Canadian dollar slides to new low along with oil price: BUSINESS WEEK WRAP

"How low can it go" was the question on the mind of currency and commodity investors this week, as the Canadian dollar and crude oil both plunged to new 13-year lows. Jacqueline Hansen recaps all the red ink from a memorable week on the markets.
After the Canadian dollar and crude oil both plunged to new 13-year lows, CBC's Jacqueline Hansen recaps a memorable week on the markets 2:02

Oil's slide continued this week, with the price of WTI closing below $30 US a barrel for the first time since 2003. 

As did the loonie, which traded below 69 cents US. That's within striking distance of the all-time low of just under 62 cents the loonie touched in January 2002.

The short-term outlook for both isn't looking much better. In our most-read story this week, we told you about the prediction of Macquarie Bank's David Doyle, who sees the loonie bottoming out at around 59 cents US later this year.

That would be precedent-setting, and it's all the more intriguing since Doyle has a pretty good track record on the loonie. He correctly predicted the loonie would hit 69 cents back in February — a time when the Canadian dollar was flying relatively high at more than 80 cents US.

"It's not intended to be a really fear-mongering message. I think it's just the natural rebalancing that's required in our economy," he told The Exchange this week in an interview.

Loonie's impact on food

Canada's weak currency is making its presence felt in many ways. Food prices are a major one, since the vast majority of the fruits and vegetables Canadians eat come from the U.S., and are therefore priced in American dollars.

Rising prices for food could spark what researchers call "food insecurity" — basically, an inability to acquire affordable, quality food.

It's estimated that four million Canadians already experience some level of food insecurity, and the rising loonie is making it worse.

For every cent the Canadian dollar loses, experts estimate the price of food basics goes up by about one per cent. Consider that the loonie has lost more than 20 cents in the past year, and it's clear what the risk is.

"What we can anticipate for people living on a tight budget with regards to food is that they'll be eating less good food and more bad food," Diana Bronson, the executive director of Food Secure Canada told us this week,"and that's bad news for everyone because that's going to result in higher health-care costs and a number of other factors."

Marriott's new desk policy

A major hotel chain made headlines this week with a new policy that's upsetting some of their most loyal customers. Marriott announced this week that as part of a room redesign, it will be removing items like desks from many of their rooms.

So in the place where a desk used to sit, hotel guests may just see an empty space.

That's not sitting right with business travellers, who say they need desks to get their work done. Many of those that the CBC spoke to for our story this week say they'll stay elsewhere because of it.

But the chain says they're just keeping up with consumer demands, and millennial guests say they don't want frills like desks, and would prefer a room that is a good place to "hang out" since much of their work can be done on a mobile phone.

"It's really technology driven," hotel spokeswoman Nina Herrera-Davila said. "Technology has gotten a lot smaller."

Other stuff

Those were just a few of our most-read stories this week. Don't forget to check out our landing page for more, and follow us on Twitter here.

In the meantime, here's a day-by-day list of what our readers decided was our best stuff of the past week.







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