Like my table, the Liberals use the words “Growth”, “Decline”, and “Britain.” By contrast, the OECD’s tables use a negative sign (instead of words) to denote declines and refer to the “United Kingdom.”
The e-mail version posted by Coyne presents the same quarterly figures as my table, but cites the September 3 OECD report that provides only annualized figures. The (corrected) version on the Liberal website cites the August 19 OECD report from which I had gotten the quarterly figures.
So, I guess the Liberal war room deserves some credit for fixing its initial error. But it could have saved itself the trouble by simply citing this blog in the first place.
Coyne argues that Canada’s weak second-quarter performance does not directly contradict Harper’s statement that Canada’s economy has been better than others, which may be a valid criticism of the Liberal “Reality Check.” However, in defence of this blog, my point was that Canada’s weak second quarter contradicts Harper’s earlier statement that we would recover faster than others.
Coyne also objects to focusing on just a single quarter of data. Again, this point may be a valid criticism of the Liberals. I had originally posted the table in a commentary on Statistics Canada’s release of second-quarter GDP numbers, so I make no apology for focusing on the second quarter.
The Long View
It is certainly true that we should take a longer view in judging how Canada has weathered the recession. But adding a couple more quarters can paint an unduly rosy picture: “Canada stayed above water in the second and third quarters of 2008, a period during which the rest of the G7 countries recorded at least one quarterly contraction.”
This assessment omits the first quarter of 2008, when the Canadian economy contracted as Europe and Japan enjoyed solid growth. Indeed, our slight reduction in the first quarter exactly offset our slight increase in the second and third quarters.
To his credit, Coyne’s graph includes all of 2008. Canada ends up being in the middle of the G-7 pack. While this record does not support claims that Canada has performed worse than everyone else, it does disprove Harper’s repeated assertions than Canada would inevitably perform better than everyone else.
Apples and Oranges
Although Canada is a member of the G-7, one might ask whether this organization is the best comparator. The G-7 consists of large economies on which it is very easy for me and other commentators to find data.
However, Australia is probably more similar to Canada in size and economic structure. As Jim pointed out in yesterday’s Globe, Australia does not seem to have fallen into recession at all.