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OPP 2016
Community Guide SS 2017
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Canada's Business

by Bruce Whitestone




Inevitable

U.S. President Harry Truman said, mockingly of economists, that he wanted one-arm economists as he was tired of those who claimed that on one hand such and such would happen, but on the other hand, something else may occur.

People like to ridicule economists because many of their forecasts prove to be incorrect. If one does not ask too much of them, economists generally can be helpful. Most economists nowadays dismiss fears about inflation; they cite recent statistics. Also low interest rates imply that lenders do not seek inflation protection with higher bond yields. All this ignores some basic facts.

More money supply in North America has been expanding at a rapid rate. An increased supply, of a commodity, entails lower prices sooner or later. Governments worldwide have been incurring massive budget deficits financed by printing money.

Also, how else will governments ever begin to repay debts incurred except by inflating away the debt? People seem to be willing to ignore this basic fact, claiming that it is not an immediate problem. This view is very short-sighted and ignores all kinds of warning signals and also the inflation that, even now, is underway.

Inflation in Canada has appeared first of all in the enormous rise of house prices. Population growth has not been sufficient to fuel demand strong enough to account for that. As well, day-to-day price increases have been so gradual that few pay much attention.

In Ontario, for example, the cost of registering a car has climbed from $80 to $120 this year alone. Many food prices have jumped just over 15 per cent.

Oil prices have fallen 4.1%, primarily reflecting the astronomical increase in oil fracking. However, the number of oil wells fracking has risen from 23,000 in the year 2000 to 300,000 currently. Recently, in Canada, the minimum wage has risen from $11.25 an hour to $11.40.

In the United States, the minimum wage has increased from $6.40 per hour to $7.25 - but in some states to $15 an hour. It is being recommended here in Canada to do likewise. Gold, the best barometer of inflation, has climbed 10.1% during this year with minor sporadic fluctuations.

It should be obvious, therefore, that the many components of inflation have been rising significantly. Thus, despite the contrary view in the financial community, inflationary increases are inevitable and will be become more widely evident in the near future.

Be aware and prepare. 

Vol 49 Issue 44

 
 

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Julian Sale
October 27 2016 | 16:29
Well said Bruce. Governments and national banks don't know how to get out of this financial mess. The slightest hint of interest rate increases sends the markets into panic mode. National debits are so high that increased rates would have severe impacts on national budgets. In terms of the average person, some may be aware, but most are certainly not prepared. Many have big mortgages with low interest rates and have maxed out their spending with little or no room for savings or mortgage payment increases. People just don't want to think about it, in part because they simply do not know what to do. Many small companies are in the same situation with debit. Perhaps in a future column, you could share your thoughts as to how families and companies might prepare for the "inevitable".
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