Currently viewing the category: "CANADA"

Not a lot to write about the border crossing data for May except HOORAY. This is the first time in quite some time that the numbers of people crossing the border, especially at the larger ports, show a positive increase. It is not much, but it is an increase. This is especially good news when you compare the exchange rate of the Canadian and U.S. dollar. In this past month the Canadian dollar has strengthened, but only by a fraction of a cent. You would have to look awfully hard to find any Canadian who decided to cross the border in May because it wasn’t going to cost as much as in May.

Finally, I would point out the passengers and even the number of both commercial and private aircraft in comparison to last year. Some of this may be individuals coming to the United States from Canada, but I think most of this is an indication of both the oil boom and also the UAS business in Grand Forks. While not large, it is a lot more than a decade ago, even more than five years ago.

In sum, these are good statistics for the economy of North Dakota. We can hope that is the beginning of a trend that will make up some of the retail weakness in the retail economy. North Dakota needs to say-Welcome Canadians-and we need to mean it.

 

Well, all I can say here is that this months border crossing data is confusing, at least to me. As it has been for some time the Canadian dollar has continued to lose its value relative to the the U.S. dollar. In fact by quite a bit over the past year (see last item on the chart). That is considered a significant drop compared to a year ago.

Now we know that the oil boom continues in North Dakota, and that includes the relationship(s) between the North Dakota oil and the Canadian sands oil, so that is part of the increase in traffic.

So too is the improving economy between Canada and the U.S. so that accounts for some of the increase, especially in Fargo and Grand Forks.

However, the increase in the number of people crossing at the border stations, especially Pembina and the smaller crossing in North Dakota and Minnesota is hard to understand. Generally those are private citizens coming for the Canadian “holiday” weekends and for shopping excursions, especially to Grand Forks and Fargo, and to a smaller amount in Minot, Bismarck, and Williston.

Now, with nearly a 10 percent drop in the drop in value of the Canadian dollar relative to the U.S. there was over a 13 percent increase in border traffic. That is a lot in any case, but it is confusing under these circumstances. We will just have to see if this is a one time aberration, or the leading edge of real improvement, which we hope for.

 

Just the other day we received the February Border Crossings. Today we have the data for March. That is the way it happens this time of year and we find a great deal of relevant information in these reports.

For instance, as we said the other day, there are getting to be fewer Canadians coming to North Dakota. While these reports don’t tell us this, we can be sure that in most cases this means fewer people are coming to Grand Forks, and Fargo too. This is something of importance to both of these towns. A great deal of the retail spending in both towns is dependent on Canadian shopping. This is the time when the Chambers prove their worth, or their lack of it. So too the Convention and Visitors Bureaus. Anyone can do it right in the good times. Today is when you can see real leadership, or not.

This proves again that relationship between the U.S. and Canadian dollars. Whenever the Canadians can lay down a dollar and receive more than a dollar of American money in exchange it is a good time for Grand Forks and Fargo. The opposite is just as true.

 

We are not there yet. At least we weren’t in February. Of course in the depths of winter, one of the worst winters in a long time what do you expect, but boy is this country lucky. Just think of all the American men and women who are alive today because of The Bakken, oil and gas.

I just read recently that America will reach a point of being a net exporter of oil. Just think of those long lines at the gas pump. Think of all the articles, the dire articles that were written about our future. Yes, others will gain as well, and some of them are not too nice, but with the proper leadership, well things are looking good again for America.

That doesn’t mean we can not be concerned about global warming, or at least studying the science to see if it is true. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t design safe pipelines, or tank cars. But just think of how much better the American economy is today because of fracking. All those railcars, all those pipes, all those people employed. All that money including in our taxes. Especially what we are setting aside for our children and grandchildren, even great grandchildren.

What will they write about us in the books a hundred and two hundred years from now.

So, here is the current data. Now it will get interesting as we go into the summer.

 

There have been articles in some of the printed press recently about the increase in food costs. It is certainly true that prices at the grocery store are higher than a year ago. However, except for some of the meat products which have increased substantially due to the weather I don’t know if an increase of 3 to 4 percent which is the amount I have read is that much.

Especially, when the articles I have seen fail to mention that this is the first increase in prices in the past couple of years. In the meantime, most of those who have not had a layoff have had increases in their earnings over that period. That means the cost of food for many has decreased over that time period and even with this years increase they are spending a smaller percent of their income on food than they did two years ago.

The other thing I have not seen in these articles is what each economic sector’s share of the prices received is.

I recently ran across this table which was calculated by the National Farmers Union. It only shows the farmers share. It doesn’t show how much goes to the transportation sector which is now paying higher fuel costs, nor the processing sector for turning corn into corn flakes. Nor the supermarket for their costs and profits.

The other thing that is important to all of American, and especially to this sector of the country is just how much agricultural prices have declined in the past year and more. While that was also not included in the series, readers can see that by reviewing some of my earlier postings.

I know that most people not involved in the food sector understand how little of the total price the farmer gets. Here is a relatively current example. Thanks to the Farmers Union for providing this data.