MACLEAN'S REPORTS

CANADA’S LONGEST BOOM: Can '64 be as good as ’63? Or '62? And what about the Seventies?

HARRY BRUCE February 22 1964
MACLEAN'S REPORTS

CANADA’S LONGEST BOOM: Can '64 be as good as ’63? Or '62? And what about the Seventies?

HARRY BRUCE February 22 1964

CANADA’S LONGEST BOOM: Can '64 be as good as ’63? Or '62? And what about the Seventies?

MACLEAN'S REPORTS

CANADA'S NATIONAL MAGAZINE

FEBRUARY 22 1964

VOtUME 77 NUMBER 4

MOST CANADIANS will get a little richer this year and they’ll spend a little more money than they’ve ever spent before on the things that make them feel good: liquor, beer, furs, music, boats, cars, ocean trips, stylish furniture, and just going out at night. It will almost certainly be the fourth consecutive year that the Canadian economy has expanded. This is something of a record in recent history. According to the experience of postwar business cycles, booms shouldn’t last three years, much less four, and some economists suggest that this one only owes its long life to such fortuitous causes as 1963’s superb Canadian wheat crop and the timely hunger of the communist world. Certainly, the muscle in the economy has been a joyful surprise to the government.

Before their election last spring Liberals from Lester Pearson on down anticipated a grim year and many Conservatives were comfortably certain that the Liberals were inheriting an economic situation that no government could possibly correct quickly. (One Liberal, now a senior cabinet minister, jocularly confided to a reporter that, if elected, he’d welcome any painless affliction that would give him an excuse to convalesce gracefully in a warm climate till the economy began to recover.) A few economists have issued nervous warnings that the decline has only been delayed and that we’d better get ready for at least a small collapse in the autumn. But others, including senior civil servants, suggest the whole continent is striding out of a time of economic ups and downs and into a long, glorious time of uninterrupted ups.

G. Arnold Hart, president of the Bank of Montreal, predicted last month that Canadas national output would increase by at least a third in the next seven years. It rose four to four-and-a-half percent in 1963 and will probably rise that much again this year. But there were more tangible signs of our economic robustness recently and other odes to the good times ahead:

■ I’m bullish for 1964. As far as mining goes, I wouldn’t be surprised if we get some of those days when single stocks trade ten to twelve million shares daily. — c. B. DICKSON, A TORONTO STOCKBROKER.

■ The Scandinavian Airlines System reported its bookings from rural Saskatchewan were up 38 percent over the year before.

■ Despite some disunity and something less than a smoothly functioning Parliament I believe we will continue to stumble forward. — GERALD L. BRUCK, PRESIDENT, BRUCK MILLS LTD.

■ Canadians bet $153,506,144 at thoroughbred racetracks last year, a record.

■ For the first time in six years the outlook for deep-sea shipping . . . is good. — M. G. ANGUS, PRESIDENT, LUNHAM AND MOORE LTD.

■ There will be 200,000 more Bell telephones in Canada this year.

■ Despite the very zealous work of the Montreal police force, the city’s three-thousand-odd full-time prostitutes have found the economy healthy enough to tolerate a twenty-percent across-the-board increase in their complicated rate structure.

■ In Ontario unemployment now is about three percent of the labor force, which in an affluent and restless country is about as close as possible to the situation where everybody who wants a job has one. — FRASER ROBERTSON, BUSINESS COLUMNIST, TORONTO Globe and Mail.

■ Canadian steel output rose fourteen percent last year.

■ Canadian manufacturers loom as rugged competitors to watch. — Printer’s Ink, THE MAGAZINE OF THE U. S. ADVERTISING INDUSTRY.

■ Furniture dealers in St. John’s, Halifax, Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg and Regina all reported abnormally high sales in January and an extraordinary7 demand for the most expensive lines.

■ For the first time in decades people who have left the Prairies to seek employment are returning, and young people in the Prairies who are ready to go into industry are looking hard now at their own home province. — M. A. UPHAM, GENERAL MANAGER, INTERNATIONAL MINERALS & CHEMICAL CORP. (CANADA).

■ The number of marriages, which had been decreasing for several years in Canada, suddenly began to rise in 1963.

■ If a man comes in for a suit and he doesn’t much like the one for $59.50 he’ll pay $79.50 to get the stuff he wants. This follows all the way through now, even down to the smallest radios. — SALES EXECUTIVE, SIMPSON’S.

■ James Hahn, president of Sheppard Boats, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont., says Sheppard’s Canadian sales of yachts costing anywhere from ten to fifty thousand dollars were up twenty percent in 1963.

■ H. C. Darroch, Moffats Ltd., noted the trend to ovens that hold twice as much food as they used to.

■ The current annual growth in world demand for nickel is six percent.

■ The auto industry is operating at its highest level in history — twenty percent ahead of last year. — RON W. TODGHAM, PRESIDENT, CHRYSLER CANADA LTD.

■ L. O. Williams, sales manager for Crane Ltd., plumbing suppliers, reports that bidets have recently become status symbols for Canadians and that Crane has doubled its bidet production to meet demand. (Colored ones cost $204.)

■ She (the farmer’s wife) is ready to kick over the traces. She’s equipping her home with the latest appliances, mostly the luxury items such as expensive laundry equipment and dishwashers. — BILL MARSHALL, HARDWARE AND HOME-FURNISHINGS MANAGER, CO-OP SHOPPING CENTRE, SASKATOON.

■ Leonard Griffiths, president of Laura Secord Candy Shops Ltd., is optimistic about candy sales in ’64 and Ian R. Dowic, president of Canadian Breweries says, in effect, that if the economy’s good and the weather’s good, the beer business has to be good.

BUT, while most businessmen and economists were trading superlatives about the economy, there were a few less excited voices and some of them were almost pessimistic. “It’s not enough,” said Canadian Labor Congress vice-president William Dodge, with reference to the rise in Canada’s gross national product. “It’s not enough to absorb the people displaced by automation. It’s not enough to absorb the normal increase in the labor force.” Senator J. M. Dessureault told a meeting of La Banque Canadienne Nationale that “profound disorder” still gnaws at the economy. Forrest L. Rogers, economic advisor to the Bank of Nova Scotia, says, “the four percent growth rate recorded in 1963 was just barely enough to keep up with . . . our long-run growth requirement . . . It leaves very little margin for any temporary recession or for the fact that increasing numbers of young people are now beginning to reach working age.” And late in 1963, hardcore unemployment — people who’ve been out of work more than four months — totaled 76,000, down only four thousand from late ’62. The unemployment rate in the Maritimes was still 7.5 and, though bidets were selling well, the number of Toronto people getting welfare assistance of one kind or another was 24,335. That was 317 more than the figure one year earlier. No boom, apparently, is ever big enough for everybody. HARRY BRUCE

HARRY BRUCE