It’s a sign of the times. Who would have ever thought that when the Canadian dollar dips below $US 1.02, it would be described as “tanking” as it was this week?
But considering that the mighty loonie was soaring well beyond 5¢ above parity with the US greenback as recently as May 3rd, the Canadian dollar does actually seem a little bit feeble these days.
What’s going on? And what might happen next?
Question: What does the economy have to do with ballet?
Answer: almost everything!
Last night, at the inaugural iF event of the Calgary Chamber of Commerce, the worlds of business and art collided in an amazing display of a city and a province that is starting to “get it.”
One of the drawbacks of the more pleasant weather conditions this week is that it’s left a hole in our conversational lives. Without snow or blizzards, Albertans are dangerously close to having nothing to talk about in elevators and line-ups at the Tim’s! Fortunately, skyrocketing gasoline prices have saved the day by providing a new topic for small talk.
Newscasts and headlines have been dominated lately with stories of rising prices at the pump. Experts are paraded in front of the camera to explain soaring gasoline prices, especially this week when oil prices have been falling. And conspiracy theorists are once again up to the challenge, spinning out stories of price setting and renewing calls for an investigation of corporate collusion.
Understanding the daily movement in gasoline prices is a bit like trying to solve the mystery of the Pyramids. But if you’re intent on trying to untangle the gas price knot, here are six things to keep in mind:
The housing market in Alberta is a bit of an enigma in 2011. Prices for existing homes are steady, suggesting an improving market. But new home builders are not feeling the love—at least not yet. Do April housing starts represent a “failure to launch”?
The number of new housing starts in April was 19,200, unchanged from March. This figure is adjusted for seasonality and reported at an annualized rate (that is, the number of homes that would be started over a 12-month period at the current pace). The figure also includes only housing starts in urban areas of more than 10,000 people. Nationally, housing starts in urban areas dipped to 160,100, down about 2% from March.
Alberta’s 19,200 housing starts in April remain well below the average rate of nearly 30,000 over the past six years—a period which includes both a boom and a spectacular bust. The lackluster figure is puzzling on a few levels.
The provincial economy has been picking up over the past several months, and weekly earnings are rising. While employment did drop a bit in both March and April, overall job creation over the past twelve months has been steady. Also, mortgage rates remain favourable. This should point towards a rebound in the residential construction market.
However, as Statistics Canada reported last week, the value of residential building permits issued in April shot up by about 25% month-over-month. This suggests that housing starts could still pick up, so hope remains for 2011.