Thursday, April 02, 2015

Oliver's Hocus Pocus


Joe Oliver emerges from hiding today. The assumption is that he'll announce a date for the budget. When things get tough, Harperites head for the closet. When the economy gets tough, Ministers of Finance should be seen dealing with the problems. Certainly other people have been doing that. Scott Clark and Peter DeVries write:

Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz and a number of private sector economists have made public their updated forecasts for the economy; they’ve all agreed with Poloz’s description of oil’s effect on the economy as “unambiguously negative”.

The Parliamentary Budget Office is hard at work on economic and fiscal updates for the Commons standing committee on finance, which we should see at the end of the month. The province of Alberta — which has been hit harder by oil’s decline than any other jurisdiction — didn’t delay its budget. Neither did British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Quebec. They’re all dealing with volatility. They didn’t use it as an excuse to avoid making decisions.

 And, in the past, other finance ministers have met the challenge of changing economic circumstances:

During the 1980s, the Mulroney government released economic and fiscal updates, with policy actions, in reaction to dramatic falls in grain and oil prices. In 1990, the budget was moved up to deal with rising interest rates and inflation. In 2001, a budget was quickly introduced in response to the aftermath of the September 11 terror attacks.

Oliver has said that he is waiting for solid predictions on the price of oil. However:

In a recent Bloomberg article, the authors noted that the median view of 39 analysts predicts the price of oil (Brent crude) will average $69 a barrel in the fourth quarter of this year. The highest prediction was $90 a barrel, the lowest was $50 — the widest forecast range since first quarter 2007. In other words, no one has a clue.

The truth is that the folks who claimed to be economic stewards par excellence don't know what to do unless the price of oil is stable. And, lacking stable oil prices, they're playing a game of economic hocus pocus -- now you see me, now you don't.


ron wilton said...

With the 'Duffy' trial in full gear by Apr.21, no breathing Canadian will be giving a rat's patou about smokin' Joe's budget.

Many yearn ago a fledgling finance minister name o' Fleming was being badgered by the BoC governor name o' Coyne and 'twas said that poor ole Fleming had a Coyne up his ass and couldn't budget.

Methinks harper an' ole joe have a Duffy up their asses that they can't budget either.

Owen Gray said...

I could be wrong on this one, ron. But I suspect that Harper et al. are about to discover that hell hath no fury like a senator scorned.

Dana said...

I still have a hard time believing the Harperians will allow the Duffy trial to go ahead.

I'm sure by now Duffy has had all kinds of offers to settle quietly and has rebuffed all of them in his quest for vengeance. Good for him I say.

But this government and caucus and party is not like any other political organization this country has ever seen. It's pretty much guaranteed in my mind that there are people in the Conservative circles of influence who have already advocated for an assassination. They're being restrained somehow but that doesn't mean they haven't farmed it out through 5 layers of impenetrability and misdirection.

A roadside bomb would be the weapon of choice for the Conservative Party of Canada. Probably with all evidence pointing to a middle class 3rd generation Iranian-Canadian dentist in Brampton so they could call the poor guy a terrist and justify C-51 some more.

The RCMP would play along. As a national police force they're a sham but as an efficient arm of the Harperian machine they're superb.

That's along the lines of what I still expect to happen.

Owen Gray said...

Believe me, Dana, I understand where you're coming from. Still, I hope -- and pray -- that scenario becomes a TV show, not the story of a TV personality.

Pamela Mac Neil said...

So Oliver comes out of hiding and anounces a budget date NOT directly to the Canadian people through a news conference, but at a factory that he's visiting. Remember how Harper swore Oliver in, in secrecy, to the exclusion of the media and the Canadian people. What really gets me Owen is the sheer arrogance of ignoring Canadians and operating the government behind closed doors. The media should be all over this, but like everything else important, they give them a pass.When we do find out what is happening, usually through leaks it turns out to be some disaster that the Cons have created in whatever policy their working on. In other words they are highly incompetent and Harper and his talentless regime have been in over their head since the beginning of their rule. I, like Dana am really surprised that the Duffy trial is proceeding, but I am very glad. I hope Donald Bayne exposes some real zingers that shows Harper and his PMO and government as being the corrupt,liars that they are. Canadians do not realize how incompetent and deceptive this government really is because of their governing behind closed door and because when info does get out it is a result of Harper controlled messaging. I hope the Duffy trial turns into a close up view of Harper and his Cons behaviour. If so, it will be the first time Canadian discover what is relly happening with their government.

Owen Gray said...

You'll notice that all announcements come from campaign venues these days, Pam, not Parliament.

What we're witnessing is complete contempt for Canada's governing institutions.

Steve said...

strongest economic mis managers in Candadian History.

Owen Gray said...

I agree, Steve. When you turn from the hype and look at the numbers, I believe that statement is true.

Rural said...

But guys it takes time to produce a budget using creative accounting, especially when you have to keep so much in reserve to buy various voters and when your much vaunted 'surplus' has been spent trying to keep our long suffering vets on side and tax breaks for the affluent whilst buying more high tech bombs for our ageing air-force so that the boss can play great saviour of the world!

Owen Gray said...

True, Rural. You can count on some creative accounting procedures this time around. Or perhaps they'll simply keep some costs off the books -- like the cost of the war.

There are indications that we'll not know what the war is costing.

Hugh said...

In BC we are told that the Provincial Budget is balanced, while at the same time the Provincial Debt grows rapidly.

Owen Gray said...

Count on it, Hugh. Oliver's budget will be more of the same.

Anonymous said...

ron wilton Dana Pamela Mac Neil Steve Rural Hugh and Owen Grey I could not agee mas [spanish for more] the Harper-cons hide and operate in secrecy. They think we are all blind and deaf man oh man they have another thing coming because we are sick and tired of the Harper-Con clown show.

Cheers enjoy the spring,
Mogs Moglio