Carol Goar writes that Stephen Harper's reputation as a brilliant economic manager has more to do with luck than expertise. That luck showed up in the person of Mark Carney:
As Harper and Flaherty implemented their hit-and-miss fiscal plan, Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of Canada, moved sure-footedly, slashing interest rates more aggressively than any other central banker in the world. After watching with a mixture of awe and doubt, his counterparts in Washington, London and the European Union eventually followed his lead.
It was Carney’s swift action more than anything else that blunted the impact of the recession. Low borrowing costs kept consumers spending and triggered a surprisingly robust and long-lasting real estate boom. That, combined with China’s growing appetite for oil, the prudence of Canada’s chartered banks and the surplus Harper inherited all allowed the prime minister to claim credit for developments over which he had little control.
Carney will soon be gone; and the economic winds are not blowing in Stephen Harper's direction:
But heading into 2013, Canada’s two pillars of economic strength — residential construction housing and oil and gas exports — look wobbly. Condo prices are falling, the U.S. is becoming self-sufficient in natural gas and the Chinese economy is slowing, reducing its demand for oil.
In addition, the structural problems that existed before the recession — low productivity, high personal debt, overdependence on the U.S. market — still hamper the nation’s prospects now. Forecasters expect the U.S. to outperform Canada in the coming year.
Don't expect any humility from Mr. Harper. Don't expect him to give Carney credit for Canada's (relatively) good fortune. But, as Shakespeare wrote, "There is a tide in the affairs of men." And, in Mr. Harper's case, it's going out.