DON PITTS (CBC NEWS) Lower rates would make it easier for Canadians to keep up their borrowing binge, helping retail sales and keeping house prices strong. More usefully, it would help secure lending for struggling or expanding businesses.
A byproduct of lower rates is a lower loonie. If, as many have said, our shrinking trade deficit can be credited to a low Canadian dollar, then a still lower loonie could be even better.
The danger is that a cut would signal that the bank, after studying all the data we have seen — and some we may not have seen — has decided that the Canadian economy is doing worse than anyone had thought. And while that too would help drive down the dollar, the hazard is that pessimism will breed greater pessimism.
Disentangling the dataWhether or not the Bank of Canada decides to cut, it will be instructive to hear the governor's disentangling of the latest economic data.
The fact is that, despite some positive thinking by my colleague Paul Haavardsrud, economic indicators are not unequivocally good or bad.
GDP was weak, though growth seemed to be seeing an uptick in June. While both U.S. and Canadian trade deficits fell, U.S. factory activity hit a two-year low. And jobs figures, though hardly gloomy, were not entirely reassuring.
Improbably, Saskatchewan led the way in job creation, adding some 4,000 positions. All those jobs just happened to coincide with a trade deficit the province blamed on the worst forest fire season in years.
Canadian automotive exports exceed energy for the first time since 2007. Canada is no longer a petro-economy. (CBC)
In the industrial heartland of Ontario and Quebec, which was supposed to benefit from a lower dollar and a U.S. economic takeoff, jobs were stagnant.
Petro-economy no longerThat despite the fact that according to the latest trade figures Canada is no longer a petro-economy, as automotive exports exceeded energy exports for the first time since 2007.
Neither did new jobs across the country show a big business rebound, with public service jobs representing the lion's share of new positions.
When Stephen Harper appointed Poloz in 2013, many of us thought his toughest job would be raising interest rates as the global economy strengthened. Now that recovery seems no closer.
In a 2014 speech, Poloz referred to Canada's housing sector as a "cracked tree," secure so long as nothing disturbs it.
As stock markets hit new lows last week, with the U.S. central bank contemplating an interest rate rise at its next meeting and the world's developing economies facing new trials, it feels like autumn turbulence could still knock the Canadian economy awry.
To return to Hamlet, "When sorrows come, they come not single spies, but in battalions."
Of course Canada's future is far less gloomy than that of Shakespeare's play, which does not end well. At least for Hamlet.
Canada's petro-economy may be fading. Its industrial economy is unlikely to return it its old form. But Canada has new opportunities, for example in technology, services and education.
Perhaps Poloz will be able to take comfort in this slightly fractured Hamlet quote: "There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your economics."
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