According to the poll, conducted by Environics and commissioned by Environmental Defence, 41 per cent of Canadians believe the importance of the oilsands to the economy is six to 24 times higher than it actually is. And a full 57 per cent of Canadians overestimate the value of oilsands to the country's economy.
Cash has been plentiful in emerging markets. Between 2009-2012 as quantitative easing ramped up, there was a massive expansion in borrowing on global bond markets by emerging market (EM) sovereigns, banks and companies. As a result, EM economies are now closely integrated into global debt markets, and thus more affected by actions taken in Developed Markets (DMs), particularly the withdrawal of quantitative easing (QE).
In an unprecedented move, the Fed undertook an extraordinary experiment in monetary policy. Unable to further target an interest rate, already at zero, the Fed began announcing a quantity of cash that it would inject into the financial system by purchasing large numbers of government bonds and other highly-rated securities, and replacing them with cash.
After three-and-a-half years of ho-hum on this front, there is renewed interest in interest rates: where they are going, how fast, and what we need to do to be prepared, if change is indeed in the wind. A lot of the talk is related to another 'up' that scares us: inflation. Talk of rising interest rates is very good news, since it strongly suggests higher confidence in near-future growth.
Governments, media and much of the public are preoccupied with the economy. That means demands such as those for recognition of First Nations treaty rights and environmental protection are often seen as impediments to the goal of maintaining economic growth. The gross domestic product has become a sacred indicator of well-being. Ask corporate CEOs and politicians how they did last year and they'll refer to the rise or fall of the GDP. It's a strange way to measure either economic or social well-being. Whatever we come up with, it has to be better than GDP with its absurd emphasis on endless growth on a finite planet.
Investment has been quiet -- almost asleep -- for an inordinate spell. Is it on the way back? A sleeping giant may be on the verge of awakening. When this one does rouse, it's likely to do so in a hurry. Those who are armed and ready to supply business quickly with the machinery and equipment it needs stand to win big in the next cycle.
A government's claims of economic competence must surely depend upon a sound record in certain crucial areas -- such as economic growth, debt reduction, balanced budgets and management of the tax burden. On all four counts, the Harper regime is a serious disappointment. As for taxes, that's where Mr. Harper brags the most. But check reality! While claiming they never raise taxes, the Harper Conservatives have in fact increased the net tax burden on Canadians in each of their last four budgets. It happens in dozens of nefarious ways which they hope you won't notice.
The bottom line? Fiscal policy is already a drag on growth, and will be, but perhaps not for as long as many now believe, given the speed with which fiscal dynamics can flip around. Monetary policy is generally expected to tighten, but in a way that does not undermine, but rather lend support to nascent economic growth.