Ballad Group

Income disparities caused by COVID-19: Where has all the wealth gone?

Canada’s economy faces an uncertain outlook as growth continues to slow, real estate markets are bottoming out, and distortions that accumulated during the pandemic are unwinding. These distortions include pent-up consumer demand and disrupted supply chains that are placing upward pressure on prices, with the Bank of Canada (BoC) raising its policy rate to 4.5% […]

Alberta navigates a narrow course towards fiscal sustainability

On the surface at least, much of the tone surrounding the Government of Alberta’s latest budget – released on February 28th – has focused on the additional funding promised to several parts of Alberta’s public service. Indeed, there are significant up-front increases in operating expenses for healthcare (4.1% in fiscal year 2023-24) and social services (8.8%), […]

When will things start to break?

An often-used adage over the past year – albeit mostly in reference to the US Federal Reserve – is that central banks will “raise interest rates until something breaks”. There are signs that we may be reaching that point as sentiment across several advanced economy central banks seems to have shifted in recent weeks, beginning […]

Squaring Long-Term Unemployment with Labour Shortages

Alberta’s labour market is continuing its recovery, with the unemployment rate (6.5% in March 2022) falling below pre-pandemic levels and employment demand accelerating across several sectors.[1] The labour market has added a further 22,000 jobs so far in 2022, broadly shrugging off the effects of the Omicron variant and bringing total employment in the province to […]

Alberta’s Place in a Fragmenting Global Economy

The conflict in Ukraine is generating significant consequences for the global economy: in the short term, commodity prices have moved sharply higher due to renewed supply chain disruptions and lost output in a key region; while in the long term, Russia’s unilateral actions and coordinated Western sanctions appear to indicate further fragmentation along geopolitical lines. […]

With anchors set, what’s next for fiscal policy in Alberta?

On February 24th, Travis Toews set out his Ministry’s views on the provincial government’s fiscal position, presenting an upbeat assessment that few would have thought credible just a short time ago. In particular, a combination of higher royalties from natural resources, rising tax receipts as the economy reopens, and declining pandemic-related spending will see the […]

Walking the Corporate Debt Tightrope

In our previous issue, we outlined some of the risks facing the outlook for inflation and the benign assessment that price pressures were ‘transitory’. In early 2022, with headline consumer prices rising at almost 5% annually and core inflation firmly above the Bank of Canada’s target range, the narrative surrounding monetary policy has shifted markedly, […]

Returning Inflation Starts to Complicate Policy Responses

Strong uptake of vaccines across the province has prompted the swift removal of most public health restrictions. While uncertainties and risks regarding new variants remain, this recent progress is generating optimism that we may be approaching a definitive endpoint to the COVID-19 pandemic and its severe consequences. In economic terms, these consequences have included a […]

About Those Property Taxes…

Following on from our last issue in which we highlighted the funding pressures facing Alberta’s municipalities due to reductions in provincial government transfers, today we take a closer look at another area of fiscal concern: the accumulation of property tax arrears among oil and gas companies across rural Alberta, and the crossroads that have been reached in […]

Alberta’s Municipalities to Feel the Fiscal Strain

Recently, Alberta’s provincial government released its budget and economic projections for the coming fiscal year and beyond. As was widely anticipated, it was acknowledged for the first time that the pace of deficit reduction would be much slower than previous forecasts, reflecting the marked shift in economic realities posed by the COVID-19 pandemic: economic output […]