Jock Finlayson of the BCBC, who mostly agrees with Yu’s assessment, points out that Morgan Stanley recently became the first big U.S. investment bank to call for a 2020 recession in that country. He believes an American downturn is overdue, citing “an incompetent and erratic leadership, which I think is chipping away at business confidence, on top of the trade war.” With the global economy slowing, Canada and the U.S. are headed for choppy waters, Finlayson warns. “We’ve got to get ready for what’s going to be a pretty unforgiving external environment in 2020.”
For B.C., Finlayson identifies two main bright spots. The first is an often-overlooked strength: at 1.5 percent annually, population growth far exceeds that of most provinces and U.S. states. The second is non-residential construction, both private and public. But in 2020, the BCBC expects housing starts to drop almost 14 percent, to 34,500. With Canada struggling for 1.6-percent real GDP expansion in the year ahead, the group forecasts, B.C. will grow 2.2 percent.