Go to the Globe and Mail homepage

Jump to main navigationJump to main content

Report on Business

Economy Lab

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

Entry archive:

Economy Lab has moved

Only Globe Unlimited members will now have access to a wide range of insightful commentary
and analysis on the economy and markets previously offered on this page.


Globe Unlimited subscribers will be able to read these columns,
written by some of Canada’s most deeply respected economists,
such as Christopher Ragan, Sheryl King, Andrew Jackson, and Clement Gignac,
as part of our ROB INSIGHT section.


All of our readers will still be able to browse the Economy Lab archives and read our
broader coverage of economic data and news by accessing their 10 free articles a month.


Learn more about Globe Unlimited and how to subscribe.

Because Canada is a net exporter of crude, surging oil prices aren’t necessarily a blow to overall economic growth. (Gregory Sawisky/The Canadian Press)
Because Canada is a net exporter of crude, surging oil prices aren’t necessarily a blow to overall economic growth. (Gregory Sawisky/The Canadian Press)

Economy Lab

Oil prices force Carney to revisit the rules on growth Add to ...

Here’s the biggest surprise in the Bank of Canada’s policy statement on Tuesday: “The international price of oil has risen further and is now considerably higher than that received by Canadian producers. If sustained, these oil price developments could dampen the improvement in economic momentum.”

This is a rewriting of the rules that dictate the course of Canada’s economy.

More related to this story

Unlike the United States, Japan, and most of Europe, surging crude prices aren’t necessarily a blow to overall economic growth.

Yes, a jump at the pumps is the same as a tax, crimping household consumption. But because Canada is a net exporter of oil and other commodities, higher prices mean more money is coming into the economy from abroad, generating wealth while boosting Canada’s terms of trade. The pop in profits leads to further production, which creates jobs and puts upward pressure on wages.

And yes, the positives are weighted in Alberta’s favour, while drivers in eastern Canada might see only higher gasoline prices and factories struggle with higher input costs. But the Bank of Canada can only set policy for the entire country, and overall, the impact of higher oil prices on the entire economy is neutral, if not a positive.

At least that’s the way it used to be. The Bank of Canada last explained its thinking on commodity prices in April, 2001. The note on oil in Tuesday’s policy statement suggests the central bank’s thinking on commodity prices has changed. Expect more details when in the latest Monetary Policy Report later this morning.

The details will make for interesting reading, but the implication already is clear. Canadian policy makers, for the first time in a long time, have to start worrying about the oil price. That’s because consumers are driving growth almost entirely alone, and higher gasoline costs will cause that engine to sputter.

“The bank projects that private domestic demand will account for almost all of Canada’s economic growth over the projection horizon,” the Bank of Canada statement said.

That’s a lot like the United States, where the price of fuel is a national obsession.

Follow on Twitter: @CarmichaelKevin

In the know

Most popular videos »

Highlights

More from The Globe and Mail

Most popular