Saturday, December 24, 2011

Five Lumps of Coal for Canada's Economy

The recent IMF Report on Canada prompts me to remind everyone of some startling figures about the Canadian economy: 

1) The private and federal debt combined ratio to GDP is an astonishing 203%. 
2) The jobless rate in November is 7.4%, the worst in 5 months. 
3) Youth unemployment is 14% and even worse in Europe and the U.S. Expect much social unrest in 2012 -  which may coalesce around the occupy movement. 
4) Household debt to income ratio is a staggering 152%.The average Canadian household is $26,000 in debt over and above any mortgage debt.
 5) Real wage gains continue to stagnate in November: 2.4% while inflation is 2.9, a -.5 net loss in real income.

 As I and others - even a few neoclassical economists - have argued many times (see my other posts here), we need stimulus of some sort now, and both the IMF and Mark Carney are in agreement about both that and the problem of household debt. Such recognition by both the IMF and Carney is unusual since die-hard neoclassical economists tend to overlook household or private debt in their macroeconomic modelling. I'm beginning to think Carney may be the check we need against Flaherty and his misguided policies.

Where's Flaherty? It would seem all he can do is tinker with his beloved financial sector - banks and CHMC most recently. Does he even understand the real economy? Does he think it's only exports concentrated in oil and other natural resources? He might since that's the only sector apparently driving the economy, and that in itself is extremely worrisome.

Note:Thanks to the Supreme Court for rendering the right decision on the Federal Securities plan. SCOC rejects Ottawa's bid to create securities regulator

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