Friday, December 09, 2011

Growing the Canadian Economy

When Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney made his inaugural speech as head of the banking industry’s global regulator on November 8 he said the world economy is getting hurt by a slump in liquidity, meaning banks are less willing or less able to lend money. And because global liquidity has fluctuated over the past five years, Carney said that Europe is already in a recession.

He used the 2008 collapse of the U.S. investment bank Lehman Brothers as an example. The impact of that was that banks shied away from lending to both companies and consumers. That helped plunge the world economy into a major recession.

Clearly, if banks stop lending, consumers stop spending and businesses stop spending. For an economy to function, money needs to keep moving.

There has been talk recently that Carney might lower the prime interest rate to keep inflation in check. Carney has also said that the Canadian economy won’t fully recover until well into 2013. Currently the prime rate is sitting at 1%. Inflation is approximately 2.7% and is predicted to slow to 1% in the second quarter of 2012. The Bank of Canada likes to keep the inflation rate between 1 and 3%.

So what does that all mean for Canadians?

So far, the credit crunch hasn’t hit Canada. While mortgage lending has tightened up a bit, banks are still lending money to businesses. The federal government has been making slight concessions to make sure Canada continues to grow:

·         For example, on November 27, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty eliminated $32-million in manufacturing tariffs. This will allow businesses to lower their costs, enhance their ability to compete globally, which will help stimulate growth and job creation.
·         On November 23, Mark Carney said he would stay flexible on interest rates. Despite the fact that inflation has been creeping higher, Carney said that although it may take longer to return inflation to target, being flexible with the rates will protect the country from any economic and/or financial shocks.
·         The federal government is also moving ahead to change the laws that govern financial institutions, adding more oversight to protect consumers. “Canada has been ranked as having the soundest banks in the world by the World Economic Forum for four consecutive years,” said Jim Flaherty, Minister of Finance in a statement released on November 23. "The Financial System Review Act will ensure our financial system continues to be secure for Canadians and a fundamental strength for our economy.”

These changes likely won’t have a direct impact on most Canadians but the after effects will. They include more jobs, higher profits for all businesses, access to low cost money for home buying and investing, stable housing markets and a strong and healthy banking system.

All of this makes Canada a growing, stable economy that can weather short term fluctuations for a strong and prosperous future.

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