We might actually have some good news
Finally, some good(ish) news about the economy…
…But don’t get TOO excited
That’s right, Canada’s economy is actually in pretty good shape after returning encouraging third quarter results. All things considered, that is.
As published by Statistics Canada last week, gross domestic product grew 1.2% in August, and the preliminary figure for September reflects an expansion of 0.7%. Following on from July’s strong showing of 3.1% growth, this is officially the fourth month in a row that Canada’s GDP has increased
It’s a good thing too – considering our first quarter saw a drop in GDP nearly equivalent to the number we were seeing in the 2009 financial crisis, it’s safe to say that we needed this.
So what’s driving this growth?
We don’t need to tell you that the global pandemic wreaked havoc on the economy. But with lower numbers in the summer months, businesses reopened in droves and led to a sharp surge in retail sales
Also contributing to Canada’s summer GDP expansion was an increase in housing demand – this subsequently led to a surge in business for both the construction and real estate sectors.
Now, we hate to be the bearer of bad news, but experts at the good ol’ Bank of Canada hinted that this trend in growth won’t last much longer.
Their findings predict that annualized growth will only amount to 1% in Q4, and the next several quarters will see a very gradual recovery from the economic damage caused by the pandemic.
With a global second wave of COVID coming in hot, it’s unlikely that we will be reporting rosy economic results for a while – but a girl can dream… right?
Let’s talk about what’s happening south of the border…
And what a second-term Trump economy might look like compared to a Biden economy
Tomorrow, millions of Americans will head to the polls and cast their votes for either President Donald Trump or former Vice President Joe Biden. In Canada, we’ll be buckling up for what some have speculated to be the most polarizing U.S. election of all time.
So how exactly will Canada be impacted by the outcome tomorrow? We’ve broken that down for you.
U.S. – Canada Relationship and trade
We’ve all watched Trump has take swipes at Canada over the past four years. Bur for the most part, experts say we can expect a more respectful relationship with Joe Biden, who has described Canada-U.S. relations as ‘like a family.
On the trade front, the U.S. is the destination for ~75% of all Canadian exports. A Trump win would likely mean continued trade uncertainty, and potential tariffs on aluminum and steel (which was threatened in August).
Tax, the economy and the stock market
When Trump slashed corporate tax rates in 2017, many companies became more profitable and share prices rose, boosting the economy. Trump has not released a detailed platform for his second term, so it’s hard to say what will change, concretely.
Biden intends to increase the tax rate on people earning more than $400,000 and increase the corporate tax rate to 28% from 21% to help pay for programs such as a public health insurance option.
Some investors believe Biden’s tax plan could deal a blow to the economy right as it’s beginning to recover. Since the stock market is forward-looking, others argue that market sentiment around Biden’s polling lead is already “priced in” to some extent, and the S&P 500 hasn’t fallen.
Energy and the environment
Biden intends to ban fracking of new oil and gas wells on federal lands (though this does not necessarily equate to a ‘ban on fracking’), and to spend ~$2 trillion on renewable energy projects.
Donald Trump has loosened regulations in the oil and gas sector and approved the expansion of the Keystone XL pipeline. FYI: the Keystone pipeline expansion would connect Alberta’s crude to the largest refiners in the Midwest. Biden has threatened to block the project, though he has not announced his final decision.
Canada’s oil and gas sector will probably continue to struggle under a Biden win, especially if he cancels Keystone. But given that Canada’s government is also focused on expanding green energy investing, a Biden win could help our green-focused startups and tech companies, and thereby help us reach our own net-zero emissions goal.
It’s become very clear one of the main pillars of Biden’s campaign is his coronavirus plan, which places huge emphasis on expanding testing. President Trump has not released a full COVID-19 plan for a potential second term, even with 8.7 million cases and 226,000 deaths since the pandemic began.
In terms of the border opening, Canadian epidemiologist Colin Furness predicts it will remain closed until we are able to conduct “really effective, rapid or instant testing at the point of departure” in the absence of a vaccine. Regardless of the outcome tomorrow, we’d say it’s best to hold-off on booking that Vegas trip.
Yes, I Spent My Sunday Reading Tax Law.
On Thursday, the Supreme Court of Canada announced it will hear an offshore tax case the Canadian government claims has jeopardized more than $1 billion in tax revenue and undermined the federal government’s ability to combat corporate tax avoidance.
Back in June, Department of Justice lawyers filed an application to appeal a tax case to the Supreme Court involving Loblaw Companies Ltd., the grocery and pharmacy chain controlled by the billionaire Weston family.
Generally, the Supreme Court turns down these applications, but Ottawa made the argument that this case in particular should be an exception due to the need to clarify the rules around “foreign accrual property income.”
Foreign accrual what?
Foreign accrual property income (FAPI) is rent, interest or other forms of passive money-making by non-Canadian companies controlled by a Canadian taxpayer. Providing further clarification around FAPI aids in the government’s crackdown on offshore tax havens and tax avoidance.
Loblaw established a banking subsidiary in Barbados named Glenhuron Bank Ltd. Glenhuron was a licensed as a bank in Barbados, but it helped to fund Loblaw’s purchase of Shoppers Drug Mart in 2013.
In April of this year, the Tax Court found the transactions entered into by Loblaw regarding Glenhuron did result in a tax benefit but “were entered primarily for purposes other than to obtain the tax benefit and consequently were not avoidance transactions.”
However, the judge of that case determined the Barbadian subsidiary’s income was from an investment business and should be included in Loblaw’s income as “foreign accrual property income.”
Department of Justice lawyers have alleged that this decision “imperilled” the collection of approximately $1.18 billion in federal and provincial tax so far (WHEW), due to failing to articulate the anti-avoidance purpose of the rules of FAPI.
Even the judge, who heard the appeal that Glenhuron was not established as a tax shelter, said so. Judge Judith Woods wrote that the details of the case are extremely long, and the specific rules around FAPI are “extremely complex.”
And that’s why we’ve got Supreme Court judges! We’ll keep you posted on the verdict.