CORNWALL, Ontario - Cornwall consumers should brace for a slowing economy if the political turmoil in the United States gets any worse - or lasts more than a few days.
Doug Porter, chief financial economist for the BMO Financial Group, told Seaway News the financial sky is hardly falling, but there is cause for concern.
Porter was in Cornwall to speak with BMO customers.
"We came out of the recession in pretty good shape," he said, adding the Canadian economy is "grinding along" with modest gains of nearly two per cent per year since 2011. "But now we're essentially waiting for the U.S. economy to get into gear.
"We need something else, and that has to be exports."
But just when that will start to happen is still anyone's guess.
The U.S. government is partially shut down, with between 800,000 and one million federal workers furloughed, which in and of itself is enough to send economists into a tizzy.
But that's nothing compared to a U.S. government showdown over increasing its debt ceiling. That debate will take place in the next few weeks and will have far-reaching implications for everyone - including Canadian in border towns like Cornwall - if the U.S. defaults on its debt repayments.
"It's something we've never seen before in an industrialized economy," said Porter. "If the economy really slows down it could lead to a slow-down in job growth...and a pullback in consumer spending.
"People should brace for a weaker than expected economy over the next year."
Porter suggested consumers may forgo unnecessary expenditures like new furniture and entertainment under such a scenario.
The good news, he suggested, is that U.S. politicians have been down this road before.
"Usually there is a game of chicken when someone swerves at the end," he said. "Someone always does."