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The best prepared award

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Stephanie Flanders | 12:12 UK time, Tuesday, 31 March 2009

I know you can't bear the suspense. The award for "Best Prepared Country Going Into the Crisis" goes to... Canada. And what a goodie-two-shoes economy it turns out to be.

The more you look at this country's numbers, the more you understand why Gordon Brown relegated Canada to "second tier" status in the diplomatic preparations for the Summit. It was the only bit of one-upmanship with the Canadians he could still win.

Next time the prime minister talks about every country being brought down by this crisis - or the chancellor suggests that everyone made the same mistakes - remember Canada. Nowhere is immune, but by most key measures, the Canadians are coming out of this crisis in a league of their own.

Take the banking system. Canada's banks have not just had fewer bailouts than other countries. They've had none. Zero. Not a dime.

Commemorative one-dollar coins marking the 100th anniversary of the Montreal Canadiens NHL hockey team are seen Tuesday, March 10, 2009, in Montreal after they were unveiled by the Royal Canadian Mint

That may change - the five banks that dominate Canada's banking sector have had to write down large losses on subprime and the like. But so far they've done without government handouts. And they have raised about £5bn in equity since October. Their shares have fallen sharply, but by 40-50% - not 80-90% as they have in Britain and the US.

As the FT pointed out today, of the seven institutions in the world that still retain a triple-A Moody's credit rating, two are Canadian banks. And as their competitors have tumbled, so they have ascended the global rankings: all five Canadian banks now rank in the world top 50.

Didn't they pay a price for that boring banking - the distinct lack of securitisation and innovation? Well, it's true, Canada didn't have a nationwide house price bubble in the lead up to this crisis. And they didn't have the same kind of rise in personal debt. That's one reason the IMF used words like "resilient" and "well-placed" in its latest survey of the country's prospects.

You can see the results of this rather old-style approach in Canada's boringly consistent rate of growth. On average, between 2001 and 2007, its economy grew by 2.6%.

Across the ocean, the City was a hotbed of global financial innovation, and we were riding a heady stock market and housing boom on a sea of debt. The result? Average economic growth between 2001 and 2007 of, er, 2.6%.

Of course, Canada has been hit by this crisis - about a third of its GDP is taken up with exports to the US. The economy shrank slightly last year and the consensus is for a decline of 1.8% this year. But it looks set to have the shallowest recession of all the G7 economies, with the smallest decline in activity in 2009 and fastest growth in 2010.

Despite the openness of its economy, Canada has not even been part of the global trade imbalances I keep going on about. It had a modest surplus in the years leading up to the crisis - now it's moving into deficit.

I'm sure someone will write to tell me the blot on Canada's economic record, the fatal policy error that will cause me to sheepishly revoke its award in a few days' time. But I haven't found it yet.

Its sober management of the public finances has even left it room for a decent-sized stimulus package for this year and next. Net debt last year was an irritating 22% of GDP.

And the most impressive thing of all about Canada's position is that you are probably reading about it for the first time. Canadians are so sensible they even have the sense not to brag, in case things turn out badly for them after all.

If the UK had these vital statistics, by now the world would be sick of hearing about them. But on top of everything else, the Canadians have guarded against hubris as well.

Goodie-two-shoes is right. If I were Gordon Brown, I'd be wishing Canada wasn't coming at all.

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    So the least imbalanced economically active country will be the best placed for a downturn. Also it can be described as the most economically boring. Thats no surprise. A low population and major natural resources no doubt help. Possibly even a low migration activity. But the key is to be boring. Over ambition for short term success risks poor foundations. Culturally I think the problem for the West goes back to the Romans. The current problem is growth or expansion without embedding longterm instability when the political agenda is built on a shortterm cycle between GEs. So we all need to be boring or develope a longterm strategic decision model which is independent of political party. Step forward digital democracy so the option menu is expanded away from narrow party political route planning.

  • Comment number 2.

    BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH, Thats all very nice.
    Obvious that you dont live here!!!

    BC Canada

  • Comment number 3.

    if the US and the majority of 'developed' world are dying from the proverbial 'cut troat'. Canada will die the death of a thousand cuts, i cannot see the latter being that favourite, perhaps even worse in the long term.
    Not eveything is as cut and dried as 'Bank figures", if you lived here, you would know that!

  • Comment number 4.

    Brown ignores the successful?

    Would adopting Canada's banking system of checks and balances seriously curtail the British Banking system?

    Would there be a flight of capital to the US?

    I'm also presuming that their currency hasn't bottomed either?

    Well done to Canada, please take every opportunity to rubbish Crash and Burn.

  • Comment number 5.

    Looks like Canada ran a tight ship with a minimum of fuss. Once upon a time, a very long time ago, Britain used to be good at that.

    From your story it would appear Canada generated wealth through real productivity gains. Britain on the other hand indulged itself with the petulant illusion of wealth through debt.

    Well done Canada.


  • Comment number 6.

    Another candidate for your award: Cyprus. No bank bail-outs or write offs, and no recession. Credit goes to eurozone membership, and the process leading up to it over the last decade, and conservative banks and banking regulation.

  • Comment number 7.

    Aha, the land of JK Galbraith...

    Do the Canadians still print "this note is legal tender" on their banknotes (presumably so that forgers' consciences would convict them of lying)?

    If so, perhaps they have every right, because their currency is still worth the paper it's printed on.

  • Comment number 8.

    A pity this rather boring-sounding journalist has to jump all over that well-worn saw that Canada is 'boring'. Not very original. And rather ignorant. One expects more from a BBC journalist.

    Try substituting 'sensible' for 'boring' and the article makes more sense. And by the way, a sensibly run economy is perfectly consistent with a culturally innovative and reasonably exciting country. Take some examples. Dan Akroyd, Donald Sutherland, William Shatner, John Candy, Robert Bateman, Emily Carr, Conrad Black, David Cronenberg, Jack Warner, James Cameron, Bryan Adams, Leonard Cohen, Glenn Gould, K.D. Lang, Sarah McLachlan, Oscar Peterson, Alanis Morissette, Neil Young, Pamela Anderson, Margaret Atwood, Saul Bellow, Robertson Davies, William Gibson, Michael Ondaatje, Jim Carrey, Mike Myers, Frank Shuster, Le Cirque du Soleil. Um, clearly a boring lot, yeah? By the way, I don't come from Canada or live there.

  • Comment number 9.

    Stephanie,

    Do you think the fact that Canada suffered a deep and severe banking and credit crisis in 1965 because of the Atlantic Acceptance Fiasco, and after that they put rules and regulations in place to prevent a similar event.

    Maybe todays relative safety is just more that Canada has learnt hard lessons from a previous error.

    AM

  • Comment number 10.

    How about Norway?

  • Comment number 11.

    Why is everybody acting all surprised about the credit crunch? I opted to emigrate to Canada 2 years ago and sold my house 15 months ago. I'm just finishing the emigration process now.
    Any system with all carrot and no stick (e.g. guaranteed bonuses) was never going to work long-term.
    Equally, any system with all stick and no carrot (e.g. appraisals and criticism but no bonuses) won't work either, which is why this country can't get physics/maths teachers.
    Re the comment about the Roman empire - it has been argued that the major factor in its collapse was the unwillingness of the rich to pay their fair share of taxes. Leonora Helmsley was the beginning of the end, and the current non-dom situation is a good way down it.

  • Comment number 12.

    Stephanie Flanders has got it absolutely right!
    In a far less brilliant way, the rather "boring" reason why Canadian's were not "sold out" by their leaders was a former Prime Minister, Jean Cretein, who probably didn't understand the new fangled economics and wisely refused to step into such uncertain waters. What followed Cretein has been a succession of minority governments, both Conservative and Liberal, whom were all too ready to take the "leap"; but were constrained by minority status. It may be a little hard for Canadians to brag about such an ignoble wisdom. I'd like to think we Canadians are dull and too Goody Two Shoes as long as the bank account remains. How's that for boring?
    reason why

  • Comment number 13.

    #8 - noetus

    Conrad Black. That would be the one unavoidably detained in circumstances he would rather have avoided is it?

    Anyone can Goggle famous Canadians then use copy/paste. What is your point?

  • Comment number 14.

    But even Canada, it seems, has fallen for that nonsense about a "decent sized stimulus package" being required to end the recession. Presumably the money will be borrowed - which will mean it isn't available for the private sector to borrow. Or maybe it will be "printed" - which will mean it won't lead to growth, just inflation. And wow, they "only" have a debt equivalent to 22% of GDP. Why is it regarded as obvious that countries have to have net public sector debt at all?

    Seems to me that the Canadians have made the same mistakes as we have, only to a lesser degree.

  • Comment number 15.

    Is there anything in the idea that Canada achieved its growth by 'free-riding' on cheap Anglo-American credit?




  • Comment number 16.

    Now I would never have believed it - Canada! Your kidding aren't you? Seriously - Canada? Wow!! Or something along those lines.

    That all supposes that preparedness is predicated upon the banks and the financial system. Now, just for one moment, we put aside the financial system (if only because people keep telling us it's broken), and then look at the REAL economies of the world then who in REAL terms is best prepared?

    I know it's not the UK and I doubt it would be Canada (with apologies to all Canadians who may read this. I'm not having a go at you - honest!).

    let's just say for a moment the UK says "can't pay, won't pay". What happens next (apart from a lot of Chicken Little cackling)? Ultimately nothing. We would be excused some of the debt and a deal would be done on the rest. Life would be tough for a few years but ultimately things would retun to 'normal'. Therefore, let's start focusing upon the REAL economy and stop wasting our time and efforts fretting about bankers etc.!!

  • Comment number 17.

    Being from Chicago I sometimes longingly look northward. As a lifelong banker and by training an economist I known exactly the troubles afflicting the USA and our failed economic policies. The present crisis is based on living over our means for sometime and the of finding new and exciting ways to do that such as financing debt with a housing bubble. Not everyone is entitled to a home of their own and the government can't continue to finance or guarantee that. New demand (Technology)or a rise in production will not help us now as they did in the 90's. I fear that an attempt to spend our way out will just worsen and prolong the problem. As the world economy and financial system adapts to a transfer of wealth from west to east this will become more apparent. People just see they need money and forget we have to create the wealth.

  • Comment number 18.

    Most of what you said is correct. Our lack of a deficit and consistent budget surplus helped us not only financially but culturally too - Canadians have a big aversion to budget deficits now.

    On the other hand, you shouldn't refer to this as Stephanomics. Although I am a supporter of Stephan Harper, most of the economic policies were established in the early-mid 1990s, under a 3 term Prime Minister (Jean Chretien) and his finance minister (Paul Martin) who worked wonders, although it took a lot of difficult political decisions. Doesn't this sound familiar to you Brits? However after Martin finally took over from Jean Chretien he crashed and burned, but unlike Gordon Brown didn't last long enough to have a financial crisis to show up where he could show off his expertise.

  • Comment number 19.

    #8 noetus

    Sorry, but I drifted off to sleep at my desk while reading your list. What was the point you were making?

    #12 knarf

    Important distinction: the Canadian PM has two E's in his surname, Brown only has one!

  • Comment number 20.

    "Not a dime" -

    Not quite true. The federal government (in the form of the Bank of Canada, the central bank) has been buying mortgages from the banks for cash. Roughly C$ 25 B so far.

    The blot on the economic record -

    There has been one egregious policy error: The replacement of Paul Martin with Stephen Harper. Paul Martin put Canada's financial house in order after the profligacy of the Mulroney years. His reward was to be given the boot. I don't even remember why.

    In two years of trying to bribe voters into giving him a majority Harper squandered much of his predecessor's effort.

    In an age where we have to use fewer hydrocarbons and more renewables, we have a government that is in the pocket of the oil industry and removes tax incentives for building wind farms.

    In an age where education and innovation are critical to economic success, we have a science minister who doesn't understand that science and religion are different things. Pathetic.

    Hubris and nemesis: The Harper government is our reward for smugness.


    And finally -

    Happy Birthday Canada. Today is the 60th Anniversary of Confederation.

  • Comment number 21.

    Stepahnie
    Please can you tell us if Canada has an NHS equivalent or free education or a welfare state like the UK?

    just wondering if this is a rather inaccurate comparison, it will be better to compare apples with apples

  • Comment number 22.

    This is a great article. The people who are saying "you don't live here, it's really bad" clearly don't know what it's like in other countries.

    I don't think many people in Canada realize how bad things are in other countries. Elsewhere banks are going under; major high street retailers are declaring bankruptcy; jobs are being lost at a far higher rate than here.

    Yes things are bad here, but in other places things are a lot worse. It's not that we aren't bragging about it; it's that most of us don't even realize it.

  • Comment number 23.

    It's all very well saying Canada is best placed etc. However, a bit like Australia, the vast majority of Canada's wealth comes from minerals and mining, including Alberta's tar sands. The oil price has plummeted, meaning many of their tar sands developments are now marginally economically viable, and billions of dollars of investment have been put on hold. Similarly mineral prices have slumped significantly. The levels of unemployment are rising significantly, the Canadian offices of my own company are cutting large numbers of staff and imposing up to 9% pay cuts on those who are left.
    Best placed? Hardly!

  • Comment number 24.

    jhs001:

    Canada has universal education to the 12th grade, as well as universal healthcare, but both of these are managed at the provincial rather than the federal level. Canada also has social welfare (once again administered by the provinces), but probably not as strong here as in the UK... There's no such thing as "council houses" and the able bodied in Canada generally find it necessary to work.

    Our strength is tight fiscal and monetary policy, and a banking system that is regulated and yet hugely profitable for the players involved. There's no "cheating" involved here... We have both moderate social spending and a decent economy that has been carefully managed to avoid "bubbles".

  • Comment number 25.

    @ jhs001
    Yes, Canada does have the relative equivalent of the NHS (called Medicare) which is partially funded by the government (provincial, I believe), and partially by means-tested payments if you're working and by welfare if you're not. If you're on benefits (welfare), your prescriptions and many other health services are paid for, up to a point. Pretty much like the NHS only with less red tape/postal code lottery nonsense.

    It hasn't been mentioned here, I notice, but by law (in Alberta, at least), the provincial government is forbidden to run on a deficit and have run on surpluses for nearly 10 years now (since the Klein era, anyway - one of the only good things it's said Ralph Klein ever did for Alberta) and thus in a much better position to weather out the mess the Americans and Brits have gotten the rest of us into. I had heard of at least one or two other provinces having something along the same lines but implemented only fairly recently, leaving them in somewhat of a less-prepared position than Alberta. (Saskatchewan being one of the only provinces where it seems to be unaffected, possibly due to the relative lack of industries other than farming and potash mining.)

    The US and Britain (and other countries) would do well to follow Klein's example, imho. That way there would be less of a 'buy now, pay later' credit culture and less of people living beyond their means, and more of people living within their means and less defaults as a result.

    I'm proud to be Canadian, but at the same time, still wouldn't live there if I had the choice, even with the current economic problems. Economy aside, the politics leave a lot to be desired, as does treatment of minorities and immigrants (the treatment of my husband when we emigrated there years ago made it pretty much certain we'd never go back, and he's BRITISH/WHITE....). It seems for every up side, there's a downer, eh?

  • Comment number 26.

    Hmmm... In industrial terms Canada is very advanced.. It has one of the best fuel cell companies on the planet, produces a lot of bio-ethanol and already has at least one large scale carbon capture test plant running..

  • Comment number 27.

    noetus [#8]: Perhaps if you lived in Canada you'd be less concerned by the stereotype - but to say that Canada "is in a league of its own" is hardly boring. I did suggest that Canada's banking was boring, but right now that's a big plus. Otherwise I used words like "sensible", "sober" and "resilient" - all highly-prized characteristics in the global economy of 2009. It's not my job to talk up the artistic heritage - but you've done a good job of that for yourself.

    Cyborgia [#10]: Norway is a good idea - especially since it seems to have been put its oil to good use (unlike some). But, luckily for Canada, it's not in the G20, so the prize is safe.

  • Comment number 28.

    If you're interested in the Canadian economy, there are some good blogs about it - you might start with Worthwhile Canadian Initiatives if you don't mind a bit of deep economic theory too.

    On the issue of why Canada is well protected from the coming recession, there are some interesting issues of psychology which affect the choice of which industries to invest in and who to trade with. These also apply to the UK but more so to developing economies. Click here for more on that subject.

  • Comment number 29.

    The Alberta sand-oil bananza sounds great until you start to read about the environmental and other costs of extraction.I've seen some differing stats on their trade reliance with the US which could hurt them. Talk of greenhouse gases and moon-scapes might indicate a liability carried forward. Otherwise, hats off to the Canadians!

  • Comment number 30.

    Canada? Where's that?

  • Comment number 31.

    Just to answer a previous thread about comparison, Canada has an NHS equivalent called Medicare and also free education and welfare system.

  • Comment number 32.

    Twickers69:

    It is true that a large part of our economic stability has come from natural resources. But unlike, say, Norway, we are not a one-resource nation. In addition to having as much oil in reserve as Saudi Arabia (if one counts the tar sands), we are also the second-largest producer of uranium, a major extractor of natural gas, and well-positioned to develop alternative energy sources as well, be it solar, wind, or biofuel (the latter two are already seeing significant development here). We also produce/extract significant amounts of gold, nickel, potash, diamonds, timber, and so many other things that if the market for one resource flags, we have a diversified portfolio of other stuff to fall back on. So, yeah, we may be hewers of wood and drawers of water or however that silly saying goes (I prefer drawing beer myself), but hey, it works for us, and probably will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Not to brag or anything...

  • Comment number 33.

    ahoy Stephanie

    I split my time between the UK and Canada; planning to spend more time in the latter as it does have some advantages due to smaller population and high levels of training/education and I have a farmhouse there so know the ins and outs of it

    You're basically right that Canada is in pretty good shape economically, though some of your figures for depth of recession (-1.8% this year) and a quick bounce back next year look like out-of-date ones from the over-optimistic Bank of Canada; I've seen recent predictions of -2.5% for this year but that's still better than the States, Japan, UK and EU members

    Canada is in reasonable shape (despite exposure of the manufacturing heartlands of Ontario/Quebec to the US slump - particularly GM/Chrysler) because of extensive, good regulation of many aspects of govt, especially banking and provincial/federal budgets

    Ironically, the Tories under Stephen Harper were very keen to dismantle all of this regulation, as they are right-wing Bushites, but failed to manage it as can only get a minority depsite 3 attempts, the last one against the worst Liberal leader in memory, Stephan Dionne (no relation to Celine but as bad...); Harper refused to recall parliament after the last election and remains somewhat in denial that there is even a global recession; also suspect he might be a climate-change denier but it seems unlikely that he'll get back in next time as Ignatieff has returned from Harvard/Oxford to restore the Liberals to power.......

    An odd coindence that you are a Stephanie, Canada's PM an Stephen and last year's election was against Liberal Stephan Dionne

    There was/is a housing bubble in Vancouver and Toronto as well as Alberta, but most of the country looks very affordable compared to here. In my neck of the woods (rural Eastern Ontario) you can buy 3-bed fixer-uppers for 50,000 pounds ($90,000) or less! Salaries about same as UK so no need for a big mortgage unless you get greedy (which some people do, proceeding to build ghastly looking McMansions)

    Not a perfect place though; Canadians are very friendly but can be grumpy, as some of the posts on here indicate, and there is very bad feeling between the Tories and Liberals, as well as between Alberta (neo-con rightwingers) and Ontario (liberal do-gooders and immigrants) and Quebec of course (French-Canadian); and the native/aboriginal people are marginalised

    And of course the exploitation of the tar sands is a very unfortunate dirty source of income now; on the other hand, many provinces have excellent energy audit programmes and govt grant schemes for renewables

    And we aren't gun toting Yankees and refused to go along with the Iraq invasion though foolishly now embroiled in Afghanistan

    And best of all Ontario has a publicly-run alcohol monopoly with subsidised prices for beer, wine and spirits and all the profits of our boozing going back into the public coffers!

  • Comment number 34.

    Twickers69.

    You are way out of date, take a look at the oil futures market, Canada's tar sands are about to become 'black gold' again.

    Having been to Canada I congratulate Canadians on a polite, mature, integrated and tolerant society which is also refreshingly free from vomiting drunks. It is no surprise to me that they manage their Affairs of State so well.

  • Comment number 35.

    Canada's health care system is *not* called Medicare. Medicare and Medicaid are US terms associated with that country. What Canada has is called RAMQ (Regie de l'Assurance Maladie du Quebec) in Quebec, OHIP (Ontario Health Insurance Plan) in Ontario. And don't even ask me about other provinces ...

  • Comment number 36.

    Hi Stephanie,

    Nice article, thanks!

    I see that some people don't understand sarcasm, so they get really upset about your use of the word boring. I'm Canadian and really appreciate your narrative. By the way, even if you were serious, we WANT our banks to be boring - Cassinos should be exciting, not banks...

    Keep up the great work. We love your blog!

  • Comment number 37.


    Hello from near Toronto,

    I'd temper some of this praise with a warning about wages in Canada. They have been slumping for decades and, like the Yanks, we must buy cheap rubbish from China, rack up credit cards and move ever further out into the suburbs in order to maintain that middle class atmosphere. A lot of workers in Canada are stuck at the $8-10-12/hr level and will never move up. Wages like that do not cut it in an advanced economy.

    Distribution of income is better here than in the UK or USA but has still shifted in favour of the upper parts of the social pyramid. The blame for that has to go to 30 years of slavish imitation of neo-con nonsense imported from elsewhere. (Yup, that's called a colonial mindset and no matter what people say it still exists). Most middle and working class Canadians, even recent immigrants from the Middle East and Asia, have internalized a lot of right wing nonsense about taxes, wage rates, unions and treatment of working people. It is unreal to hear the way many Canadians talk now. The country made its greatest progress when it fancied itself to try and follow Scanindavian models before 1980 or so. Nowadays, you'd be very frightened to hear the way people talk, particularly the suburban Boomers who have no meaningful memories of the Second World War or Great Depression. The past few decades of neo-con brainwashing my really come back to bite the very economic managers who want to maintain prosperity and steer this trade-dependent country through coming times.

    There is a nasty side to Canada's economic conservatism. Ask anybody in the arts for instance (starvation is frequent). Constitutional/language issues are often problematic, too. Immigration/demographics - huge can of worms. Foreign ownership is far too high. Nonetheless, we are a very lucky country since 1945 and hope to continue to be.

    Thing is, don't watch Canada, watch Ontario. That's the big province in the centre of the country that hangs down into America almost as far as the same latitude as northern California. Why? Well, that's where the money and manufacturing have been located traditionally. You'd be very surprised at Ontario's very high level of industrialisation and economic stats for 8m people. At one time we were the world's number three auto exporting jurisdiction. Where Ontario goes the country goes even if other regions do not like that. Ontario is literally facing a future of deindustrialization and communion with the rust belt of the northeastern United States. A worrisome prospect considering much farm land here has been used up under suburban sprawl and the mining/commodities boom is over.

    It'll be an interesting next few years for Canada and those watching her. As for other countries, I am hoping for the best here. There are no guarantees unless economic leaders finally chuck their neo-con pseudo-policies.

    Cheers, Stephanie! Please come and visit.


  • Comment number 38.

    -------( jhs001 wrote on this board : Please can you tell us if Canada has an NHS equivalent or free education or a welfare state like the UK?) ----

    As a first generation Indo Canadian let me humbly say few things about my adopted country to Ignorant readers with poor history or geography knowledge on this board.

    Canada was the best country to live in as per UN for Seven consecutive years in late 90's and early 2000. Social welfare in Canada is better than in USA. Canada has universal health care system accessible to all its residents unlike in USA. Canada is the second largest Land mass next to Russia with a population of 30 million. Our country is blessed with many natural resources including Oil and Gold. Canada is the ninth largest economy with GDP at $1,564,000 Million and Per capita is $ 38200. Our government is Parliamentary system (Thanks to British) with Queen still as head of the state and we all still pledge our alliance to the Queen.

    Canada has many innovations to its credit including insulin , telephone, telephone handset, television system, wireless radio, light bulb, Imax movies , blackberry of rim, basketball, ice hokey, television camera, electron microscope, compound steam engine, chocolate nut bar, calcium carbide , bone marrow compatibility test, gramophone, film colorization, java , kerosene, heart pacemaker, McIntosh apple, paint roller, railway car brake, railway sleeper car, radio-transmitted voice, quartz clock, prosthetic hand, process to extract helium from natural gas, zipper and many more things.

    Canada is the largest immigrant country with approx 0.2 million migrants arriving yearly in addition to refugees. Canada is least racist and predominantly multicultural among the G 7 nations. Canada is like French and British combined into one and is bilingual.

    Most Canadian banks are top ten in the world and the reason for its sustainability is because of tight regulation by the government. Asverage housing price in major cities across Canada is around $300,000 and the variable interest rate on the mortgage I pay now is 1.75 %.

    Canadian armed forces were mostly for UN peacekeeping except for current Afghanistan mission. As a western nation we are fighting the dirty was of US and British sacrificing our soldiers for the stability of the world.





  • Comment number 39.

    A few years ago as an 18 year old in Britain I was given a credit card with a fairly generous limit of £2500 despite having absolutely no credit history.

    I moved to Canada recently and have found it very hard to get credit. I ended up getting a mobile phone contract, and after a year of that I will have a record which will enable me to get a $1000 credit card.

    It is boring economics, and annoying to not be able to get credit so easily, but I'm glad I'm living here now!

  • Comment number 40.

    The debt figure is very misleading. There is also the debt of the provinces which doesn't appear to be calculated in that figure and would add at least a couple hundred billion. There are also crown corporations such as public utilities which also have massive debts (in the tens of billions). The federal government misappropriates funds for Employment Insurance into the general budget, often making a surplus appear when they are in fact creating a liability for a social program and converting it into cash.

    The banks are profitable because they rip off Canadian consumers. Free current accounts? Fat chance unless you have a fairly large deposit. Most banks will even charge you for cash machine withdrawals and cheques! The only praise I can give the financial regulation is on mortgages, where 100% and interest only mortgages were not allowed. This was good sense.

    Canada has been very good at taxing its people into the ground and shooing the more ambitious outside its borders. Witness the very high number of returnees to Hong Kong and China who immigrated in the early 90s. The tax system is very complicated and punitive even for simple PAYE earners like I was (and the main reason I left the country – the other being the lack of job opportunities).

    Canukqc - I had the exact opositte. Very easy to obtain credit in Canada (being Canadian born), difficult when I moved to the UK. I think it is a result of you being new to the country, not that the standards are much stricter.

    I'm happy to be in the UK, even if I will inevitably be paying more taxes in the future.

  • Comment number 41.

    fairlopian_tubester #8 noetus

    Sorry, but I drifted off to sleep at my desk while reading your list. What was the point you were making?"


    ;-)

    Actually, they're hot on political correctness, they consider George Galloway an undesirable, declare critics of the masters of political correctness undesirables (and sometimes prosecute/deport them). Does that suggest they may be complicit in engineering this mess? ;-)

    doctor-gloom (#30) "Canada? Where's that?"

    After your last comment to me, I took that seriously! It's across the pond and likes political correctness even more than us.






  • Comment number 42.

    #23 Twickers69

    Canada`s resources go much further than the oil and gas industry. The country is a major supplier of electricity to the east coast of the US. It has a large forestry industry as well as mining. The UK has none of these abundant resources - and what`s left in the North Sea is fast coming to an end.

    The Canadian economy produces real goods and products as opposed to the phony paper which the UK economy has been built around for the past decade. It is true that recession has hit Canada as it has every other country in the world but if you genuinely believe the Canada is no better positioned than the UK than you have been a student of the Gordon Brown school of economics for far too long!

  • Comment number 43.

    34. At 4:35pm on 31 Mar 2009, MorpethExile wrote:
    Twickers69.

    "You are way out of date, take a look at the oil futures market, Canada's tar sands are about to become 'black gold' again."

    My information is that oil has to hit $80/barrel before new tar sands projects are again commercially viable. Given the Peak Oil scenario I guess it has to one day, though the global slowdown must be pushing that point ever farther into the distance.

    I see that Middle Eastern and US money is buying up all the lots in any event. Does this mean they get the product while Canada gets the huge environmentalal costs?

  • Comment number 44.

    #42,jd6969preston;

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying the UK is any better positioned than Canada, far from it. However, I DO believe that Canada has done very well in recent years from its mineral resources, especially the tar sands. These are not currently viable- bear in mind that where most oil projects become economically viable at around 30 (US)dollars a barrel, tar sands need to get up to 50 dollars a barrel.

    Note too that this is purely an economics blog - I have no issues with the people, the place or whatever ( far from it, when I visited I loved it and would seriously consider moving there ). I'm just questioning whether out of all of the G20 countries it truly deserves top spot?

  • Comment number 45.

    Fair enough Twickers69 - I can see where you`re coming from!!!

  • Comment number 46.

    Reminds me of the fable about the tortoise and the hare.

  • Comment number 47.

    #37 metalsteevo - well written comment. Being a "Yank" I had not realized how conservative the Canada Gov't had become. I always thought they were much more progressive and compassionate.

  • Comment number 48.

    ACADEMICMIND "...because of the Atlantic Acceptance Fiasco, and after that they put rules and regulations in place to prevent a similar event.... Canada has learnt hard lessons from a previous error."

    Similarly, Germany doesn't want to ever be in the position again of having to print billion (Milliarden) Mark notes like in 1923... unfortunately it's a lot closer to Europe than Canada is.

    I just hope Canada says to all the other G20 members "told you so"..

    Remember the 'Abilene paradox' anyone? Well, welcome to the G20!

  • Comment number 49.

    Canada may be better placed to weather the current storm than the UK or USA, and yes it may have had equal average economic growth for the boom years - but you must look beyond simple numbers to understand the pros and cons of their demur view of mass credit.

    Based on my own internet exchanges (both personal and sometimes near anonymous) with ordinary people in Canada, it is glaringly obvious to me that for the average person the conservative credit offerings have led to a lower overall standard of living than was afforded to UK residents. Luxury goods are less easily purchased, high quality versions of everyday essential items are equally difficult to afford, and the opportunity for employment (for poorly qualified or unskilled workers) by is much lower than in the UK.

    I will concede that these observations are made through a fibre optic cable and not a personal visit, but they do make sense in context of this article.

  • Comment number 50.

    hey how come no-one has mentioned seal-clubbing yet?

    it's a small part of our economy of course but that chap from the West coast of Scotland who was sentenced to jail last week might want to consider emigrating to Newfoundland!

  • Comment number 51.

    For sure the title is wrong. If Harper had been in power years ago the banks would have joined the rest of the western banks and been in the same trouble today. He is taking the credit but is not handling the present situation in a way that gives many Canadians any feeling of confidence about the future or that he has any real ideas to lead us through this at all.

  • Comment number 52.

    Its a good point, all this financial 'innovation' hasnt got us real productivity gains, we just began to believe that if we passed money around quickly enough we could generate virtual wealth.

    It is quite a lot like musical chairs, we were inviting more and more people to dance but when we had to sit down we found out that no one was building more chairs.

  • Comment number 53.

    The Canadian banking system was established by Royalist that came from United Kingdom. It kept its traditional value of boring banking. Not like UK banks that worship greed, power and the title of "Financial Capital of the world". See vanity got you? Who have the last laugh now!


    Johnny Toronto

  • Comment number 54.

    It's all very well being geographically lucky - countries with plentiful resources are going to find it far easier to have balance of payment surpluses than those without. I'd agree that Canada has found itself in a fortunate position - partly due to luck, partly due to, from the sounds of it, them practising what Brown preached, but then decided it didn't work in the Blair Spin Machine.

    What I wonder is how Canada will adapt in the post-crisis years. Britain and the USA, along with other major deficit countries are going to have to, whether they like it or not, cut purchasing from other countries. If they have a clever man at the helm (so I'm hoping for a hung parliament in the UK, and Cable as chancellor) they'll kill two birds with one stone and reduce oil dependency in the process. Where does that leave Canada?

  • Comment number 55.

    Oh, and to 49 lionrampant31. I think I'd personally dislike living in Canada more due to the cold weather than having to budget a bit more tightly and forego the triple layered toilet paper!

    Lets just remember that we in Britain/ the US have paid for many of these luxuries on credit cards which need to be paid off, with interest.

    I think we're only half way through the act. Take another look in another 10 years and the net position may well be very different.

  • Comment number 56.

    I heard Gordon Brown's speech today from St Paul's cathedral today - how rude of him to ignore the Archbishop's request to give brief answers and to drone on with his ridiculous global twaddle. Equally depressing was that the Australian PM was just as impertinent in answering questions.

    Gordon Brown speaks about some sectors of the media being cynical but I think his avalanche of hypocrisy in the way he hides behind all things global is the most cynical thing today in global politics.

    What happened to stability in the UK - the Canadians obviously have this? Gone the same way as Prudence and Brittannia as having been ill treated by Gordon Brown and his government?

    Canada also I think has proportionally, a much smaller banking/finance sector and smaller number of banks, overall,in its economy, than in relation to some of the 'bust economies' although it would be interesting to see some key stats in comparison to China?

  • Comment number 57.

    Maybe doing OK economically, but check out their record on climate change. Which do you think is more important?

  • Comment number 58.

    all joking aside, here is the new OECD report for Canada; suggests a pretty severe recession and -3.0% GDP this year, though many other countries worse

    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

    the underlying message is that we're all in this together baby! globalisation and global corporate capitalism is a coin with a flip-side

    a little hint in the current mess, that we should be making a huge effort to take care of the planet too, as it's the only one we have; the money thrown into the Citibank and RBS furnaces would pay for enough solar power infrastructure in North Africa to supply all of the EU's electricity needs!

  • Comment number 59.

    Am I not right in saying, Stephanie, that Australia were in the same category as Canada until a fortnight back when one of their banks went "pop" ?

    Like Canada, the Aussie conservative (small "c") approach to banking matters and economic control, has kept their country's finances in a much more boring but stable state.

    This is the type of control that we in the UK should expect AND demand from our government, instead of the financial chicanery that has been so increasingly prevalent over the past few years.

    As it's nearing Easter, let's have a rousing chorus from Handel's "Messiah" - How about "All we like sheep, have gone astray" ?

  • Comment number 60.

    #49 lionrampant31



    As an individual who has spent two decades in Canada and the past decade here in the UK I have to say that your comments above are 100% off the mark. No country on this planet can claim to be perfect and without their domestic problems but being objective and having lived in both I found life to be easier in Canada. I still have many contacts in Canada and there is nothing that we have here in the UK that is not within reach to them. I also found the cost of living to be lower in Canada (granted it was a long time ago) and wages on the whole to leave most individuals with more disposible income. All in all I know from personal experience - it`s glaringly obvious - that your claims are simply not the case.

  • Comment number 61.

    #57 Duncan_harris

    Canada contributes 2.3% of the worlds CO2 emissions while the UK adds 2.2% - very little in it between the two countries.

    To be honest whatever Canada or the UK do won't make any odds whatsoever until the US, China and India clean up their own backyards.

  • Comment number 62.

    Canadian banks didnt fail because they fleece their cutomers. Current and savings accounts have zero or very low interest rates. You have to PAY to have a current(checking) account! You have to PAY to transfer money to another persons bank account. PAY to withdraw cash from another banks ATM. PAY for a cheque book ($20!) PAY if you use your debit card too much. Plus lots of other charges. I emigrated to Canada a few years ago and have just moved back to the UK. The economy in Ontario is bad, as is most of Canada, only oil rich Alberta makes money, but who wants to live in -50C winters where July is the only month that doesnt have snow.

  • Comment number 63.

    Brilliant, BRILLIANT !!!!
    Now, that's what I call a journalist/economics editor. It's good to see that the late General Leopoldo Galtieri (He of the Argentine military junta & who invaded the Falklands) has taught the BBC well. How clever of you to divert attention away from the REAL news over the weekend about the UK and onto Canada. Well Done, Stephanie !!! No wonder you call it Stephanomics - it's your version (& the BBC) of economics...almost like Reaganomics.

    BTW, the real news of the weekend is what George Soros said, well, the bit that the BBC (and you) have carefully omitted. Here it comes:

    "Britain may have to go to the IMF for a huge financial bailout. The UK banking system (even chaos has a system?) is bigger than the UK economy. So for Britain to absorb it all alone would be to pile up debt."

    I await with baited breath on the Stephanomic view of Soros' statement.

  • Comment number 64.

    I'd go for Germany, myself

  • Comment number 65.

    #49 lionrampant31

    Based on my own internet exchanges (both personal and sometimes near anonymous) with ordinary people in Canada, it is glaringly obvious to me that for the average person the conservative credit offerings have led to a lower overall standard of living than was afforded to UK residents. Luxury goods are less easily purchased, high quality versions of everyday essential items are equally difficult to afford, and the opportunity for employment (for poorly qualified or unskilled workers) by is much lower than in the UK.

    Lion Rampant,

    As one who shares her time between the two countries, I must disagree. In my experience, luxury goods, everyday essential, clothes, real estate, restaurants are all much cheaper in Canada. Especially if you live in Montreal, as I do half the time. If I compare a month spent in Montreal and a month spent in London, I have to say that a month in Montreal is more than half as expensive as a month in London (I have flats in both cities, because of work).

    You just have to visit an average middle class Canadian household to see this. This is the land of plenty, for those who can afford it :)

    However, I may be completely off the mark but I find the North American way of doing business a lot more stressful. Deadlines are getting shorter and shorter, pressure is very high and deciders seem to be stuck in a short-term thinking mood. Things happen quickly, but crash as quickly :)

  • Comment number 66.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 67.

    I think you'll find that the reason there's no bragging about the more favourable economic state here in Canada, is that it's simply not very nice to be rubbing dirt in the faces of your less fortunate friends and neighbours.
    Having said that, you should be aware that the so-called economic engine of Canada, the province of Ontario, is in bad shape as manufacturing bases decline (not the least of which is the automobile industry as it fights for its life dragging the many auto-parts and related businesses down with it). Steelworks have also closed, partly due to cheaper products in Asian countris.
    Unemployment is rising rapidly in Ontario, more than in other areas of the country.
    Even oil-rich Alberta with its dirty tar-sands is starting to feel the pinch.
    All in all we should be thankful that the present minority govt. remains just that; the Conservatives under Stephen Harper, with a majority, and walking in lockstep with former president Bush, would have at least partially regulated the banks and then where would we be?

    Cheers,
    Expat Brit of 30 plus years.

  • Comment number 68.

    #18 and #51: the overall blog is called Stephanomics after Stephanie Flanders who writes it; it's not referring to Stephen Harper. To fill you in on the history, she took over from the previous BBC economics editor who was called Evan Davis; his blog was called Evanomics, so it's kind of a pun on a pun!

  • Comment number 69.

    With private household debt at nearly 100% of GDP (http://www.cga.org/canada/debt/%29, public at 22% (http://blogs.usask.ca/the_bolt/archive/2008/01/canadas_national_debt_gdp.html%29
    and who knows what corporate debt is, I see the Canadians in the same screwed up situation as other Western countries.

  • Comment number 70.

    Stephanie:
    I know you can't bear the suspense. The award for "Best Prepared Country Going Into the Crisis" goes to... Canada. And what a goodie-two-shoes economy it turns out to be.

    That is very good news, for the Banks of Canada...

    ~Dennis Junior~

  • Comment number 71.

    With all the praise Canada has been getting here, I am surprised that nobody has mentioned the truly dreadful weather one has to put up with there - and the recent highly published case involving Mark Steyn which revealed that Canada is not a place that permits freedom of speech and indeed where arbitrary 'Human Rights' commissars can effectively ruin a person's business or life on a politically correct whim. Not even New Labour have gone quite that far, so thanks but no thanks, Canada does not attract me at all. IMO the classic comment on Canada is still true:
    'With its heritage, Canada could have ended up with American know-how, French culture and British political stability, but unfortunately ended up with French political stability, British know-how and American culture' :-)

  • Comment number 72.

    Re: no bank bailouts. The PM is buying up to $125 billion in mortgages from Canadian banks. That way they don't have to call it a bailout.

    Re: low personal debt. Us Canadians have more then caught up to our southernly neighbours. Average household debt is at 130% income.

    Re: No housing bubble. Vancouver has been called the bubbliest city in North America. Only small cities/towns and very rural areas have avoided speculation in real estate.

    Here in BC, unemployment is up 50% from 1 year ago. Ontario has lost many thousands of manufacturing jobs.

  • Comment number 73.

    Aren't you missing the story here?

    New OECD figures suggest UK will have a less severe recession than the US, Japan, Germany and the Eurozone (see p57 onwards)

    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

    Real GDP (2009 projection)

    UK - 3.7% decline in real GDP
    US - 4% decline in real GDP
    Japan - 6.6% decline in real GDP
    Germany - 5.3% decline in real GDP
    Italy - 4.3% decline in real GDP
    Eurozone - 4.1% decline in real GDP
    Canada - 3% decline in real GDP
    France - 3.3% decline in real GDP
    Other OECD - 3.9% decline in real GDP

    Unemployment (2010 projection)

    UK - 9.5%
    US - 10.3%
    Japan - 5.6%
    Germany - 11.6%
    Italy - 10.7%
    Eurozone - 11.7%
    Canada - 10.5%
    France - 10.9%
    Other OECD - 9.4%

    Dare I say, on these figures the UK looks better prepared?

    And can right-wingers (and the Conservatives tomorrow at PMQs) have the cheek to have mentioned previous negative OECD/IMF forecasts, and also mention that the OECD also said yesterday we can't afford more fiscal stimulus while ignoring these forecasts.

    You bet they can!

  • Comment number 74.

    "Paul Martin put Canada's financial house in order after the profligacy of the Mulroney years. His reward was to be given the boot. I don't even remember why."

    Simple. Martin carried the can for the Liberals' "sponsorship scandal", even though that didn't happen on his watch. In essence, the public were fed up of Liberal arrogance and petty corruption, and Harper managed to present himself as a not-insane alternative (i.e. he cranked his right wing religious tendencies WAAAAAAY down in order to appear electable). It was all slightly unfair on Martin, but such is politics.

    btw, GrantBudding, "Stephanomics" is the name of the blog (after its author) and is not a reference to Stephen Harper.

  • Comment number 75.

    "Luxury goods are less easily purchased, high quality versions of everyday essential items are equally difficult to afford"

    Oh, puh-LEASE! Where are your friends living? The Yukon?

    Total nonsense. The UK is far more expensive, although the recent collapse in its currency's value has certainly made my visits cheaper.

    In the UK, you get fleeced across the board. Electronic goods are WAY more expensive, cars are more expensive, public transit is more expensive, energy is more expensive, you have to pay council tax, eating out is EYE-WATERINGLY expensive...

    The only things which are better value in the UK are alcohol and some supermarket goods.

  • Comment number 76.

    This was all due to following the teachings of our three wise men on finances: Ricky, Julian and Bubbles.

  • Comment number 77.

    I would add something to this debate as well. A quick comparison between Canada and Australia will show you some similarities. Both have Economies that rode the recent Commodities Boom (in Australia called the "Mining" boom), both have banks in the top 20 in the world. Australia's top 4 banks have all retained their AAA rating and are in the top 20 most profitable in the world. It all comes back to the proper regulation of markets and the fiscal conservatism of both countries.

    We have both had to do it tough and both countries have a pioneering background to development of the land, and i think this flows through to being more prudent in boom times because both are countries have had boom/bust cycles based around mining.

    11 years under John Howard in Australia removed most of the Government debt while still keeping universal education, universal health care, subsidised health insurance and prescription medicine. Unfortunately we now have a Labor government who is following the American model of irresponsible stimulus with no gain to the real economy. We will see how that pans out.

    So lets hope that the G20 summit brings results so that their are more Canada's and Australia's, rather than UK's and USA's in the future. Somehow though i doubt it.......

  • Comment number 78.

    "Canada`s resources go much further than the oil and gas industry. The country is a major supplier of electricity to the east coast of the US. It has a large forestry industry as well as mining."

    This misses out one other asset that is going to become increasingly important in the 21st century:

    Canada has the largest supply of fresh water of any country in the world.

  • Comment number 79.

    Re whether Canada has an NIH or welfare system and so forth. Yes we do, an excellent one as a matter of fact - and it is NOT in any danger!! It is not perfect but it is better than having some people with no coverage at all which ensures that the cost to the system will in the end only vost everyone more because as a physician I am well aware that if any illness is NOT treated, it will only get worse and end up costing much more. (ie, someone who required to have a gallbladder removed but develops pancreatitis an sepsis and complications and spends weeks in an ICU when a 2 day hospital stay might have likely alleviated the problem earlier, timely and, effecielty and less costly for all involved!

    Thanks for the article. We do not do everyting right in Canada nor are we boring (imho) but we are boring in terms of money. We ike ti save and "bet" on sure things. We are cautiou with our money. And we have a good per capita of millionaires as well so it does seem to work for many people.

    Yes, we have resources but we need better policies about them - too much foreign ownership, never a good thing - first by Great Britain who looked down your noses at the "colonials" and then the US who one columnist here calls the Excited States of America. I rather like the US - the people and would have gladly voted for Obama - but I was always leary of their banking system. Too many small banks. This may work for bary Commoner's Small is Beautiful notion but not so much in finance!

    I do hope the world - every country gets back on its feet. It is no time for anyone to brag or gloat! We all need to work together - this is after all, a global crisis so I see no need for sarcasm from some of the posters!

  • Comment number 80.

    Re Mark Steyn which revealed that Canada is not a place with freedom of speech!
    Oh please - and where had he been? I can say what I want and when - even if it against a govt policy and no one puts me in jail or sues me. So, what is he talking about? With all due respec, his comment is outragous! I may not concur with he cirrent govt's policies in certain issues but they are not as bad as some govts! And we have the right to expression in our charter. And it is well and trulty exercised! OFTEN!

  • Comment number 81.

    #40 "Witness the very high number of returnees to Hong Kong and China who immigrated in the early 90s."

    This is not a real statistic for various reasons. The chief amongst them is the fact that these people have *NO* intention whatsoever of permanently settling down in Canada. They are temporary sojourners at best !! Most of them went to Canada because, in the late 80s, the fear of a Communist takeover of HK drove many of them to try to acquire foreign passports/nationalities. Once done, they flock back to HK/China to carry on as usual. However, they have the added "value" of being a "foreign" Chinese, i.e. one who can jump ship at any time and be safe from the Chinese government.

    These people have even developed a vocabulary of their own -

    Endure prison - suffer and endure the hardships of living in a "barbarian" country for 5 years just to qualify for citizenship.

    Astronaut parents - parents who spend enormous amounts of time commuting by air between HK/China and Canada for work/citizenship reasons.

    Parachute kids - Kids educated in Canada, as a means of obtaining a Canadian passport, who are shipped back "home" every vacation to re-acclimatise them to the "real" way of life !!

    Soak in oil - Kids born and/or permanently resident in Canada being sent "home" to be "re-educated" in the "proper culture" !!

    To these people, a Canadian citizenship are a means to an end, not the end itself !! However, they did bring with them benefits, especially of the economic kind, in the re-generation of Western Canada. Therefore, they cannot be considered to be "fleeing Canada" because they have no intentions of being there permanently in the first place !!

    That said, Stephanie's piece on Canada is a good, if somewhat wry, comment on Canada and its people. If only she'll do a piece on the "boring" people of Britain who worked hard and scrimped and saved for years only to have their pensions looted and savings destroyed by the gamblers and self-servers of this society(??) !!

  • Comment number 82.

    #77 "11 years under John Howard in Australia removed most of the Government debt"

    Meanwhile, over here, 11 years of Crash Gordon piled on ever more debt !! You want to swap ?? We'll even throw in Comical Ali and Meddlesome for free. Three for the price of one !!

  • Comment number 83.

    A few repsonses to other commenters...
    Glad to see plenty of people have let jhs201 (comment #21) know that Canada has a health system comparable to Britain's NHS (with similar positives and negatives). Canada is not just "US-Lite".
    For commenter #1, we have plenty of immigration here! In fact the government frequently misses its target of about 250,000 people per year to add to our 31 million population. This is a far higher immigration rate than the U.S. or Australia. Difficult to compare with the U.K. because of the mobility of labour in the E.U., but certainly would exceed non-E.U. immigration to the U.K. as % of poulation. Most Canadians take deep pride in their multicultural society and view immigration as a positive.
    A friend who works for a Canadian bank told me recently its easy to make money as a bank. You just switch on the lights and open the doors. You don't have to get into all this esoteric trading in securities that cannot be understood to make some coin.
    However, it's not all milk and honey here, you are required by law to shovel the snow off the sidewalk (pavement) in front of your house.

    PS. To commenter #18, who complained that the page shouldn't be called Stephanomics in recogniation of Stephen Harper... look at the name of the journalist who writes this page. Make sense now?

  • Comment number 84.

    Canada is in about the same situation as Australia - a tonne of private debt about to get converted to public debt. Canadian private household debt is at about 100% of GDP and 120% or more of disposable income. Corporate debt I couldn't get a figure for, but let's guess at 50% GDP. 22% of GDP is the public debt. With debt levels then at possible about 170% of GDP this puts Canada in the same situation as everyone else. What's Stephanie talking about? Is this some kind of attempt at saying something positive for the sake of it?

  • Comment number 85.

    #49 "Based on my own internet exchanges (both personal and sometimes near anonymous) with ordinary people in Canada, it is glaringly obvious to me that for the average person the conservative credit offerings have led to a lower overall standard of living than was afforded to UK residents. Luxury goods are less easily purchased, high quality versions of everyday essential items are equally difficult to afford,"

    And is that a bad thing ?? While Brits can "afford" these goods by selling their souls to the Devil, the Canadians scrimp and save to be able to afford the same goods !! So who are the fools now ??

  • Comment number 86.

    #58 "although it would be interesting to see some key stats in comparison to China?"

    Just to start you off, China has 4 main banks and a whole bunch of smaller, mainly foreign banks. It also has an insurance company that had been given the license to operate a bank in a JV with HSBC. All this in a population 20x that of Britain and that population has a millennia long culture of saving for the rainy day !! All major Chinese banks operate as prudently as possible because the penalty for failure is "not survivable" !!

  • Comment number 87.

    #57 "Maybe doing OK economically, but check out their record on climate change. Which do you think is more important?"

    When you are worried about where the next meal is going to come from, you will have little time to worry about climate change. Britain may soon be in that situation if Crash Gordon has his way with the economy !!

    FYI, Canada is automatically "greener" than Britain simply because much of it is still in its natural state whereas Britain is covered in cities, empty and/or abandoned properties and acres upon acres of unsold cars !!

  • Comment number 88.

    #63 "(even chaos has a system?)"

    If you studies Mathematics, you'd know that there is such a thing as the Chaos Theory !!

  • Comment number 89.

    #72 "Vancouver has been called the bubbliest city in North America. "

    Vancouver/Hongcouver is an automatic bubble because the Honk Kong immigrants cannot live without a housing bubble, specially imported from Hong Kong to make them feel more at home !! Nothing to do with the rest of Canada !!

  • Comment number 90.

    #2 Fourmonkeys,

    Obviously you've never lived anywhere else.

  • Comment number 91.

    hi Stephanie

    odd that my post #58 was stopped and my rather irrelevant #50 was allowed; strange moderation

    anyway, #58 was a link to the new OECD report, which I assume is not a banned organisation at the BBC? here's the link

    http://www.oecd.org/document/59/0,3343,en_2649_34109_42234619_1_1_1_37443,00.html

    it is a handy report, with little flags for each country; click and get the latest report for Canada, with stats and graphs

    it is far less positive about Canada than your figures, which must be out of date; says Canadian GDP likely to be -3.0% this year and approx 0 next year, though this is still better than most other OECD countries

    generally I would back up the comments about Canada generally having a better quality of life than the UK in most areas, which is the key issue really, rather than cold economic measurements

  • Comment number 92.

    RE: "Is there anything in the idea that Canada achieved its growth by 'free-riding' on cheap Anglo-American credit?"

    Much as it could be argued so-called "cheap Ango-American credit" was actually huge Chinese capital [that China] mopped from selling 1-dollar inferior goods to less discerning third world nations? A biologist would call it "the food chain" oops money chain. At least, Canada used it's "credit" wisely. Figure the irony of this comment?



  • Comment number 93.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 94.

    Any chance of your blog or at least the gist of it appearing on the main evening news ... mmmm?
    Providing of course this gets past the ''moderators''

  • Comment number 95.

    opinion8ed1 wrote:
    #2 Fourmonkeys,

    Obviously you've never lived anywhere else.

    Just for you, expat Brit, retired at now 42 (made a fortune flipping houses in West Sussex between 1998 2005)

    l wont bother to qualifly the other places ive lived and worked, i would no doubt have to supply you with a map.

    Grow up.




  • Comment number 96.

    # 20 - Actually, Canada became a country in 1867. Tuesday was the 60th anniversery of Newfoundland's entry into Canada as the 10th province.

    #62 - I hope you're just being sarcastic. While we do have cold winters, -50 happens in the north. Where I live, north of Toronto, we sometimes get into the -30's, but that's with the wind chill, and only in January and February. Right now, the snow is gone, the crocus's are poking throught the soil, and the robin's are back. We're about 3 weeks behind Toronto though.

    So Canada is boring? Hardly!!! Maybe economically, but certainly not in anything else. And as for the poster who said that Canada was expensive, I spent the month of May in the UK last year on vacation, and prices on pretty well everything were double what they are at home. Housing prices in the UK are something that most Canadians find unbelievable, and wonder how people ever pay off their mortgages. My house, which isn't large, is about 6 years old, fully detached 2,000 square feet, 3 BR, 3BTH, on a lot that backs onto green space, and has been assessed at approx $344k. In pounds sterling, that's about 175 - 185k. And I'm about a 30 minute communte from Toronto.

    What would you get for $185k 30 minutes from London?

  • Comment number 97.

    A REGULATED FREE-MARKET: AN ORWELLIN OXYMORON IF EVER THERE WAS ONE

    FrankSz (#84) "What's Stephanie talking about? Is this some kind of attempt at saying something positive for the sake of it?"

    Very probably. She is, I believe, a reporter.

    Reporters these days appear to write sophisticated gossip as far as I can make out. There is very little substantive/critical reporting per se. Truth is an alien concept.

    Why do I fear saying this may be deemed 'offensive'?

    Reporters' gossip, presented as serious news/analysis is, I fear extremely bad for our economy, social stability and sanity. not to mention the fact that idiots in trading rooms and investors (the smart ones are geeks in the 'back-office') respond to what's on the news, calling this market-forces.

  • Comment number 98.

    Dear Stephanie,
    I'm from small country that really suffered because of crysis. We weren't ready for such "mass destruction" in the financial sector and now we depend on help from IMF.
    I don't think that Canada is a good example of well prepeared country. I even think that Canada "is boring" (shame, but it's true). US has Microsoft and Google. And a lot of IT industries. Believe me, this is more important for any country (in these times) than minerals, cars, banks, etc. In future You will see that people from China will manage world's economy by using in US developed IT tools and using US programming standards. That is the real force.

  • Comment number 99.

    Hmmm... I no longer live in Canada secondary to employment options for nurses back in the 90s, however I do have family back in Southern Ontario who keep me abreast of things. In my home town, one of the two steel mills has been shut down "indefinitely" until business picks up. In my 40+ years I do not ever remember a complete shutdown, slowdowns yes. The other plant, a non unionized environment based on bonuses for performance, is cutting hours but still maintaining it's work force in an employed capacity. All is not so rosy in the north. Having enjoyed credit in both countries now, I have to say it is much harder to get credit in Canada than in the US. In Canada there did not seem to be the idea that I had a "right" to own my own property. It was a privilege based on your ability to manage your finances. When I purchased my house here stateside it felt more akin to "here's your cash now prove yourself worthy of my faith in your fiscal responsibility!" It was a wonderful opportunity but I think a double edged sword to those with poor management skills.
    Oh...and to those bragging about our skills, resources and secret virtues??? SHHHHHHH.... the neighbours are listening. We like it when they think we're dull. Might be safer that way.

  • Comment number 100.

    My son (an economics major at a Canadian University) have been debating the issue - what is it about Canadians that makes us (as a rule) a little skeptical and financially conservative (the small 'c' kind)?

    I think it is because we ARE hewers of wood; oil; minerals; wheat; haddock; beaver pelts and whatever. All of those pesky commodities give us a boom and bust attitude. In the oil patch; we always said - whenever things are going good - prepare for the next bust. We have no illusions that the good times last for ever.

    I also think it is because our 'parents' (Britain and France) and our 'sibling' (USA) have managed to talk us into some pretty stupid stuff over the years. Remember WWI and WWII? Why did we (proportionately speaking), put so much effort into conflicts that were a half a world away? During WWI - there were so many Canadian men in the trenches of France that it was a population of Canadians only surpassed by the cities of Toronto and Montreal!

    Don't get me wrong. We love ya (you are family) but we are now starting to understand that you guys aren't the end-all and be-all when it comes to new ideas. You must admit, you have come up with some pretty stupid stuff over the years. Sorry. But it's just the way it is.

    And now that we are 'all grown up' - we want to make our own mistakes.

    Wasn't it Canadian Prime Minister Laurier who said the 20th century belongs to Canada? Well, maybe he was only off by a century.

    And remember, we have a lot of time to think up stuff during those long cold winters.


 

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