March 10, 2020Print | PDF
Laurier was pleased to welcome Craig Wright (BA Economics '85), senior vice-president and chief economist at RBC, to share his reflections on the near future of the national and local economy at the Lazaridis School of Business & Economics’ recent Economic Outlook 2020.
This popular event has been running for more than 20 years. It offers the Laurier community and the public insight into the economic well-being of Waterloo Region, with a keynote address delivered by a notable economist.
The Feb. 20 event was well attended. Edda Claus, director of the Laurier Centre for Economic Research and Policy Analysis (LCERPA), welcomed approximately 80 attendees from a range of organizations who gathered in the Senate and Board Chambers at Laurier.
Special guests included City of Waterloo Mayor Dave Jaworsky and Councillors Sandra Hanmer and Tenille Bonoguore; Jason Coolman, vice-president Advancement and External Relations from Laurier; and the Dean of the Lazaridis School, Micheál Kelly. Sponsors for this year’s event were TD Bank Group, RBC, Vantage Venues, The City of Waterloo, the Wilfrid Laurier University Alumni Association and The Waterloo Region Record.
In her opening address, Claus praised the event as “an incredible opportunity to hear a forecast on our region’s economy from a very prominent economist” and let the audience know that the proceeds raised from this event help to fund work in research in a variety of fields in economics, as well as to assist in LCERPA’s research. Next, Kelly welcomed Wright to Laurier and reflected on Wright’s title for his address: “Uncertain and Underwhelming.”
“I think when you look around the global economy today there are lots of things that cause you to be concerned about the uncertainty,” said Kelly. “Coronavirus, disruption of supply chains, trade issues, Brexit … I think Craig’s presentation will be interesting and I know there are going to be a lot of questions!”
Kendall Allan, vice-president of TD Bank Group spoke next and highlighted the alignment of Economic Outlook 2020 with TD’s commitment to financial literacy. “[This event] allows people to be well-versed in the area of the economy, as well as to make decisions for their businesses and personally, which will, in the long term,” Allan said, “help everybody from a financial perspective.”
As the guests settled in to enjoy Laurier Food Services’ delicious “build-a-bowl” lunch, Wright shared his thoughts on the local and national economies, touching on global issues relating to monetary and fiscal policy, world issues and their impact on investment in Canada (increased uncertainty leading to lower investment), weakening global GDP growth, the impact of multilateral agreements for Canada and the potential of a recession in the next four years. Looking more locally, Wright commented on Kitchener-Waterloo’s growth and the impact of a well-educated populace on the job market.
When asked what Laurier’s outlook might be, Wright responded, “If you look at the population growth in Kitchener-Waterloo being the strongest in Canada, if they’re not youth looking at school, they’re people eventually having kids … in Kitchener-Waterloo, when we look at moving up the value-added curve, to research and development and all that, this is just where a lot of that happens, so I’m pretty bullish in my long-run outlook for the Region but also for the school.”
Wright is an alumnus of Laurier who graduated in 1985 with an Honours Bachelor of Arts in Economics. He went on to take a Master of Arts in Economics at the University of Toronto in 1987. He joined RBC in 1994 and in 2001 was appointed chief economist. Wright is a member of the TD Howe Monetary Policy Council, The British Columbia Economic Forecast and the Lazaridis School Dean’s Advisory Council, and is a regular contributor to RBC publications.
Nomar Abudullah is an alumnus of Laurier (BA Economics ’14) who is now co-owner of FMF Metal Fabrication in Kitchener. “I came here just to see what the economic outlook would be in the next few years, more specifically I was looking [to hear] about trade with China, the US and China Trade War, looking to hear some expert opinions about that,” said Abdullah, “I’ve heard some interesting stuff, and I also heard some interesting stuff about the housing market.”
Samuel Charron, a Laurier Economics student and recent winner of the Governor’s Banking Challenge, attending with his co-winner, said “Macro-analysis is extremely important to us, and something that we follow every day in our lives, and what we’re extremely passionate about, so this is extremely interesting to us and I think he gave a wonderful presentation with a bunch of insights that really caught me off guard.”
Mayor Jaworksy enjoyed the event and reflected on its value.
“I think it’s so important for everybody to understand the broader economy, the global economy and then take a look at what’s happening in Canada, in Ontario and then locally,” said Jaworsky. “So to have the guest speaker today tell us what he has seen happen, it gives us all food for thought because we really need to make sure at the City level that this is a community for everyone, and so we need to understand the global competitiveness and take our own action so that we can make sure that Waterloo Region is prosperous as well.”