January 20

Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz says the global economy appears poised to continue with slow growth into 2020. He says the increased use of artificial intelligence and the fourth industrial revolution bring the potential for productivity gains in the future, but those gains are not yet being seen in the economy. The Bank of Canada has kept its key interest rate on hold last week at 1.75%, where it has been set for more than a year. Meanwhile, Poloz has announced he will not be seeking a second term as governor of the Bank of Canada. It will be interesting to see who will be the replacement, to be named by Finance Minister Bill Morneau.

GM Oshawa rolled the final vehicle off its production line in mid-December, bringing an end to a decades-long presence in the southern Ontario community east of Toronto. A total of 2,600 people are now without work. Unifor, the union that represents hourly workers at the plant has managed to salvage a small victory in that the facility will be converted to serve as a parts supplier for the auto industry. The negotiating between GM executives and Unifor President Jerry Dias has resulted in 300 jobs being saved. There may be no industry more affected by technological change than the auto industry. Between electric and/or autonomous vehicles, nobody is 100% certain what direction this will all head.

Chevron wants to sell its 50% ownership stake in the Kitimat LNG Project in British Columbia, dealing another blow to the Canadian energy industry where more partners – not less – are needed. The U.S> energy company is looking to cut spending on investments due to expected long-term lower prices for oil and natural gas, which lessens the value of the asset. The decision by Chevron to get out of the Kitimat LNG Project has no impact on other assets here in Canada – at least not yet. Endless regulatory approvals have already stymied many projects; let’s hope there aren’t more in 2020.

5G networks are going to become the norm for smartphone users in 2020, and it’s been well documented how the U.S. is pressuring countries not to partner with Huawei. The American government is suspicious of the company’s ethics and abilities to potentially spy on users and then forward pertinent information to the Chinese government. Their vehement denial of the accusations has largely fallen on deaf ears. A number of countries are in fact following the U.S. credo and partnering with other established wireless companies such as Nokia and Ericsson. Greenland has now picked Ericsson and other countries are expected to follow. Earlier this year Canada agreed to a partnership with Nokia. It’s not to say future partnerships with Huawei aren’t possible, but it’s not likely to happen anytime soon.

Did you know?… With speeds of up to 100 gigabits per second, 5G is about 100 times faster than 4G.

Angus Gillespie
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