing home sales, current account balance

Women alive today will not see world gender parity in their lifetime, was the conclusion of a report that created a lot of buzz this week. This year’s World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report calculates that worldwide gender parity is still 99.5 years away, or more than a lifetime for most of us, as the chart by Bloomberg below shows. One of the major battlegrounds for parity is economic participation where the gap widened in 2019 to 57.8% from 58.1% the year before. This gap will take now take 257 years to close, compared to the estimate of 202 years in 2018. Technological advances have hit women with a “triple whammy”, says the WEF. There are more women in the roles hit hardest by automation, not enough of them are entering professions, often technology-driven, where wage growth is greatest and lack of care infrastructure and access to capital limits them from becoming entrepreneurs. “As a result, women in work too often find themselves in middle-low wage categories that have been stagnant since the financial crisis 10 years ago,” the report said.

— Please send your news, comments and stories to pheaven@postmedia.com. — Pamela Heaven @pamheaven

With files from The Canadian Press, Thomson Reuters and Bloomberg

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GUEST OPINION: Trails can stimulate the economy in Atlantic Canada – SaltWire Network

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There are many things that this pandemic will have taught us, however for many it has reinforced the value of trails and greenspaces.

As a trail professional of nearly 20 years I’ve always valued trails and greenspaces, however in this fast-paced world with ever-changing technologies, many people began to take the great outdoors for granted.

With limited activities to do during the pandemic and many people stuck in the house most of the day, the opportunity to get outside and breathe some fresh air is now becoming something that is vital for their well-being.

These days I’m inundated by Facebook posts, tweets or Instagram posts of people relishing in the outdoors and thankful to have access to trails and greenspaces. As we begin to become accustomed to a new normal, it’s time for us as a society to start thinking about getting back to some of the more simple things in life and how these things can act as both a social and economic catalyst for communities. Many of these things don’t need to be complicated, but can have a tremendous impact as we begin to come back from the ramifications of COVID-19.

One of these opportunities is to foster the development of a trail economy. Many countries have capitalized on the trail economy; however Canada and Atlantic Canada have not come close to realizing the potential it has in developing a strong economy based on greenway trails. The trail economy is the idea of generating both indirect and direct revenue through the development and promotion of trails as a product.

This however is not a “build it and they will come” scenario; it requires significant engagement between trail managers working hand in hand with outfitters, business owners and community leaders to ensure that there is a strong integration between all stakeholders. What it doesn’t require, however, is significant investment of funds to get these relationships developed.

Prince Edward Island is perfectly positioned to take advantage of the trail economy and is in a unique position as an established tourist destination. The Island is well known for their hospitality and many people consider P.E.I. as a premier vacation destination.

The Confederation Trail provides tourists and residents alike with a 450-km trail that spans the province and provides access to many of the most scenic coastal regions on the Island. A feature that the Confederation Trail has over many of its counterparts is the relative short distance between communities thus allowing trail tourists with good access to food and beverage, accommodation and other critical amenities to ensure that they have a memorable experience.

It’s now time for these communities and the provincial government to take advantage of this feature and ensure that they are properly equipped to take on the task of welcoming these tourists to their beautiful towns and villages. The development of programs such as Trail Towns, where the business community and other key stakeholders work together to assess their attributes and work together to fill in their service gaps in the next key step of the development of the Confederation Trail as a tourism product.

Trails and greenspaces connect us to the land, the people and histories of our communities. With many people staying close to home this year and perhaps in the years to come, let’s take this time to get better connected, learn more about the region, create a stronger and healthier population and a more vibrant economic outlook for Atlantic Canada.

Jane Murphy-McCulloch is a principal at Terminus Consulting and was national director of Trail with the Trans Canada Trail, developing 10,000km of land and water trail along with road cycling infrastructure to ensure the successful connection to the national trail system in 2017.

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Fed's Powell says US economy faces long, uncertain recovery – BNN

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Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said the U.S. economy has a long way to go before fully recovering from the coronavirus pandemic and will need further support.

“The path forward will depend on keeping the virus under control, and on policy actions taken at all levels of government,” he told the House Financial Services Committee on Tuesday. While a recovery is underway, “both employment and overall economic activity, however, remain well below their pre-pandemic levels, and the path ahead continues to be highly uncertain.”

Read More: Powell and Mnuchin Set to Get Grilled on Need for More Stimulus

In his own remarks, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he and the White House continue to seek an agreement with both parties in Congress on another fiscal relief package.

‘Still Needed’

“The President and I remain committed to providing support for American workers and businesses,” he said in testimony released Tuesday. “I believe a targeted package is still needed, and the administration is ready to reach a bipartisan agreement.”

Powell and Mnuchin’s appearance is a quarterly exercise mandated by the Cares Act passed by Congress in March, which appropriated about US$2 trillion to help speed the U.S. recovery. The pair are likely to face questions about their use of Cares Act funds and about what else should still be done.

Prospects for another round of fiscal support have further dimmed amid spiraling partisan tension over the battle to replace Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, with just 42 days remaining before the U.S. election.

Main Street

Powell was prepared for questions about the Fed’s troubled Main Street Lending Program, a US$600 billion facility aimed at providing credit to small- and mid-sized companies. He said Fed officials had responded to feedback by making adjustments to the program.

Still, he added, “Main Street loans may not be the right solution for some businesses, in part because the Cares Act states clearly that these loans cannot be forgiven.”

The Fed has come under criticism for the low take-up so far from the Main Street program. It has so far purchased just US$1.5 billion in loans, as of Sept. 16. Some banks, especially larger institutions, have balked at lending through the program to the riskier businesses that may need them the most.

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Most Canadians say economy needs fundamental changes: report of COVID-19 priorities – News 1130

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VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — More than six months into the pandemic, many Canadians say the economy isn’t working the way it should, according to a survey.

A Better Canada: Values and Priorities after COVID-19 report found 44 per cent of Canadians think the way the economy works needs to be changed, and many people want more climate action.

The report from the Environics Institute and Vancity surveyed 3,008 Canadians online between Aug. 17 and 24.

“There is a big appetite among the public for change,” Andrew Parkin, with Environics Institute, says. “They want to see the economy work better, they want to address inequality between rich and poor, they would like to see progress on making essential medicines free through the public health care system.”

He says about one in 20 people believe everything is fine the way it is.

“One of the things I found interesting is that even among those who are the highest income earners, fewer than one in 10 think the economy is fine the way it is.”

And when it comes to the environment, there is a lot of support for investing in clean energy technologies.

“They want to kickstart the economy by investing in green technologies or new businesses that can promote both the environment and growth at the same time,” Parkin says.

Even if it slows down economic development, the survey found three in four Canadians want the environment to be protected in the country. Eighty-four per cent also say it’s important for corporations to have policies and programs in place to protect the environment.

According to the report, almost all parents agree Canada should be a country where affordable and high-quality daycare for young children is available to all who need it.

Read the full report:

a-better-canada—draft-revised-20-septdfb523c8528241c6a0c46c00983b7dba

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