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Vancouver Island's economy disrupted but adapting, State of the Island report finds – Campbell River Mirror – Campbell River Mirror

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During COVID times, especially, the ‘State of the Island’ differs greatly sector by sector.

The Vancouver Island Economic Summit concluded Thursday, Oct. 28, with the annual presentation of the State of the Island report from Susan Mowbray, senior economist with MNP.

This year’s report highlighted “the sectoral nature of the impacts of COVID-19.” Whereas pandemic health restrictions harmed industries such as tourism, service, arts and entertainment, recreation and transportation industries, other sectors such as health and certain financial and professional services that transitioned to remote work environments reported growth.

Mowbray recalled that last year’s State of the Island report came in more uncertain times, when different pandemic restrictions were in place and vaccines weren’t yet available.

“We definitely have more clarity on where things are going, but there has not been a single narrative or data point that describes the economic journey we’ve been on or will be on going forward,” she said. “Really, the theme this year is about this ongoing disruption we’re experiencing.”

Increasing adoption of digitization is another theme common across sectors, Mowbray said, and it’s created both challenges and opportunities. In an era of worker shortages, she said, “hybrid” business models that incorporate some remote work can be helpful.

“Employers need to adapt to our new labour market conditions. They need to be creative,” she said. “For employers who can have part of their staff working remotely, that’s a way for them to actually attract, potentially, and retain staff.”

READ ALSO: Province trying to keep worker shortage from limiting economic recovery, premier says

She added that the construction industry, for example, has shown technological advancements in pre-fabrication that creates efficiencies and reduces waste.

“We’re going to see increasing adoption of technology in areas where we never would have expected it before, and that’s actually good for our productivity,” Mowbray said.

Conversely, some workers have struggled to keep up with technology and that is one of the reasons for the labour shortage, she said, as there are gaps in digital skills.

“It’s areas that might come as a surprise. Something as simple as knowing how to process an online order if you’re a retailer … or maybe it’s how to use a tablet if you’re an electrician and you’re doing your invoices,” she said.

On the Island, the administrative, professional, scientific and technical services added jobs between 2019 and 2021, whereas employment numbers dropped in construction, hospitality and retail.

Mowbray was surprised by the construction job losses, but said they can be attributed to the completion of some large-scale projects on the Island, and also to supply chain problems.

As for the forestry sector, Mowbray said production is expected to remain stable at 2019-2020 levels following a period of persistent decline before that.

The Island’s unemployment rate in the first half of 2021 was 6.5 per cent, below B.C.’s rate of 7.3 per cent, and rebounding from an 8.7-per cent unemployment rate during 2020. Because of the Island’s aging population, though – 25 per cent of residents are 65-plus – the Island has the lowest employment and labour force participation rates in the province.

The Island’s population grew more modestly last year than during the previous five years, but the Island’s 1.2-per cent population growth was still slightly above B.C. rate of 1.1 per cent. Alberni-Clayoquot, Comox Valley and Capital regional districts were the Island’s fastest-growing regions at 1.3 per cent last year, with Nanaimo and Strathcona close behind at 1.2 per cent.

READ ALSO: Study finds Vancouver Island arts sector generates $900 million annually

READ ALSO: Doughnut economics pitched to Vancouver Island’s business community

READ ALSO: Island economic summit speakers to discuss disruption, digital innovation, doughnut economy



editor@nanaimobulletin.com

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India's economy grows by 8.4% amid signs of recovery – Yahoo Canada Finance

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NEW DELHI (AP) — India’s economy grew at an 8.4% annual pace in the July-September quarter in the latest sign of an economic recovery in Asia’s third-largest economy, the government reported Tuesday.

India suffered one of the biggest setbacks of any major economy in the last fiscal year.

In the same quarter a year before, the economy contracted by 7.4%, badly hit by rising COVID-19 cases and a stringent nationwide lockdown, with restrictions lasting months that dealt a huge blow to economic activity.

After a devastating surge in virus cases stoked by the delta variant earlier this year, the situation has improved in recent months. Daily cases have sunk to about 10,000 after breaching 400,000 in May. The pace of vaccinations has picked up, instilling confidence in reopening businesses and industries. Streets and markets across the country are now abuzz with activity.

Sectors like agriculture and mining performed well and helped lead the growth seen in the July-September quarter, experts said.

The economy expanded at a 20.1% pace in the April-June quarter, the fastest growth since India began publishing GDP figures in 1996. But economists cautioned that the rise was calculated from 2020’s smaller base, when the economy shrank by 24.4% in April-June, pulling the country into a recession.

A country enters a technical recession if its economy contracts for two successive quarters.

In 2020-21, India’s growth contracted by 7.3%, worsening from a slowdown that slashed growth to 4% from 8% in the two years before the pandemic hit.

The Associated Press

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Analysis-Japan keen to speed up digital yen launch as China adds geopolitical twist

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Japan‘s new political leadership is calling on the country’s financial bureaucrats to ramp up efforts toward issuing a digital currency, pointing to China’s far quicker progress as a potential challenge to the global economic order.

The government has increased staff looking into legal and technical aspects of issuing a central bank digital currency (CBDC), which are digital forms of existing currencies.

While the political attention has yet to translate into any other direct investment, it is also likely to keep the Bank of Japan (BOJ) under pressure to shift away from its cautious, baby-step approach toward issuing a digital yen, analysts say.

“We must think about what could happen to Japan’s national security if other countries move ahead on CBDC,” said Takayuki Kobayashi, a minister overseeing economic security – a new role created under Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s administration.

“Japan must speed things up so it’s ready to issue a digital yen any time,” he said.

A global front-runner, China has already run tests in major cities for a possible launch of a digital yuan next year. Japan, along with other G7 advanced nations, have moved much slower.

The BOJ only started the first phase of its experiment in April, and says it has no immediate plans to issue a digital yen. Pilot programmes, if any, won’t take place until 2023 at the earliest.

That lukewarm stance may be put to test as Kishida has made economic security a policy priority, and framed questions around CBDC beyond finance into one of national security.

While G7 central banks generally agree on the need to counter China on issues around privacy, the case is particularly strong for Japan as lawmakers worry about the growing economic might of its assertive neighbour.

Some influential ruling party lawmakers see China’s advances on CBDC as a potential threat to the dollar’s status as a global reserve currency, and the financial dominance of Washington – Japan’s biggest ally.

A close aide to Kishida told Reuters Japan must “work closely with the United States to counter any attempt that threatens the dollar’s reserve-currency status,” adding the BOJ was coordinating with the finance ministry to ensure speedy progress for issuing a digital yen.

Opposition parties have also called in their election campaign platforms for speeding up CBDC plans.

BOJ officials say China’s plan won’t directly affect the timeframe for their CBDC experiments as the key purpose of issuing a digital yen is to provide convenient, efficient payment and settlement means to the public.

What could affect the BOJ more than China’s plan would be how quickly its European and U.S. counterparts announce plans for issuing CBDCs, say sources familiar with its thinking.

Debate over issuing a digital yen may intensify next year as Kishida’s administration lays out details of its economic security plans, and as China is seen promoting its digital yuan at the Beijing Winter Olympic Games in February.

“It’s clear Kishida’s administration and his ruling party are keen on issuing a digital yen,” said former BOJ board member Takahide Kiuchi, who is currently an economist at Japan’s Nomura Research Institute.

“If China launches a digital yuan next year and Europe’s central bank announces plans to issue a digital euro, that will have a huge impact on Japan and pile pressure on the BOJ.”

 

(Reporting by Leika Kihara; Additional reporting by Kaori Kaneko and Tetsushi Kajimoto; Editing by Kim Coghill)

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Global economy rebounds, but for how long? – FRANCE 24

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Issued on: 01/12/2021 – 04:12Modified: 01/12/2021 – 04:10

Paris (AFP) – The world economy woke up from its pandemic-induced coma in 2021, but soaring inflation, global supply chain bottlenecks and a resurgent coronavirus have taken the shine off the comeback.

Now growth is at risk of weakening next year.

Here is a look at the state of the global economy:

Uneven recovery

Countries have posted impressive growth figures as they clawed their way out of the depths of the 2020 Covid-induced recession, but some are faring better than others as wealthier countries have had better access to vaccines.

The United States has overcome its worst downturn since the Great Depression while the eurozone’s economy could return to pre-pandemic levels by the end of the year.

But a resurgence of the coronavirus could scupper the recovery, with the emergence of the Omicron variant raising new concerns.

“Covid-19 will remain a public health threat, particularly in countries where vaccination rates remain low,” said analysts at Moody’s credit ratings agency.

Many US employers had difficulty hiring enough employees to meet recovering business demand

Many US employers had difficulty hiring enough employees to meet recovering business demand MARIO TAMA GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP/File

With a 2.5 percent vaccination rate, the economy of sub-Saharan Africa is growing at a slower click, according to the International Monetary Fund.

Most emerging and developing countries should remain far behind their pre-pandemic forecasts by 2024, the IMF says.

Central banks in Brazil, Russia and South Korea have raised interest rates to combat rising inflation, a move that could rein in growth.

China, the world’s second biggest economy and a driver of global growth, is facing a slew of risks: New coronavirus cases, an energy crunch and fears over the debt crisis at real estate giant Evergrande.

Inflation soars

Inflation has accelerated to multi-year highs around the world, as consumers returned with a vengeance and industries faced shortages.

Prices have soared across the board, with oil, natural gas and raw materials such as wood, copper and steel going through the roof.

“The biggest surprise of 2021 has been the goods-led inflation surge,” Goldman Sachs analysts wrote in a 2022 outlook.

Central banks insist the inflationary pressure is a temporary consequence of economic activity returning to normal this year after it came to a halt when the pandemic erupted in 2020.

US inflation

US inflation Eléonore HUGHES AFP/File

Stock markets have hit new record highs this year, but investors are concerned that central banks will withdraw their stimulus programmes and raise interest rates earlier than expected to tame inflation.

“The question is whether we really are in the end of the crisis,” said Roel Beetsma professor of macroeconomics at the University of Amsterdam.

Widespread shortages

Industries have struggled to keep up with a surge in demand from consumers.

Global trade has been disrupted by insufficient shipping containers, congestion at ports and labour shortages.

One key component that is hard to come by these days is semiconductors, chips used in everything from phones to video game consoles to the electronic systems of cars.

Shortages of computer chips held back production of cars and some consumer goods

Shortages of computer chips held back production of cars and some consumer goods JENS SCHLUETER AFP/File

The shortage has been so bad that several automakers have had to temporarily halt production at some factories.

Labour shortages have added to the problem as truck drivers, port workers and cashiers have not returned to work following lockdowns.

Despite the difficulties, the IMF expects the world economy to grow by a healthy 4.9 percent next year.

Climate change

In addition to the pandemic, economies had to come to grips with another life-threatening event this year: climate change.

The conflict between economic growth and saving the planet came to the fore at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, this month.

Nearly 200 nations signed a deal to try to halt runaway global warming after two weeks of painful negotiations, but fell short of what scientists say is needed to contain dangerous rises.

Fires during heatwaves which experts have linked to climate change have caused much damage in parts of Europe and the United States

Fires during heatwaves which experts have linked to climate change have caused much damage in parts of Europe and the United States ANGELOS TZORTZINIS AFP/File

Droughts and other climate catastrophes threaten to further drive up food prices, which jumped to a 10-year high in October, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization.

Wheat has soared by 40 percent in the past year while dairy products are up 15 percent and vegetable oils reach new records.

“It’s pretty obvious. Everything has gone up,” said Nabiha Abid, a resident of Tunisia’s capital, noting that the price of meat has doubled.

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