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Greybrook Hosts Spring Perspectives & Insights: In Conversation with BMO’s Chief Economist

May 16, 2024

At Greybrook, we are committed to curating events featuring industry experts to provide the latest insights to our investors. Last week, Chief Economist of BMO Financial Group, Douglas Porter took to the stage at our spring Perspectives & Insights to share his expert analysis on what lies ahead for the Canadian and U.S. economies as we navigate the complexities of the current economic landscape. The keynote presentation delved into many headline topics, including interest rate predictions, productivity, and the state of the housing market, offering insight into the economy’s expected trajectory. Porter’s presentation was followed by an engaging fireside discussion with Greybrook Securities CEO, Sasha Cucuz.

As BMO’s Chief Economist, Porter leads macroeconomic and financial market forecasts, with over thirty years of experience analyzing global economies. Under his leadership, his team achieved first place for Top Canadian Inflation Forecaster in a 2023 survey, establishing him as a highly qualified expert for our event.

Speaking to an engaged audience of investors and guests, Porter opened the presentation by addressing one of the most discussed topics in the media: inflation and interest rates. He noted a significant decrease over the past year, highlighting that since the highs of summer 2022, when Canadian and U.S. inflation rates were above 8% and 9% respectively, they have since cooled to under 3% in Canada and slightly above 3% in the U.S. Porter noted that while we have not yet reached the central bank’s target rate, we are edging closer.

Despite facing ongoing challenges, the global economy, namely the 12 largest global economies, is expected to experience modest growth this year, at a rate of just over 3%. This mirrors last year’s performance and is the outlook for 2025. Notwithstanding the global economy growing slightly below the normal growth rate of 3.5%, Porter asserted that the current economic performance reflects health and resilience despite inflationary pressures and aggressive rate hikes.

Watch the full presentation recording below:

Leading this growth is the U.S. economy, which marked above-average performance last year, exceeding expectations, with momentum continuing into the current year. This momentum is largely fueled by government investments in the Chips and Science Act, Inflation Reduction Act, and infrastructure spending along with strong consumer spending from excess pandemic savings – although these factors are expected to level off over the next 18 months. By contrast, Canada’s economy experienced 1% growth last year (after adjusting for inflation), accompanied by the addition of 400,000 net new jobs. It is anticipated to maintain a similar growth rate this year, with projections to improve by 2025, as interest rates are forecast to decline and, in turn, alleviate leveraged consumers and stimulate stronger economic growth.

Following the overview of economic growth, Porter transitioned into a look at the state of Canada’s housing market and provided thoughts on its direction. Watch the presentation recording above to hear his outlook for the next 18 months. He concluded the presentation with a final note on the Canadian economy: “The economy is cooling, and in that environment, interest rates are likely to stay at this level for a while. We do see them coming down over the next 18 months and we think that it will eventually support a recovery, a moderate recovery in the housing market over the next 18 months.”

During the subsequent fireside discussion, Porter sat down with Cucuz for a thoughtful conversation on the data points and insights shared in the presentation. The discussion explored many pertinent questions on investors’ minds, including whether inflation will trend lower and what this means for labour markets, housing, and affordability; what factors the Bank of Canada is assessing to make their next decision, bearing in mind that a meaningful volume of mortgages will be up for renewal in 2026; and how soaring immigration impacts supply, demand, and infrastructure needs.

Guests then had the opportunity to participate in a Q&A session with the speakers before continuing their conversations during the networking cocktail reception later in the evening. As we navigate the ever-evolving economic landscape, we look forward to continuing to provide a platform to foster these conversations with industry experts and share relevant information with our investors.

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