Wetaskiwin Chamber of Commerce members enjoyed a hearty meal Jan. 18 during their regular luncheon at the Reynolds-Alberta Museum, and enjoyed even more the economic summary given by expert television personality Angus Watt.
Watt, known for his presence on Global News in Edmonton and as leader of the Angus Watt Advisory Group, began his presentation by noting that the fall of 2018 was one of the worst financial seasons over the past 20 years.
He noted some international changes have also been evolving, as China is no longer the cheapest place to do business.
Market drops, such as the fall of 2018, may be alarming to some, noted Watt, but also present benefits: they are a great time for bargain hunting. The markets have also recovered nicely since last fall he added.
While a bear market risk lingers, Watt said such situations usually follow a recession, not precede it. He said in his opinion a recession is very unlikely to happen when you have full employment. Watt said employment numbers will likely remain stable into the 2020’s.
The financial expert explained that one major factor playing into the North American economy is an aging workforce. He said many workers, about a quarter of the workforce, are approaching retirement age and have relatively high incomes from years of work. Those people will leave the workforce in the years to come, being replaced by younger people who don’t have the same high pay rates.
Watt also discussed the Canadian economy, and quoted some interesting numbers. He said 21.9 per cent of the population was born in a foreign country. Also, Canadian national output is centered in five major Canadian cities.
He said banks are lending less money to oil and gas companies and banks generally are gearing up for a slowdown. Watt also showed how some major Canadian companies were sold to foreign buyers.
He noted that to prosper and compete, Alberta needs competitive tax rates, attract professional workers, support post-secondary education, support families and build strong non-profits.
Watt pointed out that Alberta’s boom time may be over, at least for now. “The Alberta Advantage is behind us,” said Watt, but pointed out Alberta still has plenty of strengths to build on.