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economy is firing on all cylinders as third
quarter growth came in at 3.5%
last week, following
the heels of spectacular 4.6% growth in the previous
quarter. The U.S.
214,000 jobs in
2.3 million jobs created so
far in 2014. Wi
th unemployment down to 5.8%,
are picking up and headed higher. This is great news
and retailers are smacking their lips in
expectation of a very merry Christmas season. This is
also good news for Canada: exports to the U.S.
13% so far this year in spite of lower energy and
commodity prices. All of the leading indicators point
to continued strength in the U.S.
economy in the
months ahead. Get ready for growth!
A combination of tumbling commodity prices and
weak economic numbers in Canada set against a
economy pushed the loonie to 88 cents
on Tuesday. Wall Street expects that
could start rising sooner than expected, pushing up
investor demand for the greenback while weakness in
Canada’s domestic economy means that our rate hikes
could be much further away. The Canadian Chamber
is forecasting that the Canadia
n dollar will average 85
cents in 2015.
The Canadian economy
contracted by 0.1% in August
after remaining essentially
flat in July, the weakest
since last December.
big energy sector
declined but this was
mainly because of
maintenance related shut-downs in the oil sands. On
the consumer side, Canadians shopped less in
with retail sales falling an unexpected 0.3
consecutive month of decline.
spending is expected this year and next as highly
indebted Canadians put their credit cards away.
Exports and business investment will have to be the
sources of growth in the years ahead.
China is now in the midst of a
home prices falling for the
straight month and sales down 11% from a year
earlier. China cut
rates and down
levels for the first time since the 2008 global financial
crisis in a sig
n that the government is worried that
further fall in home prices could threaten the economy.
trouble for commodity prices because
China is the world’s biggest metal consumer,
accounting for almost half of global demand for copper
thirds of the world’s iron ore, where prices
have fallen 22% and 40% respectively.
The Japanese economy contracted by 1.6% in the
after a 7.3% decline
in Q2, as the country’s
increase hammered the
the country into its
recession since 2008.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
elections in order to postpone an
imminent rise in
Japan’s consumption tax.
Japan’s economy should
return to positive growth in Q4, but
should be expected as the
yen continues to decline.
It may seem like a pretty straightforward topic, but it’s
something that we all seem to struggle with in one form or another: Work-life
balance. Spending more time with our kids, regularly going to the gym, having
“me time.” These are all things that we are aware we need. Sometimes we make time
for them, other times we do not.
At our last TEC event, speaker Carlos Fox spoke to this
point exactly, and though it may only be one man’s opinion, it is the opinion
of a man who has spent 7,000+ hours coaching CEO’s. Carlos says, “Those who are
the best CEOs of their life also happen to be the best CEOs of their business.
You not only have to be good at running your company, but you have to be great
at running ‘ME Inc.’ and you have to be intentional about it too.”
So how do we get better at this practice? Treating our
personal lives with the same level of importance as our careers? Our companies?
Carlos broke it into a few easy steps:
Seek Self awareness
Are you really as good as you think you
are? This is the good, the bad, and the ugly. What are your strengths? What do you
need to improve on? Be honest with yourself! How do you show up as a leader: do
you know your leadership style, your strengths, and your weaknesses?’ It is
important to be aware of yourself, your personal brand, to key into your values
and the things that you really find important. To understand how you handle
stress and the things you need in order to combat it most effectively. You must
know your blind spots and how to actively minimize their impacts.
Adopt the ability to navigate
Carlos suggests taking a look each month at
where you are going, how you are getting there, and if that is realistic or
not. There is never enough time, money, or resources in the world – this is
where we must become the chief priority officer of our lives. Do you need to
spend more time with your family, your kids, on your health, re-connecting with
your pillow and sleeping at night? Carlos suggests taking each area of your
life and evaluating it using a scale of red, yellow, and green. This gives you an
actual idea of what you are doing well, and where you may or may not be lacking.
And it really goes back to point #1 – self-awareness.
Work towards these life goals as you would
with the goals of your own company. Execute them, evaluate them. Learn and grow
If we do these three things, and we do them well, we can see
several things happen. We will have more time, more energy, less stress, and
actually be able to create a balance in our lives – tuning in to that inner ‘Zen’
all these people are talking about. So why not give it a shot? What do you need
to do to become CEO of your life?
In recent weeks, we’ve seen many stories in the media
about a major slowdown in China. As Canada’s second
largest trading partner with $70 billion per year in
bilateral trade, it could have a big impact here at home.
Should we be worried or is China charging ahead?
Official figures show China growing at around 7.3%, a
decline when you consider that for the 20 years up to
2007, the country’s average real GDP was rising by an
average of 11% per year. But that’s OK. China’s
economy is now US$9 trillion, so that 7.5% increase is on
a much larger pie and is a much bigger boost to the
global economy. The growth is also more balanced,
shifting away from investment and export dependence
towards a more broad-based expansion of consumption,
thanks to rising wages.
Are there vulnerabilities in China? Certainly, China has
high debt levels, but the banks are well capitalized and
with $4 trillion in foreign exchange reserves, there is
more than enough of a safety cushion to weather any
downturn. China also has soaring real estate prices and
areas that are overbuilt. But don’t forget that two million
people per month move from rural areas to the cities. This means that China has to add the equivalent of three
New York Cities every year to keep up with the rise in
urban dwellers. China’s government has been trying to
clamp down on rising home prices by raising mortgage
rates and downpayment requirements, although they’ve
eased off recently.
A consumer revolution is underway.
So what does it all mean for business? China’s economy
is changing dramatically but growth will remain over
7% for the foreseeable future. More importantly a
consumer revolution is underway. Each year, almost 30
million people, a population roughly the size of Canada,
join the Chinese middle class. And they love to spend
In 2013, China surpassed the U.S. as the world’s largest
ecommerce market. By 2015, KPMG is forecasting that
China’s ecommerce transactions could reach USD 540
billion, roughly 10% of total retail transactions. By 2020,
the firm estimates that China’s ecommerce market will
be larger than those of the U.S., Britain, Japan, Germany
and France combined.
Here at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, we’ve
been lobbying hard to establish a renminbi trading hub
right here in Canada to make it easier to do business in
China’s currency. Last week in Hangzhou, our
President, Perrin Beatty, and the Prime Minister of
Canada met with Jack Ma, the head of Alibaba, to talk
about boosting trade.
What is Alibaba? It’s only the world’s largest ecommerce
company, roughly twice the size of Amazon. Alibaba’s
transactions last year totaled nearly $250 billion,
compared with $116 billion for Amazon. Every second,
Alibaba handles an average of 500 orders, worth more
than $9,000. Ecommerce is the best way to penetrate the
Chinese consumer market because it’s more developed
and trusted than the traditional bricks and mortar retail
networks. Mr. Ma often says that “in the U.S.,
ecommerce is dessert. But in China, it’s the main
It’s time to feast.
Canadian companies looking to list
their products on Alibaba should click here.
Want to Discover China on an all-inclusive trip with the Kelowna Chamber for as low as $2725? Business meetings available...
The loonie has fallen below 89 cents, a sharp decline
for a currency that was stubbornly stuck around parity
for almost three years. Is this a temporary tumble or is
the loonie going south for a prolonged period of time?
Here at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, we think
the dollar is headed lower, likely to average 85 cents in
2015 and it could fall even below that because of three
Weaker oil prices because of surging U.S.
The Canadian dollar is often called a ‘petro-currency’
because its movements track so closely with oil prices.
The rule of thumb was that a $10 increase in the price
of a barrel of oil would push the loonie up by three
cents. But oil prices are headed lower, mainly because
a new drilling technology, hydraulic fracturing, has
caused an astonishing boom in U.S. crude oil
production, now surging to a 45-year high. In 2011, the
U.S. had to import almost half of the oil it consumed.
By next year, imports will only account for 21% of
American oil consumption, and within a few more
years, the world’s largest consumer of oil will become
a major exporter. Thus, a massive increase in global oil
supplies while demand growth has been fairly weak.
The U.S. economy is booming, so American
interest rates will rise sooner
There is a sea change in investor perceptions about the
outlook for inflation and interest rates. With the U.S.
economy roaring ahead at 4.6% GDP growth in the
second quarter and the unemployment rate down to
5.9%, investors are expecting inflation could pick up
very quickly and the U.S. Federal Reserve will have to
raise interest rates in July 2015 or earlier. Meanwhile,
Canada’s domestic economy remains soft and there are
few signs of inflation, so little need for the Bank of
Canada to raise interest rates anytime soon, a point
Governor Poloz has made repeatedly. This makes
American securities far more appealing to investors.
Markets are nervous about Canadian
A torrent of investor funds flowed into Canada from
2009 to 2012 because the country was seen as a safe
haven and this drove up the dollar. The Canadian
economy fared better than any other G7 country
during the great recession and our banks did not
require any bailouts. But now, Canada is starting to
show vulnerabilities, particularly our soaring
consumer debt and a potential housing bubble, right
when the U.S. is getting back on track.
Investors have no need for a Canadian safe haven in
the midst of the booming U.S. economy and so we
have seen rising net outflows, particularly from
Canada’s government bonds. Next year, when U.S.
interest rate hikes become a certainty, while Canada’s
remain unchanged, the flow of investment funds will
accelerate and the loonie will head lower.
Overall, it’s not Canadian weakness that’s causing the
loon to swoon, it’s American strength. The Canadian
economy and Canadian consumers held up
extraordinarily well during the past five years, but we
need a slow-down to fix some of our debt imbalances,
and this is happening right as the U.S. heads into
overdrive. The tired old loonie is missing a few
feathers and needs a rest while the American eagle is
hungry after a long hibernation and is about to take
flight. We wish her Godspeed.
-Hendrik Brakel, CCC
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