ATB Financial's Evening with Todd Hirsch



Associates from ATB Financial Kneehill Region sold tickets to fill up the Three Hills Community Center Monday, May 16, for An Evening With Todd Hirsch.
Presented by ATB Financial and the Three Hills and District Chamber of Commerce, participants were treated to a steak dinner, followed by Hirsch's presentation.
Joining ATB Financial in 2007 as Senior Economist, Hirsch provides economic information and intelligence to various lines of business at ATB. He also tracks current developments in Alberta' s and North America's economy and delivers presentations to both internal and external audiences.
The theme for Monday's presentation was "Alberta: A Lot of Moving Parts," which Hirsch explained to mean the global economy has a lot of moving parts, and this affects Canada and Alberta, both negatively and positively.
Citing different areas of the world, starting with Japan, Hirsch gave a breakdown of how their recent earthquake and tsunami disaster has shaken up a financial reaction. Before the quake, nuclear energy was eyeballed by the United States, but now it will likely be perceived as unsafe, said Hirsch. The economist told that this has set the nuclear movement back a decade, and now all eyes are on natural gas. He foresees a change from the currently low natural gas prices next year, and said this "could be stemming from what happened in Japan."
Moving on to the Middle East, and the unrest that is occurring, Hirsch questions if this will spread to Saudi Arabia, a major oil producer, with 10 per cent of the global oil supply. If so, it could affect the price of crude oil, and Hirsch acknowledged the last thing needed is a roller coaster of prices.
The Senior Economist informed the crowd that the U.S. is in the process of recovering from their recession, which was recorded to be twice as bad as Canada's. The country is still considered to be in a "frail" state, and Hirsch suggests a weaker dollar is needed to help with exports, and keep imports out, despite the fact that 75 per cent of Canadian exports go to the U.S.
He also spoke about the European economy, specifically Spain, a country now moving away from debt.
As for Canada, the dollar has been bouncing around lately, but Hirsch assures, "it probably has more strength ahead of it," since we are a strong commodity producing country. He notes the Canadian government is in better fiscal shape than the other G8 countries. Hirsch predicts within four or five years, we could see a balanced budget, and stated that our country is in an "enviable fiscal situation."
Alberta is also reported to be in good economic shape by Hirsch. The province is leading in terms of economic growth, and the job market is seen as close to balanced.
The highly publicized issue, and the question on everyone's mind, was left a mystery, when Hirsch was asked about the cause of high gas prices. He said he doesn't believe in the idea that companies are fraudulently setting the prices, but he did say contributors are likely demand, and likely the scare of the flooding of the Mississippi River, near major production areas.
After a brief question period for Hirsch, and distribution of door prizes, the successful event came to a close.