Is there a cooler leader in the world right now than Justin Trudeau?
At a time when the U.S. elections look like an episode of The Real Housewives of New Jersey, Canada’s prime minister shines like an elegant movie star, emanating both charm and intelligence to a world in desperate need of both.
Trudeau can break your nose with a vicious right hook that he developed as an amateur boxer. And he can do a perfect yoga pose on a Parliament desk. But he still comes off as a remarkably well-adjusted, normal man with a beautiful, loving family.
Since taking office in November 2015, he has shown an innate respect for women by creating the most diverse cabinet in the Western world. And as defender of liberal (with a small l) Western values, he has spoken passionately at the U.N. in favor of tolerance in the world.
In short Justin Trudeau is everything that our own leaders are not.
Little wonder then that a photographer caught Duchess Kate Middleton openly flirting with him even though she’s married to a real prince, who’s even an heir to the British throne. The photo blazed its way through Facebook a few weeks ago to the amusement of almost everyone.
Credit: CTV News
In April 2013, then-Member-of-Parliament Justin Trudeau showed off his yoga skills during a break at the Canadian legislative house.
But Trudeau is also different in another, much more important way. Unlike the rest of the G-10 counterparts who have prostrated themselves at the altar of austerity for the past eight years, Trudeau has taken a decidedly renegade path of increasing deficit spending in order to jump-start the Canadian economy.
When oil prices collapsed into the 20s, the Canadian economy looked doomed. Resources make up 25% of direct Canadian GDP and they make up 40% of the economy indirectly. Things looked so bleak that yours truly went on Canadian TV and blithely predicted that the wave of Canadian corporate bankruptcies and the implosion of debt would soon send the loonie to 60 cents on the U.S. dollar.
And yet not one of those fears materialized. The rebound in oil certainly helped to staunch the bleeding in the resource sector, but the rebound in Canadian growth has been much better than the oil numbers would suggest. Last month Canadian employment skyrocketed to 65K new jobs versus the predicted 8K and that was on top another 26K the month prior. That’s equivalent to nearly 500K U.S. jobs per month, and it certainly shows that the Canadian economy is far more resilient than most analysts thought.
A big part of the revival Up North is that Trudeau has propped up aggregate demand by increasing transfer payments and by increasing spending on infrastructure. Although critics have decried his budget as overly ambitious, policy makers in G-10 are watching the Canadian experiment intently. No less an authority than The Economist wrote that “others could benefit from Canada’s bravery” when it comes to fiscal stimulus.
Unlike other major central banks that faced the Sisyphean task of stimulating growth single handedly for the past eight years, the Bank of Canada does not have to carry the burden alone. Mr. Trudeau’s expansionary fiscal policy has allowed the monetary authorities to keep rates steady and to contain the housing bubbles in British Columbia.
Tomorrow, the BOC is likely to reiterate its message of restraint. And that is likely to put the bid in the loonie against the greenback as well as its antipodean counterparts the Australian and the New Zealand dollars as Mr. Trudeau’s anti-austerity program leads the way toward a broader policy change in the G-10.
If he succeeds in showing that Keynesian economics deserves another look, Trudeau will have upended the economic orthodoxy of the past eight years and he may spur greater growth across all of the G-10 universe.