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Trump said he would revive the US economy. Here's how those pledges held up in 2019. | Markets – Business Insider

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REUTERS/Carlos Barria

  • A flurry of populist economic promises helped propel President Donald Trump to the White House in 2016.
  • Nearly three years later, the record-long expansion has cooled but held up better than expected.
  • Here’s how some of his top pledges on the economy held up in 2019.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

A flurry of populist economic promises helped propel President Donald Trump to the White House in 2016.

Nearly three years later, the record-long expansion has cooled but held up better than expected. Business Insider investigated how some of his top pledges on the economy held up in 2019.



Gross domestic product

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

The White House Council of Economic Advisers predicted that growth would top 3% for every year that Trump was in office. While growth has held up better than predicted, particularly after tax cut effects faded and trade tensions rose, that hasn’t happened so far.

In the first three quarters of 2019, gross domestic product held up better than economists had predicted. The results of the last three months aren’t out yet, but economists are all but certain that annual growth will be far closer to 2%.



Federal budget

AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

Trump famously vowed as a candidate to pay off the national debt within eight years. But red ink has continued to flow at a record pace under the Trump administration.

In the 2019 fiscal year, the national deficit swelled to its highest level in seven years at $984 billion. The last time it was that high, Washington was dealing with the aftermath of the Great Recession.



Trade deals

AP Photo/Susan Walsh

Trump has long promised to overhaul the global trade system in an attempt to benefit American workers he said have been put at a disadvantage by globalization. In 2019, he escalated tariff fights with China and several US allies.

Near the end of the year, Trump declared victory from those efforts as China announced it would commit to increased agricultural purchases, tighter protections for intellectual property, and other economic changes as part of an agreement to defuse tensions.

Separately, the White House gained support from Democrats for its signature rewrite of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

The pact marked a major legislative accomplishment for Trump, who called NAFTA the “worst” trade deal in history. The revised pact includes stricter rules on manufacturing origins and labor rules, but is expected to have a modest or slightly negative impact on the economy.



Jobs

AP

The US labor market has continued to hum under Trump. Throughout his presidency, the rate of job creation has largely kept in line with population growth.

In 2019, the unemployment rate held near a half-century low for much of the year. It consistently registered at or below 4%.



Manufacturing

Jeff Swensen / Stringer

Trump won over Rust Belt states on the back of promises to revive the manufacturing sector.

American factory activity picked up in the first year of his administration. But activity has fallen sharply over the past two years as tariffs levied by the president exacerbate a broader slowdown in factory activity. In 2019, the sector fell into a mild recession.


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Economy

How the woman at the wheel of the N.W.T.'s economy sees the road ahead – CBC.ca

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Caroline Wawzonek just said goodbye to her dream job. 

Having spent a career working in human rights and criminal defence, chairing committees and working groups dedicated to bettering the justice system and addressing the chronic issues it creates, she was elected into office one year ago and immediately selected to become the N.W.T.’s new justice minister.

“To be there, frankly, at a pivotal time where I think there is this social movement for change — I absolutely loved it,” she said.

“It really has been what I wanted it to be,” she said. “That, you know, you can put your hand on something and start to see movement in a different direction.”

Two weeks ago, Wawzonek left that job as the result of a cabinet shuffle in the wake of former industry and infrastructure minister Katrina Nokleby’s stunning departure from cabinet.

But in the process, Wawzonek took on one of Nokleby’s old departments — Industry, Tourism and Investment (ITI) — adding it to her ongoing role as finance minister.

Walking out that meeting, Wawzonek had somehow gained an even greater responsibility than she had at justice: guiding the territory’s economy through an unprecedented crisis.

Seal fur crafts at the Inuvialuit craft store in Inuvik, N.W.T. As minister of ITI, Wawzonek’s mandate spans from responding to the needs of home crafters and small businesses to wooing billion-dollar mining conglomerates to the N.W.T. (Mackenzie Scott/CBC)

A ‘broad, broad obligation’

To quote Wawzonek, ITI is an “interesting department.” It’s amorphous mandate spans from wooing billion-dollar mining conglomerates to placating gas station owners in communities of fewer than 100 people.

“It’s not actually large in terms of its …  number of staff, and it’s not actually large in terms of its budget,” she said. “What it is huge with is its complexity.”

As minister of finance and, now, industry, Wawzonek will be tasked with not only announcing million-dollar relief funds and economic incentives, but ensuring they are implemented correctly.

That has not always been easy. ITI is sometimes the target of criticism from the territory’s private sector, accused of creating unnecessary delays and red tape.

Some of those problems originate in other departments, Wawzonek stressed. But she acknowledged ITI is frequently the “interface” between government and the private sector.

“If we’re not able to show that we’re hearing those concerns and translating it into action at [the] cabinet table … that is when that relationship breaks down,” she said.

Recently, that issue came to a head over how the government hands out contracts — in some cases, bypassing Indigenous companies that had been labouring to build capacity for decades in favour of southern-based corporations.

ITI has been criticized for handing lucrative contracts to southern corporations at the expense of Indigenous companies. Tlicho Grand Chief George Mackenzie, pictured here at the 2019 Tlicho annual gathering in Gameti, N.W.T., called the territory’s past approach an ‘insult’. (Walter Strong/CBC)

Wawzonek said her first priority will be to see a promised procurement review through to completion, during which controversial tools like the N.W.T.’s Business Incentive Policy will be up for discussion.

“We want to be providing value,” she said. “But we also want to ensure that to the best extent that we possibly can, the benefits of government procurement is staying in the North.”

“So I think there’s a very big picture discussion that needs to happen, and then there’s the one-on-one with businesses who say … this was a difficult process to navigate.”

But Wawzonek’s mandate letter — the longest of any minister — also asks her to address long-standing challenges that have stumped previous governments: increasing employment, diversifying the N.W.T.’s economy, and attracting new mining investment.

On the latter, Wawzonek is a realist about the problems facing the mining industry in the territory: unsettled land claims, a lack of infrastructure, and regulatory complexity often said to discourage investment.

Haul trucks lined up for a safety check at the Gahcho Kué diamond mine in February. Wawzonek said the problems facing the northern mining industry are not going to be resolved overnight. (Submitted by De Beers Group)

“The reality is with all three of them, those are not easy problems to fix tomorrow,” she said.

While mining will remain the cornerstone of the economy through her tenure, Wawzonek said she’ll take her lead from regional diversification strategies when deciding which other sectors to target for growth.

“Keeping in mind always that our goal … isn’t just to, you know, diversify for the sake of it,” she said. “It’s to grow an economy from the Northwest Territories.”

Problems predating COVID-19

Her biggest challenge — and greatest limitation — is impossible to ignore: an unending pandemic that has kept the territory’s borders closed and businesses hobbled.

COVID-19 received little mention in Wawzonek’s mandate letter, but it is likely to dominate her immediate future in the role.

Wawzonek has previously spoken about how COVID-19 is making the territory’s problems worse. But faced with the challenge of delivering a fair economic recovery on a tight budget, Wawzonek said not much has changed.

“Our economic challenges and our budgetary challenges started before COVID-19, right?” she said. “What COVID-19 has done is forced everyone to really … reckon with the reality.”

That makes the issue of judging her success or failure in the role a difficult one. Wawzonek takes a moment when asked how she’d judge herself.

In the end, she opts for modest goals — better budgeting in finance that shows the “value for dollar” of government programs, and a procurement review that makes businesses feel heard.

“I think they have to say when things are better,” she said.

“That to me would be success.”

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Economy

Religion and its services contribute $67.5 billion to the Canadian economy, calculates new study – Shoreline Beacon

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The report suggests there are hard-dollar contributions to the economy, worth about $31 billion, which considers the revenues of faith-based charities, organizations and congregations

A service is held at St. Eugene De Mazenod Catholic Church in Brampton.

Postmedia Network

Even as the proportion of the faithful in Canada declines, the activities of religious people and organizations account for nearly $67.5 billion of economic activity in Canada each year, according to estimates in a new paper from Cardus, a faith-based Canadian think tank.

“There is a broad, wide and overall totally beneficial effect of religion on the lives of everyday Canadians, on our country, on our social safety, and that applies to people not just who are religious,” said Brian Dijkema, vice-president of external affairs at Cardus. “It shows the broader public benefit of religion to Canadian society as a whole.”

The report, the first of its kind in Canada to tally up the economic impact of faith, suggests there are hard-dollar contributions to the economy, worth about $31 billion, which considers the revenues of faith-based charities, organizations and congregations. Then there is a further $37 billion in “halo effects,” which tallies up the economic impact of things such as substance-abuse support, or kosher and halal food sales.

“Understanding the socioeconomic value of religion to Canadian society is especially important in the present era characterized by disaffiliation from organized religion,” the report, released Monday, says. “Of course, faith has much more value than is represented by a dollar estimate, but such a valuation provides a new way of understanding the contribution of faith to Canadian society.”

Of the nearly 38 million people in Canada, roughly half (55 per cent) are Christians of one persuasion or another, according to a PEW study from 2019; a further 29 per cent are some variety of agnostic, up from just four per cent in 1971. A further eight per cent fall among other religions, such as Sikh, Hindu, Muslim, Jewish and Buddhist.

To come up with its estimates, Cardus trawled through charitable returns, school and religious health-care financial documents and religious publication revenues.

Of the direct economic contribution of $31 billion, the lion’s share is publicly funded Catholic schools, which is a total of $14.5 billion. The next most significant economic outlay is congregation revenue at $7 billion, then health care at $4.7 billion. The remainder is made up by independent schools, charities, higher education and religious media.

The most important part of the estimate, said Dijkema, involves the “halo effect” of religion.

“We’re talking about $35 billion worth of activity that takes place simply because these religious communities are committed to making the lives of their members and their community that much better,” he said.

The report catalogues several ways in which religion provides additional economic benefits: religious employees, for example, pay taxes; congregations spend in local economies; churches attract revenue-generating activities such as weddings and provide an “invisible safety net” of social services (Cardus says that 47 per cent of Alcoholics Anonymous meetings happen in churches.)

These estimates use modelling from other studies. To come up with its total indirect spending estimate of $37 billion, Cardus assumes congregations spend what they bring in, approximately $7 billion, but that represents only 20 per cent, per the other research, of total congregation activity.

Related

The remaining 80 per cent is broken up among the aforementioned activities, again using percentages from other studies, and then the money is calculated from there, for example, 3.5 per cent, or $1.2 billion for safety net supports. The largest cohort, categorized as “individual impact,” is worth about $13.4 billion, or 38 per cent of the total. That includes the benefits, broadly, of providing support “to individuals, couples, and families,” the report says.

“Housing, food banks, care for immigrants and refugees, care for those who are in abusive situations, often it’s people in religious communities who are the first responders to that,” said Dijkema.

“Often people, when they think of religion, they think of people praying privately … but I think what this shows is the religious character of many communities in Canada have vast and under-appreciated public effects.”

The study doesn’t consider some all potential effects of faith, though. While Christmas, for example, is worth about $10 billion to the Canadian economy, Cardus ignores it, since it is not necessarily directly attributable to faith.

As well, Cardus cautions the study doesn’t account for some of the negative influences of religious life. They also say the “most important” limitation is that the estimate of the value of goods and services “is based on the proposition that the findings from other halo-effect studies can be extrapolated up to the national level.”

• Email: tdawson@postmedia.com | Twitter:

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Economy

Swedish government promises $12 billion to kick-start economy in 2021 budget – TheChronicleHerald.ca

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STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – Sweden’s government will pump 105 billion crowns ($12 billion) into the economy in 2021 in tax cuts and spending measures in a record give-away aimed at getting the economy back on its feet after the coronavirus pandemic-induced slump.

The government forecast Sweden’s gross domestic product will shrink around 4.6% this year in its budget on Monday, a milder hit than many other European countries. But the government said record fiscal stimulus was needed to get the country moving again.

“Together we are going to work Sweden’s way out of the crisis and build a more sustainable society,” the minority coalition said in a statement.

While many countries in Europe are re-imposing COVID restrictions after a surge in new cases, attention is turning to how to kick-start economies to ensure those who lost their jobs during the pandemic are not permanently side-lined and to support an new era of environmentally sustainable growth.

Sweden’s Social Democrat and Green coalition said the focus would be on boosting jobs, welfare and supporting the switch to a carbon-free future as it outlined a raft of tax cuts and new spending.

Most of the budget was already known, with measures a hodge-podge agreed with two small-centre right parties which help keep the coalition in power.

(Reporting by Simon Johnson; editing by Niklas Pollard)

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