indicatorThe Owl

The top economic stories of 2020 part 4 of 5

What does a Biden-Harris presidency mean for Alberta’s economy?

By ATB Economics 16 December 2020 2 min read

It’s that time of the year when we take a look back—from an Alberta perspective—at the top economic stories that took place over the previous 12 months. Each Owl this week will examine one story.

The full list, along with other observations about the year that was, are discussed in the latest edition of ATB’s The Future Of podcast hosted by our Chief Economist Todd Hirsch. The year-end edition can be found here and features commentary from energy guru Jackie Forrest.


Notwithstanding the many American citizens who live in Canada, most of us cannot vote in U.S. elections. And yet, we pay attention to them as much or more than we do our own—at least when the presidency is on the line. The U.S. is, after all, our neighbour, largest trading partner, military ally, main source of tourists and the winter landing spot for many snowbirds from Canada. 

The recent race between President Trump and former Vice President Biden for what is arguably the most powerful elected position in the world was particularly gripping.

What does a Biden-Harris presidency mean for Alberta’s economy? As with so many other things at the moment, it’s hard to say for sure.

On the one hand, Biden is on the record saying he will kill the Keystone XL project, a 1,947 km pipeline that would deliver up to 830,000 barrels per day of crude oil from Alberta to Nebraska and, from there, the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Election promises aren’t always kept and the new administration might have bigger fish to fry, but it remains a dark cloud over our ability to get our main product to market.

An even stronger push toward “buy American” policies under the new president could also spell trouble for Alberta exporters.

On the other hand, it’s been argued that a Biden presidency focused on addressing climate change south of the border could help level the playing field between Canadian and American energy producers. This, of course, could cut both ways.

Whatever happens, change is afoot with a new presidency officially beginning on January 20.

ANSWER to Wednesday’s trivia question: Approximately what share of the world’s population lives in China? Estimates vary, but it’s around
20 per cent.

Today’s question: What percentage of Alberta’s total international merchandise exports went to the United States last year?

Joe Biden has pledged to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline. But will he?

Joe Biden has pledged to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline. But will he?

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