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Economy Lab

Delving into the forces that shape our living standards
Best Business Blog, EPPY awards, 2011 and 2012

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Central Canada gets much-needed break from oil price drop


Oil prices have come down quite sharply since the summer, with every commodity (Brent, West Texas intermediate and Western Canada Select) falling by around $25 to $30 (U.S.) a barrel.

Most of this decline has been caused by increased supply, a strengthening U.S. dollar and softer-than-expected growth in China and the euro zone. But the most recent leg down appears more to be the impact of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries looking like it wants to put its foot down and confront the U.S. shale oil boom head on.

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Selling Alberta’s economy through cultural diplomacy


‘It’s a beautiful place,” she said, “and so energetic.”

The French economist, part of a group of government leaders travelling with President François Hollande, was seated at my table of economists at the state luncheon in Banff. “Young people in France think about your province and they think … anything is possible!” she said in very good English.

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North America strengthens as Europe slips further behind


The recovery in the U.S. economy is real and sustainable. Driven by the private sector, and notwithstanding the withdrawal of quantitative easing (QE), U.S. domestic demand is growing at a steady clip. Growth reached 3.5 per cent at an annual rate in the third quarter and should exceed 3 per cent in 2015. Not surprisingly, sectors such as housing and autos are recovering nicely, as is private investment. Lower gasoline prices will free up extra cash for families to spend as the holiday season approaches.

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To ensure prosperity, Canada needs ‘ecofiscal’ policies


The world is increasingly recognizing the linkage between a strong economy and a healthy environment. Yet in Canada, this is old news. Anyone who learned our history with cod, beavers, wheat and lumber knows our economic prosperity has always been underpinned by our natural wealth. The dawning realities of the 21st century nonetheless pose an important question: How do we align the economic goals of our resource-rich economy with the need to protect our environmental assets?

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If U.S. wants a Trans-Pacific deal, then it needs to compromise


Why, oh why, does America make it so hard for its friends to help it?

Take the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). This proposed trade deal is supposed to link like-minded countries around the Pacific, which is why 12 countries such as Japan and Canada (possibly soon to be joined by South Korea and even Taiwan) are at the table, but China is not. TPP is thus part of both U.S. President Obama’s strategic pivot to Asia and the effort to pull the economy back into full growth. If you want to grow, trade vigorously with countries growing faster than you.

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