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Entry archive:

Instead of buying winners, how about a gold medal for infrastructure?

CARL MORTISHED

The biggest winner so far at the Rio Olympics isn’t Michael Phelps for his bucketful of swimming golds or even the U.S. Olympic team, squatting smugly (as usual) on a medal mountain. The big prize goes to Theresa May, the U.K. Prime Minister. While Team GB sweats in Rio, defying demographics by winning gold after gold, Ms. May is enjoying a blissfully quiet holiday in the Swiss Alps.

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Britain releases shock job numbers in wake of Brexit vote

PAUL WALDIE

Britain’s decision to leave the European Union was supposed to send unemployment soaring and drive thousands of people on to jobless benefits.

But government figures released on Wednesday showed that for the period from April to June, the country’s employment rate was at a record high while the unemployment rate held steady at 4.9 per cent. And the number of people claiming jobless benefits fell by 8,600 in July, one month after the vote to the leave the EU.

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As Britain fares better than expected, some ask if ‘project fear’ overblown

PAUL WALDIE

When Britain voted to leave the European Union in June, many experts predicted the economy would take a beating. But so far, the picture has been mixed, leaving many wondering if “project fear” was overblown.

By some indicators, the economy is performing just fine. Unemployment fell to an 11-year low of 4.9 per cent for the three months ended May 31 and 176,000 jobs were created. The stock market has recovered its post-referendum losses, house prices have continued rising, consumer spending remains decent and the economy grew faster in the second quarter than in the first. There are even hints of a rebound in the commercial property market and among property funds that suspended trading last month because of soaring redemption demands.

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We’ve seen the Vancouver housing movie before

BRIAN MILNER

Real estate peddlers in Canada’s hottest housing markets chalked up another remarkable month in July, as prices surged in Vancouver and Toronto and some nearby communities.

Vancouver home prices climbed for the 18th month in a row, with increases topping 2 per cent in each of the past six months, according to the latest Teranet-National Bank house price index. Prices were 24.3 per cent higher than a year earlier, nearly double Toronto’s rise and the biggest jump since the national tracking service was launched in 1999.

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We're working hard. Why aren't we productive?

IAN McGUGAN

I am highly productive. You, of course, are even more so. So why is it that productivity in the economy is missing in action?

New technology and global markets were supposed to boost our capacity to create useful stuff. But in Canada, the United States and other industrialized countries, that boom hasn’t happened.

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Four key parts of Hillary Clinton’s economic blueprint

BRIAN MILNER

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton devoted a large chunk of a major speech on the economy at an aerospace plant in Warren, Mich., to assailing Republican rival Donald Trump’s embrace of the “failed theory of trickle-down economics” mixed with his own “outlandish Trumpian ideas.”

When it came to her own policies, she broke no new ground, preferring to stick with her existing script. This includes an emphasis on job creation, lower costs for middle-class families, higher taxes on the rich, tougher rules for the financial industry and stronger environmental protection, overlaid with a mantle of fiscal prudence. Here are some key parts of her economic blueprint.

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Why Trump's anti-NAFTA message hits home with so many Americans

DAVID PARKINSON

Donald Trump has called the North American free-trade agreement (NAFTA) a “disaster” for the United States. He is wrong. But what has been good for America has demonstrably not been good for all Americans, and that is at the root of the trade disillusionment that has become a key election issue south of the border.

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Alberta’s economy is dipping, but its labour force is staying put

TODD HIRSCH

Todd Hirsch is the Calgary-based chief economist of ATB Financial, and author of The Boiling Frog Dilemma: Saving Canada from Economic Decline.

Now in the grips of a second year of contraction, Alberta has gone from the hare to the tortoise of Canada’s economy. It’s by no means the first time the province has found itself on the wrong side of the resource price collapse; once again it finds itself too heavily reliant on a single industry and commodity.

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Trump’s economic plan is not rooted in reality

DAVID ROSENBERG

Alex Rodriguez getting paid more than $20-million (U.S.) by the New York Yankees to basically do nothing through the 2017 Major League Baseball season: That pretty much sums up what’s wrong with America.

As if three consecutive quarters of declining productivity, something that we haven’t seen since the tail end of the miserable Jimmy Carter era, back in 1979, isn’t ominous enough on its own. (A recession came exactly a year later.)

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Brexit will affect Canada’s trade with Britain, but how?

GLEN HODGSON

Britain’s vote to leave the European Union has shaken up the country’s politics and government and shocked its trading partners. The new British Prime Minister, Theresa May, has said plainly that there is no turning back; the referendum results will be respected and Brexit will happen, in whatever specific form it eventually takes. If that’s the case, how might Canada deal with the coming Brexit?

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Fact check: Trump offers more talk, less substance in economic speech

BRIAN MILNER

Donald Trump laid out a revised tax reform plan, renewed his assault on NAFTA and other major free-trade deals and vowed to ditch an array of federal energy measures in a major economic speech to the Detroit Economic Club. It was an effort to reboot his struggling presidential campaign by focusing on his perceived strength as a business operator and convince mainstream Republicans he’s their best hope of achieving their cherished goals of lower taxes, less onerous regulations and smaller government.

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Signs emerge that hottest housing markets may be cooling

TAMSIN McMAHON

A raft of new data on Canada’s housing market this week will likely show yet another month of surging price gains in July, mainly driven by Vancouver and Toronto. But beneath the eye-popping figures are signs that the country’s housing market might be primed for a slowdown.

The Teranet-National Bank House Price Index, out Friday, will offer an updated look at national house prices, while new data on housing starts and building permits offer a glimpse of things to come.

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As the loonie sinks (again), where's the trade payoff?

DAVID PARKINSON

It’s time we come to grips with the reality of the Canadian economy: It’s not healthy, and the lower dollar hasn’t been enough to make it healthier.

Friday’s employment and trade numbers underline that despite a 75-cent (U.S.) currency that was supposed to spur an export-led recovery in Canada’s growth, the things that are supposed to be turning the corner simply aren’t. Export volumes fell for the fifth consecutive month. The country’s already bloated trade deficit swelled to a record $3.6-billion (Canadian) in June. The job market is weak: Employment fell by 31,000 jobs in July, the worst performance in nine months, pushing the nation’s unemployment rate up to 6.9 per cent from 6.8.

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Olympic spending is out of control – but it can be fixed

IAN McGUGAN

The Olympic motto is supposed to translate as faster, higher, stronger. A more accurate reading would be fatter, more expensive, more dysfunctional.

The Rio Olympics that lurched into life on Friday provide a perfect example of the Frankenstein nature of the contemporary Games. This summer’s extravaganza is an out-of-control monster – a lavish, money-bleeding circus held by an economically devastated nation governed by a scandal-ridden ruling class.

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Whatever Mark Carney does, the U.K. will feel less well off next year

CARL MORTISHED

The Governor of the Bank of England is taking no chances, digging trenches, erecting barbed wire fencing, tank traps and cannon to keep out the great financial calamity he sees on the U.K.’s horizon. Funny thing is that apart from surveys, pundits and his own forecasts, there is no sign yet of the great Brexit recession.

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Bank of England slashes forecast in post-Brexit revision

BRIAN MILNER

Bank of England Governor Mark Carney has launched the most aggressive monetary stimulus Britain has seen since the depths of the Great Recession seven years ago to cope with a deteriorating economic picture and a dramatic drop in confidence in the wake of Britain’s shocking Brexit vote.

“We took these steps because the economic outlook has changed markedly,” Mr. Carney told a news conference after Thursday’s decision by the bank’s monetary policy committee. “Indicators have all fallen sharply, in most cases to levels last seen in the financial crisis, and in some cases to all-time lows.”

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The loonie could be a victim of B.C.'s foreign buyer tax

DAVID PARKINSON

British Columbia’s new tax on foreigners’ home purchases may cool more than just the white-hot Vancouver housing market. The chill could extend to the Canadian dollar.

In a research report last week after the B.C. government announced a 15-per-cent transaction tax on purchases of real estate in Greater Vancouver by people who are not citizens or permanent residents, economist and foreign-exchange strategist Charles St-Arnaud of Nomura Securities in London made a case that the inflows of foreign money into Canada’s housing “are likely sufficiently significant to influence the value of the Canadian dollar.” (Mr. St-Arnaud was an economist at both the Bank of Canada and the federal finance department before joining Nomura in 2010.)

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Is the oil patch suffering a collapse relapse?

JEFFREY JONES

The oil industry’s recovery hasn’t been denied yet, but it’s certainly been delayed.

Crude slumped back into the $30s (U.S.) a barrel on Tuesday, weighed down in a sea of gasoline that’s taking painfully long to drain into the world’s fuel tanks.

By some forecasts, including a recent one by Morgan Stanley, a return to more balanced supply and demand in oil markets – once widely accepted to be a late-2016 event – has been pushed back into the middle of next year.

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It’s time to retire the myth of the educated barista

BARRIE McKENNA

Perhaps you know her – the Starbucks barista with a masters in English literature.

No? It turns out she’s more urban legend than reality.

Worse, the cliché sends the distressing message to young people that education doesn’t matter and that a degree in anything other than engineering or science is virtually worthless.

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Brexit aftermath driving BoE to cut rates for first time since 2009

BRIAN MILNER

The Bank of England is poised to ease monetary policy this week in response to weaker economic signals, corporate spending cuts and plunging business and consumer confidence since the shocking Brexit vote in June.

Most economy watchers predict a reduction in the benchmark rate of a quarter of a percentage point from its record low of 0.5 per cent, which has remained unchanged since early 2009, during the Great Recession. But no one would be surprised if the central bank also opts to ratchet up its bond-buying program, possibly including the purchase of corporate debt. And negative interest rates may not be far behind if conditions deteriorate markedly in the months ahead.

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