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Saskatoon economy recovering but IMF warns of inflation, vaccine inequality – Global News

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COVID-19 public health restrictions are gone and Saskatoon’s economy is recovering.

At least, for now.

The Saskatoon Regional Economic Development Authority (SREDA) calculates the economy of the province’s largest city is 67.8-per cent recovered from the pandemic as of Thursday (though most of the factors it takes into account are from much earlier in the month).

But the International Monetary Fund (IMF) a global financial watchdog, says inequality and another wave of COVID-19 infections could threaten any gains.

Read more:
How the Delta variant is reviving COVID-19 surges worldwide

SREDA CEO Alex Fallon told Global News that agricultural exports, the housing market and consumer and retail spending is driving the bulk of the recovery right now. He said the hospitality sector is helping, with people taking staycations in the city, but is still dragging behind.

“The economic recovery in the Saskatoon region is probably a little bit better (than) we expected it to be,” he said.

He added that the rest of the recovery will depend on the continuing performance of the housing market, as well as home renovations and consumer confidence in the economy.

He predicted, albeit cautiously, that Saskatoon will recover fully by the end of the year.

A recent IMF report states any recovery is threatened by unequal vaccine distribution.

The IMF’s July World Economic Outlook predicts a 6 per cent increase in the global economy (which coincidentally matches the Bank of Canada’s most recent prediction for the Canadian economy) – if infections stay low.

Read more:
U.S. consumer prices surged 5.4% in June, biggest jump in 13 years

“Vaccine access has emerged as the principal fault line along which the global recovery splits into two blocs: those that can look forward to further normalization of activity later this year and those that will still face resurgent infections and rising COVID death tolls,” the report states.

“The recovery, however, is not assured even in countries where infections are currently very low so long as the virus circulates elsewhere,” and so long as segments of the population remain susceptible.

It says a new, extra infectious or deadly variant would disrupt any recovery efforts because it is likely to spread around the planet.

The report also states developing economies are susceptible to advanced economies’ overcorrections targeting inflation.

The combination of both “would severely set back their recovery and drag global growth below this outlook’s baseline.”

Read more:
What’s causing higher inflation and why it could last years

The cause of the inflation, it says, are low commodity prices in 2019 and supply issues as the cause of rising prices this year.

It predicts inflation will likely subside by next year, though notes “uncertainty remains high.”

University of Regina economist Jason Childs is a little more assured prices will continue to rise in Canada.

How consumers respond to this momentary inflation “blip” as Canada reopens, he said, “will determine whether or not we get locked into an inflationary spiral.”

So, our reaction to inflation could cause more inflation.

As such, Childs is less optimistic about Saskatoon’s recovery, or any western Canadian city’s recovery.

He said the 67.8-per cent figure broadly represents similar cities east of Ontario.

Read more:
Some salaries up ‘drastically’ as Canada feels impact of labour shortages

(He said the pandemic was less of an issue for many smaller population centres that depend on natural resources. Last year the president of the Agricultural Producers of Saskatchewan told Global News the agricultural sector was unaffected by the pandemic.)

Childs told Global News the remainder of the recovery will depend on the hospitality and tourism sectors rebounding, which he said isn’t likely to happen soon.

He said a labour shortage in those sectors, which Fallon also identified as an issue, will further limit gains. And he said the labour shortage could be hard to solve.

“The longer you’re away from the job market and employment, the harder it is for you to transition back into that,” he said.

Overall, he was wary of any predictions.

The pandemic has been a nearly-unprecedented event and the planet has never been more integrated.

Historical examples then may not be as illustrative as policy makers might hope.

“The last time we spent like this – we’ve never spent like this,” Childs said.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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US economy continues to strengthen despite Delta, says Fed – BBC News

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Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell

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The US economy continues to strengthen, albeit at a slower rate because of the Delta variant of Covid, the US Federal Reserve has said.

The central bank said the jobs market was improving and that currently high rates of inflation remained transitory.

It said it may start reducing its emergency support for the economy “soon”, but did not say when.

Half of its policymakers also projected interest rates will need to rise in 2022 from current rock-bottom levels.

The US economy has rebounded strongly this year from its pandemic lows, but there are fears Delta will derail the recovery.

The country added fewer jobs than expected in August as rising infections hit spending on travel, tourism and hospitality.

Inflation, which measures the increase in the cost of living over time, is running at 5.3% – the highest in nearly 13 years. It comes amid surging consumer demand, rising energy prices, and supply chain-related shortages.

Despite this, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), which sets US monetary policy, said overall indicators of economic activity “have continued to strengthen”.

“The sectors most adversely affected by the pandemic have improved in recent months, but the rise in Covid-19 cases has slowed their recovery,” it said.

“Inflation is elevated, largely reflecting transitory factors. Overall financial conditions remain accommodative, in part reflecting policy measures to support the economy and the flow of credit to US households and businesses.”

‘Broadly as expected’

The FOMC said the path of the economy still depended “on the course of the virus”. And it expects to keep monetary policy loose until more progress is made on stabilising unemployment – which stands at 5.2% – and consumer prices.

However, it said if progress continues “broadly as expected”, it may soon pare back its $120bn-a-month bond-buying programme which has helped keep borrowing rates low.

Worker at Chipotle

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Analysts said the bank was taking a cautious approach, noting no formal date was set for pulling back support.

“While the Federal Reserve has laid the groundwork for an eventual taper [of asset purchases] later this year, the Fed erred on the side of caution given that the macroeconomic landscape has deteriorated somewhat over the last few months,” said Candice Bangsund, a portfolio manager at Fiera Capital.

“Preconditions for a formal taper announcement will largely depend on economic conditions over the coming months, with an emphasis on data dependence.”

Gurpreet Gill, a macro strategist at Goldman Sachs, said ongoing supply chain disruption, the spread of Delta and higher inflation still weighed on the minds of Fed committee members.

“Given uncertainty around the health of labour market and inflationary pressures, we would not be surprised if the ‘dot plot’ changes again in the coming months as the pace of the recovery and underlying inflation dynamics become clearer.”

The Fed has two goals. It aims to keep US inflation at about 2% and to achieve maximum employment, whereby everyone who needs a job has one.

During the pandemic it has supported the economy by slashing interest rates to historic lows and pumping billions of dollars into the financial system by buying government and corporate bonds.

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Low Vaccination Rates are Hurting Southeast Asia's Economy: ADB – The Diplomat

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Economic growth in Southeast Asia is beginning to fall behind other parts of the region due to the region’s continued struggles with outbreaks of the disease and the sluggish rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, the Asian Development Bank said today.

In an update to its Asian Development Outlook report, the Manila-based multilateral bank stated that growth in the 46 nations of what it terms “developing Asia” is projected to reach 7.1 percent this year, down slightly from its 7.3 percent forecast in April. Despite this small downgrade, this year’s growth estimate is a marked improvement over the 0.1 percent contraction that the region saw last year.

Within the region, however, “growth paths are diverging, with economies that have successfully contained the pandemic or are making good progress on vaccination programs forging ahead,” the report stated.

Among the problem regions is Southeast Asia, where the ADB has cut its growth projections due to the region’s struggle to contain outbreaks of COVID-19, continued lockdowns and restrictions, and slow vaccine rollouts.

Southeast Asia’s regional growth projections for 2021 and 2022 have been lowered to 3.1 percent and 5.0 percent, respectively, from forecasts of 4.4 percent and 5.1 percent in April. The region has also seen the largest gap – 8.6 percent – between economic forecasts for 2021 and pre-pandemic projections.

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“Southeast Asia will recover at a much slower pace than earlier projected,” the report stated, resulting in weaker than expected growth rates in nine out of the subregion’s 11 economies. It added that the region’s recovery “continues to be curtailed by recurring spikes of COVID-19 cases, resulting in the reimposition of stringent containment measures in some economies, including the Philippines.”

The downgrade is more significant in the case of certain major economies in the region, including Thailand (0.8 percent down from 3 percent in April), Indonesia (3.5 percent down from 5 percent), and Malaysia (4.7 percent down from 6 percent).

Vietnam, which had the distinction of being the only Southeast Asian nation to register positive growth in 2020, has seen its outlook for 2021 slashed from 6.7 percent in April to 3.8 percent now.

Myanmar, in the throes of a severe political crisis, will see its GDP contract by an astounding 18.4 percent this year, down from what now seems like an optimistic projection of a 9 percent contraction in April.

The one Southeast Asian nation to see an upgrade in its economic outlook was Singapore, where high vaccination coverage – the country has fully vaccinated more than three-quarters of its population – will “continue allowing the economy to benefit from the rise in global demand.”

While much of Southeast Asia managed to avoid the worst of the pandemic in 2020, the Delta variant of the virus has scythed its way through many countries in the region in recent months. This has exposed governments’ complacency in sourcing vaccines, with just three of the region’s 11 nations – Singapore, Cambodia, and Malaysia – having fully vaccinated a greater proportion of their populations than the United States (51.8 percent of the population) and the European Union (58 percent). Six have fully vaccinated less than a third.

According to the ADB report, “the uneven progress of vaccinations is contributing to the divergence of growth paths in developing Asia,” as economies like China, Singapore, and Taiwan that have vaccinated larger proportions of their populations experience a quicker recovery from the pandemic slump. In its report, the ADB raised its forecast for “developing” East Asia, a region that includes China and South Korea, by 0.2 percentage points to 7.6 percent.

The development suggests that the impacts of Southeast Asia’s sluggish reaction to the latest outbreaks of COVID-19, including both the avoidable delays in beginning vaccine distribution and the unavoidable challenges of gaining access to adequate supplies, will continue to have long-term economic effects.

Even then, the region will remain vulnerable to a host of challenges, “including the emergence of new variants, waning vaccine effectiveness, geopolitical tensions, and the resulting disruptions to global supply chains.

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ECB Says Ignoring Climate Change May Decimate Europe's Economy – Bloomberg

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A failure to introduce policies to mitigate climate change could significantly lower Europe’s economic output by the end of the century, according to the European Central Bank.

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