Fear and trembling in Canuckistan

The political process as we know it in Canada

The political process as we know it in Canada

Citizens of the world are united in at least one important respect: They’re feeling a might poorly these days, and they’re not at all sure what, if anything, can shake them from their malaise.

That, at least, is what we may conclude from a new Ipsos Global Advisory entitled, “The Economic Pulse of the World (May 2013),” in which “citizens in 24 countries assess the current state of their country’s economy for a total global perspective.”

The key findings, gleaned from interviews with 18,331 individuals between the ages of 16 and 64, suggest that, averaged overall, only 36 per cent think their “current national economic situation” is good. Most think it stinks. We Canadians are generally more positive (thank you Messrs. Harper, Flaherty and Carney). But, as Ipsos points out, even our confidence is showing some fissures of late.

In a section headlined, “Canada Cause of Growth Deterioration in North America”, the research firm states, “Also concerning is economic sentiment in Canada. The country has traditionally performed as the rock holding up North American sentiment, while the United States has struggled to recover from the 2009/2010 crash. However, assessments in Canada have dropped six points to 59% saying the economy is ‘good’, reflecting the largest drop in the country since September 2011.”

Of course, that’s still far better than many. “A considerable margin continues to exist at the top of the global ratings between global leader Saudi Arabia (80%) and the rest of the pack although this is closing compared to last month,” Ipsos reports. “Following Saudi Arabia is Sweden (70%), Germany (67%), India (66%), China (64%), and Australia (62%). Only a handful of those in Spain (3%) rate their national economies as ‘good’, followed by Italy (4%), France (5%), Hungary (7%) and Great Britain (13%).”

Accounting for Canada’s precipitous slide this month is a little like sifting through the leaves at the bottom of a teacup. After all, according to a report by TD Economics in April, “The Canadian economy beat expectations in February, growing 0.3%, following an upwardly revised 0.3% gain in January. Canadian economic growth has now accelerated to a 1.7% pace year-on-year. That is still sub-par, but a far cry better than its 1% clip at the end of 2012.”

Moreover, the bank states, “The Canadian labour market created 12,500 net jobs in April, a small bounce back from (March’s) 54,500 net loss. The trend pace of job creation moved back into positive territory as the 3-month moving average rose from -8,600 to 2,900 in the month while the 6-month moving average stayed steady at

12,400. The unemployment rate remained steady at 7.2%”

My theory about the mini-crisis in confidence here has more to do the the “weighted average” of bad news related to matters of a decidedly non-economic nature. With apologies to the Bard, consider these rough winds, ripped from the daily news, that do shake the darling buds of May in the late, Great White North:

“Senator Mike Duffy said Thursday he wants a ‘full and open inquiry’ to answer the many questions Canadians have about the spending scandal that prompted him to leave the Conservative caucus and now has the RCMP asking the Senate for more details about spending rules,” reported the CBC on Friday.

For something completely different, also from the CBC, “Members of Rob Ford’s executive committee say they are prepared to take over the day-to-day running of the city if the Toronto mayor is no longer able to perform his duties, amid a scandal involving allegations he was caught on video smoking crack cocaine.”

If these aren’t enough to send you screaming over to grandma’s house, then how about this from the Montreal Gazette: “Exploding cars, intimidating phone calls and clandestine meetings in the dead of night. The Charbonneau Commission was presented with a dark and unflattering portrait of the city of Laval on Thursday, with two witnesses describing their involvement in a well-organized system of collusion in the municipality that was both profitable and dangerous.”

A rotten economy? We should be so lucky.

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