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What comes first, the economy or the egg?

What comes first, the economy or the egg?

Posted on: February 22, 2016
Author: Stephanie Rochon, Communications Co-op Student

ATB’s Chief Economist Todd Hirsch and former Olympic coach Mark Ballard teamed up at the 'Eggonomic' Breakfast Forecast on February 17 in Calgary to take a look at Alberta’s economy and how business owners can perform under pressure.

Dan Allen, Vice President of ATB Business & Agriculture kicked off the event with a joke, “A man and his horse walk into the Blind Beggar Pub. The bartender asks, “Why the long face?”

Unfortunately, the grim economic outlook in Alberta for the past year and a half has left quite a few people with long faces. With the low price of oil, many industries across the province have taken a hit.

The good news is that there may be a hint of light at the end of the tunnel. Todd Hirsch presented at the event about the odds of different events that could impact the economy. According to Hirsch there are two to one odds of a modest recovery in oil prices by the end of 2016. By no means are we likely to see oil prices reach the $80+ USD range, but there are relatively good odds that we’ll see oil prices reach the $50-$55 USD range by the start of 2017.

That’s not to say that the worst of the recession is behind us.

Hirsch touched on the fact that there are a lot of moving parts in the world economy and different oil producers can have a big impact on oil prices, and our economy as a result. That’s why perspective is so important. Two years ago, a $50 barrel of oil would have seemed catastrophic, but now with oil prices hovering around $30, a jump back to something near $50 would be a significant improvement.

So, what can be done?

Mark Ballard also spoke, connecting his Olympic coaching experience to running a successful business with a simple piece of advice, “Focus on what’s in your control.”

Ballard highlighted how a lot of uncertainties and external factors affect businesses and industries across the province. Instead of getting hung up on the things that are out of their control, he encouraged business owners to put their energy into improving the things they can change.

One key tip Ballard shared was the importance of maximizing the strengths of the team you have within your business. By supporting your team and offering more opportunities to vary the work they do you can show your team how much you value them. That will leave you with a more diversified and robust team moving forward.

Diversity is in Alberta’s future.

According to Hirsch, we’re almost guaranteed to see a more diversified economy in Alberta in the future. Innovation and creativity will play a big role as the oil industry’s stronghold in Alberta softens, opening up more opportunities for other industries to play a bigger role in growing the economy.

Overall, the message delivered at the 'Eggonomic' event was clear. Even though we might be moving towards a recovery in oil prices this year there will be uncertainties along the way. Making this the time to take action on the things within our control, in order to improve the long-term future of Alberta’s economy.