June 2013 Canadian Economic Fundamentals

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#2
How the oil sands industry is distorting Canada's economy





By 2030, Canada`s output from the oil sands will reach about five million barrels a day, more than twice today`s output. Yet, by 2030, chances are also good that the world will have placed a price on carbon emissions to spur energy innovation and wean humanity off carbon-based fuels. By then, climate change`s impact on global food security will have become starkly obvious. Already, heat waves and droughts in major grain-producing regions have caused food-price shocks and political unrest around the world.







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#3
What Bay Street is saying about Canada's GDP growth




Rising exports helped rouse the Canadian economy from a sluggish second half of 2012 to grow at an annualized rate of 2.5% in the first quarter of this year, the fastest pace in six quarters, Statistics Canada reported on Friday.




The real growth rate was well above the Bank of Canada`s forecast in April of 1.5%, topped the median projection of 2.3% in a Reuters survey and outpaced U.S. growth of 2.4% for the quarter.





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#4
Canadian economic growth gains steam




The Canadian economy is showing signs of life, after posting lackluster growth in the back half of last year.




The economy grew at an annualized pace of 2.5 percent in the first quarter, Statistics Canada said in Friday, its strongest rate of expansion in six quarters and comes after posting growth of just 0.9 percent in the fourth quarter of last year.




Economists were expecting 2.3-percent growth after recent data pointed to a turnaround.





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#5
Canadians bullish on housing market




Despite a slight cooling of most of the nation`s housing markets, the Housing Confidence Report from BMO shows 48% of Canadians homeowners intend to buy a property in the next five years, relatively unchanged from last fall.




`The relative strength of the Canadian housing market continues to bolster homeowners` confidence, while improving affordability across all regions reflects that Canadians are making responsible choices when it comes to financing a home,` said Martin Nel, vice-president of lending and investments, BMO Bank of Montreal.





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#6
They're young, educated, and ready to tackle some very bad odds




Inside a central Halifax eatery ` the look geek chic, the vibe slipshod cool ` Generation Effed takes its leisure. There is flannel. There are hats, caps and tuques. There are bodies adorned with ink and pierced with metal.




The chat, audible above the slap bass from the sound system and the tapping of computer keys, somehow manages to be ironic and sincere. It is, therefore, a little like a small-budget episode of Girls, with better accents.





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#7
Staying on the right track for economic growth




Vic Toews, MP for Provencher, commented today on the newly released economic numbers from Statistics Canada showing that the Canadian economy grew 2.5% in the first quarter of 2013.




Additionally, Statistics Canada positively revised their economic growth for the fourth quarter of 2012 up from +0.6% to +0.9%.





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#8
Build, baby, build




For those of us old enough to remember the 1973 oil crisis, the current North American oil-and-gas boom has a slightly surreal quality: The familiar problem of high energy demand and low supply is being flipped on its head.




Forty years ago, oil was so scarce that the U.S. government was forced to turn to rationing and price controls. In 1974, the 24 Hours of Daytona race was canceled and newspapers carried public-service announcements with taglines such as `Last Out, Lights Out: Don`t Be Fuelish.` Some futurists predicted that the world oil supply would be exhausted within our lifetimes, and so we had better start building backyard windmills.





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#9
Weak corporate profits could weigh on economy




A drop off in corporate profits is the latest headwind facing the Canadian economy.




Corporate profits in the first quarter are down more than 10 percent from the same time last year, after falling on a quarter-over-quarter basis throughout 2012, BMO economist Robert Kavcic says in a note to clients on Monday.





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#10
Canadian non-mortgage debt shows biggest decline since 2004




OTTAWA ` New data on consumer credit suggests Canadians are becoming more cautious about making purchases that involve taking on debt.




The analysis by TransUnion Market Trends shows average consumer debt in Canada, excluding mortgages, fell by two per cent to $26,935 in the first three months of 2013 from the fourth quarter in 2012.





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#11
Condo fees explained





First-time condo buyers are sometimes confused by the monthly maintenance fee that condo buildings charge. Combined with property taxes and your mortgage payments, they can add up to a hefty percentage of your total housing costs. But what is a condo maintenance fee and what does it cover? And how does it compare to the costs of owning a house?






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#12
Canada a safe bet for multinationals looking to curb human capital risk





When multinational corporations consider establishing a presence in a new region, they seek to minimize risk on a number of fronts, avoiding countries with widespread corruption and political volatility, for instance, and seeking favourable tax regimes. As human capital becomes an increasingly crucial component of business success, more companies are looking for cities in which their `people risk` ` difficulty hiring and retaining qualified, productive employees ` will be as low as possible. According to a new Aon Hewitt study, Canada performs well on this score, with three cities ` Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver ` on the HR consulting firm`s top ten list of lowest risk cities worldwide for human resources.




`Businesses should be taking a longer term view of the labour supply and the ability to sustain a business in any given region,` says Scott Bunker, talent practice leader for Aon Hewitt Canada, on the implications of the index. `People risk can translate into unexpected costs, particularly if you`re not aware of these issues. Companies need to consider all of these risks when they are looking at moving to lower cost markets, and not focus simply on the costs of doing business in the short term.`





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#13
It's folly to be shorting Canada




Calls by a few U.S. hedge funds to short Canada may have created some concern among investors, but the truth is Canada's economy is doing fine, and, more importantly, better than it is south of the border, says noted economist David Rosenberg.




"[The U.S. outperformance of Canada] was a story four quarters ago," Chief Economist and Strategist at Gluskin Sheff and Associates tells BNN. "Canada has actually out outperformed U.S. in three of the last four quarters. Our unemployment rate is a full percentage point below that of the U.S. Where exactly are we underperforming?"





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#14
Climate change claims raise eyebrows




A University of Waterloo physicist made the bold claim Thursday that global warming is not caused by carbon dioxide, but by "CFCs conspiring with cosmic rays."




In a report that has raised plenty of eyebrows among climate scientists, Waterloo's Qing-Bin Lu says chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), chemicals once used widely as refrigerants and propellants, are to blame for global warming since the 1970s and "not carbon dioxide."





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#15
Canadian debt drops in the first quarter


Canadians are starting to make better decisions when it comes to debt, the most recent TransUnion report suggests. Average consumer debt in Canada, excluding mortgages, fell by 2% to $26,935 in the first three months of 2013 from the fourth quarter in 2012. While the total debt load is still higher than a year ago, the quarterly drop was the first since the third quarter of 2011 and the largest since the firm began collecting the data in 2004.







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#16
Canadian homes amongst most over-valued in OECD ranking






Canada`s housing market is among the frothiest in the world, according to a new OECD reading that warns of possible trouble in the event of an interest rate or income shock.




To be clear, the Bank of Canada`s benchmark interest rate isn`t expected to even begin rising until late next year or early 2015, but the recent measure by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development is food for thought.





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#17
A soft landing for housing sales, but prices up in the air





Home sales are stabilizing in the spring market, but housing prices are still on the rise ` sharpening concerns that Canada`s real-estate market is overvalued.




The latest data suggest that the number of homes changing hands is relatively steady, after a period of steep year-over-year sales declines. This is welcome news to federal policy makers, such as Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, who wanted to take some momentum out of the market to curb fast-growing consumer debt levels ` which come largely from mortgages ` and prevent a housing bubble from forming.





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#18
New debt calculations to impact investors




Within the last few weeks, we began to hear rumbling that lenders were going to change the way they calculate payments on credit cards and unsecured lines of credit, but, more dramatically, on home equity line of credits.




Basically for any access to credit you have available, lenders are changing how they calculate your debt serving levels, whether you use that line of credit or not.




The largest change has occurred with respect to HELOCs, or Home Equity line of credits





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#19
New Bank of Canada chief says dangers of low rates not 'threatening'




OTTAWA ` New Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz is signalling there will be no shift from the current low interest rate policy under his leadership, at least in the short term, despite fears it is creating imbalances in the economy.




Although keeping rates low for a long period has a distorting impact on the economy, including triggering excessive borrowing, Poloz says the central bank must also consider the risk to the fragile economy of raising rates too soon.





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#20
Urban experts call walking a key feature




What`s the foundation of every neighbourhood?




Walkability, says an author and former director of urban design and architecture for the City of Toronto.




As ReThink London wrapped its discussion papers on the future of London, about 350 people turned out Wednesday to hear Ken Greenberg give his thoughts on the way forward.



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