It is tempting to say that, american alone are irresponsible consumer, ever increasing consumption despite very difficult economic conditions. of course there are two America, the average Joe one where unemployment is high and wages have been stagnant for more than a decade, and the 1% that has seen an average increasing in income of about 10% per annum for over a decade -- that's how the 1% controls somewhere between 40% and 60% of all American wealth.
Canada is different, first off, national income for all Canadians has been rising, and more Canadians are employed today than before the crisis in 2007 (of course population growth needs to be taken into consideration...). However, by all measures the Canadian picture is good (or at the very least better than our southern neighbor...). So stats come out day in and day out. Retail sales for September (+1%) were released this morning; guess what they are up (virtually all sectors) both on a absolute basis (and chained dollar basis -- discounting the impact of inflation).
Retail Sales -- September 2011
In fact, the news was good in virtually all sectors of the economy, and the same story for the geographical distribution. Aside from the "world is burning" problem around Canada, these data points would be an excellent reason for the BoC to raise rates (not going to happen). I know that I sound like a broken record, but as a second derivative country (we sell stuff that people use to make stuff) Canada is very dependent on the rest of the world being in good shape.
Honestly, Europe is looking at dislocation for the next few months/year -- in fact we could easily see a sovereign default (it has been the solution of choice for nations that borrow too much in the past), America is trying hard to choose the worse possible outcome. Republican obstructionism, and Democrats "big government solution" and a lobby system that is made to measure to fail Americans (and by default Canadians too), and a weak financial system for ever looking for the next way to loose a bundle (other people's money syndrome).
Canada needs to stay vigilant, not certain that low interest rate is the solution here! but I don't really have a better idea, and Carney seems to know what he doing.