Canada created virtually no net new jobs in the six months to April, consumer debt is at an all-time high, retailers are struggling if not disappearing, and the percentage of Canadians with a job remains well below the pre-recession level.

But things are looking much brighter on the corporate side. According to StatsCan, corporate profits in Canada shot up 12.3% in the first quarter of 2014, compared to a year earlier.

By comparison, Canadians’ average weekly earnings, according to another StatsCan report, went up by about a quarter as much; they rose 3.1% during the same period.

The booming profit numbers are “a very encouraging sign for business investment going forward,” TD Bank said this week, but the broader picture is becoming worrisome. We are facing the prospect of a U.S.-style disconnect between Bay Street earnings and the main street economy.

Canada has been losing about 4% of its manufacturing jobs per year since the recession hit. The pace has slowed a bit in the past year, with just 1.8% of manufacturing jobs disappearing in the year to March, 2014. But in that period, manufacturing profits soared a stunning 24.3%.

The six biggest private banks — CIBC, BMO, National Bank, RBC, Scotia and TD — earned unadjusted profits totalling $7.37 billion in the second quarter.

It’s quite similar situation to the U.S. in recent years, where the job market cratered and stayed down, even as corporate profits returned to normal and stock markets began to reach towards record highs.

Great for owners of capital, crappy for everyone else who has to depend on a paycheque for their wealth. It all almost looks like what Thomas Piketty is talking about in his talked-about book Capital in the Twenty-First Century.

Piketty says rising inequality is a natural state in capitalism, because capital accumulates faster than the overall economy grows.

What Canadian banks’ earnings will buy you in the real world:

What banks’ profits will buy you
Canada’s six big banks — BMO, CIBC, National Bank, RBC, Scotia and TD — earned $7.37 billion in profits in just the three months of the second quarter of 2014. That’s an astronomical number that’s hard to imagine, so here’s a breakdown of what that money will buy you in the real world.

89.9 million pairs of Lululemon Luon yoga pants
At Canadian retail price of $82 each.

26.8 million temporary foreign workers
It costs $275 to file an application for the labour market opinion needed to hire a TFW.

18,381 average Canadian homes
The average resale price for a house or condo in Canada in March, 2014, was $401,419.

39 million pairs of Beats by Dre headphones
At $189 Canadian.

2.23 billion Chick-fil-A chicken sandwiches
Average U.S. price of $3.05 translates into $3.30 Canadian at current exchange rates.

32 Boeing 787 Dreamliners
The 787-8 retails for $211.8 million U.S., on the Boeing website, or $229.5 million Canadian.

Enough gas for 18,265 car trips around the world
At the current Toronto average price of $1.36 a litre, bank profits will buy you 5.42 billion litres of gas, enough to drive 732 million kilometres in a late-model Honda Accord.

6 minutes of roaming time at the Big Three telcos
OK, that one’s just a little joke.

 
 
 
 
 
 

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