ATB Chief Economist Todd Hirsch spoke to members of the Lacombe and District Chamber of Commerce and the Red Deer and District Chamber of Commerce on Aug. 30th. Todd Colin Vaughan/Lacombe Express

ATB Chief Economist speaks to Central Alberta Chambers

Todd Hirsch presents 2.6% growth forecast for Alberta in 2018

Todd Hirsch, chief economist for ATB Financial, was in Lacombe discussing the current Albertan economy and its future.

During the course of his presentation, Hirsch presented ATB’s GDP growth estimates for Alberta, which are 2.6 per cent growth for 2018 and 2.2 per cent for 2019.

The event, put on jointly by the Lacombe and District Chamber of Commerce and the Red Deer and District Chamber of Commerce, focused on three main themes: technology, trade and ‘tyrannosaurus rex’ — the latter being Hirsch’s metaphor for the oil and gas sector.

Hirsch’s began by explaining that technology is currently in the midst of an industrial revolution that includes many industry-disrupting forces like automation, AI, and cloud computing.

Economically, according to Hirsch, these forces will eventually force “rapid, disruptive” change on most industries.

He followed up this explanation of technology by discussing how trade is undergoing rapid change due a reversal of the neo-liberal policies of free trade that have dominated global trade since the early 20th century.

Hirsch explained that the United States election of Donald Trump, Brexit, tariffs and many other policies of trade isolation are symptomatic of this reversal.

Hirsch and other economists believe that this trend will continue into 2019 and beyond.

Finally, and most relevant to Albertans, Hirsch discussed the oil and gas industry and how the industry has changed since the recession began in 2013.

During the recession, real GDP contracted by eight per cent, and Alberta is now coming out of that decline.

Since 2013, however other industries have begun to emerge within the energy sector including the example Hirsch used, solar power, which is now below 30 cents per kilowatt — creating a viable competitor to oil and gas, especially in big tech markets in the U.S.

On top of that, Hirsch and other economists predict that global peak oil demand will come within the next five to seven years.

Given that, Hirsch said that Albertans can continue to rely on oil and gas as a backbone for the economy but not as its chief growth engine.

Hirsch did say, however, that while electric vehicles, solar power and other energy competitors can be disruptive, he doesn’t expect this to be the death of the oil and gas energy sector.

His optimism comes from Albertans’ ability to adapt to industrial changes, their ability to rise to challenges, the fact that the oil and gas industry is currently succeeding in a low-cost environment and that he believes Albertans will find diverse new markets of trade.

Hirsch recognized that 2.6 per cent and 2.2 per cent are around half the yearly growth Alberta went through prior to 2013, however, he is confident that Alberta is undergoing more sustainable growth.

Part of the reason for this sustainability is that much of the growth has came from different industries including agriculture and agrifoods, tourism, technology and transportation and logistics.

Hirsch noted that unemployment remains higher that economists would like at around 5 per cent, but did note that many jobs are coming to Alberta that are different than the ones prior to 2013.

This has created a different composition of the job market.

Just Posted

Castor, Forestburg, coal workers get $257,644 to transition to low-carbon economy

Two transition centres will serve seven communities in the Battler River Region

Castor Trap Club plans for the future

Castor town council vote in favour of extending lease 10 years

RCMP ask public’s help in finding trailer stolen from Castor Bottle Depot

Along side of trailer are words ‘Squirrel Creek’ in small yellow letters

Paintearth County eyes Valley Ski Hill viability

Slope erosion and ageing equipment are factors

Trudeau offers to help Pacific islands face climate change impact

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with the leaders from the Pacific island nations on Saturday during the APEC Summit in Papua New Guinea

Grande Prairie RCMP charge 19 men, ranging in age from 23 to 69, in prostitution sting

Three-day operation targets sex activities in the downtown area

Canadian military’s template for perfect recruits outdated: Vance

Gen. Jonathan Vance, the chief of defence staff says that the military has to change because the very nature of warfare is changing, particularly when it comes to cyber-warfare

Canada defeats Germany 29-10 in repechage, moves step closer to Rugby World Cup

Hong Kong needs a bonus-point win over Canada — scoring four or more tries — while denying the Canadians a bonus point

Don’t sign USMCA until LGBTQ language excised, U.S. lawmakers urge Trump

The trade agreement, forged after 13 months of tense negotiations between Canada and the U.S. is scheduled for Nov. 30

US official: US intel says prince ordered Khashoggi killing

Vice-President Mike Pence told reporters that ‘the murder of Jamal Khashoggi was an atrocity.’

Paintearth County council going door to door

Aims to increase community engagement

Canada’s health system commendable overall but barriers to care remain: UN

The United Nations says Canada’s health care system is “commendable” overall but vulnerable groups still face barriers to quality care.

Fashion Fridays: 5 coats you need this winter!

Kim XO, lets you know the best online shopping tips during Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Most Read