Monday, December 22, 2008

Recession, zero growth next year

Canada, the best performing among the G7 economies, is officially in recession and there will no growth in 2009, the country's top bank has said in a new report.

The Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), the country's number one bank, said the US downturn and credit squeeze have led Canada's economy into recession.

The economy will grow by 0.6 percent in 2008 and post no growth in 2009, the report released Friday said.

Craig Wright, senior vice-president and chief economist at the RBC, said the US economy has fallen into a deep recession, dragging the Canadian economy along.

"However, we expect the slowdown in Canada not to be as severe as in other countries since the imbalances plaguing other countries are more pronounced. We expect to see a moderate, though sustained, recovery in the second half of 2009," he said.

After six years of solid gain, the report said, falling commodity prices will cut domestic income that has supported consumer, business and government spending for the past several years.

The outlook for 2009 is very bleak as the combination of falling domestic income, credit squeeze, and a rising debt-to-asset ratio will curb consumer spending, it said.

The bank said though negative growth is only expected to last the next two quarters, its impact will be far reaching, with the unemployment rate climbing to 7.4 percent in 2009.

On the economic deterioration in the US which accounts for more than 85 percent of Canada's global trade, the report said the real GDP in America will decline by 1.5 percent in 2009 because of slower export growth and weakening in global economic activity.

Though the Bank of Canada has reduced the overnight rate to 1.5 percent to stimulate the economy, the report expects the rate to be further reduced to one percent as the economy enters the weakest period for growth.

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