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Archive for November, 2006

Wettest month ever!

I admit to enjoying weather porn. When a huge rainstorm came to Vancouver a couple of weeks ago, I just had to put on the 6 o’clock news to see the visuals. And then there was the snowstorm (oh, baby). Of course, the thrill of seeing Mother Nature’s wrath is generally better when it is […]

Class warfare and a responsible billionaire

From a New York Times story by Ben Stein: In Class Warfare, Guess Which Class Is Winning NOT long ago, I had the pleasure of a lengthy meeting with one of the smartest men on the planet, Warren E. Buffett, the chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway, in his unpretentious offices in Omaha. We talked of […]

Greider and Palley bury Friedman

Thomas Palley and William Greider add two (more critical) obituaries for Milton Friedman. Both make the distinction between Friedman as a professional economist and as a public intellectual: Milton Friedman: The Great Conservative Partisan Milton Friedman died on November 16, 2006 at the age of 94. Without doubt, Friedman was one of the most influential […]

The Monbiot plan on global warming

George Monbiot has a new book out on solutions to global warming. In contrast to the Stern Review, Monbiot’s read of the science is that a much more drastic plan is required if we are to avoid a runaway climate change scenario. His focus is on the UK, but many of his ideas are amenable […]

Making Sense of China

I visited China for two weeks earlier this month, at the invitation of the Capital University of Economics and Business in Beijing.  I gave a series of lectures on economics and labour relations to several classes of bright, eager, and surprisingly free-speaking graduate students. China’s economy has been growing at about 10% per year for […]

“Advantage Canada”= A True Blue Corporate Agenda

The only surprise in the long-term economic strategy document unveiled by the Finance Minister today is its complete lack of balance. Everything corporate Canada and the right-wing think-tanks wanted is there in spades. What it lacks is any sense that the market economy must be regulated in the public interest to make sure that it […]

An election platform awaiting an election

Once again the Tories opportunistically use for their own gain what should be an honest update to the public about the country’s finances. OK, the Liberals did that too, but that does not make it right. Along with the Economic and Fiscal Update 2006 comes Advantage Canada, the Tories’ blueprint for prosperity. If the metaphor […]

Talking about class in the Wall Street Journal

Jim Webb, Democratic senator-elect from Virginia, writes in the Wall Street Journal: Class Struggle November 15, 2006 The most important-and unfortunately the least debated-issue in politics today is our society’s steady drift toward a class-based system, the likes of which we have not seen since the 19th century. America’s top tier has grown infinitely richer […]

Another tax cut gimmick? Opening thoughts on income splitting

There is a crisis of poverty and homelessness in Canada. A poll released by the CCPA yesterday found that Canadians across all regions and demographic categories feel that the gap between rich and poor is growing. There are major challenges that require attention, such as fighting climate change. A poll in the Vancouver Sun the […]

Global warming and boiling water

What is the economic cost of a boil water advisory for two million people in Vancouver? (Ironically, it has been raining a lot – but households and businesses cannot easily capture it.) How about the cost of restoring power to a hundred thousand homes after a freak storm? Or the cost of sandbagging properties on […]

Debt relief in Latin America

A good-news story out of Latin America that the Inter-American Development Bank is forgiving the debts of five extremely poor countries, including Bolivia and Nicaragua. Debt relief under the IMF/World Bank Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) program only relieved a portion of their debts (and they had to go through major structural adjustment program hoops […]

The growing gap

Milton Friedman’s legacy was to completely ignore the issue of inequality – of outcomes, of starting points, and of opportunities. So it is fitting that the CCPA launched a new research project today on inequality in Canada. A good question to ask whenever you hear policy proposals is: what does this do to inequality? The […]

Milton Friedman, undead

Friedman is dead but continues to wield influence from beyond the grave. Here is a story on Mike Harris and Preston Manning’s commentary that the Harper government is not right-wing enough and laying out their Friedman-esque version of Canada: ”Excessive government taxation and spending limit the economic freedom of individuals and businesses by reducing their […]

Squeal in the Dark, Part II

Hi Everyone… I promised I’d provide more details on our great debate with the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade regarding trade economics, in particular the likely employment effects of their proposed Canada-Korea FTA. The federal critique variously described the CAW study (which predicted significant post-FTA job losses in the auto industry and other […]

EU’s REACH legislation on toxics in jeopardy

On the verge of becoming law, Europe’s REACH legislation on toxic chemicals is a huge step forward. It requires that chemical companies prove their products are safe before introduction in the marketplace, as opposed to the status quo (in the US and Canada, too) where chemicals are innocent until proven guilty, which can take decades. […]

Monetarism’s legacy

First, a clever arrangement of quotes on monetarism from the New School, starting with Friedman’s intellectual roots, followed by some critics and defences: “[Recessions] are essentially a result of a supply of money that is too small, and to that extent are monetary phenomena…Complaints about excessive habits of saving are in such circumstances calculated to […]

Big Payoff from Pre School Programs

http://www.upjohninst.org/publications/newsletter/TJB_1006.pdf In a major study for the Upjohn Institute, Timothy J. Bartik calulates the macro economic impacts of high quality universal preschool education for the US,  based mainly on studies of the  impacts of a well-studied, high quality program (the Chicago Child-Parent Centre program, a half day program for four year olds with 2 teachers […]

Peak oil meets climate change

This article in the Vancouver Sun features a new report saying that we are not near “peak oil”: In sharp contrast to popular doomsday scenarios in which an oil supply crash triggers a global economic crisis, a U.S. energy think tank says the world has almost four times the oil supply envisioned by the pessimists. […]

Plan C for Canada

The bureaucrats at International Trade Canada seem to think that their job is to negotiate “free trade” deals with anyone who is willing to sit at the table opposite us. For years they have salivated at the idea of a Canada-EU trade agreement; they were among the first to hop on the WTO’s Doha Round […]

A Squeal in the Dark

When I was growing up on the farm in Alberta, our family had a saying: “If you throw something out into the dark and hear a squeal, it means you hit the pig.” (OK, I didn’t really grow up on a farm in Alberta.  But I visited one once.) That’s how I feel about the […]

Jeffrey Sachs’ Conversion?

Whaddya make of Jeffrey Sachs these days? He was the guy, was he not, who brought free-market shock therapy to Russia and Eastern Europe. But today he is out there championing the virtues of the welfare state. Here’s a recent missive from no less than Scientific American (Oct 16 2006 edition). It sounds just like […]

More “truthiness” from the Fraser Institute

The Fraser is on a roll. After taking some time settling into the big chair, new Executive Director Mark Mullins has unleashed a torrent of new releases in the past couple months. Few of these are “new” in the sense of original material, mostly they are updates of previous reports with spanky new ISBN numbers. […]

Markets, fairness and bastards

Some fascinating stuff on Economist’s View today. Below are two reposted articles on how notions of equity are deeply rooted in our brains. We may be smarter monkeys but the parallels are all too clear. Also check out this post on neoclassical indoctrination at the Chicago School. Thoma’s condensed version is here and the full […]

Environmental externalities of transportation

Statistics Canada’s Human Activity and the Environment 2006 report (summary from the Daily here and full report here) looks at transportation. The term “externality” is not stated but economists will see it between the lines. An interesting finding in the report is that while transportation has been contributing to higher greenhouse gas emissions, regular air […]

Regulation, anyone?

This is not good. But doing something about it (i.e. internalizing the externality) is too offensive to corporate Canada – and apparently from the article, corporate everywhere. Call it “smart regulation” or “risk management”, the way our regulatory system is set up means that the bodies have to pile up for the sake of sufficient […]

Doing what we are told

Thanks to Scott Sinclair for bringing a couple items to my attention. Below are two recent articles from the trade journal, Inside US Trade, Canada Moves Toward Ending Wheat Monopoly As Sought By U.S., and Canada Changes Drug Rules To Meet U.S. Demand On Data Exclusivity. It is interesting that capitulation to the US is […]

Will an aging population bring health care to its artificial knees?

A few months back, the BC government launched a “conversation on health care” that will last almost two years and will feature forums around the province engaging people on what they would like their public health care system to be. Having such discussions should be seen as a part of a health democracy, even though […]

Far Right Economist Appointed as Department of Finance Adviser

This is bad news indeed. Right-wingers are no strangers to the hallowed halls of the Department of Finance (Jack Mintz held this position in the past before heading off to the CD Howe Institute), but for my money Crowley is much more a Fraser Institute clone right-wing ideologue than credible professional economist.  He has been […]

On Conrad Black and Corporate Greed

We all suffer when greed is the creed http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/story/0,,1939867,00.html If you doubt the malign effects of big business out of control, consider Conrad Black’s downfall Will Hutton Sunday November 5, 2006 The Observer There has rarely been a better time to be a plutocrat. This is an unrivalled era in which both to acquire great […]

Income trusts: Two cheers

The dust has now settled on the Tories’ decision to tax income trusts. The government deserves credit for dealing with this issue even though they had promised to do otherwise. While there is some fury on Bay Street and among some retirees, the reality is that the government and corporate Canada were playing a game […]