Oh Canada, We’ll Get Through This.
Bank of Canada Cuts Interest Rates (Again)…
On March 27th, the Bank of Canada cut its interest rate to 0.25%, down from 0.75%. For reference, during the Financial Crisis in 2008, interest rates reached as low as 0.25% but haven’t been set this low since.
These low interest rates are a means of providing support to the economy as they encourage people to borrow money and spend it, which helps the economy keep moving.
Wait, back up. What are interest rates?
The overnight interest rate is the lending rate the Bank of Canada charges for loans to retail banks (like RBC, TD, etc.). This affects the rate that Canadian consumers get when they borrow money from their bank. With a 0.25% interest rate, it’s very inexpensive to borrow money.
Ok, got it. And what is the Bank of Canada? What do they do?
The Bank of Canada (BoC) is Canada’s central bank and is responsible for Canada’s monetary policy (you can read more about monetary policy in our new primer here). The BoC is responsible for the money supply (the amount of money circulating in our economy), and targets interest rates and inflation rates. The BoC is run by the Governor of the Bank of Canada, Stephen Poloz.
Did the Bank of Canada do anything else worth noting?
The BoC also announced two new programs to make sure businesses and consumers can access the money they need.
1. The BoC will buy government debt (“quantitative easing”) of $5 billion in bonds per week.
2. The BoC will buy corporate debt (“credit easing”) through the new Commercial Paper Purchase Program (CPPP) to help companies meet their short-term financing needs.
The point of these measures is to ensure that consumers who want to borrow money have access to cash, and that banks have enough cash on hand to lend it to anyone that needs it. These measures should also assist in economic recovery when the pandemic is finally over.
Predictions from The Big Five on the Economy…
By now we all know that the spread of COVID-19, social-distancing and a nose-dive in oil prices has plunged most countries (including Canada) into some level of economic crisis. While economic outlooks are changing on a weekly basis as the situation rapidly evolves, we’ve decided to summarize what the Big Five of Canadian banking (RBC, TD, Scotiabank, CIBC and BMO) forecasted last week.
First, something to keep in mind:
The Government of Canada’s fiscal year runs from April 1st through March 31st. So, when discussing Canada’s economy, Q1 runs from April 1 – June 30, and the rest of the quarters follow, spanning three months each.
Right now, the Big Five assume that extreme disruptions in economic activity will extend into May. TD and CIBC are forecasting unprecedented Gross Domestic Product (GDP) declines in Q1 of 4.4% and all banks agree that Q2 will see double digit reductions in annualized GDP.
RBC is the most optimistic, forecasting only an 18% annualized decline, while Scotiabank has predicted the most dramatic decline, at 28%.
On the bright side, banks think we could start to see a rebound in Q3 as long as we can #FlattenTheCurve. BMO is even forecasting a potential 30% annualized rebound in Q3 GDP. All in all (assuming things clear up by May), the Big Five expect Canada’s GDP for 2020 to decline between 4.1% and 4.4%.
Again, it’s worth noting that forecasts are likely to change on weekly, and even daily intervals as governments across the world adapt monetary and fiscal policies to address the situation. But for the moment, it appears that the Big Five are viewing the medium-term ramifications of Canada’s response to this historic economic contraction favourably.
The big takeaway from our banks here is if we can hang tight, stay home, and wash our hands, we may just be over this hill by Q3.
Canadian Businesses are Paying it Forward…
Businesses across Canada are stepping up to help those affected by COVID-19. Here’s a summary of what’s been done to make you feel better about humanity.
First, Shopify Capital, a fund launched in 2016 by Shopify (Canadian e-commerce company) to provide its users with small loans added an additional $200 million to the fund in response to COVID-19 repercussions. Currently the funds are only available to businesses in the U.S., but Shopify is committed to making these funds available to other countries (fingers crossed Canada!).
The Shopify team is also working with businesses on their platform to help them transition to a socially distant world. This includes advising on online selling, managing shipping, extending the free trial from 14 to 90 days, and hosting weekly webinars on how to maximize e-commerce in this environment.
Additionally, Canadian distilleries across the country are using their access to high proof alcohol to make hand sanitizer. While it’s a little unclear if this sanitizer is hospital grade, distilleries are providing their concoctions to the public and to vulnerable communities. Spirit of York is providing free sanitizer to people over 65 and to those who can’t afford it. But for those willing to pay, it’s only $3 a bottle. Other distilleries joining the movement include Dillions Small Batch Distillers, Georgian Bay Spirit Co., Ironworks Distillery, and Top Shelf Distillers.
Lastly, Knix (the Canadian lingerie brand) and its Founder & CEO, Joanna Griffiths, have also joined the fight against COVID-19. Griffiths is connected to the healthcare system through her brother who works at a large Canadian hospital, one of many running low on PPE (personal protective equipment). In response, Griffiths has leveraged Knix and its connection to suppliers to start a GoFundMe campaign to raise money to bridge the inventory gap. Amazingly, the campaign has raised over $106,000 and shipped over 50,000 gloves and masks to North American hospitals.
Have you heard of any other Canadian businesses stepping up to support others? Email, DM, or tweet us examples @btchcoinnews.