Canada Goes to the Polls on Monday October 19

Canada Goes, Polls, Canada's national election, Monday October 19, Macroeconomics, fx trader, forex

16 Oct 2015

Canada's national election is slated for Monday. The latest opinion polls show a virtual dead heat between the governing Conservatives and Liberals.

Two main issues dominate.  The first is the economy. Canada is struggling. Although the contraction period is over, growth is fragile.  The economy contracted for the first five months of the year. Unemployment has steadily risen over the past year.  Last month it stood at 7.1%, which matches the highest level since the end of 2013.  It was 6.6% in January. 

The Bank of Canada has cut rates twice this year in response to the disappointing economic activity. The Canadian economy was levered on high commodity prices. This produced what is known as the Dutch disease. During the commodity boom, the currency appreciated dramatically and this squeezed the non-energy sector, where the bulk of the population lives (Ontario and Quebec). 

The second issue that appears to be rivaling the economy is immigration. Specifically it is about integrating immigrants. It is about the extent to which immigrants about able to preserve their traditional culture. It is head coverings of women is center of the controversy. Ironically, it is not just the political rhetoric about immigrants, but that closeness of the contest may make the immigrant vote a decisive. There are some voting districts around Toronto in which 40-50% of the voters are relatively new immigrants.

Although we had thought the Canadian dollar would be impacted by the political uncertainty surrounding the election, the focus is elsewhere. Many traders emphasize oil prices. Simply looking at directional correlation, oil and the Canadian dollar have moved in the same direction 94 of the past 100 sessions. Correlation of returns (percentage change) is about 0.57 over the past 60 sessions. It has been flat around there since late-May.