The purpose of this website is to inform readers about the evolving economic recession Alberta has been experiencing and its implications for policy-makers and policy advocacy groups. The website contains newspaper articles from The Globe and Mail, Canada’s National Newspaper, and the Edmonton Journal/PostMedia – articles which hopefully illustrate the unfolding economic distress that has afflicted Canada’s oil province over the past two years. The development of the site is grounded in the writer’s experience during the 1980s when the provincial economy went through a period of protracted low oil and natural gas prices. The knock-on effects of falling oil prices precipitated declines in investment, real estates prices and government finance. Although no two recessions are ever alike, the parallels between the 1980s and today, may be illuminating. Two sectors that Albertarecessionwatch.com is closely monitoring is real estate (commercial and residential) and financial institutions with high levels of exposure to Alberta.
The site developer welcomes feedback on the form and content of Albertarecessionwatch.com and trusts this site will provide a useful forum for the debate of policy options for consideration of all levels of government.
Comments are encouraged and unpaid contributions are welcome. Readers are encouraged to forward the content of the site. The site’s proprietary content may be reproduced without permission so long as proper acknowledgement is given. Reproduction for commercial purposes (i.e by profit-making ventures) is strictly prohibited unless specifically approved.
Most of the newspaper articles have been cut from the newspapers and scanned into PDF or Office Paint. PDF files are labeled by the article’s title with date and newspaper (GM for The Globe and Mail and EJ for Edmonton Journal). Some references are links to the newspaper’s website. I also provide either hyperlinks to various reports or a PDF of reports or newspaper releases cited. In addition the site provides links to CBC.ca stories or podcasts.
The site endeavours to separate reportage and analysis from “opinion”. Many readers may consider the site “biased” in the sense that it focuses on “negatives” about the Alberta economy. I try to be as “objective” as possible, but my underlying belief (beliefs are always dangerous!) is that Alberta is enduring another period of persistently low oil and gas prices, similar to that of the 1980s. Accordingly, as the recession widens, a path of economic and financial stress unfolds in inexorable ways. For example, delinquencies rise in loan payments; real estate values fall; tax arrears increase; and loan losses by financial institutions rise. One can debate whether the duration of this recession is policy induced- that is, by a new government’s economic and fiscal policies. This question is fundamental and one that I wish to encourage debate on.
My perception about economic and political discourse in Alberta is it tends to be reserved for political backrooms and, if raised in public (like a sales tax), discussion is muzzled either by tacit agreement by all political parties or by a tendency to believe the status quo is “ok”. It is also my hope that this website will allow its reader to better “connect the dots”- connecting anecdotal evidence with statistical date coming from both public sources like Statistics Canada and private organizations, such as rating agencies and real estate associations.
I hope you will enjoy browsing this website!
About Bob Ascah
Bob Ascah, the website’s creator, will offer periodic commentaries about key facets of the recession and where to obtain information associated with the articles posted. The website will also contain articles and opinion pieces about the challenges the Alberta government faces financially, economically and politically. The website will also showcase research undertaken by Ascah over the past several years dealing with executive compensation and board appointments at Alberta provincial agencies and various recent legislative initiatives in these areas. Ascah holds degrees in Commerce, Public Administration, and Political Science. He was employed by the Treasury and Intergovernmental Affairs departments of the provincial government until 1996 when he joined ATB Financial as it transformed into a provincial corporation. From 2009 to 2013 he served as Director of the Institute for Public Economics at the University of Alberta.
Special thanks to my web designer Delia Meenhorst for her unfailing assistance and patience! Additional support has been provided by Dale Moll who has pointed me to numerous sources of content for this site.My wife Linda remains a steadfast partner who has been encouraging throughout this adventure.