Canada

Here’s a piece I wrote for the Globe and Mail on the way that demographics are affecting the supply of young hockey players. Millennials have provided lots of young players which have sped up the game, but that may change, You can read the whole...

March 8th was International Women's Day and I had the good fortune to celebrate it in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, speaking to the Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce. The occasion was their 'Trailblazers Lunch' which honoured high-achieving women in their community. It was a great event, and...

Way back when I studied economics, I don’t actually remember learning what a ‘negative interest rate’ was. In fact, even a few years ago when I taught graduate-level economics (a whole other post), I don’t remember it being in the curriculum, or even being asked...

Hey I’m a politician – again! I’ve declared to be a candidate for Town Council in my home town for a by election coming up in a few weeks. It’s my second try at this, given that I unsuccessfully made a bid for a seat...

How would you like free college tuition for you and for your kids? It would really take the pressure off, right? Of course you’d take it if offered – but what if there was a catch, the catch being really high taxes forever? That’s the...

Do you go to the mall? I used to, quite a bit actually. In the 70s, 80s, 90s, even the 00s – the mall was the place to buy stuff, and I liked stuff as much as any child and young woman in North America....

I love this: the newest trend in travelling is ‘Literary Tourism’, or making a pilgrimage to the birthplaces of your favorite authors or the sites of their books. As this article from the Atlantic details, it is certainly a gentler way to vacation than doing...

Want to deal with the problem of income inequality? The answer is not, as many argue, to simply do a Robin Hood steal-from-the-rich-and-give-to-the-poor thing. According to a new study by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) , the best way to deal with inequities is to...

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is out with their new Employment Outlook and – as these things go – it is a fairly upbeat piece in that they do see the big picture improving, particularly in countries like Canada. Beyond the big...

Well, it is not a popular position in the media these days, but yes I am in favour of the Temporary Foreign Workers program. Read my reasons - and they have everything to do with labour supply and keeping the economy functioning - in this...

It is kind of an urban myth, if you’ll pardon the pun: there is a story afoot that people are leaving the suburbs and moving back to the cities. I’ve written about the trend myself, but honestly perhaps the best evidence that it is true...

The first chapter of my book Economorphics deals with the  closing of the 'demographic window'. Taking things a bit further, in this Commentary piece for the Macdonald Laurier Institute I look at the implication for Canada of a closing window- and how the country can maybe...

See my Globe and Mail Economy Lab blog here ...

Not quite the end of the year, but still a good time to take stock of where the jobs were in 2012. See my post on the Globe and Mail's Economy Lab here...

September really is like a New Year.  Not only does school get into full swing, but everyone is back and work – and the real trading begins.  Maybe that’s the reason that financial crises are more likely to start in the Autumn than in any other season. Let’s be clear: I am not looking for a wholesale world economic crisis to unfold anytime soon. I do, however, think that the world economy is a little shaky right now, and there are a lot of things that are going to come together to cause some volatility over the next few months, and that investors need to understand them. Here are my top five ‘Things That Could be a Problem for the Global Economy’ : 1. Europe Well, what else could I start with? Yes, the policy-makers have pledged to make things work, and yes the most recent plan by the ECB to buy bonds will help.  Still, Europe is in recession and the Eurozone is unlikely to look the way it does now a few years from now.  That means the risks coming from Europe are not over, not by a long shot. 2.China With Europe as weak as it is, the rest of the world desperately needs China to a source of strength.  Sadly, the last batch of numbers shows this economic powerhouse struggling and growth at the lowest in three years.  Policymakers have made some effort to boost growth – in July they cut the key lending rate for the second time in a month - but they are moving slowly lest they re-ignite an already crazy property market. It is so far so good for commodity prices (and stocks) but a little more slowing from China could hit hard. 3. The U.S. Fiscal Cliff Tick-tock: unless some major compromises are reached in Washington, the U.S. falls off the ‘fiscal cliff’ in a matter of months.  The term refers to the menu of tax hikes and spending cuts that will go into effect at the beginning of 2013 as a deficit measure, and the corresponding havoc they would cause. Unless something changes, the U.S. is headed into at least a short recession- or maybe a longer one – in 2013. Chances are there will be some kind of band-aid measures to stop the worst of the damage – but look for some slowing just the same. 4. Oil Prices Since the end of the Second World War, there have been 11 U.S. recessions  - and eleven of them have been preceded by sharply higher oil prices.  Which makes sense: the U.S. consumer sector accounts for about 70 perent of total U.S. GDP, and the generally speaking, there is not a whole lot of room in U.S. budgets to pay more to fill up the car (let alone the SUV). If the U.S. sees a surge in growth and incomes, rising oil prices may not matter too much.  Barring that scenario, even if Europe and China keep chugging along and there is a compromise reached on the fiscal cliff, high oil prices could pull the U.S. economy into a downturn anyway. 5. Lender Caution Not that you can really blame them, but since the end of the last recession   lender have been notoriously careful about issuing credit.  That’s why interest rates at generational lows – and even at zero in some cases – are not sparking global growth the way they should be. Canada, by the way is a bit of an exception ot the rule – the Bank of Canada’s second quarter Senior Loan Officer Survey showed lending standards loosening up a bit – but that’s probably because our lenders were cautious to start with. If things get shakier over the next few months, credit could get squeezed even more –in North America, and around the world too.  That is not good news for the economy or the markets. Now, none of this is to scare anyone out of the market or to have them pulling their money out of financial institutions.  Still, better to understand and monitor the risks than to blindsided if Autumn gives us more than falling leaves.
  We have heard a lot about the squeezed middle over the past few years.  For the most part, the statistics have focused on the fact that average income have been stagnating (or declining) in both the U.S. and Canada. A close look at the numbers reveals that the number of middle income earners in Canada is shrinking. Thing is, I'm not exactly sure that's as dire as it sounds.
It is about Europe this week – yes again – or then again maybe it won’t be. Here’s where we are: the situation as regards Greece is not getting any better, and there is a realistic chance that, everybody’s efforts (and money) notwithstanding, they are going to exit from the Eurozone. So yes, it is a tricky time for European markets, which is to say global ones too.
Just took a look at today's release on employment data from Statistics Canada and was underwhelmed by the data.  Looks like Canadian employment is rising, but not really rising all that fast.
Last time, I talked about who the middle-young ratio (ratio of 40somethings to 20somethings in the population) correlated with financial market activity in the U.S. and Canada. A population with a lot of 40somethings poured money into the stock markets through the 1990s, then a slightly older one held back a little on equities. The demographics certainly are not the whole story behind why the markets dipped over the past few years, but they were most certainly a contributing factor.

Aging population – market time bomb?

  Okay, that’s a sensationalistic way to put it, but that’s certainly one of the fears people have about an the shifting demographics in North America. Last time around I looked at how portfolio size tends to trend lower as people go past 65. All things being equal, the older the population gets, the more money that is going to be pulled out of the market. Question is, at what point does the ‘market time bomb’ thing go from sensationalism to reality – or does it?
This is the first in a series of blogs about the way that demographics are going to affect your investments. Yes, I know there has been a lot written on the topic, and most of us know the basic theory. The boomers poured a lot of money into the markets over the past couple of decades, and they made the markets go up. Now they are getting old (sorry if that term offends anyone, but the first wave of boomers is cashing in their pension checks as we speak) and they are going to be pulling the money out of their retirement accounts. This will make the markets go down. Really? Is it as simple as that?
Baby boomers are going to retire and take down the pension system. Generation X is lazy. Generation Y is spoiled and undisciplined, and they've pretty much blown out their eardrums by having them stuffed with ipods all the time anyway.

I was going to write something very business-like about the Olympics, something about the returns to invesment for Vancouver or Canada or something like that. On second thought, though, at this point I'd don't know that anyone can really do justice to the topic without...