Good morning, everyone! Shari Kulha (@sharikulha) here, with birthday wishes for John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946), who set many a country on the path of fiscal policy, believing government intervention rather than self-correcting free markets would right any wobbly economic ships. The theory’s popularity went up and down much like business waves did. The economist was influential in the development of the International Monetary Fund, which, rather conveniently, is the subject of one of our top picks, below.
NOT EVEN A BLIP?
Why did Big Oil abandon Canada’s once-promising energy industry? Last year, acquisitions of Canada’s oil and gas assets by foreigners hit a decade-low. Jesse Snyder (@jesse_snyder) reports that the total stock of foreign direct investment in Canadian oil and gas extraction slumped 7.4 per cent in 2017, as major players sold off assets. Foreign investors, particularly those in the U.S., are more and more apathetic after years of persistent uncertainty. “They don’t even care — Canada’s not even on the radar screen anymore,” one observer said.
A BRIDGE TOO FAR
“I just want to scream,” the CEO of structural-steel maker Canam Group said about Trump’s steel tariffs. “All this is doing is creating uncertainty. It’s the last thing we needed.” Canam, ironically, is bidding for work on the Gordie Howe International Bridge, which will connect Detroit and Windsor, Ont. “In theory, the bridge is supposed to stand for the close relationship between our two countries. It’s supposed to be built with North American steel, but that steel will be taxed. I can’t see how that will help the economy.”
I DON’T ALWAYS DISAPPROVE, BUT WHEN I DO …
A slim majority of Canadians disapprove of Ottawa buying Trans Mountain pipeline, Geoffrey Morgan (@geoffreymorgan) writes. A small Forum Research poll shows a steep decline in public opinion about the pipeline since the federal government purchased it last week. “You’ve got the left against it for the predictable reasons of the environment and the right against it because it’s not a free market thing,” Forum said.
THAT’S US TOLD
The International Monetary Fund has finished its oversight trip across Canada, which it conducts each year. Kevin Carmichael (@carmichaelkevin) writes that the IMF is calling for a “careful rethink” of our corporate tax strategy, and agreeing with those who say we are risking losing investment to the U.S. While it called our 3% GDP growth robust, “over the medium-term, weak external competitiveness, sluggish labor productivity growth, and population aging are expected to limit potential growth to significantly lower than its historical average.”
The Senate ban on marijuana “swag” would create unintended problems, the cannabis industry says. A promotional-merchandise ban, Mark Rendell (@markrendell) writes, could impact competitiveness and create uncertainty for retailers over such things as whether a sign on their storefront qualifies. The nascent industry has to compete out of the blocks with strong black-market brands and needs all the latitude for brand development it can reasonably get, one stakeholder said.