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Canadian economy faces a prolonged period of sluggish growth


Canada’s economy is shifting into a lower gear as some of the country’s growth drivers begin to lose steam.

Statistics Canada will release third-quarter gross domestic product numbers Friday that will probably show a sharp drop in growth. According to the median forecast of economists in a Bloomberg survey, the country’s expansion slowed to a 1.3 per cent annualized pace in the three months through September, down from an unsustainable clip of 3.7 per cent in the prior period.

It’s a return to sluggish growth that may become the new normal for a Canadian economy seeing many of its engines of growth sputter, from investment and exports to weakening consumption as the nation’s households cope with high debt levels.

Beyond the third quarter, economists predict another 1.3 per cent reading in the final three months of 2019. Next year doesn’t look much better, with growth seen running at about 1.5 per cent in 2020. That’s a sufficiently prolonged period of below-potential growth for markets to anticipate the Bank of Canada will cut interest rates as early as January.

Canada’s exporters have floundered in the second half of the year. After a rebound in oil shipments temporarily boosted real exports in the second quarter, they’ve since flat-lined, falling 0.3 per cent since June in volume terms. Waning exports are also hitting manufacturers, whose shipment volumes decreased 1 per cent in the third quarter, led downward by oil and coal.

You don’t have a domestic demand story that’s strong

Brett House, deputy chief economist at Scotiabank

Business investment remains sluggish, down 22 per cent since oil prices began collapsing in 2014. While the Bank of Canada’s latest indicator of business activity ticked up, the central bank still sees investment as a 0.4 percentage point drag on 2019 growth. Until global uncertainty and trade tensions abate, Canadian businesses are unlikely to make major capital expenditures.

Consumption has long propelled Canada’s economic growth, but cracks may be forming, even with a robust job market and wages growing at the fastest pace in a decade. Economists expect consumption to pick up in the second half of the year, but that’s coming off a second quarter that was the slowest since 2012. The lack of vigour is most apparent in a retail sector that’s seen volumes flat over the past year.

“You don’t have a domestic demand story that’s strong,” said Brett House, deputy chief economist at Scotiabank.

One bright spot in the GDP numbers could be housing, which has rebounded as borrowing costs decline and buyers adjust to tighter mortgage rules. Home sales rose 7.3 per cent in the third quarter, the fastest quarterly pace since the end of 2017. Most economists estimate residential investment picked up for a second straight quarter.

Bloomberg.com





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Scotland Yard, Met faces questions over Duke and teenager trafficked by Epstein


Scotland Yard was last night (Sunday) under pressure to explain why it failed to carry out a full investigation into allegations that a teenager had been trafficked to the UK to have sex with the Duke of York.

Four years ago, the Met received a complaint alleging that in 2001, Virginia Roberts, 17, was flown to London by paedophile Jeffrey Epstein and coerced into having sex with Prince Andrew.

It was claimed the incident took place at the Kensington townhouse of Ghislaine Maxwell, a close friend of the Duke. A photograph appeared to show him with his arm around the girl while Miss Maxwell looked on in the background.

After assessing the complaint, police decided the matter did not warrant a full investigation.

The Duke vigorously denies having sex with Miss Roberts and insists he knew nothing of Epstein’s activities. But victims’ rights campaigners have questioned why the matter was not pursued, especially given that in 2015 the Met adhered to national policy stipulating that “victims must be believed”, introduced in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal.

Such was the Met’s determination to pursue the policy to the letter that it spent 18 months and more than pounds 4 million looking into complaints by fantasist Carl Beech, who told police he had been raped and abused by a string of VIPs in the Seventies and Eighties.

The Daily Telegraph understands the decision to shelve the girl’s complaint was taken by Assistant Commissioner Dean Haydon, then commander in charge of specialist crime investigations, who reported to Assistant Commissioner Pat Gallan, overseer of Operation Midland at the time.

The Met has so far declined to explain why the complaint relating to Roberts was not taken further. Repeated questions to Scotland Yard about the decision-making process have been met with silence.

Dame Vera Baird QC, the Victims’ Commissioner, is understood to have demanded an explanation but declined to comment directly because of the rules around election purdah. But Harry Fletcher, a victims’ rights campaigner, said the Met needed to be transparent about the 2015 complaint. “There appears to be some worrying double standards here in terms of how Scotland Yard approached two complaints of historic sexual abuse,” he said.

“In one case, a complaint from a vulnerable young woman has been dismissed without further investigation, while at around the same time the Met was going all out to investigate a pack of lies from a fantasist. It is only right that the Met now explains why there was such a divergence in their approach.”

Meanwhile, it has emerged that the Duke held a meeting with Maxwell in Buckingham Palace in the summer, a fortnight after Epstein was placed under investigation by US authorities on fresh sex-trafficking allegations.

In the Duke’s now-infamous Newsnight interview, he admitted seeing Ms Maxwell in the summer but insisted they had not discussed Epstein. Sources have now revealed the meeting took place in the Duke’s private quarters at Buckingham Palace.

U.S. authorities are understood to be keen to trace Ms Maxwell, who has been accused of helping to procure young girls for Epstein – a charge she has always firmly denied.



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Zimbabwean man faces £93,000 NHS bill after two weeks in coma – Channel 4 News


The Government’s policy on charging people from overseas to use the NHS is putting vulnerable people’s lives at risk, campaigners have warned.

In recent years the rules have been tightened so the NHS has to charge up front for any non-urgent treatment.

But now it’s emerged that a man who came to this country from Zimbabwe as a teenager was sent a bill for more than £93,000 after he suffered a stroke and spent two weeks in a coma.



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