Oliver Predicts Canada’s Shrinking Economy Will Avoid Recession

Finance Minister Joe Oliver doesn’t believe Canada will fall into a recession amid “mixed signals” from an economy that’s contracted for four consecutive months.

“We don’t have a recession. We don’t believe we will be in a recession,” Oliver said Friday in Toronto. “A recession is technically two consecutive negative quarters and we don’t have results from the second quarter.”

Statistics Canada reported this week that gross domestic product shrank by 0.1 percent in April, on the heels of a 0.6 percent annualized contraction in the first quarter.

However the finance minister sees indications that consumers and manufacturers are more optimistic. “There are, I think it’s fair to say, mixed signals at the moment,” Oliver said. “We’ll and wait and see what the numbers, in fact, will be.”

The federal budget, released in April, forecast annual GDP growth of 2 percent for the country, based on projections from private sector economists. Those projections haven’t been updated, Oliver said.

Greece’s debt crisis and “rather insipid, mediocre economic growth in Europe” have been a concern for the Canadian economy, he said, while U.S. growth has been slower than expected.

“We don’t at this point believe the Greek situation by itself will represent a drag on Canadian economic growth,” Oliver said. “Again, we’re talking about externalities. In spite of that, we’re still looking forward to renewed growth.”