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You’ll never guess the fastest growing economy in the G7

A roundup of what The Globe and Mail's market strategist Scott Barlow is reading this morning on the Web

Record levels of household debt, slow wage and export growth, and an ongoing oil glut were not enough to prevent the Canadian economy from becoming the fastest-growing among G7 nations,

"The oil-producing nation, which struggled mightily with falling crude prices the past two years, grew at an annualized pace of almost 4 percent in the first quarter, according to the Bank of Canada's latest estimates. No other Group of Seven economy even came close … Yet even with the economy suddenly running hot, caution prevails… At a rate decision last week in Ottawa, Canada's central bank revised up growth projections for 2017, but cut them for 2018. It also raised questions about the sustainability of the rebound and the country's long-term growth outlook."

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"Canada Is the G-7's Surprise Growth Leader, For Now" – Bloomberg

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Non-profit news organization Inside Climate News details the exodus of foreign energy firms from Canada. There has been considerable hand-wringing from some quarters about this trend in a 'carbon taxes make us uncompetitive!' way, but, as the near-peak of the market sales of Talisman Energy and Nexen Inc. illustrate, domestic energy executive have historically been terrific at timing the market. This doesn't mean everything's great in the Canadian oil patch, or that new taxes won't crimp profits, but there is ample reason for investors to trust domestic energy managers.

"Exodus From Canada's Oil Sands Continues as Energy Giants Shed Assets" – Inside Climate News
"Saudi Aramco chief warns of looming oil shortage" – Financial Times
"Bullish Oil Bets Gain on Signs OPEC Cuts to Outdo U.S. Boom" – Bloomberg
"Undaunted by oil bust, financiers pour billions into U.S. shale" – Reuters
"Oil slides as U.S. pumps more, but OPEC and North Korea loom" – Bloomberg

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A Bloomberg report called "Now the Real Work Begins for Marijuana Lobbyists in Canada" gets to the heart of my concerns about marijuana-related investments. There is little doubt that growth in marijuana use will rise after legalization, but investors should think less about maximum potential profits than the expected growth path after various levels of government are finished designing regulations to limit sales,

"Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government released hotly anticipated rules Thursday, striking a law-and-order tone in setting a minimum age of 18 while introducing stiff new penalties for impaired driving and for selling marijuana to minors. The latter could lead to up to 14 years in jail… A slew of other details remain up in the air, including price, taxation, packaging and retail sales rules. Edible marijuana products won't be allowed to be sold at first, and the government didn't say when they would. Canadian marijuana companies, in other words, still don't know what they can sell, where and for how much. "

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My personal suspicion is that new rules will be restrictive enough to keep the existing illegal infrastructure in place, and this will divert profits from firms that sell legally.

"Now the Real Work Begins for Marijuana Lobbyists in Canada" – Bloomberg
"Wine Industry Finds a Companion in a Competitor: Marijuana" – New York Times

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Tweet of the day: "@ValaAfshar You can read faster than you might think 📖 pic.twitter.com/RDCnu5Wc8J " – Twitter

Diversion: "Liberals and conservatives are similarly motivated to avoid exposure to one another's opinions" – Science Direct

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About the Author
Market Strategist

Scott Barlow is The Globe's in-house market strategist. He is a 20-year veteran of Canadian investment banks, including Merrill Lynch Canada, CIBC Wood Gundy and Macquarie Private Wealth (MPW). He was a highly ranked mutual fund analyst for 10 years and then, most recently, the head of a financial adviser support team at MPW. More

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