The Oracle of Ottawa

“My own belief is if we were going to have some kind of big crash or recession, we probably would have had it by now.”

You have to wonder just why Stephen Harper would feel compelled to offer these thoughts today.

I mean, I understand this comment, also from today: “The Canadian economy’s fundamentals are solid.” That’s just the same kind of bland, bald-faced lie as “the Canadian food safety regime is admired by the world,” or “the Green Shift will raise your taxes.” But why put yourself on the record with this kind of statement, in a quickly-changing environment of unknown risks and externalities?

Let’s review Canadian economic indicators. Job numbers are softening and layoffs continue to be announced daily. Housing prices are going down. The trade surplus has tumbled. Commodity prices, as measured by the CRB index, are down 25% since July 1st, the fastest drop of that magnitude in 40 years. Labour productivity, always lagging the U.S., has had the longest streak of quarterly declines since 1980. Optimistic outlooks for Canadian GDP growth in 2008 sees it topping out at 0.8% — the second-slowest growth in the G8.

Is Stephen Harper just five steps ahead of us all? Does he have laser-sharp vision, seeing in sharp relief all the intricacies of the worldwide economy the rest of us miss? All hail the Oracle of Ottawa.