Connect with us


U.S. Federal Reserve hikes interest rate by largest amount since 1994 – The Globe and Mail



U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell speaks during a news conference on interest rates, the economy and monetary policy actions, at the Federal Reserve Building in Washington on June 15.OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP/Getty Images

The U.S. Federal Reserve has announced its largest interest rate increase since 1994, and said that it would continue pushing borrowing costs higher in an effort to restrain the highest inflation in four decades.

Officials announced a 0.75 percentage point interest rate increase on Wednesday, lifting the benchmark federal funds rate to between 1.5 per cent and 1.75 per cent.

The move marks an abrupt shift at the world’s largest central bank, and suggests a willingness by the central bankers to squeeze the U.S. economy to prevent prices from spiralling further out of control.

Higher interest rates make borrowing more expensive for households and businesses, with the aim of reducing the amount of demand in the economy. This slows the pace of growth in consumer prices. But it can also lead to a recession if the central bank miscalculates and tightens monetary policy too much, curtailing consumer spending and business investment, and pushing up unemployment.

Bank of Canada would be wise to match U.S. Federal Reserve’s plans for aggressive rate hikes

The Fed’s interest rate hikes in recent months and increasingly hawkish language have already led to tighter credit conditions in the United States and around the world. Global borrowing costs tend to follow what happens in the U.S. That’s led to a decline in house prices in some markets and a sharp sell-off in financial assets such as stocks.

Fed officials had previously signalled that they would announce an increase of a half a point this week. But they were surprised in the days leading to the rate decision by data that showed the rate of inflation continues to march higher. It hit a 40-year-high of 8.6 per cent in May.

Reports published in recent days also showed that Americans are beginning to expect persistently high inflation – a situation that makes the Fed’s job of getting the rate of inflation back to 2 per cent much more difficult.

“We’ve been expecting progress [on inflation], and we didn’t get that, we got sort of the opposite,” Fed chair Jerome Powell said at a news conference after the rate announcement.

Inflation was already at a multidecade high at the start of the year, eating into U.S. wages and savings. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has made matters worse by pushing global oil and food prices sharply higher in recent months.

This has forced central banks, including the Bank of Canada, to begin raising interest rates rapidly in the hope of preventing high inflation from becoming entrenched, as happened in the 1970s and early 1980s.

Mr. Powell said he did not expect moves of 75 basis points to become common. But he said the Fed would likely consider a hike of 50 or 75 basis points at its meeting in July, with the goal of getting interest rates to a “modestly restrictive level” by the end of the year. (A basis point is one 100th of a percentage point.)

Economic projections published on Wednesday show that Fed officials now expect the federal funds rate will rise to 3.4 per cent by the end of the year, and to 3.8 per cent next year. That’s a stark change from March, when officials expected the benchmark rate to hit 1.9 per cent by the end of the year and 2.8 per cent by 2023.

“We aren’t going to declare victory until we really see convincing evidence, compelling evidence that inflation is coming down,” Mr. Powell said.

After the Fed’s mega rate hike, stock markets vacillated between fear and relief, capturing the tortured relationship between equities and interest rates. Despite the Fed’s hawkish turn, the S&P 500 index gained 1.46 per cent on the day, while the S&P/TSX Composite Index advanced by 0.32 per cent.

This follows a dramatic sell-off on Monday, after the idea that the Fed would move 75 basis points became widespread in financial markets.

In general, equity investors prefer low rates – they make stocks more attractive than low-yielding bonds, and their economic effect tends to boost corporate earnings by making it cheaper to borrow.

This had been the case through the first two years of the pandemic, when emergency central bank action on rates helped orchestrate a monumental rebound in stock markets. From the lows of March, 2020, the S&P/TSX Composite Index roughly doubled over the next two years, while the S&P 500 index gained about 115 per cent.

Now, having lost control of inflation, central banks no longer have the luxury of coming to the stock market’s rescue as it has in the past, by slashing rates when appetite for risky assets such as stocks crumbles.

“The Fed’s primary goal is to tame inflation right now, and not to boost the equity markets,” Ipek Ozkardeskaya, senior analyst at Swissquote Bank, wrote in a note. “And depressed market conditions seem necessary in achieving that goal.”

But investors generally seem to have grasped that aggressive policy changes are required to conquer the worst inflation threat in a generation. Influential people in the U.S. financial community, such as activist investor Bill Ackman, have called for enormous rate hikes to restore the Fed’s credibility with financial markets.

The accelerated pace of interest rate hikes is risky. If the Fed tightens monetary policy too much, it could push the U.S. economy into a recession. The Fed’s updated economic forecast, published on Wednesday, doesn’t show the country’s economy falling into recession, but it does show growth slowing and unemployment rising.

The Fed now expects 1.7-per-cent annual GDP growth this year and next year, down from its March projection of 2.8-per-cent growth this year and 2.2 per cent next year. Meanwhile, it expects the rate of unemployment to rise from 3.6 per cent today to 3.9 per cent next year and 4.1 per cent in 2024.

“We don’t seek to put people out of work,” Mr. Powell said. “Of course, we never think too many people are working and fewer people need to have jobs. But we also think you really cannot have the kind of [robust] labour market we want without price stability.”

He said in May that he expects the U.S. economy can achieve a “softish” landing: reducing inflation without causing a sharp rise in unemployment. He reiterated this point on Wednesday, although he acknowledged that high oil prices and the conflict in Ukraine are making a soft landing harder to achieve.

“Many factors we don’t control are going to play a very significant role in deciding whether that’s possible or not,” Mr. Powell said. “There is a path for us to get there. It’s not getting easier, it’s getting more challenging.”

Your time is valuable. Have the Top Business Headlines newsletter conveniently delivered to your inbox in the morning or evening. Sign up today.

Adblock test (Why?)

Source link

Continue Reading


Canada's job vacancies reached one million in April and these sectors have the most openings – Economic Times



Employers in Canada were actively seeking to fill about one million vacant positions at the beginning of April, up 44.4 per cent from the same period of the previous year, Statistics Canada said on Friday.

There was an average of 1.1 unemployed people for each job vacancy in April, down from 1.2 in March, and down from 2.4 one year earlier, the national statistical office said, adding that labor shortage trends continue in Canada with record-high job vacancies in many sectors.

Think you check all the immigration boxes? Find out

The number of job vacancies in the construction sector reached a new high of 89,900 in April, up 15.4 percent from March and up 43.3 percent from April 2021.

Job vacancies also increased to a record high in April in professional, scientific and technical services; transportation and warehousing; finance and insurance; arts, entertainment and recreation; and real estate and rental and leasing, the agency said.

In manufacturing, there were 90,400 vacant positions in April, up 7.3 percent from March and up 30.7 percent from April 2021. In accommodation and food services, employers were actively seeking to fill 153,000 vacant positions in April, little changed from the previous month.


Meanwhile, in the health care and social assistance sector, the number of job vacancies decreased 15.1 percent to 125,200 in April from its peak of 147,500 reached in March 2022, but was 21.3 percent higher than in April 2021. There were 97,800 job vacancies in retail trade in April, down 7.1 percent from March, but 27.9 percent higher than in April 2021, Statistics Canada said.

NRI-QR-labelET Online

Adblock test (Why?)

Source link

Continue Reading


New B.C. sales tax rules go into effect July 1 for online marketplaces like Amazon, eBay – Vancouver Sun



Online marketplaces with annual gross revenues of more than $10,000 — hello, Facebook and Amazon — will be required to collect the provincial sales tax on goods and services sold on their sites

Article content

Starting July 1, British Columbians could be paying more for goods they buy through online marketplaces such as Facebook and Amazon.

Advertisement 2

Article content

That’s because the B.C. government has made changes that require these online marketplaces that have annual gross revenues of more than $10,000 to collect the provincial sales tax on goods and services sold on their sites.

It shifts the responsibility to companies like eBay and Amazon to collect the PST, rather than the small businesses that may use a marketplace facilitator site to sell their products, according to the B.C. finance ministry.

In addition, these marketplaces are also being required by the province to charge PST to individual sellers for use of their services, such as help with listing the sales of goods, advertising, warehousing and payment collection.

It’s the latest move by the province to create a more even playing field for online operations that continue to increase their share of the economy.

Advertisement 3

Article content

The B.C. government expects the PST rule changes will generate an additional $100 million in revenues this fiscal year and $120 million the following year.

The Retail Council of Canada, which has offices in B.C., says the move to treat online marketplaces the same as brick-and-mortar stores makes sense because it puts businesses on an equal footing.

But the addition of the PST for services purchased by sellers in B.C., often small businesses, will simply add costs for consumers here and make local sellers uncompetitive as other jurisdictions in Canada have not introduced a similar measure, said Karl Littler, senior vice-president of public affairs for the Retail Council of Canada.

“It doesn’t exist anywhere else. It’s a new tax between a marketplace facilitator, like an Amazon or like a Best Buy or like a Facebook, and somebody who’s selling goods,” said Littler.

Advertisement 4

Article content

The council is concerned that small B.C. merchants will be paying seven per cent on these online marketplace services, irrespective of whether the end-customer is in B.C. or elsewhere. This will make them less competitive versus other businesses operating in other North American jurisdictions.

In B.C., people who buy goods and services through online marketplaces will be charged the PST on top of the now higher-priced goods themselves, a sort form of double taxation, argued the retail council.

As well, the changes serve as a disincentive to marketplace services to locate facilities, and thus jobs, in B.C., says the retail council.

In a written response, finance ministry officials said the application of the PST to marketplace services attempts to keep pace with the changing digital economy.

Advertisement 5

Article content

There is no explicit breakout for the tax on services from online marketplace facilitators, but in an email the ministry said it expects it to account for less than 10 per cent of the estimated additional $100 million in tax revenue that will be collected.

Werner Antweiler, a professor in the Sauder School of Business at the University of B.C., said having online marketplaces collect the PST on goods and services closes a loophole in taxation and helps collect tax from sellers abroad.

What’s different about B.C.’s approach is the inclusion of the PST on online marketplaces services provided to online marketplace sellers, said Antweiler.

It may be that other provinces or the federal government will follow suit, but this new rule may disadvantage online facilitators setting up in B.C., as B.C. would be hard pressed to enforce tax collection outside its own jurisdiction, even in another province.

Advertisement 6

Article content

“There is a trade-off. While the economic rationale to tax all services, including online marketplace services provided to sellers, is sound, B.C. going this alone puts B.C. at a disadvantage,” said Antweiler.

In 2020, the B.C. government introduced new rules that required sellers of software and telecommunications services, such as Netflix, had to collect the PST.

That measure was expected to generate $11 million in new tax revenues in 2020-21 and $16 million in 2021-2022.

More news, fewer ads, faster load time: Get unlimited, ad-lite access to the Vancouver Sun, the Province, National Post and 13 other Canadian news sites for just $14/month or $140/year. Subscribe now through the Vancouver Sun or The Province.

Advertisement 1


Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.

Adblock test (Why?)

Source link

Continue Reading


The U.S. wants to ban Juul. Where is Canada on regulating e-cigarettes? – Yahoo News Canada



The vaping company Juul has been ordered to remove its products from the U.S. market.  (Tony Dejak/The Associated Press - image credit)

The vaping company Juul has been ordered to remove its products from the U.S. market. (Tony Dejak/The Associated Press – image credit)

Earlier this week, regulators in the United States ordered Juul to pull its vaping products from the market, dealing a major blow to one of the most powerful players in the industry.

The company is appealing the decision by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), asking a federal court to block a government order to stop selling its electronic cigarettes.

While the attempted ban in the U.S. doesn’t directly affect Canada, some health advocates say it raises questions about the slow pace of regulation in this country.

Here’s a closer look at the FDA’s decision and what’s happening in Canada.

Why was Juul banned?

As part of the FDA’s review process, companies had to demonstrate that their e-cigarettes benefit public health. In practice, that means proving that adult smokers who use them are likely to quit or reduce their smoking, while teens are unlikely to get hooked on them.

In its decision, the FDA said that some of the biggest e-cigarette sellers like Juul may have played a “disproportionate” role in the rise in teen vaping. The agency said that Juul’s application didn’t have enough evidence to show that marketing its products “would be appropriate for the protection of the public health.”

On Friday, the e-cigarette maker asked the court to pause what it called an “extraordinary and unlawful action” by the FDA that would require it to immediately halt its business. The company filed an emergency motion with the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington as it prepares to appeal the FDA’s decision.

That dispute is far from over.

Marshall Ritzel/Associated PressMarshall Ritzel/Associated Press

Marshall Ritzel/Associated Press

What about in Canada?

Juul’s vaping products, as well as those sold by other companies, remain available in Canada.

Health Canada proposed a ban on flavoured vaping products last June. At the time, it cited research indicating that flavoured vaping products are “highly appealing to youth, and that youth are especially susceptible to the negative effects of nicotine – including altered brain development, which can cause challenges with memory and concentration.”

But after a round of consultations last year, that proposed ban still hasn’t been put into effect.

WATCH | P.E.I. now has toughest vaping, smoking laws in Canada:

Several provinces and territories have put in place their own limits on flavoured vaping products, citing their appeal to teenagers.

(Juul voluntarily stopped selling many of its flavoured cartridges in 2020 following criticism they were designed to entice youth.)

David Hammond, a public health professor at the University of Waterloo who researches vaping in youth, said banning Juul products in the U.S. won’t necessarily have a significant impact on the industry as a whole, given its declining market share and the variety of products available.

“You know, it’s like a tube of toothpaste. If you press at one point, you just kind of squeeze it to a different spot,” he said.

What does Health Canada say?

“Health Canada has no plans to remove any vaping products from the Canadian market that comply with the Tobacco and Vaping Products Act and the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act,” the agency told CBC News in an email.

The government has recently put in place new restrictions on the sector, including limits on advertising for e-cigarettes and the amount of nicotine in the products. It’s also undergoing a review of the legislation for vaping products that went into effect in 2018.

On its website, Health Canada warns of the risks of e-cigarettes, saying “the potential long-term health effects of vaping remain unknown” and the government continues to investigate “severe pulmonary illness associated with vaping.”

Last week, Health Canada announced another set of proposed regulations that would require vaping companies to disclose information about “sales and ingredients used in vaping products,” to help the government “keep pace with the rapidly evolving vaping market.”

How popular is vaping?

Vaping is popular among young people, with 14 per cent of Canadians between the ages of 15 and 19 having vaped in the last month of 2020, up from six per cent from the same month in 2017, according to the results of the Canadian Tobacco and Nicotine Survey.

Vaping is less popular for adults over the age of 25, with just three per cent reporting that they vaped within the last month in 2020.

Robert Schwartz, a senior scientist at Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, said the regulatory challenge is to strike a balance between making these products available to adults as an alternative to cigarettes, while at the same time limiting their appeal to younger non-smokers.

“We definitely are finding that young people who would not otherwise become cigarette smokers have started to use e-cigarettes and they fairly quickly develop a dependence on them,” said Schwartz.

“Our research is also demonstrating that some adults are able to quit by … using these cigarettes.”

What’s the holdup?

Like Schwartz, Hammond said vaping products could be a useful tool in helping wean smokers off cigarettes. He said it doesn’t make sense to put strict limits on vaping products if cigarettes, which are thought to be more harmful, are still available in corner stores.

Craig Chivers/CBCCraig Chivers/CBC

Craig Chivers/CBC

“I don’t think the answer lies just with how they are regulated,” he said. “I think it lies with the industry and reframing these products as something that a 50-year-old uses to quit smoking and not a 15-year-old grabs on the way to a party.”

Hammond, who sits on Health Canada’s advisory board for vaping products, said the agency could stand to move more quickly given the stakes.

“There’s no doubt these are difficult questions and the market shifts rapidly. But it’s not an area where slow, plodding regulation is a good fit,” he said.

Cynthia Callard, executive director of the advocacy group Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada, said that, while the context is different in Canada, the FDA decision “is a reminder that governments can and should bar market access to products which cannot be shown to benefit public health.”

Adblock test (Why?)

Source link

Continue Reading