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Jock Finlayson

Review of the Party Platforms in Advance of the BC Election:
#1 Fiscal Planning and the Economic Cycle

Blog 1: Fiscal Planning and the Economic Cycle

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The Investment Conundrum

Business non-residential capital spending has been on a declining trend for three years. The slump is particularly evident in the energy sector, but the weakness has spread well beyond the oil and gas industry.

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Five Important Stories Affecting the BC Business Community in 2016

A list of five important stories affecting the BC Business Community in 2016 from the Real Estate boom to the opening of the Microsoft Vancouver development centre.

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The Trump Presidency: Three Possible Silver Linings for Canada

For British Columbia and Canada generally, there are economic downsides and upsides from the new political order that’s about to take shape in Washington, D.C.

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Growing More Significant-Scale Firms: An Important Innovation Goal for BC

In our new paper, “Innovation for Jobs and Productivity,” the Business Council argues that innovation is the key to creating and sustaining more high-productivity, high-wage jobs in the province.

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Some Musings on the Metro Vancouver Real Estate Market

How do people in the lower mainland manage amid sky-high housing prices?

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No Surprise: The Residential Real Estate Complex a Big Economic Engine in BC

Real estate sales have been running at record levels across the lower mainland, and home prices are surging. In response to elevated demand, new home construction has jumped to its highest level since the early 1990s. Renovation spending has also been strong. Casual observation and “water cooler chatter” speak to widespread media and public interest in real estate generally -- and housing prices in particular. In this setting, it will not come as a surprise that the data tracking economic output by sector confirms that real estate-related activity has become a critical factor underpinning economic growth in the province.

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Is BC Really a Laggard on Climate Change?

In recent months, a number of groups have been advancing the message that BC is falling behind other jurisdictions in adopting policies to address climate change.  

We find the claim deeply misleading.

On any reasonable assessment, BC remains a North American pacesetter on a number of important aspects of climate policy, with industry and government continuously improving policies and operational efficiencies through the availability of new innovations.

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Investment Survey Signals Continued Weakness in Capital Spending

Statistics Canada’s just released capital expenditure survey confirms that the negative fall-out from sluggish energy and materials markets continues to take a toll on business investment across the country.

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Fast Facts on BC's Tech Sector

Tech is a good news story for BC – a story that we expect to continue. The province enjoys strengths in several different technology-based clusters – software and information and communications technologies; wireless technologies; bio-tech, life sciences and health innovation; clean/green technologies; and gaming and digital animation. Today's blog offers a few key facts about BC's Tech Sector.

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Commodity Price Slump is Weighing on the Canadian and the Global Economies

The ongoing decline in the US-dollar prices of most internationally traded commodity products has hit the Canadian economy hard, depressing incomes, triggering layoffs and capital spending cutbacks by hundreds of resource companies (and their suppliers), and hurting business and consumer confidence across much of the country.

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Preliminary Comments on the New BC Labour Market Outlook

The BC government recently published new projections for labour demand and supply encompassing the next ten years. Overall, the new labour market outlook is an improvement over earlier efforts. It is based on more rigorous modelling and reflects extensive engagement with employers and other stakeholders who were consulted in the course of developing the detailed projections.

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Imagining a “Post-Inflation” World

Across most of the leading advanced economies, inflation is running well below the rates targeted by central banks. In the United States, the principal inflation measure tracked by the Federal Reserve sits at barely 1%, despite an expanding economy and a rapidly tightening labour market. In Japan and the Eurozone, central banks have set policy interest rates at zero and are aggressively pumping money into the economy to avoid deflation – defined as a generalized drop in the price level. In both the UK and Canada, the short-term policy interest rates directly controlled by central banks remain near all-time lows.

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Recent international trade numbers suggest some improvement in Canada's limping economy

Statistics Canada’s just released snapshot of Canada’s trade performance in June offers a hint that the much anticipated upturn in non-energy exports may finally be materializing. 

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Some Musings on the Bank of Canada’s Latest Rate Cut

What are we to make of the Bank of Canada’s decision this week to trim its benchmark policy interest rate by another 25 basis points, taking it to a near record low of 0.5%? 

For one thing, the Bank is acknowledging that the energy-related downturn in capital spending and exports in Canada has been more pronounced than it was expecting earlier in the year – and the pain is likely to persist for a while yet.   Canada’s economy, we are told, is facing “complex adjustments” that will unfold over the “next few years.”  At the heart of these “adjustments” is a less rosy future for both crude oil and many other commodity prices.  This is unwelcome news, as natural resource-based industries supply more than half of Canada’s exports and play a pivotal role in driving business investment in several regions of the country.  A world of lower prices for oil and other commodities is a world in which Canadians can look forward to smaller increases in real incomes than we enjoyed during the decade that began in 2003 – a decade that coincided with a broadly-based global commodity upcycle that is now a fading memory.    

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A Milestone Looms: BC’s Economy Will Soon Hit $250 Billion

A steadily expanding population and ongoing modest economic growth are combining to propel the value of both spending and production in the province to ever higher levels. As a result, we are on the cusp of a significant milestone: by the end of this year or early in 2016, the value of all measured economic activity in British Columbia will reach one-quarter of a trillion dollars ($250 billion).

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Could Canada Experience a “Technical” Recession in 2015?

Last week’s economic growth report from Statistics Canada casts a cloud over the country’s economic outlook for 2015. Real GDP fell by 0.6% (annualized) in the first quarter, considerably worse than even forecasters of a pessimistic bent were expecting.

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How Big is the Underground Economy?

Statistics Canada recently published new estimates of the size and composition of the “underground” economy. According to the agency, “underground” or “hidden economic” activity amounted to some $42 billion in 2012, equal to 2.3% of Canada’s gross domestic product (GDP). There is some variation among the provinces. In Prince Edward Island, the underground economy is pegged at 3.3% of GDP, while in Alberta it is less than 2%. The figure for British Columbia is 2.7% of GDP, which is somewhat higher than the national average.

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Businesses and Public Policy in Canada…Apparently Smaller is Better

The latest federal budget confirms and reinforces a prevailing belief among Canadian policy-makers that it is better for enterprises to stay small instead of expanding their top lines, bottom lines and employee head count.  Budget 2015 signals that the Conservative government plans to lower the federal small business income tax rate from 11% to 9% by 2019.  The rate reductions will come in four half-point steps, starting in January 2016.  There is to be no change in the general federal corporate tax rate that applies to income above the small business threshold ($500,000) – that rate remains at 15%.

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A Possible Strategy to Improve Post-Secondary Education and Training

The transition from school to work often poses significant challenges both for young people and the employers who hire them. Over time, the economy is generating fewer jobs and career options for young adults who lack any education or credentials beyond a high school diploma. For their part, many university and college graduates are finding the job market tough sledding, and a large proportion of graduates leave school with no clear idea as to what jobs or careers are available. Policy-makers and business leaders are voicing concerns over a perceived labour market mis-match between the supply of and the demand for skills. To the extent that such a mis-match exists and is sizable, it represents a loss of economic opportunity and implies that Canada is failing to fully mobilize its human resource potential.

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