Snapshot: International economic data

Snapshot: International economic data


We’ve aggregated snapshots of the worldwide economy into a few simple clicks.

United Kingdom

European Union

  • These include:


  • This is the People’s Bank of China’s English Language Page.
  • China’s National Bureau of Statistics consolidates the majority of its economic indicators based on frequency.
  • Monthly releases include price indexes, housing and trade data; and
  • Quarterly releases include Gross Domestic Product, and value added calculations to industry and agriculture.


  • Bank of Japan statistical data is here.
  • Statistics Japan aggregates its economic data releases here. They include:

Published at Wed, 06 Sep 2017 00:05:01 -0400

Snapshot: U.S. economic data

Snapshot: U.S. economic data


We’ve aggregated snapshots of the U.S. economy and markets into a few simple clicks.

  • The Bureau of Economic Analysis consolidates current Gross Domestic Product data here, along with other key indicators including personal income and balance of trade data.
  • For more detail, you can review these BEA releases.
  • And this tool displays economic activity at the state, municipal or county level.
  • The U.S. Bureau of the Census releases a series of economic indicators including Housing Starts, New Home Sales, Construction Spending, and U.S. International Trade in Goods and Services.
  • It also produces the U.S. Economic Census every five years (the next is due in 2017).
  • Here’s the U.S. Federal Reserve’s latest Beige Book report on regional economic activity.
  • The Federal Open Market Committee issues statements when it makes rate announcements, and releases minutes from its meetings approximately three weeks after they take place.
  • The Chair, Regional Bank Governors, and Fed staff testify periodically before Congress. Read their testimony.

Published at Wed, 06 Sep 2017 00:05:01 -0400

Toronto average home price falls for 4th consecutive month

Toronto average home price falls for 4th consecutive month


Clients looking for a home in Toronto will be pleased to know prices are cooling from the highs seen in the spring.

The Toronto Real Estate Board says the average price for all home types was $732,292, still up 3% from August 2016, but down from July’s average of $746,033.

That makes August the fourth month in a row that the Toronto-area average home price has fallen since hitting a record $919,086 in April.

In April, the Ontario government introduced more than a dozen measures — including a 15% tax on foreign buyers — aimed at improving home affordability.

Read: It’s here: 15% tax on GTA’s foreign buyers

The board’s director of analysis, Jason Mercer, says year-over-year price growth is expected to stabilize at slightly above the rate of inflation but could begin to accelerate if the number of properties for sale remains at low levels.

The real estate board says the number of new listings last month was the lowest for an August since 2010 and down 6.7% from a year ago. The number of residential properties sold in August was down 34.8% from the same month last year.

Also read:

Will Canadian home sales keep slipping?

Townhouse, condo competition heats up in Vancouver

Mortgage balances up, delinquency rates down

Published at Wed, 06 Sep 2017 09:40:37 -0400

BoC hikes key rate to 1% as strong growth broadens

BoC hikes key rate to 1% as strong growth broadens

Close-up of Canada currency

The BoC cited a strong economy as it raised its target for the overnight rate to 1%. The bank rate is correspondingly 1.25%, and the deposit rate is 0.75%.

The move, likely a surprise for some, came less than a week after Statistics Canada numbers showed the economy expanded by an impressive 4.5% in Q2.

“Given the stronger-than-expected economic performance, Governing Council judges that today’s removal of some of the considerable monetary policy stimulus in place is warranted,” says the BoC in a release.

The central bank says economic data have been stronger than expected, supporting its view that growth is “becoming more broadly-based and self-sustaining.” For example, the bank cites robust consumer spending, “underpinned by continued solid employment and income growth,” as well as “more widespread strength” in business investment and exports.

Andrew Grantham, senior economist at CIBC, says in a note that the BoC’s reference to removing stimulus “suggests that, at these levels, the bank still views policy as very stimulative.” He notes that the bank says future hikes aren’t predetermined, which could be a reminder to markets it won’t be hiking a quarter point at every meeting.

“However, the statement didn’t go so far as to say the current level of stimulus is now appropriate, which has been a phrase used in the past,” says Grantham. “As such, markets may now start pricing in further moves, meaning today’s decision will be positive for the C$ and negative for fixed income.”

Growth outlook

The BoC notes that the housing sector is cooling in response to changes in tax and housing policies, and says it expects economic growth to moderate in the second half of 2017.

The bank also says global growth is becoming “synchronous,” as previously expected, based on strong economic indicators, including higher industrial commodity prices.

Read: Best Canadian commodity picks

“However, significant geopolitical risks and uncertainties around international trade and fiscal policies remain, leading to a weaker U.S. dollar against many major currencies,” says the bank, adding that the loonie has thereby appreciated on relative strength of Canada’s economy.

Read: Trade gap reveals potential for volatile loonie

Inflation remains below the 2% target, but the bank notes a slight increase in total CPI and core measures of inflation. That’s consistent with the dissipating impact of temporary price shocks and the absorption of economic slack, says the bank.

“Nonetheless, there remains some excess capacity in Canada’s labour market, and wage and price pressures are still more subdued than historical relationships would suggest, as observed in some other advanced economies,” the BoC says.

The central bank says it will monitor “elevated” household debt, adding that “close attention will be paid to the sensitivity of the economy” to higher rates.

Read: How growing household debt levels are putting Canada at risk

The next scheduled date for announcing the benchmark interest rate is October 25, with the publication of the BoC’s monetary policy report.

Also read:

BoC issues 2018 rate decision calendar

Published at Wed, 06 Sep 2017 11:14:01 -0400 Second Round Of NAFTA Talks Conclude Second Round Of NAFTA Talks Conclude

by Mike Godfrey,, Washington

06 September 2017

Canada, Mexico, and the US have concluded the second round of talks on the renegotiation of NAFTA, during which they made progress on consolidating certain proposals into a single text.

The talks were held in Mexico City from September 1-5.

According to a trilateral statement issued by Canada, Mexico, and the US, more than two dozen working groups “worked diligently to advance the discussions and exchanged information and proposals.”

The statement added that, in several groups, these efforts resulted in the consolidation of proposals into a single text. This text will be used in subsequent negotiating rounds.

The statement also stressed that all sides share a goal of concluding the renegotiation process toward the end of 2017.

“The successful conclusion of these negotiations will update NAFTA through new rules that will generate important economic opportunities for all three countries, fostering further growth in the region for the benefit of the three NAFTA partners,” the statement concluded.

A third round of negotiations will take place in Ottawa, Canada, from September 23-27.

Published at Tue, 05 Sep 2017 20:00:00 -0400

Clients can’t find money to save: survey

Clients can’t find money to save: survey


Canadians aren’t happy with their retirement prospects and savings, reveals a national survey by the Canadian Payroll Association. While survey responses paint a poor financial picture of Canadians, it’s up to advisors to help clients separate feelings from fact and take control of their finances.

For example, almost half of working Canadians (46%) say they’ll have to work longer than they planned to five years ago. Why? They say they’re not saving enough, reveals the survey.

Almost half of those surveyed (46%) think they need a retirement nest egg of at least $1 million. More Ontario residents set the bar at that amount, with 53% saying they need as much.

To reach financial security, more than a quarter of working Canadians (26%) say earning more is key, versus 19% who cite spending less.

Encouragingly, the survey finds a 5% increase in the number of employees with total household incomes of more than $125K, and a slight rise in full-time employment to 89% from 87%, compared to the previous survey.

Overwhelmed by debt

Further complicating retirement goals is Canadians’ debt levels. More than one-third (35%) of Canadians surveyed and 37% of Ontarians surveyed are overwhelmed by their debt. And nearly one-third (31%) of respondents nationally (32% in Ontario) say their debt loads increased over the year.

Read: How growing household debt levels are putting Canada at risk

Similar to previous years’ surveys, 94% of Canadians say they carry debt. The most common debt types are mortgages (28%), credit cards (17%), car loans (18%) and lines of credit (17%).

Not surprisingly, given the high cost of real estate, more respondents than ever find mortgages on principal residences the most difficult debt to pay down (32%) — the first time that mortgages surpass credit card debt in the survey’s nine years.

Read: Mortgage balances up, delinquency rates down

The primary reason for increased debt is higher overall spending. The major reasons for increased spending are higher living expenses (32%) and unexpected expenses (25%).

Read: Back to school could break the bank for your client

Paycheque to paycheque

Indeed, survey respondents cite high living costs as the reason they spend all — or more than — their net pay ( 41% of employees nationally and 42% in Ontario spend all or more than their net pay).

That means savings suffer, with 42% of survey respondents (43% of Ontario employees) saying they save 5% or less of their earnings.

Illustrating just how strapped some employees are, 22% (both nationally and in Ontario) say they couldn’t come up with $2,000 within a month for an emergency expense.

In fact, the survey reveals 47% of working Canadians report they would struggle to meet financial obligations if their paycheques were delayed a week. In Ontario, 49% live paycheque to paycheque.

Read: The ABCs of cash flow planning: Top 10 posts

About the survey: A total of 4,766 employees from across Canada, and from a wide range of industry sectors, responded to an online research survey between June 27, 2017, and August 5, 2017, using a convenience sampling methodology.

Published at Wed, 06 Sep 2017 13:25:01 -0400 Canadian MPs Recommend Changes To Media Taxation Canadian MPs Recommend Changes To Media Taxation

by Mike Godfrey,, Washington

16 June 2017

The Canadian Parliament’s Heritage committee has called for a five percent levy on broadband internet services, but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said he will not increase taxes on the middle classes.

The committee has published its recommendations on how the Government can best respond to the changing landscape of media distribution and consumption.

The report contains a recommendation for the expansion of the existing five percent levy for Canadian content production on broadcasting distribution undertakings to broadband distribution. The levy, currently charged on cable bills, helps fund the Canadian Media Fund.

Trudeau was quick to signal his objection to the proposal. Speaking at an event in Montreal, he commented: “We respect the independence of committees and Parliament and the work and the studies they do, but allow me to be clear: we’re not raising taxes on the middle class, we’re lowering them.”

“We’re not going to be raising taxes on the middle class through an internet broadband tax. That is not an idea we are taking on.”

The Conservative members of the committee also rejected the scheme. A dissenting report stated that they “strongly oppose any proposal to impose a ‘Netflix Tax,’ internet tax, or any other news tax on Canadians.”

Another important recommendation was that the Government amend sections 19, 19.01, and 19.1 of the Income Tax Act to allow a tax deduction for digital advertising on Canadian-owned platforms.

Section 19 establishes the tax deductibility of expenses incurred in advertising in the Canadian newspaper press and broadcasting industry, where the adverts are directed primarily at the Canadian market. Section 19.01 contains a similar provision for periodicals, and Section 19.1 provides that deductions cannot be made for advertisements directed at the Canadian market by foreign broadcasters. A 1996 Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) opinion established that “a website is not a newspaper, a periodical, or a broadcasting undertaking.”

The report stated: “In light of the changing media landscape and the negative impact of having advertising dollars flow to foreign-owned internet platforms, the Committee agrees that extending tax deductions to new forms of media dissemination makes sense.”

The report also recommended that the Government:

  • Introduce a temporary, five-year tax credit to compensate print media companies for a portion of their capital and labor investments in digital media; and
  • Ensure that foreign news aggregators, which publish Canadian news and sell advertising directed to Canadians, are subject to the same obligations as domestic providers.

Published at Thu, 15 Jun 2017 19:00:00 -0500

CRA announces Q3 interest rates

CRA announces Q3 interest rates


The Canada Revenue Agency has announced the prescribed annual interest rates that will apply to any amounts owed to the CRA, and to any amounts owed by the CRA to individuals and corporations. These rates will be in effect from July 1, 2017, to September 30, 2017.

There have been no changes to the prescribed interest rates since last quarter, says CRA, except for the interest rate for corporate taxpayers’ pertinent loans or indebtedness.

Click here for more information.

Published at Fri, 16 Jun 2017 11:54:55 -0500 Canada, UK Cooperate In Anti-VAT Fraud Sting Canada, UK Cooperate In Anti-VAT Fraud Sting

by Mike Godfrey,, Washington

14 June 2017

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has announced that investigators from Canada and the UK carried out a number of searches on June 13 in connection with an alleged tax fraud scheme.

The CRA said that it launched an investigation after discovering that, over a five-year period, 11 foreign nationals based in the UK allegedly orchestrated a so-called carousel scheme. This tax fraud and money laundering scheme involved an attempt to obtain CAD52m (USD39.4m) in false GST/HST refunds and rebates.

More than 80 investigators from the CRA and the UK’s tax agency, HM Revenue and Customs, were involved in the execution of search warrants at three locations in Canada and six locations in the UK.

According to the CRA, the fraud involves an organized scheme where a business buys and sells goods or services, and charges the GST/HST from one company to another. The GST/HST input credit for taxes charged is then claimed from the CRA for a refund.

However, the CRA said that the businesses throughout the chain that sell the goods or services and allegedly charge and collect the tax in fact never remit the GST/HST to the Government.

The CRA added that this process can be repeated many times, resulting in the goods moving around as a “carousel.”

Published at Tue, 13 Jun 2017 19:00:00 -0500