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Found 8 results

  1. Shipping Costs Start to Crimp Globalization When Tesla Motors, a pioneer in electric-powered cars, set out to make a luxury roadster for the American market, it had the global supply chain in mind. Tesla planned to manufacture 1,000-pound battery packs in Thailand, ship them to Britain for installation, then bring the mostly assembled cars back to the United States. Bread in a New Zealand supermarket. Soaring transportation costs also have an impact on food, from bananas to salmon. But when it began production this spring, the company decided to make the batteries and assemble the cars near its home base in California, cutting more than 5,000 miles from the shipping bill for each vehicle. “It was kind of a no-brain decision for us,” said Darryl Siry, the company’s senior vice president of global sales, marketing and service. “A major reason was to avoid the transportation costs, which are terrible.” The world economy has become so integrated that shoppers find relatively few T-shirts and sneakers in Wal-Mart and Target carrying a “Made in the U.S.A.” label. But globalization may be losing some of the inexorable economic power it had for much of the past quarter-century, even as it faces fresh challenges as a political ideology. Cheap oil, the lubricant of quick, inexpensive transportation links across the world, may not return anytime soon, upsetting the logic of diffuse global supply chains that treat geography as a footnote in the pursuit of lower wages. Rising concern about global warming, the reaction against lost jobs in rich countries, worries about food safety and security, and the collapse of world trade talks in Geneva last week also signal that political and environmental concerns may make the calculus of globalization far more complex. “If we think about the Wal-Mart model, it is incredibly fuel-intensive at every stage, and at every one of those stages we are now seeing an inflation of the costs for boats, trucks, cars,” said Naomi Klein, the author of “The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism.” “That is necessarily leading to a rethinking of this emissions-intensive model, whether the increased interest in growing foods locally, producing locally or shopping locally, and I think that’s great.” Many economists argue that globalization will not shift into reverse even if oil prices continue their rising trend. But many see evidence that companies looking to keep prices low will have to move some production closer to consumers. Globe-spanning supply chains — Brazilian iron ore turned into Chinese steel used to make washing machines shipped to Long Beach, Calif., and then trucked to appliance stores in Chicago — make less sense today than they did a few years ago. To avoid having to ship all its products from abroad, the Swedish furniture manufacturer Ikea opened its first factory in the United States in May. Some electronics companies that left Mexico in recent years for the lower wages in China are now returning to Mexico, because they can lower costs by trucking their output overland to American consumers. Neighborhood Effect Decisions like those suggest that what some economists call a neighborhood effect — putting factories closer to components suppliers and to consumers, to reduce transportation costs — could grow in importance if oil remains expensive. A barrel sold for $125 on Friday, compared with lows of $10 a decade ago. “If prices stay at these levels, that could lead to some significant rearrangement of production, among sectors and countries,” said C. Fred Bergsten, author of “The United States and the World Economy” and director of the Peter G. Peterson Institute for International Economics, in Washington. “You could have a very significant shock to traditional consumption patterns and also some important growth effects.” The cost of shipping a 40-foot container from Shanghai to the United States has risen to $8,000, compared with $3,000 early in the decade, according to a recent study of transportation costs. Big container ships, the pack mules of the 21st-century economy, have shaved their top speed by nearly 20 percent to save on fuel costs, substantially slowing shipping times. The study, published in May by the Canadian investment bank CIBC World Markets, calculates that the recent surge in shipping costs is on average the equivalent of a 9 percent tariff on trade. “The cost of moving goods, not the cost of tariffs, is the largest barrier to global trade today,” the report concluded, and as a result “has effectively offset all the trade liberalization efforts of the last three decades.” The spike in shipping costs comes at a moment when concern about the environmental impact of globalization is also growing. Many companies have in recent years shifted production from countries with greater energy efficiency and more rigorous standards on carbon emissions, especially in Europe, to those that are more lax, like China and India But if the international community fulfills its pledge to negotiate a successor to the Kyoto Protocol to combat climate change, even China and India would have to reduce the growth of their emissions, and the relative costs of production in countries that use energy inefficiently could grow. The political landscape may also be changing. Dissatisfaction with globalization has led to the election of governments in Latin America hostile to the process. A somewhat similar reaction can be seen in the United States, where both Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton promised during the Democratic primary season to “re-evaluate” the nation’s existing free trade agreements. Last week, efforts to complete what is known as the Doha round of trade talks collapsed in acrimony, dealing a serious blow to tariff reduction. The negotiations, begun in 2001, failed after China and India battled the United States over agricultural tariffs, with the two developing countries insisting on broad rights to protect themselves against surges of food imports that could hurt their farmers. Some critics of globalization are encouraged by those developments, which they see as a welcome check on the process. On environmentalist blogs, some are even gleefully promoting a “globalization death watch.” Many leading economists say such predictions are probably overblown. “It would be a mistake, a misinterpretation, to think that a huge rollback or reversal of fundamental trends is under way,” said Jeffrey D. Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University. “Distance and trade costs do matter, but we are still in a globalized era.” As economists and business executives well know, shipping costs are only one factor in determining the flow of international trade. When companies decide where to invest in a new factory or from whom to buy a product, they also take into account exchange rates, consumer confidence, labor costs, government regulations and the availability of skilled managers. ‘People Were Profligate’ What may be coming to an end are price-driven oddities like chicken and fish crossing the ocean from the Western Hemisphere to be filleted and packaged in Asia not to be consumed there, but to be shipped back across the Pacific again. “Because of low costs, people were profligate,” said Nayan Chanda, author of “Bound Together,” a history of globalization. The industries most likely to be affected by the sharp rise in transportation costs are those producing heavy or bulky goods that are particularly expensive to ship relative to their sale price. Steel is an example. China’s steel exports to the United States are now tumbling by more than 20 percent on a year-over-year basis, their worst performance in a decade, while American steel production has been rising after years of decline. Motors and machinery of all types, car parts, industrial presses, refrigerators, television sets and other home appliances could also be affected. Plants in industries that require relatively less investment in infrastructure, like furniture, footwear and toys, are already showing signs of mobility as shipping costs rise. Until recently, standard practice in the furniture industry was to ship American timber from ports like Norfolk, Baltimore and Charleston to China, where oak and cherry would be milled into sofas, beds, tables, cabinets and chairs, which were then shipped back to the United States. But with transportation costs rising, more wood is now going to traditional domestic furniture-making centers in North Carolina and Virginia, where the industry had all but been wiped out. While the opening of the American Ikea plant, in Danville, Va., a traditional furniture-producing center hit hard by the outsourcing of production to Asia, is perhaps most emblematic of such changes, other manufacturers are also shifting some production back to the United States. Among them is Craftmaster Furniture, a company founded in North Carolina but now Chinese-owned. And at an industry fair in April, La-Z-Boy announced a new line that will begin production in North Carolina this month. “There’s just a handful of us left, but it has become easier for us domestic folks to compete,” said Steven Kincaid of Kincaid Furniture in Hudson, N.C., a division of La-Z-Boy. Avocado Salad in January Soaring transportation costs also have an impact on food, from bananas to salmon. Higher shipping rates could eventually transform some items now found in the typical middle-class pantry into luxuries and further promote the so-called local food movement popular in many American and European cities. “This is not just about steel, but also maple syrup and avocados and blueberries at the grocery store,” shipped from places like Chile and South Africa, said Jeff Rubin, chief economist at CIBC World Markets and co-author of its recent study on transport costs and globalization. “Avocado salad in Minneapolis in January is just not going to work in this new world, because flying it in is going to make it cost as much as a rib eye.” Global companies like General Electric, DuPont, Alcoa and Procter & Gamble are beginning to respond to the simultaneous increases in shipping and environmental costs with green policies meant to reduce both fuel consumption and carbon emissions. That pressure is likely to increase as both manufacturers and retailers seek ways to tighten the global supply chain. “Being green is in their best interests not so much in making money as saving money,” said Gary Yohe, an environmental economist at Wesleyan University. “Green companies are likely to be a permanent trend, as these vulnerabilities continue, but it’s going to take a long time for all this to settle down.” In addition, the sharp increase in transportation costs has implications for the “just-in-time” system pioneered in Japan and later adopted the world over. It is a highly profitable business strategy aimed at reducing warehousing and inventory costs by arranging for raw materials and other supplies to arrive only when needed, and not before. Jeffrey E. Garten, the author of “World View: Global Strategies for the New Economy” and a former dean of the Yale School of Management, said that companies “cannot take a risk that the just-in-time system won’t function, because the whole global trading system is based on that notion.” As a result, he said, “they are going to have to have redundancies in the supply chain, like more warehousing and multiple sources of supply and even production.” One likely outcome if transportation rates stay high, economists said, would be a strengthening of the neighborhood effect. Instead of seeking supplies wherever they can be bought most cheaply, regardless of location, and outsourcing the assembly of products all over the world, manufacturers would instead concentrate on performing those activities as close to home as possible. In a more regionalized trading world, economists say, China would probably end up buying more of the iron ore it needs from Australia and less from Brazil, and farming out an even greater proportion of its manufacturing work to places like Vietnam and Thailand. Similarly, Mexico’s maquiladora sector, the assembly plants concentrated near its border with the United States, would become more attractive to manufacturers with an eye on the American market. But a trend toward regionalization would not necessarily benefit the United States, economists caution. Not only has it lost some of its manufacturing base and skills over the past quarter-century, and experienced a decline in consumer confidence as part of the current slowdown, but it is also far from the economies that have become the most dynamic in the world, those of Asia. “Despite everything, the American economy is still the biggest Rottweiler on the block,” said Jagdish N. Bhagwati, the author of “In Defense of Globalization” and a professor of economics at Columbia. “But if it’s expensive to get products from there to here, it’s also expensive to get them from here to there.” http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/03/business/worldbusiness/03global.html?pagewanted=1&em
  2. New York City at top of the list for this year according to Economist's FDI magazine. Toronto at no.5, Montréal at no 9 for major American cities. Source: http://www.fdiintelligence.com
  3. Building booms across country HEATHER SCOFFIELD Globe and Mail Update June 5, 2008 at 9:10 AM EDT OTTAWA — Building permits in Canada soared in April, rising 14.5 per cent from March because of widespread residential and non-residential activity in all provinces, Statistics Canada said Thursday. The jump means contractors took out $6.4-billion worth of permits, the highest level since last October. “Canadian builder permits were on a tear in April,” Stewart Hall, market strategist for HSBC Canada, said in a note to clients. The gain surpassed economists' expectations by a long shot. They had been expecting a 0.5 per cent increase, after a drop of 4.5 per cent March. House under construction The Globe and Mail Building permits are a notoriously volatile economic indicator, and economists warned not to get too excited about the big monthly leap. The general trend for building permits in both the residential and non-residential sectors has been down since last summer, Statscan noted. Residential permits rose 13.4 per cent from a month earlier, mainly because of growth in multi-family units such as condominiums. Over the past five years, demand has gradually shifted away from more expensive single-family homes to more affordable multi-family buildings, Statscan said. In April, permits for multi-family units rose 19.1 per cent, while single family homes declined 0.6 per cent. “This report does suggest that some improvement in building activity may lie ahead for the Canadian housing sector,” said Millan Mulraine, economics strategist with TD Securities. “However, the fact that all of this increase came from the volatile multi-units component does suggest ... some give-back in the coming month.” In the non-residential sector, the value of permits rose 16.5 per cent from a month earlier, because of strong commercial intentions. Indeed, commercial permits rose 20.2 per cent, as interest in building hotels and retail outlets surged. Industrial permits rose 6.7 per cent, after a large drop in March, as Alberta manufacturing and primary industries regained some interest. Institutional building permits rose 13 per cent in the month, driven by projects for new medical buildings. “The non-residential sector continued to be positively affected by low office vacancy rates and a vigorous retail sector, despite a drop in corporate profits,” Statscan said. Regionally, all provinces saw gains in April, especially in Ontario, British Columbia, Alberta and Quebec, which all posted double-digit increases. Ontario saw the largest increase in dollar terms, with a $2.4-billion leap in the value of permits issued, or a jump of 12.5 per cent. Multi-family homes were the driving force. By city, the largest increase in dollars was in Toronto, again because of multi-family units. “While these gains suggest we will some new housing activity going forward, some of this growth is on the back of declines experienced at the beginning of the year,” said economists at Bank of Nova Scotia. “Thus, despite the fact that permits surged in April, the overall trend remains to the downside.” http://www.reportonbusiness.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20080605.wbuildingpermits0506/BNStory/Business/home
  4. (Courtesy of The Guardian UK) I wonder if anyone from the PQ or BQ heard or read about this Probably not seeing they dislike the English language. So I guess Canadian / Quebec history is safe for now, until one of them comes out of their narrow-minded shell and sees this
  5. Canada's housing boom is over, bank says VIRGINIA GALT Globe and Mail Update June 26, 2008 at 10:44 AM EDT After a long run of rapidly-rising prices, the Canadian housing market has cooled to the point that it is no longer a sellers' market, Toronto-Dominion Bank said Thursday. “The long-awaited end of the Canadian housing boom has occurred, reflecting more moderate demand and increased supply of properties for sale,” TD economists Craig Alexander and Pascal Gauthier said in a report. “The year-over-year price growth for existing homes in Canada's major markets fell to only 1.1 per cent in May, down from 8.6 per cent just four months earlier,” the TD economists wrote. “The trend has been broadly based, but is has been particularly sharp in some of the markets that had experienced the most dramatic price growth. Calgary and Edmonton home prices in April and May fell to below year-earlier levels.” The TD economists said they had expected the slowdown to occur before now, but “housing remained stronger for longer than we had anticipated, largely due to increased affordability through new financing options, such as no money down or extended amortization.” Regional economic strength related to the commodity boom also helped to fuel “unsustainably elevated home price growth in the west,” they wrote. Last month, the Canadian Real Estate Association reported that resale home listings across Canada rose by 17.7 per cent in April from a year earlier – pushing the number of home listings to the highest level on record. At the time, Bank of Montreal economist Douglas Porter noted: “For the first time in a long time, sellers are not in the drivers' seat any more. I'm not necessarily saying that buyers are in the drivers' seat either, but what we've seen truly is a return to a balanced market.” The TD economists concurred in their report Thursday. “Most of Canada's major housing markets have moved out of sellers' territory to more balanced markets.” Mr. Alexander and Mr. Gauthier forecast modest national average price growth of 2 per cent this year and 3.5 per cent in 2009, “down substantially from the 10 per cent annual pace of the last six years.” However, the Canadian housing market remains fundamentally strong, unlike the U.S. market, where the National Association of Realtors reported Thursday that median home prices continued to fall. The median price of an existing U.S. home sold in May was $208,600 (U.S), down 6.3 per cent from a year earlier – fallout from the subprime mortgage crisis. In Canada, the TD economists forecast an average existing home price of $313,300 (Canadian) in 2008, up 2 per cent from last year's average. Canadians, the TD economists said, are “cashing in, not foreclosing. “... It should be stressed that the rise in listings does not reflect homeowners of principal dwellings desperate to sell, and this is the dominant difference between the Canadian and U.S. experience,” they wrote in their report, Canada's Housing Boom Comes to an End. “Indeed, the U.S. has been characterized by an abnormal rise in delinquencies and foreclosures or large negative equity positions. In Canada, speculators may be quickly dumping properties on the market to get out while the times are good, but individuals that have a principal dwelling are not under financial duress. “Canadian consumers are nowhere nearly as leveraged through their home equity as American consumers are.” Throughout the rest of this year and 2009, most regional housing markets in Canada “will see low to mid single-digit gains, but Saskatchewan and Manitoba will continue to post double-digit gains in the near term, followed by a significant cooling in 2009 – with the risk of a mild price correction in the major cities that have recently experienced extraordinary price growth,” the TD economists said. “Alberta will have further weakness in the near term, as Calgary and Edmonton will likely see prices continue to fall for another three or four quarters, dropping 8 per cent to 10 per cent from their peak, after which prices should stabilize and start rising at a low single-digit pace.” http://www.reportonbusiness.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20080626.whousing0626/BNStory/Business/home
  6. Le Canada gagne 35 900 emplois en avril Publié le 08 mai 2009 à 08h06 | Mis à jour à 08h09 Agence France-Presse Ottawa Le Canada a gagné 35 900 emplois en avril, de façon inattendue, essentiellement grâce aux travailleurs indépendants, tandis que le taux de chômage se maintenait à 8%, son niveau le plus élevé en sept ans, a annoncé vendredi l'institut de la statistique. Les analystes s'attendaient à une perte de quelque 50 000 emplois en avril après une saignée de 61 000 le mois précédent et à ce que le taux de chômage passe à 8,2%. Ce taux est resté inchangé à 8,0 % en avril par rapport à mars, car la hausse de l'emploi a coïncidé avec une croissance de la population active, note Statistique Canada. Malgré l'augmentation enregistrée en avril, 321 000 emplois ont été perdus au Canada depuis octobre 2008. En avril, le nombre de travailleurs indépendants a cru de 37 000, indique Statistique Canada dans un communiqué, précisant que 39 000 emplois à temps plein ont été créés, alors que 3600 emplois à temps partiel étaient perdus. Le secteur manufacturier, durement frappé par la crise, a gagné 6 700 postes en avril, mais il en a perdu 106 300 au cours des 12 derniers mois. La hausse de l'emploi en avril s'est manifestée pour l'essentiel dans les provinces du Québec (+22 000) et de Colombie-Britannique (+17 000). En avril le salaire horaire moyen avait progressé de 4,3% par rapport au même mois l'an dernier. __________________________________________________________________________________________ Canada adds 36,000 jobs HEATHER SCOFFIELD Globe and Mail Update May 8, 2009 at 8:13 AM EDT OTTAWA — The Canadian work force managed to grow slightly in April, adding 36,000 positions, mainly through self-employment, Statistics Canada said Friday. As a result, the unemployment rate was unchanged at 8 per cent last month, the highest in seven years. “This is a better-than-expected report that no one saw coming,” said economists at ScotiaCapital Inc. “Yes, there were distortions including the heavy influence of a gain in self-employment that we mistrust at this point in the cycle. But the losses elsewhere were much less significant than feared.” The unexpected gain in employment sent the dollar up by 0.93 cent (U.S.) against the U.S currency. Economists had been expecting the pace of job loss to let up a little bit in April after months of steep decline, forecasting the elimination of 50,000 positions compared to 61,000 in March. They had predicted an 8.3 per cent unemployment rate, up from 8 per cent in March. While economists expect self-employment to expand during a recession, as laid-off workers create opportunities of their own, the increase in April was substantial. About 37,000 new self-employed positions were added to the work force, accounting for well over half of the 61,800 increase in self-employment over the past year. Jobs among people employed by others, on the other hand, fell a statistically insignificant 1,100 positions. Stabilization was also evident in the sectors that have shed the most jobs during the recession – manufacturing and construction. Employment in both those categories was changed very little in April, with construction employment declining 7,500 jobs and manufacturing employment growing 6,700 positions. In the goods side of the economy overall, employment barely budged in April, but has declined by a sharp 6.3 per cent since last October. The services side of the economy, which has been less touched by the recession, added 35,100 positions in April, particularly in the information sector and in culture and recreation. Since October, when the labour market began to slide, employment economy-wide has fallen by 321,000 positions. That's a decline of 1.9 per cent, with the losses concentrated in constructing, manufacturing and natural resources. Full-time employment rose by 39,000 positions in April, while part-time was little changed. However, full-time employment is still down 2.5 per cent since October. By region, employment rose in both Quebec and British Columbia. Quebec gained 22,000 positions, but because more people joined the work force, its unemployment rate rose to 8.4 per cent, from 8.3 per cent in March. British Columbia added 17,000 jobs, and its unemployment rate stayed still at 7.4 per cent. Still, the gains don't come close to making up for losses in the previous months. Ontario, where job losses have been severe, managed to stabilize in April, shedding 3,000 positions. Its unemployment rate stayed stable at 8.7 per cent. Ontario's job losses account for half of the country's total decline since October. By demographic, the April employment gains went mainly to adult men, and to women over the age of 55. Economists were surprised by the job creation, even though some indicators have suggested lately that the Canadian economy was showing signs of life. They warned that the job creation probably wouldn't last, since the all-important auto and manufacturing sectors are poised to cut severely in coming months, and because mothballed natural resource projects aren't about to roar back to life. Economists are often skeptical of self-employment numbers because they suspect that respondents to Statistics Canada's survey of households would rather say they're working for themselves than admit to being unemployed. Plus, many self-employed people earn considerably less than employed people. “That said, we can't dismiss the headline because of dubious self-employment gains, as there were only 1,100 job losses beyond the self-employment component,” the Scotia economists said. The labour report was undeniably good news, agreed Douglas Porter, deputy chief economist at BMO Nesbitt Burns. “Now that's what I would call a green shoot,” he said. Still, he warned against getting too carried away. “While quite encouraging, it's important to recall that head fakes are always possible,” he said. During the darkest days of the recession of the early 1990s, for example, Canadian employment managed to rise in five separate months. “Still, this marks a huge improvement from the wicked job losses seen over the winter, and is yet another strong signal that the economy may be approaching bottom – certainly sooner than most forecasters believed possible just a few weeks ago.” Indeed, there are a growing number of signs that the free-fall that inflicted the Canadian economy at the end of last year and the beginning of this year began to let up in February and March. Auto and housing sales have picked up, the drop in exports slowed, manufacturing output stopped plunging and financial markets showed signs of recovery.
  7. Bank economists warn of something worse than recession for Canada October 06, 2008 By David Friend, The Canadian Press Economists from Canada’s Big Five banks say they expect little or no growth in the near future and they warned today that the domestic economy’s current gloom will likely deepen into something worse than a recession. The word “recession” wouldn’t describe the deep structural problems affecting everything from the U.S. housing sector to the Canadian oil industry, said Bank of Nova Scotia chief economist Warren Jestin. “You have to invent a new word to describe what we’re in now,” he said after the banks presented their perspectives at the Economic Club today. “It’s being driven through the financial markets into the real economy. All of those things suggest that it’s entirely different than what you might expect from a typical recession.” In their most recent economics forecast, Scotiabank economists predict recessions for both the U.S. and Canada, economic slides that will require central bankers in both countries to cut interest rates by at least a full percentage point. All agree that a slide in commodity prices bodes ill for the Canadian economy, which is heavily dependent on the production and export of oil and gas, metals and minerals. Drops in oil and metals prices have hit the already teetering Toronto Stock Exchange hard. The TSX took an agonizing 1,200-point fall this morning before recovering somewhat to sit around 700 points in the red as oil dropped to trade around the $90 US mark. And Bank of Montreal economist Doug Porter said prices will continue to take a beating over the next year, dragging Western Canada’s formerly booming economy in particular down with them. “You’re going to be seeing Western Canada come back down to the rest of us with a thud, especially if commodity prices keep doing what they’ve done in the last three months,” he said. “It’s almost as if the markets are pricing in a much harder landing for commodity prices. I think that’s reasonable if you don’t get some thawing in the credit markets relatively soon.” Porter said the direction of Canada’s economy depends on whether the financial-sector troubles in the United States start to settle down. “At this point, if this kind of volatility keeps up, I think we’re looking at a much more serious downturn than the mild recession that most of us are talking about,” he said. “Over the next month, that’s what bears watching.” The cautious outlook was echoed by Don Drummond of TD Bank, who said the Canadian economy won’t see any growth until late 2009. Drummond told the Economic Club audience that even at that point there will be only a gradual recovery. “I think the credit system is going to be mucked up for quite some time, even if it improves somewhat,” he said. Jestin remained on the more optimistic side of the loonie’s direction, predicting that it will hold above the 90-cent threshold as it weathers the financial downturn. “I still think the fundamentals on the Canadian currency — those that initially drove it through parity and kept it quite strong by recent history — are largely intact,” he said, pointing out that Canada’s trade numbers still look favourable compared to many other developed countries. Craig Wright, chief economist at RBC Financial Group, held a more pessimistic view on the dollar, predicting it would slide “just under” 90 cents by the end of next year. The loonie was down 1.78 cents to 90.68 cents US this morning and closed slightly higher at 90.98 cents US. “For Canada, exports are going to be a continued challenge by weakness in the U.S., but we’re still relatively bullish on the Canadian economy,” he said. Porter told the audience that it’s tough to provide an accurate outlook on the economy given the unpredictability of capital markets. “Trying to do an economic forecast in this kind of turmoil is a bit like trying to put a value on your house while the kitchen is on fire,” he said. “You just don’t know how long the fire is going to go on for, or how much damage it’s going to do.”