Transcript: Tough Economic Times Ahead? | Jun 12, 2020

Steve sits in a room with white walls, a low slanted ceiling and several framed pictures on the walls including one of George Drew and one of Walter Kronkite. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a white shirt and a striped gray tie.

A caption on screen reads "Tough economic times ahead? @spaikin, @theagenda."

Steve says HERE'S HOW QUICKLY THINGS HAVE CHANGED: IN FEBRUARY -JUST FOUR SHORT MONTHS AGO- CANADA'S JOBLESS RATE WAS 5.6 percent. THIS MONTH IT'S ALMOST TRIPLE THAT RATE. BUT THERE ARE SIGNS OF HOPE OUT THERE EVEN AS SOME FACE UNPRECEDENTED ECONOMIC UPHEAVAL. AVERY SHENFELD IS MANAGING DIRECTOR AND CHIEF ECONOMIST OF CIBC CAPITAL MARKETS, AND HE JOINS US NOW FROM MIDTOWN TORONTO ON WHAT HE'S SEEING DOWN THE ROAD...

Avery is in his early forties, clean-shaven, with short brown hair. He's wearing a gray suit and a checkered gray shirt.

Steve continues AVERY, GOOD TO SEE YOU AGAIN. IT'S BEEN A LONG TIME. HOW ARE YOU MANAGING THROUGH THIS PANDEMIC?

Avery says I FEEL LIKE I'M UNDER HOUSE ARREST, WHICH I'M WORKING, WHICH NOT ALL CANADIANS ARE, SO I GUESS I'M BLESSED FOR THAT.

Steve says GOOD TO HERE. LET ME ASK THIS FIRST QUESTION WITH A BIT OF A LONG SETUP JUST TO GET THE BACKGROUND IN PLACE. A WEEK AGO, THERE WAS A RISE IN EMPLOYMENT FIGURES BOTH IN CANADA AND THE UNITED STATES THAT CAUSED A GREAT DEAL OF EXCITEMENT, AND THEN LATER IN THE WEEK, THERE WAS ONE OF THE SWIFTEST REBOUNDS IN STOCK MARKET HISTORY, THE NASDAQ HIT A RECORD HIGH, THE S and P 500 ESSENTIALLY ERASED ALL OF THE LOSSES IT HAD EXPERIENCED OVER THE COURSE OF THE YEAR. YESTERDAY, HOWEVER, THE STOCK EXCHANGES BOTH IN NEW YORK AND TORONTO RECORDED MASSIVE DOWNTURNS. THIS MORNING, THEY STARTED TRADING WITH A STRONG UPSWING. IT LOOKS PRETTY TOPSY TURVY AT THE MOMENT. HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE STATE OF THE MARKETS AND THE ECONOMY?

Avery says WELL, THE MARKETS ARE SWINGING WILDLY BECAUSE THE ECONOMY HAS BEEN SWINGING WILDLY. WE WENT INTO WHAT WAS A VIRTUAL DEPRESSION AS OF APRIL, THE STEEPEST ECONOMIC SLIDE IN CANADA OR U.S. HISTORY IN THE SPACE OF ONLY TWO MONTHS, AND THEN OF COURSE WE HAD MADE AN INITIAL BOUNCE OFF OF THAT IN SOME INDICATORS, AND FINANCIAL MARKETS REALLY DON'T NECESSARILY TELL YOU WHERE THE ECONOMY IS GOING JUST A YEAR FROM NOW. THEY MIGHT BE LOOKING FURTHER OUT. SO I THINK A LOT OF THE GAINS WE SAW EARLIER WAS THE VIEW THAT AT SOME POINT THIS TOO SHALL PASS, THAT BUSINESSES MIGHT BE BACK TO NORMAL IN TWO, THREE YEARS, AND WHEN YOU BUY A STOCK, YOU MIGHT BE INVESTING FOR THOSE VERY DISTANT EARNINGS. BUT WE'RE OF COURSE LIVING IN THE HERE AND NOW AND WHAT WE'RE HOPING IS SOME OF THAT BETTER NEWS COMES SOONER THAN THE STOCK MARKET MIGHT ACTUALLY NEED IT TO COME.

Steve says WELL, THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES CERTAINLY THINKS IT'S COMING SOONER THAN LATER. HE SAID WE'RE GOING TO HAVE A VERY GOOD AUGUST, A VERY GOOD JULY, MAYBE A SPECTACULAR SEPTEMBER, "SPECTACULAR" WAS THE WORD HE USED. WOULD YOU SIGN ONTO THAT?

The caption changes to "Avery Shenfeld. CIBC Capital Markets."

Avery says YOU KNOW, ALL OF THOSE THINGS MIGHT BE TRUE AND STILL THINGS MIGHT BE TERRIBLE. WHEN YOU FALL INTO AS DEEP A HOLE AS WE DID IN BOTH THE U.S. AND CANADA, YOU CAN THEN HAVE SOME PRETTY SPECTACULAR, AS HE SAID, GROWTH RATES, BUT STILL BE WAY BELOW WHERE YOU WERE IN FEBRUARY. SO ECONOMIC ACTIVITY, AS OF APRIL, MIGHT HAVE BEEN DOWN 15 percent FROM FEBRUARY. WE DON'T NORMALLY SEE DECLINES LIKE THAT. WE ALSO DON'T NORMALLY SEE GROWTH RATES OF THE ECONOMY UP 5 percent OR 6 percent IN THE SPACE OF A COUPLE OF MONTHS, IT USUALLY TAKES A FEW YEARS. BUT IF YOU GO DOWN 15 percent AND YOU COME BACK 6, YOU'RE NOT IN GOOD SHAPE. YOU'RE ACTUALLY STILL IN A LEVEL OF ACTIVITY THAT WILL BE ASSOCIATED WITH A SEVERE RECESSION. SO, YES, IMPROVING DRAMATICALLY OVER THE COURSE OF THE LATE SUMMER, THAT SEEMS VERY LIKELY, BUT STILL RELATIVE TO A NORMAL YEAR OR WHERE WE WERE, FOR THAT MATTER, IN FEBRUARY, STILL HARD TIMES.

Steve says WELL, A VACCINE MIGHT CHANGE ALL THAT, AND HERE'S HOW THE NEW YORK TIMES REPORTED ON THAT ISSUE JUST A FEW DAYS AGO. THEY REPORTED SAYING...

A quote appears on screen, under the title "Vaccine, please." The quote reads "AT THIS MOMENT, ALMOST EVERY HUMAN BEING HAS AN innate BIAS TOWARD FINDING A Coronavirus VACCINE OR TREATMENT. The market is reflecting the depth of emotion behind that bias in its wild fluctuations whenever there is even the slightest news about a vaccine breakthrough."
Quoted from Linette Lopez, The New York Times. June 9, 2020.

Steve says ARE THE MARKET FLUCTUATIONS IN YOUR VIEW AT THIS POINT ALL ABOUT THE STATE OF THE PANDEMIC?

Avery says I THINK THEY LARGELY ARE. CERTAINLY NEWS ON THE PANDEMIC IS THE BIGGEST DRIVER BECAUSE, AS I SAID, YOU'RE GOING TO GET THIS VERY GOOD ECONOMIC NEWS AS WE ALLOW SOME BUSINESSES TO REOPEN, BUT THAT'S NOT REALLY TELLING YOU MUCH ABOUT WHEN ARE WE GOING TO BE ABLE TO HAVE LARGE SCALE CONVENTIONS, WEDDINGS, WHEN ARE NIGHT CLUBS GOING TO OPEN? THERE'S A LARGE PIECE OF THE ECONOMY THAT IS ESSENTIALLY SHUT DOWN AND WILL STAY NEARLY SHUT DOWN EVEN THROUGH THIS SPRING AWAKENING THAT WE'RE SEEING NOW. SO THE REAL QUESTION IS: WHEN DO WE GET A VACCINE THAT GIVES MASS IMMUNITY AND LETS LIFE GET BACK TO NORMAL? AND THAT'S WHY ANY NEWS ON THAT FRONT THAT WOULD SHORTEN THAT TIMETABLE BY SIX MONTHS OR, CONVERSELY, LENGTHEN IT BY A YEAR OR TWO, IS GOING TO HAVE A HUGE IMPACT ON FINANCIAL MARKET SENTIMENT.

Steve says SOMEONE ONCE DESCRIBED THE STOCK MARKET AS "A GRAPH OF RICH PEOPLE'S FEELINGS." SO LET'S HAVE A BIT OF A CONVERSATION HERE ABOUT THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN WHAT'S HAPPENING ON THE STOCK MARKET AND WHAT'S HAPPENING IN THE REAL ECONOMY, THOSE MILLIONS AND MILLIONS OF INDIVIDUAL ECONOMIC TRANSACTIONS EVERY DAY. HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE NATURE OF THE CONNECTION BETWEEN THOSE TWO THINGS RIGHT NOW?

Avery says I THINK IT'S PARTIALLY BROKEN. THE STOCK MARKET MAYBE WAS A LITTLE TOO OPTIMISTIC GOING INTO THIS WEEK ABOUT HOW SOON GOOD NEWS WOULD COME, AND THE STOCK MARKET, AS I MENTIONED EARLIER, MIGHT BE LOOKING FURTHER AHEAD, AND JUST BUYING INTO COMPANIES THAT WILL DO WELL TWO OR THREE YEARS FROM NOW RATHER THAN DOING WELL IMMEDIATELY. TO ME, THE ECONOMY SEEMS VERY MUCH IN A TRANSITION FROM HORRIBLE TO BAD BUT BETTER. TOO MANY SECTORS ARE STILL VIRTUALLY SHUT DOWN. YOU KNOW, IN A NORMAL RECESSION, FOR EXAMPLE, IF YOU OWNED A NIGHTCLUB, MAYBE YOUR ACTIVITY WOULD BE DOWN 20 percent. WHAT WE HAVE NOW ARE SECTORS LIKE THAT, LIKE CONVENTION CENTRES DOWN 100 percent, ESSENTIALLY CLOSED. AND THAT'S WHY, AMONG CANADIANS, THE ECONOMY IS GOING TO FEEL VERY DIFFERENT. IF YOU'RE IN A SECTOR WHERE PEOPLE CAN WORK FROM HOME, THINGS MIGHT FEEL OKAY. IF YOU'RE IN A SECTOR THAT INVOLVES A LOT OF SOCIAL CONTACT BETWEEN CUSTOMERS OR EMPLOYEES, YOU MIGHT BE SHUT DOWN NOW AND SHUT DOWN FOR A LONG TIME TO COME. SO THERE'S A VERY DISPARATE SITUATION. AND YOU DO SEE THAT IN EQUITY MARKETS. A LOT OF THE MOMENTUM YOU SEE ARE IN STOCKS THAT ARE SOARING BECAUSE THEY'RE THE ONES INVOLVED IN e-COMMERCE, HOME DELIVERY, THE THINGS THAT ARE BOOMING NOW, RATHER THAN HOTEL CHAINS AND THE LIKE.

Steve says OR VACCINE RESEARCH, I GUESS, SOME OF THOSE HAVE GONE CRAZY TOO.

Avery says YES, BUT THERE YOU'RE IN A CASINO WHERE THERE MIGHT BE ONE OR TWO WINNERS. THERE'S 135 VACCINES UNDER DEVELOPMENT. SO YOU HAVE TO BE ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE CRAPS TABLE TO WIN THAT BET.

Steve says RIGHT. LET'S JUST SHARE SOME OF THE NUMBERS THAT YOU HAVE SHARED WITH YOUR CLIENTS. THESE ARE CIBC ECONOMIC PROJECTIONS FOR THE YEAR WE'RE IN, 2020, AND NEXT YEAR AS WELL, 2021. AND FOR THIS YEAR, AND I'LL READ THIS OUT FOR THOSE WHO ARE LISTENING ON PODCAST AND CAN'T SEE IT...

A slate appears on screen, with the title "Economic ups and downs."

Steve reads data from the slate and says
CANADA IS OFF 6.9 percent, ECONOMIC CONTRACTION. THE UNITED STATES DOWN 6.2 percent. BUT LOOK AT THE PROJECTIONS YOU HAVE FOR NEXT YEAR. 6.8 percent GROWTH FOR CANADA WHICH GAINS ALMOST ALL OF IT BACK. AND FOR THE UNITED STATES, 7.0 percent, WHICH GAINS ALL OF IT BACK AND MORE. SO I GUESS I WANT TO UNDERSTAND, AND WE'LL USE THE METAPHORS THAT EVERYBODY USES HERE, ARE WE LOOKING AT A HOCKEY STICK RECOVERY OR A "U" RECOVERY WHERE IT'S WE'VE GONE STRAIGHT DOWN AND NUDGE UP AND GO STRAIGHT BACK UP? I DON'T KNOW. YOU TELL ME.

Avery says I'LL SAY TWO THINGS ABOUT THOSE NUMBERS. THOSE WERE OUR FIRST GUESSES WHICH WE MADE BACK IN APRIL. WE'VE ALLOWED SOME PASSAGE OF TIME TO SEE HOW THE VIRUS WENT, HOW MEDICAL RESEARCH WENT. I THINK IN THE NEXT TAKE OF THESE, WE MAY SOFTEN THE REBOUND A BIT, UNFORTUNATELY, FOR 2021. BUT THE OTHER THING TO REMEMBER IS THAT IF A YEAR FROM NOW, FOR EXAMPLE, GDP IS BACK AT THE SAME LEVEL IT WAS IN FEBRUARY, THAT'S NOT ACTUALLY A FULLY HEALTHY ECONOMY, BECAUSE WE'D HAVE MISSED TWO YEARS OF NORMAL ECONOMIC GROWTH. SO WE WOULD STILL BE DOWN 3 OR D HAVE BEEN HAD THE ECONOMY SORT OF TRACKED ON THE STRAIGHT LINE IT HAD BEEN PRIOR TO THAT. SO A PERIOD OF ZERO GROWTH OVER TWO YEARS PUT TOGETHER WOULD STILL LEAVE THE UNEMPLOYMENT RATE IN OUR FORECAST, FOR EXAMPLE, IN CANADA, SITTING AT AROUND 8.5 percent. NOW, THAT'S A LOT BETTER THAN WHERE WE ARE TODAY, BUT AS YOU MENTIONED OFF THE TOP, WE STARTED FROM SOMETHING NEAR 5.5 percent, AND IF YOU GO BACK AND LOOK AT THE LAST RECESSION, 8.5 percent IS ABOUT AS BAD AS IT GOT. SO, YES, THERE WILL BE SOME HEALING, WE'LL RESTORE ECONOMIC ACTIVITY, BUT WE'LL HAVE MISSED A COUPLE OF YEARS OF ECONOMIC GROWTH, AND THEREFORE STILL HAVE A FAIR DEGREE OF UNEMPLOYMENT WHEN WE LOOK OUT TO THE END OF NEXT YEAR.

Steve says SO, AGAIN, IF I CAN USE THE HOCKEY METAPHOR, THE HOCKEY STICK GROWTH RATE DOES NOT SIGNAL A RETURN TO NORMAL... RIGHT?

Avery says YES. YOU'VE GOT TO GO BACK TO YOUR HIGH SCHOOL MATH, STEVE. IF SOMETHING GOES BACK 50 percent AND UP 50 percent, YOU'RE NOT BACK TO WHERE YOUR START IS BECAUSE YOU'RE MEASURING THOSE GROWTH RATES ALSO OFF OF A LOWER NUMBER. AND THAT'S WHAT WE'RE SEEING IN A LOT OF SECTORS. WE'RE GOING TO GET VERY GOOD GROWTH RATES, BUT THEY'RE COMING OFF A DEPRESSED LEVEL. TO TAKE THE EXTREME, IF YOU HAD A RESTAURANT THAT WAS CLOSED AND THEN IT STARTS TO SELL ANYTHING, IT'S AN INFINITE GROWTH RATE BUT IT'S STILL NOT VERY GOOD.

Steve says RIGHT. LET'S TALK JOBS HERE. JEROME POWELL, THE CHAIR OF THE FED IN THE UNITED STATES, RECENTLY SAID. MENT "MY ASSUMPTION IS THERE WILL BE A SIGNIFICANT CHUNK, WELL INTO THE MILLIONS OF PEOPLE, WHO WON'T GET TO GO INTO THEIR OLD JOB AND THERE MAY NOT BE A JOB IN THAT INDUSTRY FOR THEM FOR SOME TIME." THAT'S JEROME POWELL ON THE AMERICAN SITUATION. WHAT ARE YOU SEEING IN CANADA?

Avery says I SEE VERY MUCH THE SAME THING. ONE OF THE PROBLEMS WE HAVE IS THAT - WHILE IT MIGHT BE TRUE THAT A SUMMER RESORT, FOR EXAMPLE, CAN CLOSE DOWN EVERY WINTER AND THEN REOPEN BECAUSE THEIR BUSINESS IS PLANNED THAT WAY. THAT'S NOT GOING TO BE THE CASE FOR BUSINESSES THAT AREN'T PREVIOUSLY SEASONAL AND USED TO THESE PERIODS OF NON-ACTIVITY. SO YOU JUST HAVE TO WALK DOWN MAIN STREET TORONTO, OTTAWA, ANY MAJOR CITY IN CANADA FOR THAT MATTER, AND YOU WILL SEE ALL THESE SHUTTERED STOREFRONTS AND RESTAURANTS AND GYMS AND SO ON. AND, YES, SOME OF THOSE ARE GOING TO BE ABLE TO REOPEN, SOME NOT, AND AS THE PASSAGE OF TIME GOES ON, WE'RE GOING TO SEE MORE OF THOSE BUSINESSES FAIL. SO EVEN AS WE GET BACK TO THE POINT WHERE, OKAY, EVERYONE WANTS TO GO EAT, SOME OF US ARE GOING TO FIND THAT OUR FAVOURITE RESTAURANT DIDN'T SURVIVE THE PANDEMIC, OR THAT THE YOGA STUDIO DIDN'T SURVIVE THE PANDEMIC, AND IT'S GOING TO TAKE A WHILE TO RECREATE ALL OF THOSE BUSINESSES AGAIN. SO IT'S NOT A CASE OF NEVER. MOST OF THOSE SERVICES WERE IN DEMAND AND THEY WILL BE BACK IN DEMAND WHEN WE'VE GOT A VACCINE AND NO ONE IS WORRIED ABOUT CATCHING SOMETHING. BUT THAT COULD TAKE A WHILE. SO FOR MANY CANADIANS, MANY ONTARIANS, WE'RE GOING TO BE IN THE PICTURE OF HAVING TO LOOK FOR SOMETHING ELSE WHILE THE THING THAT WE USED TO DO IS STILL SHUT DOWN OR TAKING A LONG TIME TO COME BACK.

Steve says LET ME ASK YOU ABOUT WHETHER OR NOT YOU THINK THERE IS STILL MORE FOR GOVERNMENTS TO DO IN ORDER TO HELP GET PEOPLE HIRED BACK. YOU KNOW, OF COURSE, THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT HAS PUT THAT WAGE BACKSTOP PROGRAM IN PLACE WHICH THEORETICALLY ALLOWS BUSINESSES TO KEEP EMPLOYEES EMPLOYED DURING THE COURSE OF THIS PANDEMIC, EVEN IF THEY'RE NOT TECHNICALLY WORKING RIGHT NOW. THE PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT HAS OFFERED ALL KINDS OF TAX BREAKS, TAX DEFERRALS, TAX CUTS TO BUSINESSES IN ORDER TO HELP THEM OVER THIS BUMP. IS THERE SOMETHING THEY'RE NOT YET DOING THAT THEY COULD BE DOING TO IMPROVE THINGS?

Avery says WELL, MAKE NO MISTAKE, THOSE PROGRAMS ARE DEFINITELY HELPING. THEY'RE KEEPING HOUSEHOLDS FROM A WAVE OF INSOLVENCIES. THEY'RE ALLOWING BUSINESSES IN MANY CASES TO HANG IN THERE, WAITING FOR THE REOPENING TO HAPPEN. SO THOSE ARE ALL WORTHY EFFORTS. BUT THEY CAN'T CREATE DEMAND FOR AIRLINE TRAVEL OR THINGS THAT PEOPLE ARE GOING TO AVOID. THAT'S ONE PROBLEM. I THINK NOW WE'RE ACTUALLY IN AN INTERESTING TRANSITION WHERE WE HAVE TO CONTINUE SOME OF THESE PROGRAMS. THE ECONOMY IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH TO LET IT STAND ON ITS OWN TWO FEET. BUT WE HAVE TO MODIFY THEM IN A WAY THAT ALSO GIVES PEOPLE THE INCENTIVES TO GET BACK TO WORK OR REOPEN THEIR BUSINESSES IN SECTORS WHERE THE DEMAND IS THERE. SO WE CAN'T JUST WRITE BLANK CHEQUES TO EVERYBODY. WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO START APPLYING SOME REFINEMENTS IN THOSE PROGRAMS TO MAKE SURE PEOPLE HAVE AN INCENTIVE TO GO BACK TO WORK. THE WAGE SUBSIDY YOU MENTIONED, FOR EXAMPLE, I GET THE WAGE SUBSIDY AS LONG AS MY SALES ARE DOWN 30 percent FROM WHERE THEY WERE. BUT IF I GROW TO WHERE THEY'RE DOWN TO 20 percent, I LOSE THAT WAGE SUBSIDY. MAYBE I'LL DECIDE NOT TO STAY OPEN ONE DAY A WEEK SO I DON'T LOSE THAT AMOUNT. WE NEED SOME REFINEMENT THERE. MUCH THE SAME, WE'RE SENDING PEOPLE CHEQUES BECAUSE THEY'VE LOST JOBS OR THEY USED TO BE SELF-EMPLOYED AND THEIR BUSINESSES ARE SHUT DOWN. WE NEED TO START REFINING THOSE BENEFITS SO THAT PEOPLE STILL HAVE AN INCENTIVE TO GO EARN MONEY. SO ON THE CERB PROGRAM RIGHT NOW, YOU LOSE IT ALL IF YOU MAKE MORE THAN 1,000 dollars A MONTH. SO YOU DON'T WANT TO EARN 1,001 dollars. I THINK WE NEED TO REFINE THOSE A BIT SO THERE ISN'T SUCH A CLIFF BETWEEN GETTING ALL OF THE BENEFIT AND NONE OF THE BENEFIT.

Steve says LET ME JUST PUSH ON THAT. DOES REFINING MEAN THE PRIME MINISTER OUGHT TO COME OUT OF RIDEAU COTTAGE ONE DAY AND SAY, YOU KNOW THAT CERB PROGRAM THAT'S GIVING ELIGIBLE CANADIANS 2,000 dollars A MONTH, IT ENDS AT THE END OF SEPTEMBER, PERIOD, FULL STOP. SHOULD HE DO THAT?

Avery says THAT MIGHT BE TOO ABRUPT. IF WE STILL HAVE THE SAME UNEMPLOYMENT RATE, THAT'S ALMOST TWICE WHAT WE USED TO HAVE. I DON'T THINK WE CAN QUITE PULL THE RUG OUT FROM THE ECONOMY ALL AT ONCE LIKE THAT. I THINK THAT'S PROBABLY TOO ABRUPT. BUT WE MIGHT NEED TO REFINE THESE PROGRAMS IN A WAY THAT, IF YOU'RE, FOR EXAMPLE, IN AN AREA WITH FALLING UNEMPLOYMENT, MAYBE THE BENEFITS BECOME LESS GENEROUS, PERHAPS WE ALLOW PEOPLE TO KEEP SOME OF THE BENEFIT IF THEY TAKE ON ADDITIONAL WORK IN A WAY THAT THEY CAN'T NOW, OUR UNEMPLOYMENT SYSTEM, FOR EXAMPLE, DOES HAVE THAT FEATURE WHERE YOU DON'T GIVE IT ALL UP JUST BECAUSE YOU'RE WORKING A BIT. THIS IS A STATE OF REFINEMENT NOW IN THESE PROGRAMS. WHEN WE LAUNCHED, SOME OF THESE REFINEMENTS WEREN'T NECESSARY BECAUSE THERE SIMPLY WASN'T A PROSPECT FOR WORK FOR MANY PEOPLE WHO LOST THEIR JOBS IN MARCH OR APRIL. AND IF THAT STARTS TO CHANGE, I THINK WE NEED SOME REDESIGN AS OPPOSED TO A COMPLETE ELIMINATION OF ALL OF THE SUPPORTS THAT OUR ECONOMY IS NOW GETTING.

Steve says I DON'T KNOW IF I'M TYPICAL ON THIS, BUT I THINK I'VE HAD MY CAR OUT OF THE DRIVEWAY TWICE IN THE LAST 13 WEEKS, AND, YOU KNOW, AS YOU LOOK AROUND AT THE PRICE OF GAS, I THINK AT ONE POINT IT WAS - WELL, I GUESS IN JANUARY IT WAS ABOUT 1 dollar 15 FOR A LITRE, WENT DOWN TO 79 CENTS AT ONE POINT, I THINK IT'S AROUND ABOUT A BUCK TODAY. THE FACT IT'S GONE FROM 79 cents TO 1 dollar, DOES THAT SUGGEST THAT AT LEAST AS THE ENERGY INDUSTRY IS CONCERNED, IT SEES THE ECONOMY COMING BACK?

Avery says SO THERE'S BEEN A BIT OF DRIVING INCREASE. WE ACTUALLY ARE MONITORING THINGS LIKE TRAFFIC ON THE ROAD IN BEIJING BECAUSE THEIR COUNTRY WAS EARLY TO HAVE THE VIRUS, EARLY TO GET RID OF IT, AND SO YOU CAN SEE THAT PEOPLE ARE DRIVING TO WORK A BIT MORE AND SO ON. BUT SOME OF THE RECOVERY IN PRICES REFLECTS THE STALL IN PRODUCTION NOT ONLY IN CANADA BUT IN TEXAS, CUTBACKS IN PRODUCTION IN PLACES LIKE SAUDI ARABIA A BIT. SO IT'S NOT A FULL HAPPY STORY. IF YOU TELL AN ALBERTA OIL PRODUCER, LOOK, THE PRICES FOR OIL ARE GOING BACK UP BECAUSE YOU'RE PRODUCING LESS, THAT'S A VERY MIXED MESSAGE AT THIS POINT.

Steve says LET'S FINISH UP ON THIS: HOW DO YOU REGARD THE RECENT ANNOUNCEMENT THIS WEEK BY PREMIER FORD TO REOPEN SOME OF THE ECONOMY IN MUCH OF GEOGRAPHIC ONTARIO BUT OF COURSE A NOTABLE EXCEPTION BEING THE GREATER TORONTO AREA?

Avery says I THINK THAT DISTINCTION WAS ACTUALLY PRUDENT. I MEAN, THE REALITY IS THAT YOU COULD USE PROVINCIAL MEASURES TO TIME EVERYTHING, BUT THEN THERE'S THE POOR RESTAURANT OWNER THAT'S HUNDREDS OF MILES OF TORONTO SAYING, LOOK, NOBODY IN THIS COMMUNITY HAS COVID-19. THERE ARE AREAS OF THE PROVINCE THAT HAVE VIRTUALLY NO ACTIVE CASES. SO WE'RE BASICALLY ALLOWING THEM TO GET A LITTLE BIT OF A HEAD START AND WE'RE WAITING FOR THE NUMBERS IN THE GTA, FOR EXAMPLE, TO COME DOWN TO WHERE WE CAN JOIN THEM. THAT SEEMS MORE PRUDENT THAN WHAT WE'RE SEEING IN SOME U.S. STATES WHERE, SURE, THERE ARE AREAS OF THE U.S. THAT CAN JUSTIFY A REOPENING BECAUSE THE CASELOAD HAS COME DOWN, BUT THERE ARE STILL ESCALATING CASES IN PLACES LIKE CALIFORNIA, FLORIDA, TEXAS, AND THOSE STATES SEEM JUST AS EAGER AS THE OTHER STATES TO REOPEN BUSINESSES AND OF COURSE AT LEAST THE EXPERTS ON THE DISEASE FRONT ARE TELLING US THAT THAT MAY BE A STEP TOO FAR.

The caption changes to "Producer: Wodek Szemberg, @wodekszemberg."

Steve says GOTCHA. IT'S ALWAYS GOOD OF YOU TO TAKE OUR CALLS AND SHOW UP ON TVO FOR US. TAKE GOOD CARE OUT THERE, OKAY?

Avery says SAME TO YOU. THANKS.

Watch: Tough Economic Times Ahead?