Real gross domestic product rose 0.4% in November

Real gross domestic product rose 0.4% in November
Is this the beginning of the recovery?

Real gross domestic product rose 0.4% in November after growing by 0.2% in October. Oil and gas extraction led the way in November, followed by wholesale and retail trade, real estate and the finance and insurance sector. Manufacturing declined, largely as a result of temporary plant shutdowns for retooling in the motor vehicle assembly industry and shift reductions in the motor vehicle parts industry. Construction also decreased.

Real gross domestic product rises in November

Mining and oil and gas extraction continue to strengthen

Oil and gas extraction grew 2.4% in November. This increase was mainly attributable to higher synthetic crude petroleum production following the completion of maintenance to upgraders. Natural gas production was unchanged.

However, support activities for mining, oil and gas extraction declined 3.4% as a result of decreases in rigging and drilling activities.

n mining, iron ore extraction grew 10.8% returning to its August level after two consecutive monthly declines.


Gains in wholesale and retail trade

Wholesale trade rose 1.5% in November on the strength of trade in machinery and equipment, farm products, building materials as well as food, beverage and tobacco products. Wholesale activity in motor vehicles fell during the month.

Retail trade advanced 1.4% in November after a slight decline the month before. It was the second largest monthly increase in 2010 after the 2.1% gain in March. Growth in November was mostly attributable to clothing and accessory stores, new car dealers as well as food and beverage stores. Retail activity at gasoline stations and home electronics stores declined.

Finance and insurance resume growthOil and gas extraction increases

The finance and insurance sector rose 0.7%. There were increases in the volume of trading on the stock exchanges, in personal lending and in mortgages. The sales of mutual funds declined.

Manufacturing down

Manufacturing declined 0.8% in November. Most of the decline was the result of temporary plant shutdowns for retooling in the motor vehicle assembly industry and shift reductions in the motor vehicle parts industry. Excluding the motor vehicle and associated parts industries, the manufacturing sector was down 0.2%. Output at refineries rebounded 4.6% following the end of maintenance work at various plants.

Real estate market up while construction drops

There was a widespread increase in the home resale market across the country in November, leading to a growth of 7.6% in the output of real estate agents and brokers. This marked a fourth consecutive monthly increase for this industry. However, its level of output was still 8% below that recorded in April.

Construction declined 0.4% in November. Residential building construction continued to retreat as a result of reduced demand for single and semi-detached homes. Non-residential building construction decreased 0.2% while engineering and repair work edged up 0.1%.

Main industrial sectors' contribution to the percent change in gross domestic product

Canadians Better Off, Even If They Don’t Feel It

Comment – Politics aside, we are coming off of the worst economic recession of our lifetimes. Numbers below show us back to where we were before the recession started. Governments debt loads are supposed to be high, government spending was supposed to kick in to keep us going – and it did.

Canadians Better Off, Even If They Don’t Feel It

John Ivison, National Post ·

Jan. 23 marks the fifth anniversary of Stephen Harper’s 2006 election victory and in early February, he will pass Lester B. Pearson’s time in office to become Canada’s 11th longest-serving prime minister. As Mr. Harper told Postmedia News this week, it has been a roller-coaster ride: “Some days it feels like five months, and other days it seems like 50 years.”

The five-year milestone has presented the Liberal leader, Michael Ignatieff, with his latest electoral gambit — to ask middle-class Canadian families whether they are better off after half a decade of the Harper government?

In fact, by almost every pocketbook metric, Canadian families are better off than they were five years ago –even if they don’t feel it.

The new strategy emerged from research carried out by the Liberals’ pollster, Michael Marzolini, as part of his firm Pollara’s annual nationwide poll of Canadians’ personal financial expectations. He found a new sense of caution and retrenchment, after optimistic expectations for 2010 were not met.

According to the Pollara poll, middle-class Canadians feel themselves under siege, with four in 10 claiming their incomes are failing to keep pace with the cost of living. They are anxious about their retirement, family debt and the value of their investments. Many Canadians believe every step forward they make is being hampered by assaults on their incomes such as new taxes and user fees. Ominously for the government, they appear less than impressed about claims Canada is doing better than its international competitors — the economy may be improving but they feel their own situation is not.

Mr. Ignatieff has leapt on the survey’s findings on his current 20-event, 11-ridings winter tour, making the claim that Canadians are worse off and the economy is weaker.

He is gambling that voters look at their own situation and calculate whether they have done well over the past five years. If the answer is yes, they will vote for the party they voted for before but, if not, he hopes they can be persuaded to switch.

Mr. Ignatieff’s central contention is that Canadians’ standard of living — as measured by GDP per person–has fallen 1.3% since the Harper government came to power.

The only problem with this for the Liberal leader is that it isn’t true — real GDP per capita did fall between 2005 and 2009, the trough of the recession, but has since recovered. If you annualize the first three quarters of 2010, the numbers show real GDP per capita is up

0.2% over the 2005 figure.

Other indicators are similarly positive.

Average hourly wages have outpaced inflation, especially for men, who now earn $4 an hour more than they did at the end of 2005.

The fiscal and monetary response to the recession has created one very real problem identified by Mr. Ignatieff — an extremely high level of indebtedness. Encouraged by cheap interest rates, Canadians now owe $1.50 for every dollar of disposable income, up from $1.08 in 2006.

Yet, national net worth per capita, which measures the health of assets like homes and investments, stood at a record high of $179,000 in the third quarter of 2010, up from $155,000 five years ago. Even at the bottom end of the socioeconomic ladder, the number of children living in low-income families fell by 250,000 between 2003 and 2008.

Retirement income is another leading concern raised by the Liberals but many more Canadians are now members of registered retirement plans than in 2005.

And the feeling that the tax burden is growing is also illusory, at least according to the Fraser Institute’s Tax Freedom Day, the day on which the average Canadian family has earned enough money to pay all taxes imposed on them by three layers of government. It advanced to June 5 in 2010, from June 23 in 2005.

These bald statistics don’t tell the whole story, of course. In the intervening years, there was a painful recession that saw unemployment spike at 8.7% in August 2009 (it is now sitting at 7.6%, still higher than the 6.8% in 2005).

Canadians remain anxious. According to Mr. Marzolini’s research, two-thirds of the population thinks we’re still in recession.

Yet, crucially, voters do not seem to blame the federal government, perhaps accepting that, if things are not noticeably better than they were five years ago, they could have been immeasurably worse.

Non-Conservatives can claim with some justification that the Harper government’s record of achievement is pretty penny ante when compared with other five-year-old administrations.

But the picture improves when you consider what didn’t happen. Mr. Harper is an incrementalist who agrees with Canada’s longest-serving prime minister, William Lyon Mackenzie King, that “it’s what we prevent, rather than what we do, that counts in government.”

The pressures of power have forced Mr. Harper, by his own admission, to make compromises he never thought he would have to make. “We spent the first three years of our government in a situation where people were saying, ‘Why don’t you take more risks? Why don’t you make more grandiose commitments? Why don’t you have a bigger more ambitious agenda on anything?’ And then all of a sudden, we’re spending the next two years dealing with a crash in the global economy and trying to operate a situation where we’re trying to protect what everybody has. So things just change constantly and you do have to be adaptable,” he told Postmedia’s Mark Kennedy this week.

There appears to be some appreciation that the Conservatives have provided solid, if stolid, government through the recession.

An Ipsos Reid poll before Christmas suggested six in 10 Canadians believe the political process is operating well and there is no need for an election. They may not vote Conservative, but they are not so disgruntled they are demanding change — at least not to the extent they have coalesced around Mr. Ignatieff or any of the other opposition leaders. This bodes well for Mr. Harper, sincegovernmentstraditionally find themselves in real trouble when the time-for-change number rises above 60%.

“Every election comes down to that — continuity or change,” said Darrell Bricker, president of Ipsos Public Affairs. “Mr. Ignatieff is trying to increase the desire for change that is a pre-condition [for a Liberal government]. But Canadians are not overwhelmingly concerned about the economy and even if they become more concerned, his opponent is leading him on the issue by 20 points.”

The Liberals insist that stress about the future has created enough volatility to give them a fighting chance. “Perceived reality is often a self-fulfilling prophesy,” said Mr. Marzolini, the Liberal pollster, as he unveiled his New Year’s poll to the Economic Club of Canada.

Mr. Ignatieff had best hope so, otherwise Mr. Harper will pass both R.B. Bennett (five years and 77 days) and John Diefenbaker (five years and 305 days) to become Canada’s ninth-longest serving prime minister before the end of this year.

Intra-provincial migration at 20-year high

Comment: This is exactly what started the boom in Calgary in 2006 when 25,000 people moved into town from all over Canada. This should drive the rental market vacancy rate down and increase rental prices. Then it will be more affordable to buy and the slack in the market will slowly get taken up; supporting home prices.

Good news for everyone in the housing industry and for home owners.

—- Nicolas Van Praet, Financial Post · Thursday, Jan. 27, 2011

MONTREAL — The number of Canadians moving to another province has punched to a high not seen in 20 years as people pack up in search of better jobs and salaries elsewhere.

Roughly 337,000 Canadians were on the move in 2010, says a report on interprovincial migration published Thursday by TD Economics. That’s 45,000 more than the year before and the most since the late 1980s. It also represents the largest share of the overall population since 1998.

“It’s a good sign in the sense that whenever you see that kind of movement, it’s an expression of a labour market that’s healing after a pretty severe recession,” said TD senior economist Pascal Gauthier, who wrote the study. “People are either returning home or moving to areas that didn’t have employment before. For those that are already employed, they’re finding potentially better prospects.”

Interprovincial migration matters because when there is a net movement of people to higher-employment and higher-productivity areas, that generates net economic output gains on a national basis. It’s also crucial for businesses because people often make big-ticket purchases when they move, which can have a significant impact on local housing and retail markets.

Canada’s situation lies in stark contrast with the United States, where census data show long-distance moves across states fell last year to the lowest level since the government began tracking them in 1948. Americans used to be a nation of big movers, with as many as one in five relocating for work every year in the 1950s. Now, experts are debating why they’ve become a nation of “hunkered-down homebodies,” as the New York Times put it.

Richard Florida, director of the Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto, says the United States is experiencing a new kind of class divide now between “mobile” people who have the resources and flexibility to pursue economic opportunity, and “stuck” citizens who are tied to places with weaker economies.

He argues the U.S. housing crisis is a big factor slowing mobility down. When the housing bubble popped, it left millions of Americans unable to sell their homes. “It’s bitterly ironic that housing, for so many Americans, has gone from being a cornerstone of their American dream to being a burden,” he wrote in a recent opinion piece.

Mr. Gauthier agrees that the housing crash is partly to blame for keeping Americans put. “There’s such a glut of supply that it’s just difficult to sell your house. In Canada, that’s not been an issue.”

In Canada, the biggest impediment to the free flow of labour between provinces and territories remains regulation as occupational requirements fall under provincial jurisdiction.

Workers in regulated professions and skilled trades, such as teachers and engineers, still face major barriers trying to work in provinces other than their own. Solving that problem will be key ahead of the looming labour force crunch, Mr. Gauthier argues.

Alberta, B.C. and Saskatchewan have seen the strongest net inflow of people of all provinces for the past three years and that will not change in the short term, the TD report forecasts. The three jurisdictions are working to implement a newly signed trade and labour mobility agreement between them that could eventually see seamless movement of workers between their borders.

TD says Ontario and Quebec will continue to lose residents to other provinces on a net basis, but the bleeding will be at a slower pace than in previous years. It says Manitoba and Prince Edward Island will be the only provinces still shedding a significant share of residents through the end of 2012.

In Manitoba’s case, it’s not that there aren’t any jobs. The province’s unemployment rate has been consistently lower than that of the rest of Canada since the 1990s. It’s that people are being lured by the prospect of higher-paying jobs in neighbouring provinces.

Top 10 Effects Of The New Mortgage Rules

top-ten-mortgage-rule-effectsWe may not go 10 for 10, but crystal ball-gazing is fun nonetheless.

In this humble of spirits, we present ten trends to watch out for in 2011, courtesy of Flaherty & Co.’s new mortgage regime:

  1. Lower purchase and refinance demand will depress mortgage volumes, sparking greater rate competition as lenders battle for less business
  2. A small portion of home buyers will sprint to buy homes with a 35-year amortization before March 18, followed by downward pressure on home prices after March 18 as the amortization reduction removes market liquidity
  3. Negative personal consumption and wealth will result thanks to equity take-out restrictions, rising rates and softening home prices
  4. Unsecured debt usage will increase as homeowners are restricted from accessing as much of their equity, leading to even greater bank profits in unsecured lending
  5. Default rates will see no material improvement
  6. No significant improvement will occur in the number of risky borrowers, due to no change in TDS limits or Beacon score requirements
  7. HELOC rate discounts will be less frequent as some non-bank offerings disappear and HELOC funding costs inch higher
  8. Banks will pick up mortgage market share
  9. More private lenders will offer high-interest uninsured 2nd mortgages to 90% LTV
  10. If amortization restrictions accelerate falling home prices, we’ll see somewhat greater default risk and more negative equity situations among low-equity homeowners

Canada Prime Stays at

Consumer Prime is at 3%. At it will stay the same as well. Nice break for us after the gov’t changes the mortgage rules the day before.

As most predicted it would, the Bank of Canada announced today it is maintaining its target for the overnight rate at one per cent.

“The global economic recovery is proceeding at a somewhat faster pace than anticipated, although risks remain elevated,” said the Bank of its decision to leave borrowing costs at one per cent for the third time in a row.
The Bank cited concerns with the pace of the European recovery due to sovereign debt as well the continued strength of the Canadian dollar and poor productivity performance.
”The recovery in Canada is proceeding broadly as anticipated, with a period of more modest growth and the beginning of the expected rebalancing of demand,” said the Bank in a statement. “However, the cumulative effects of the persistent strength in the Canadian dollar and Canada’s poor relative productivity performance are restraining this recovery in net exports and contributing to a widening of Canada’s current account deficit to a 20-year high.”
Overall, the Bank projects the economy will expand by 2.4 per cent in 2011 and 2.8 per cent in 2012 – a slightly firmer profile than had been anticipated in the October MPR. With a little more excess supply in the near term, the Bank continues to expect that the economy will return to full capacity by the end of 2012.
“Reflecting all of these factors, the Bank has decided to maintain the target for the overnight rate at 1 per cent. This leaves considerable monetary stimulus in place, consistent with achieving the 2 per cent inflation target in an environment of significant excess supply in Canada. Any further reduction in monetary policy stimulus would need to be carefully considered.”