Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Tuesday June 21, 2022
Freeland defends budget after Scotiabank accuses feds of ‘doing nothing’ on inflation
A cut in planned government spending could help tame rampant inflation and reduce pressure on the Bank of Canada to hike interest rates, according to a report from Scotiabank.
The report from the bank’s chief economist Jean-Francois Perrault and modelling director René Lalonde claims that Canadian fiscal policymakers are “doing nothing of any significance to slow inflation at the moment.”
The authors argue that cutting government spending will take some of the burden to cool inflation off of the Bank of Canada and the private sector.
Scotiabank’s analysis came as Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland is met with the head of the U.S. Treasury Janet Yellen in Toronto on Monday to discuss cooperation between the nations and the global inflation concerns.
The report cites the Bank of Canada’s renewed mandate from December of last year, which said tackling inflation is a “joint responsibility” between the feds and the central bank.
While the war in Ukraine and ongoing supply chain pains tied to the COVID-19 recovery have been cited as major causes of higher-than-expected inflation so far in 2022, Perrault told Global News in an interview Monday that prices were on the rise before Russia’s invasion.
That was tied to stimulating fiscal policies from governments around the world, which sought to protect households from the pandemic’s downturns, he said.
Though he said efforts to trim the government’s deficit in the spring’s federal budget were “going in the right direction,” Perrault said the latest Liberal spending plan is still contributing to the economy and fuelling demand.
“In normal circumstances, that’s fine. The challenge in the current circumstance is we have inflation that is a huge issue from the perspective of Canadians. It’s well outside what the Bank of Canada wants. It’s exceptional, there’s no question about it,” he said.
In this context, he said he believes the Bank of Canada “could benefit from a little help” in the form of cooling government spending.
Scotiabank projects that if the feds plan to increase their spending 2.5 per cent by the end of 2024, instead of today’s planned 4.8 per cent increase, the Bank of Canada could top out its interest rate hike cycle at 2.25 per cent, 75 basis points lower than where Scotiabank forecasts rates will hit by the end of this year.
But Freeland, speaking alongside Yellen on Monday afternoon, said she felt the feds’ latest budget does go far enough to limit government spending.
She said the rate of fiscal consolidation — the rate at which Canada is paying down its debts — is tied for the fastest in the G7, on par with the United States.
While Freeland reiterated that tamping down inflation is “chiefly the job” of the Bank of Canada, she said her 2022 spending plan was already a “very fiscally responsible budget.” (Global News)
Meanwhile, Mr. Poilievre made headlines when he praised the controversial digital-money system. It was the answer for Canadians who wanted to “opt out of inflation,” he claimed. After all, he was a bitcoin investor himself.
The presumptive favourite to win the CPC leadership has been much quieter about cryptocurrency these days.
Perhaps it’s because the crypto world is imploding, just as Warren Buffett and his partner, Charlie Munger, had suggested it might. Two of the history’s greatest and most profitable investors have been down on bitcoin and the cryptocurrency industry almost from its inception. Mr. Buffett famously said he wouldn’t pay US$25 for all the bitcoin in the world. Mr. Munger was even more condemning, saying that in his life he tried to avoid doing anything that was evil, stupid and made him look bad in comparison to others: “Bitcoin does all three,” he said. (Continued: The Globe & Mail)