OTTAWA—For more than four years, one constant of Canada’s economy has been the central bank’s 1 per cent overnight interest rate. The Ottawa-based bank hasn’t changed the rate, which influences everything from car loans to mortgages, since September 2010, the longest pause since World War II, as it tries to guide the country back to full capacity.Here’s a list of other noteworthy numbers from the year just ended that will shed light on where the world’s 11th largest economy is headed in 2015. The number of Canadian factory workers in June, the fewest since at least 1976. The decline — a legacy of how the Canadian dollar’s surge to a record $1.10 in 2007 hampered the ability of manufacturers to compete globally — underscores how factories have borne the brunt of the shrinking export market and remain the economy’s Achilles heel.
Now that demand is picking up, some argue the industry lacks the capacity to produce what the world wants without major new investments. A central bank study last month showed some manufacturers are expanding output abroad rather than boosting production at home. The combined gross domestic product of countries with which Canada has now concluded free trade agreements, representing more than half of the global economy, and perhaps the answer for the country’s beleaguered manufacturers. Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s agenda seeks to reverse Canada’s shrinking presence in global trade: the country’s share of world exports has dropped to about 2.5 per cent from 4.5 per cent 15 years ago The average sales price of a detached home in Vancouver, a record reached in February. Through November of this year, average prices are up 6.8 percent nationwide from the same month a year earlier, putting 2014 on pace to be even hotter than 2013. Low borrowing costs are driving real estate gains, along with a scarcity of single-family homes in markets such as Toronto. Many observers believe the market is still headed for a correction. The number of young people who want to work or work more, accordin g to Bank of Canada’s Stephen Poloz, who urged those still living in their parents’ basements to take whatever they could find, even if it meant working for free. The comments sparked criticism from youth groups, labor unions
and federal lawmakers including Employment Minister Jason Kenney, who said the governor’s focus should be on boosting paid employment. The amount in U.S. cents one Canadian dollar purchased at year-end. After touching a 2014 intraday high of 94.44 cents on Jan. 2, the nation’s currency went into a tailspin as investors be gan to grasp the Bank of Canada’s Poloz was less inclined to raise interest rates than his predecessor Mark Carney, and as global commodity prices began to sink. The lower dollar should help regions such as Ontario
that rely more on manufacturing. On the flip side, it raises the cost of imported goods and foreign travel and is part of the reason consumer confidence ended 2014 at the lowest in 18 months. The 46 per cent price plunge last year of Canada’s biggest export may trigger tectonic shifts in the economy. Producers are already scalin g back investments. Finance Minister Joe Oliver trimmed the government’s revenue outlook in November to account for the drop, and cut cumulative surplus projecti ons by almost half. His adjustments assume WTI will trade at about $81 a barrel. If oil doesn’t recover soon, he’ll have even less flexibility when he delivers his pre-election budget in the next few months. Value of foreign acquisitions announced in 2014, more than double the 2013 total. Burger King Worldwide Inc.’s 2014 takeover of Tim Hortons for $13.2 billion, including debt, heralded a rebound of foreign
acquisitions after deals cooled in 2013 following Prime Minister Harper’s decision to restrict Chinese investment in the nation’s oil industry. Among the 2014 deals was Repsol SA’s $13 billion purchase, including debt, of Talisman Energy, and of AltaLink by a unit of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc.
The New York Times