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Congressional Budget Office says inflation to last into 2023

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Congressional Budget Office released an economic outlook Wednesday saying that high inflation will persist into next year, likely causing the federal government to pay higher interest rates on its debt.

The nonpartisan agency expects that the consumer price index will rise 6.1% this year and 3.1% in 2023. This forecast suggests that inflation will slow from current annual levels of 8.3%, yet it would still be dramatically above a long-term baseline of 2.3%.

The 10-year estimates do contain positive news as this year’s annual budget deficit will be $118 billion lower than forecast last year. That’s a byproduct of the end of pandemic-related spending and the solid job growth it helped to spur. As a share of the total economy, publicly held debt will drop through 2023. Still, the accumulated federal debt will likely continue to grow over the next decade to be equal to roughly 110% of U.S. gross domestic product.

The Federal Reserve has been trying to reduce inflation by raising its benchmark interest rates, causing the interest charged on 10-year U.S. Treasury notes to increase substantially in recent months. One consequence is that the government will be spending more money this year to service its debt. By 2032, the yearly interest payments will nearly be $1.2 trillion, or more than what the federal government spends on defense.

Still, the CBO cautions that its numbers “are subject to considerable uncertainty, in part because of the ongoing pandemic and other world events,” including Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine. The report accounts at least for the first few months of the war, according to CBO.

Economists have said coronavirus relief programs issued by both the Biden and Trump administrations have contributed to higher inflation levels. But high prices have also been fueled by a delay in action by the Fed, supply chain disruptions and the tumult produced after Russia invaded Ukraine in February.

Ben Harris, the Treasury Department’s assistant secretary for economic policy, tweeted on Tuesday that the factors driving inflation also include soaring corporate profits, driven by a lack of business competition — as well as business not being fully prepared for the reopening of the economy as pandemic restrictions were lifted. The administration has emphasized that its plan put the U.S. economy into a stronger place relative to the rest of the world because unemployment is a low 3.6%.

“The American Rescue Plan has fostered an extraordinarily fast recovery and leaves us in a strong position to address the global challenges posed from supply chains and the economic fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,” he tweeted.

The report says beyond 2032, “if current laws remained generally unchanged, deficits would continue to grow relative to the size of the economy over the following 20 years, keeping debt measured as a percentage of GDP on an upward trajectory throughout that period.”

Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, told The Associated Press ahead of the release that the pandemic, war in Ukraine and other factors point to the importance of reducing the annual deficit.

“Unfortunately, the underlying story here is one of fiscally unsustainable positions and on top of that, we have this added challenge of inflation and a reminder that external shocks continue to come at us,” she said.

Fatima Hussein, The Associated Press

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Dan McTeague

COP27 – Playing the fiddle while Rome burns

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In case you missed the (mainstream) media frenzy, the 27th Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) just wrapped up in Egypt.

This is the annual conference that highlights just how completely out of touch the elites, environmentalists and world leaders truly are, including our own prime minister.

In the weeks leading up to COP, the media was full of hysterical statements from politicians, UN bureaucrats, and activists. In October, the British newspaper The Guardian quoted UN Secretary General Antonio Gutteres: “The fossil fuel industry is killing us.” In the same piece the “co-founder” of a “change agency” (whatever that is) says we’re facing “Armageddon”.  Gutteres told the delegates we’re on a “highway to climate hell”. Celebrities fly in on their private jets and pose for pictures. Politicians make more hysterical speeches.

There were lots of meetings and negotiations. It always turns out that the last round of green plans and “climate” policies didn’t quite work, and the solution is always, well, more plans and policies. Then they do it all again the next year.

And it would be funny if it weren’t so damaging. If ever the expression ‘playing the fiddle while Rome burns’ applied, this is it.

Domestically, Canadians are struggling to pay for food, heat, and housing. Inflation is driving up the cost of everything and Canadians are feeling it. Food banks across the country are sounding the alarm on record breaking visits. They note that it is no longer the unemployed that are primarily visiting them, it is the ‘working poor’ those who are employed but simply cannot make ends meet. Many Canadians are choosing between heating their homes or feeding their families. The situation is bad. And it’s even worse in Europe, but that’s another story.

In the midst of this, the Trudeau government is focusing their time and our resources on what? Greenhouse gases that might raise temperatures very slightly over the next quarter-century.  And they are doing this at enormous expense. The cost of this climate cult to Canadians is mind-boggling. Since 2015, Trudeau has spent 60 billion dollars trying to get our tiny contribution to global greenhouse emissions – around 1.5 percent – even lower.

Over the next thirty years, the total cost of the government’s climate initiatives will be around 2 trillion. 

Let that number sink in.

But that’s just what they’re spending. In addition, we should think about rising carbon taxes and energy costs, which make everything more expensive. We should think about the jobs we’ll lose, and the massive profits we could be making if the government would let our resource sector operate normally.

And have the last 26 COP conferences slowed the warming trend? Of course not. While according to Canadian Minister of Environment and Climate Change Steven Guilbeault“progress on commitments was at the forefront of this COP,” you can be sure there will need to be a 28th, and a 29th and a 35th COP conference. At some point, Einstein’s definition of insanity might apply – doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

It goes to show just how out of touch the Trudeau government is. It is an insult to have Canadians pay for politicians and bureaucrats to be “COP delegates” and to fly halfway around the world for another pointless conference. We’re on a highway to hell, alright, but not because the world may be a little warmer in 2050.

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Business

Bank of Canada lost $522 million in third quarter, marking first loss in its history

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By Nojoud Al Mallees in Ottawa

The Bank of Canada lost $522 million in the third quarter of this year, marking the first loss in its 87-year history.

In the central bank’s latest quarterly financial report, it says revenue from interest on its assets did not keep pace with interest charges on deposits at the bank, which have grown amid rapidly rising interest rates.

The Bank of Canada’s aggressive interest rate hikes this year have raised the cost of interest charges it pays on settlement balances deposited in the accounts of big banks.

That’s while the income the central bank receives from government bonds it holds remains fixed.

The Bank of Canada dramatically expanded its assets during the pandemic as part of its government bond purchasing program. Also known as quantitative easing, the policy was part of the central bank’s efforts to stimulate the economy.

That expansion in assets is now costing the central bank, as it paid for the government bonds with the creation of settlement balances.

Speaking before the House of Commons finance committee last week, Bank of Canada governor Tiff Macklem addressed the expected losses.

He said losses don’t affect the central bank’s ability to conduct monetary policy.

He noted the size and duration of the losses will depend on the path of interest rates and the evolution of the economy.

“Following a period of losses, the Bank of Canada will return to positive net earnings,” he said.

The Bank of Canada is looking to the federal government for a solution to balance its books.

While there are a few options available, some economists say the problem before the central bank is largely an accounting one rather than a monetary policy concern.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 29, 2022.

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