Bank of America Merrill Lynch has become the first bank to call for a Canadian recession this year.
Economist Emanuella Enenajor and her team now say that Canada’s economy will shrink by 0.6 per cent in the second quarter, following a 0.6 per cent contraction in the first. The definition of a recession is two consecutive quarters of contraction.
A recession sets up the Bank of Canada for another rate cut this year, said Enenajor, and she expects that the downturn will hammer the Canadian dollar — knocking it down to just under 77 cents U.S. by early 2016, the lowest level in more than a decade.
“The economy has surprised to the downside this year, and appears to have entered a recession in 1H 2015, even after policy easing in January,” she said in a note to clients.
Economists have been making a lot of bearish calls on the Canadian economy recently, following data showing that gross domestic product has shrunk for four-straight months — the first time that has happened since the 2008-09 recession.
The Bank of Canada’s rate announcement will be on July 15, and many economists have changed their forecasts to call for another 0.25 per cent cut to be announced then. Others have said the bank will wait till later this year, given the criticism it faced following a surprise cut from 1 per cent to 0.75 per cent in January.
In a closed-door speech over the weekend, bank governor Stephen Poloz compared that rate cut to life saving surgery, saying it was necessary to protect Canada from the damage done by a collapse in oil prices earlier this year. He compared any negative effects lower rates would have on household debt, already near a record level in Canada, to post-surgery side effects.
Enenajor said a rate cut to 0.50 per cent this year, combined with a recession, will have the biggest impact on Canada’s dollar. The loonie has already fallen 8 per cent year-to-date against the greenback.
“A BoC cut in October, lower oil prices in Q3 and underpriced risks of a September Fed hike are all positive USD/CAD,” she said. “We see USD/CAD rising to 1.30 in early 2016, and upside risks in 2015 given price action and the BoC’s explicit mention of C$ in May.”
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