07 July 2008

His own private Gene Krupa

Oram says there are a lot of companies inquiring about the potential to do business here, especially with the economy booming as it is now.

The Oram in this quotation from the Great Oracle of the Valley would be the disciple Paul Oram, minister of business.

Look at his news release pile and that of his predecessor and we might conclude he is the "minister-of-traveling-around-giving-speeches-to-anyone-who-will-listen", but that's another issue.

Now back to the quote.

The Quote.

Now presumably the G.O.V. got the quote right and Paul actually did say that the economy is booming right now. And presumably he was talking about the economy in this province, it being the economy which a business minister in this province would be concerned about.

'Cause if he did say the economy is booming,  you got to wonder if the disciples talk among themselves.

The disciple Tom delivered his budget earlier this year with predictions for economic growth across the province that were not booming. Indeed no economic oracle  - public sector or private - has been predicting a booming economy in Newfoundland and Labrador since at least the Summer of Love last year.

In fact, they aren't predicting a booming economy next year, either.

And even if all that weren't true, we need only look to last week's provincial forecast issued by RBC Economics

They issue these things quarterly and Bond Papers has posted more than a few from the major banks. Here's the RBC one from June 25 2007.

The forecast for Newfoundland and Labrador and it has been consisten since last year - is for the province to go from leading the country in growth to trailing badly.  They've refined their forecast of "trailing" to say that the economy will grow at the blistering pace of point two percent.

That's two tenths of one percent for those weaned on the New Math.

That is so perilously close to a recession that a breath in the wrong place would push it over.

That is so not a "boom".

Take a look at the forecast for next year.  Run your eye across the line in the pdf linked above.  Run your finger if you have to and move your lips to read the words.  That's what your humble e-scribbler had to do just to make sure he was seeing what he thought he was seeing.

Even if you have to move your finger so slowly people would think you were dead or asleep,  there's no way you'd describe the next two years in the provincial economy as a "boom".

Growth in employment?  Two per cent this year versus one half of one per cent next year.

Housing starts?  Two thousand  - that's it two friggin' thousand versus the double digits - like in the 30, 40s and 50 thousands in Ontario, Alberta, Quebec and Bee Cee.

Even in Saskatchewan they'll have double Newfoundland's starts next year.

Manitoba?  Poor Equalization-receiving Manitoba? 

New Brunswick?  The benighted crowd up the Saint John river?

Both are forecast to see more than twice as many housing starts as "booming" Newfoundland.

Retail sales?  From a growth of 8.9% in 2007 and an anticipated growth of 6% in 2008, RBC says that  there'll be just 2% growth next year.

There is no an indicator in that pile that says "boom", unless we are talking about last year.

The disciple Paul must be dancing to his own drummer, to borrow a phrase.  That's the only way to explain the comments which are, at least, somewhat inconsistent with the facts.

In fact, Paul Oram's comments are so far removed from reality that he must have his own private drum kit pounding away with skins pounded by no less a drummer than the ghost of the long-late Gene Krupa or maybe  Buddy Rich in the middle of a seizure of some kind.

If Paul has a pile of  prospective projects on his desk - at last count, the disciple Kevin was scanning 60 of the things when he went off to look after issuing permits and licenses - or even just a list of companies that are looking to come here and set up shop, perhaps Paul'd be good enough to give us a list of them.

Let us see the reason for his optimism.

He can just pass them along to the Great Oracle of the Valley and they'll get the word out.

Otherwise, we'll just consider that his latest word is as good as his description of the economy as "booming".