Trade Wars – ‘The Yin and The Yang’

The Canadian and American economies are proving to be resilient in light of current global trade tensions and wars.

U.S. consumer spending, which accounts for an outsized share of GDP, bounced back strongly, supported by the lowest unemployment rate in 50 years. Canada’s wage growth and inflationary pressures have emerged against a steady, central bank interest rate. Yet, Canada had similar increase in economic output in GDP. (NBF July 2019) Furthermore, some U.S. trade tensions have benefitted Canadian manufacturers and producers. For example, Lobster exports are way up to China more than doubled after receiving a 3-percentage point Chinese tariff cut. Also, the Canadian dollar has been appreciating against the U.S. dollar. (It) has increased over 3% since the end of May 2019 and maybe begin to soften to benefit Canadian exporters.  (BDC July 2019) Sounds like a pretty good economic ‘Yang’. So what’s the ‘Yin’?

Trade Wars Expand Their Impact

Trade Wars may be a negotiating strategy but if sustained they will become a global ‘wet blanket’ that no economy will escape. As our partners at NBF Economics, point out in their recent economic outlook, China’s slowdown is significant. This is the ‘Yin”. A significant Chinese economic slowdown could hit Canada hard and cause a decline in the U.S.

“In China, GDP expanded just 6.2% in Q2 from a year earlier (+1.6% q/q non-annualized). Its slowest pace since data collection began in 1992. Although in line with expectations, this result confirmed that the world’s second largest economy is slowing amid persistent U.S. trade tensions. The deceleration could have been worse had other indicators not surprised on the upside in June.”

NBF Economics July 2019
Predicted U.S. GDP is expected to decline especially if trade wars persist.
Predicted U.S. GDP is expected to decline especially if trade wars persist.

“Global trade contracted 2.3% between October and April, according to the Netherlands Bureau of Economic Analysis. The World Bank expects the global economy to grow by just 2.6% this year—the weakest pace since the financial crisis.”

Source: BDC July 2019

It appears the later half of 2019 may be more Yin than Yang. Looming challenges include slowing Chinese growth coupled with the U.K.’s new Prime Minister’s hard line approach to Brexit.

Oh, Canada? Business Is Positive But …

Trade wars and tariffs, and many other aliments don’t seem to be impacting Canada’s business owners, but? Gross Domestic Product (GDP) crept up mildly by .1% or 10 basis points with the Friday, June 29 Statistics Canada announcement. Results were modestly in-line with Canada’s economic expectations for April 2018. These results coincided with Bank of Canada (BoC) survey taken BEFORE the G7 June kerfuffle which also offered positive sentiment from private business, as outlined by Investment Executive Canada.

How have trade talks impacted business sentiment?

While we have no formal data yet, the Globe and Mail offer an opinion that Canada’s outlook would be rosy “if it wasn’t for that U.S. trade war.”  Before the ‘Trump’ tariff and trade friction, a focus towards full-employment and hiring had increased substantially. As outlined by the NBF Economics chart below Canadian firms were eager to hire at the expense of investment. However, the business outlook has weakened.

“Despite an upbeat outlook, the balance of opinion on investment moved downward and that even though “almost all interviews” were conducted before the announcement of tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada by the U.S. Business optimism likely took a subsequent dive, especially after the disastrous G7 meeting of June 8th/9th when Canada-U.S. trade relations took a turn for the worse.”

Oh Canada! Business Sentiment Survey Before G7 Meetings and Tariff Talk

It may have become ‘Oh, Oh’ Canada as business sentiment survey before the G7 meetings enjoyed some of the most positive sentiment since 2011. What is next? For a fulsome discussion on how the recent geopolitical trade wars may impact our future economic outlook, enjoy the detailed discussion from our partners at NBF Economics, HERE.

Trade wars and counter measures never result in positive outcomes with the exception of local sourcing. Here’s a quick review of the potential provincial impacts from CTV News. As consumers we may wish to spend your summer travels and vacation supporting local producers to the benefit of many.

Canada GDP Rebounds with Energy

Canada’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product) has rebounded in February 2018 with the largest surge since May 2017 due primarily to a recovery in energy prices complemented by a broad sectorial surge. Canada’s economy beat estimates by growing 0.4 percent. The breadth of increases is encouraging, particularly the observed bounces in the agricultural, mining, oil and gas, retail, arts/recreation, professional and information services industries. Of the twenty industrial sectors, fifteen registered increases in output during February. As a result, industrial production jumped 1.4%, the biggest increase since May last year. Q1 growth may well end up topping the Bank of Canada’s estimate of 1.3%.

For a detailed discussion, enjoy the report by National Bank Financial Economics for the February Economic Results HERE.