Feb 8, 2023
The Daily Chase: Macklem defends rate pause; Uber ridership rebounds in Q4
First Look With Surveillance: Biden Vows, Powell Flags
Bank of Canada governor Tiff Macklem is shedding some more light on the thinking behind the central bank's decision to signal a pause in interest rate hikes. In an interview with our Bloomberg News colleague Erik Hertzberg, Macklem conceded that rate hikes have hit Canadian homeowners hard, given their relatively high indebtedness compared to other global peers. While some households built up a savings buffer during the worst of the pandemic – lockdowns et al, there's less to do and fewer places to spend money – Macklem said the extra savings in the system probably won't last as long as the higher debt levels, thus the central bank's cautious approach. Worth noting that while the Bank of Canada is the first to pause out of its G7 peers, it was also the first to raise, with eight consecutive hikes bringing the benchmark rate to 4.5 per cent from its effective lower bound of 0.25 per cent just over the course of the last year.
STICKING WITH THE BOC THEME…
The Bank of Canada is set to peel back the curtain on the deliberations behind its rate decisions for the first time ever this afternoon. The central bank will publish what it calls a “Summary of Deliberations” in a bid to increase transparency into how it sets monetary policy – that brings it closer in line with the U.S. Federal Reserve and the Bank of England, which have long offered a bit more detail than the headline decision. It helps the BoC assuage the IMF, which urged it to become more transparent last year.
Now, I will say that we're not *entirely* sure what to expect as this is the first time the BoC will publish said summary, but I wouldn't expect something akin to the U.S. Federal Reserve's dot plot (where rate expectations from Fed governors are clearly laid out years into the future.) Instead, there's probably more nuance as to where the six-person governing council's heads were at. One last thing worth mentioning – the Bank of Canada is not a democracy: essentially, the governor takes in recommendations from the council and makes a final decision of his or her own, unlike the Fed or the BoE, which hold formal votes (the results of which are published.)
BIDEN TAUNTS XI IN STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS
Well, if you were looking for somebody to cool down simmering tensions between the U.S. and China, you didn't find them at U.S. President Joe Biden's State of the Union Address last night. Mere days after the U.S. military shot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon, Biden taunted Chinese leader Xi Jinping, repeatedly questioning who would want such a job as Biden asserted autocracies are growing weaker around the world. While Biden said he's committed to work with China to advance American interests, he said the U.S. will act to protect its sovereignty if threatened.
UBER TOPS ESTIMATES AS RIDE DEMAND REBOUNDS
Shares of Uber are getting a nice pop in the premarket trade – up nearly eight per cent – after the company topped fourth quarter earnings estimates as ridership demand rebounded and food delivery remained firm. Revenue was up 49 per cent in the quarter to hit US$8.6 billion, also modestly higher than expectations. The reopening trend was on full display in the quarter – ride-share bookings rose 31 per cent to US$14.9 billion, outpacing the growth in the food delivery segment for the first time since the pandemic hit.
FRIED-CHICKEN FIGHT EXPANDS TO CHINA
Looks like Popeyes is ready for round two in its fight for fried-chicken dominance in China. The Chinese operator of Tim Hortons – TH International – has signed a deal to bring the chicken joint to mainland China and Macau, with plans to open some 1,700 locations in the next decade. As mentioned, it's the second attempt at this food fight – Popeyes tried to crack the Chinese market three years ago, but retreated when COVID lockdowns proved too much of a headwind to sustained growth. China's been a big – and growing – market for western fast-food chains: Statista says an estimated US$82 billion was spent at quick-service restaurants in China last year, up from US$60 billion in 2015.
OTHER NOTABLE STORIES
- Intact Financial topped fourth-quarterer revenue estimates and is hiking it quarterly dividend 10 per cent to $1.10 per share.
- TotalEnergies is confirming plans to spin out its Canadian subsidiary onto the TSX, and will retain a 30 per cent stake in the company (which you'll recall has recently upped its stake in the Fort Hills oil sands project.)
- TMX Group is seeking regulatory approval for a five-for-one stock split, a move it says may encourage greater liquidity in trading of its shares.
- Another day, another curtailment in the lumber sector. This time its West Fraser, which is curtailing production at its co-owned Cariboo Pulp & Paper location in Quesnel, B.C. for a month starting in mid-April, and then another month in the third quarter.
- Speaking of recurring themes, we've got another round of job cuts in the American tech sector, with Zoom Video Communications announcing plans to slash about 1,300 jobs as part of a restructuring process.
- Notable data: U.S. Wholesale Trade
- Notable earnings: Yum! Brands, CVS Health, Coty, Uber Technologies, Under Armour, CME Group, New York Times Co., Mattel, Sun Life Financial, Great-West Life, Walt Disney, MGM Resorts International, Robinhood Markets, Sherritt International, Goodyear Tire & Rubber
- 13:30: BoC Summary of Deliberations for the Jan. 25 policy decision