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Archive for February, 2007

Reeling Stock Markets

http://business.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,,2023410,00.html The current panic on the world’s markets is indicative of more than just the madness of crowds, writes Larry Elliott Wednesday February 28, 2007 Guardian Unlimited Predictably, the crash in global share prices is being shrugged off as a mere blip. The fact that Shanghai fell by 9% in a day and Wall Street […]

Gender and job quit rates

Women face what has been called “statistical discrimination” in getting employment. That is, an assumption exists that a woman is more likely to leave the job in order to have children, and thus women are less likely to be hired. A new study from Statistics Canada finds evidence that this is not the case, at […]

Lady Slatternly’s Lover

March is coming and with it the trial of Conrad Black. Racketeering, fraud, embezzelment, money laundering, insider trading – it promises to be a fascinating trial, due to the size of the crimes and the even bigger size of Black’s ego. Conrad Black is a Canadian icon, a man people love to hate. His fall […]

Relative Low Wages in Canada

I just received my 2006 issue of Society at a Glance: OECD Social Indicators. (Best seen in living colour!) The OECD now regularly reports systematic national indicators of earnings inequality (Table EQ2.1). I have made wide use in the past of data for the mid to late 1990s circulated in the OECD Employment Outlook, which […]

TILMA in the News

Yesterday and the day before, several newspapers posted the following story about TILMA. Although it is disappointing to read uncritical reporting of the Conference Board’s $4.8-billion figure, it is good to see the Canadian Press report that “The NDP governments in Saskatchewan and Manitoba have said they’re not interested in signing on.” While opponents of TILMA […]

Retirement – Ready or Not?

http://research.cibcwm.com/economic_public/download/srpt_rrsp_022007.pdf An interesting piece on retirement savings from CIBC. It highlights the huge increase in unused RRSP contribution room in recent years, and the widening contribution gap between higher and lower income Canadians.  As of 2005, the median total asset value of RRSPs held by pre retirement persons aged 55-65 was just $60,000 – hardly […]

Canada’s Lagging Productivity

http://www.statcan.ca/Daily/English/070223/d070223a.htm Philip Cross of Statscan has writen an interesting analysis of our very weak labour productivity performance in 2006. Output per hour growth has been very slow – a result of weak output growth combined with fairly strong job growth. The key factor highlighted here is declining productivity in the mining sector as production shifts […]

Back-of-Envelope Math on R&D

To flesh out the cost-effectiveness issue outlined below, consider the following figures. McKenzie estimates that a 10% decrease in the cost of R&D due to a tax credit increases R&D by 2% in the short term and 7% in the long term, but that a 10% decrease in the effective tax rate on production increases […]

Research and Development

This afternoon, I attended Kenneth McKenzie’s presentation at Industry Canada on “Taxes, R&D and Enterprise Formation.” To a large extent, it was based on his C. D. Howe Institute Commentary. His main message is that governments seeking to promote R&D can “push” by reducing its cost through incentives (i.e. subsidies) or “pull” by increasing its […]

Galbraith on predatory capitalism

As a teaser for the PEF’s new John Kenneth Galbraith Prize, to be inaugurated at this year’s Canadian Economics Association meetings by his son James Galbraith, here is a short piece the latter did for The Nation last April, as one of several contributors on the theme, “taming global capitalism anew”: Taming Predatory Capitalism JAMES […]

Core Inflation

In setting monetary policy, the Bank of Canada emphasizes “Core CPI,” which excludes the most volatile components of the Consumer Price Index to provide a clearer measure of underlying trends. My last post noted that average Canadian wage increases exceeded inflation by only 1% during the past year. However, inflation was held down by a […]

The Economics of Suicide Bombing

http://papers.nber.org/papers/W12910 An instructive – and admittedly interesting – example of the proclivity of economists to reduce almost everything to rationalist explanations. Attack Assignments in Terror Organizations and The Productivity of Suicide Bombers   Efraim Benmelech, Claude Berrebi NBER Working Paper No. 12910 Issued in February 2007 NBER Program(s):   LS    POL This paper studies the relation between […]

What’s missing from the BC “housing budget”? The housing.

BC Budget 2007 is a “housing budget” that does not build much housing. The budget commits to a mere 250 new social housing units over two years – a far cry from the 2,000 per year that was built back when the federal and provincial governments were in the game (before 1993). At this pace, […]

Wages and Inflation by Province

Despite Alberta’s booming economy, Albertans are making about the same amount per hour as they were a year ago. Specifically, the resource boom has increased prices as much as wages. Statistics Canada released January’s inflation numbers today. It is interesting to compare them with January’s wage numbers. Nationwide, average hourly wages increased by 2.2% and […]

From GDP to CIW?

This article below from the Toronto Star looks at efforts to create a Canadian Index of Welfare (CIW). Some folks would like to heave GDP out the window in favour of something that looks like a CIW, but this would be a mistake. A CIW could add to our understanding, but it could not replace […]

Building Empires, or Building the Economy?

The CAW has merged with about 35 smaller unions since we were formed in 1985.  That doesn’t stop me, however, from questioning the economic usefulness of Canadian corporate mergers.  M&A activity last year reached an incredible $270 billion.  That’s 20 percent of our GDP.  And what good actually comes from it?  At best, the M&A […]

Anna Nicole Smith

I bet you didn’t expect to see this title on Relentlessly Progressive Economics, and it’s not just an attempt to get more Google hits. This story highlights some important questions about inheritance. Not surprisingly, men have lined up for DNA tests to stake a claim on her late husband’s fortune via her baby. While some […]

Congestion charging in London

… is working nicely, says the Mayor: Charging ahead Ken Livingstone February 16, 2007 2:45 PM http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/ken_livingstone/2007/02/of_course_the_catastrophe_didn.html In 2003, congestion charging was introduced in the most clogged-up central area of London against a backdrop of almost universal media scepticism and many gleeful predictions of catastrophe. Of course the catastrophe didn’t happen. London is now in […]

Full-Time and Part-Time Jobs

The Canadian Labour Congress is one of several institutions that comments on Statistics Canada’s monthly Labour Force Survey. As the Ottawa Sun reported last week, a striking fact in the latest release was the net loss of 10,000 full-time positions in Ontario, Quebec, and Newfoundland in January.    February 10, 2007 Job numbers game Rising employment figures […]

BC’s climate plan and TILMA

Craig MacInnis in his Vancouver Sun column compares Alberta’s intransigence on oil and gas with BC’s new green laurels. What he misses is TILMA. Having signed this deal (there is still time to pull out) that will definitely impact Alberta’s oil and gas sector, BC is giving them a club to bash the provincial government […]

Climate change: urban design solutions

Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan adds his two cents: good urban design, through higher densities and good public transit, needs to be part of the solution. It’s time to talk about urban density Tue 13 Feb 2007 As mayor of one of Canada’s biggest cities, Vancouver, I am frustrated with the nature of the debate on […]

Meeting BC’s climate change target

More musings below on how BC can meet its new climate change commitments. Hint: they go far beyond what was identified in the Throne Speech. But I am quite pleased that this discussion is happening on page one of the Vancouver Sun: Campbell’s Green Dream To reduce emissions by 33 %: Can he deliver? Thursday, […]

Ben Bernanke Speaks Out on Inequality

 An interesting and  informed reflection on the sources of rising inequality -  seen as not reducible to “skill biased technological change”, with the usual cop out that almost all of the answer lies in education and training. http://www.federalreserve.gov/boarddocs/speeches/2007/20070206/default.htm Remarks by Chairman Ben S. Bernanke Before the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce, Omaha, Nebraska February 6, […]

The TILMA papers

The CCPA released two papers today on the Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement, one by Ellen Gould that looks at the potential risks posed by the deal’s sweeping language, and a second by myself and Erin Weir, on the contrived economic case made for TILMA. Both papers can be downloaded here. Below is the […]

The kids are alright (in Scandinavia)

Some factiods on the well-being of children from a recent UNICEF report (hat tip here). The Nordics are generally at the top of the list; Canada is number 12; the US and UK round out the bottom of the 21 countries on the list. Way to go, Scandinavia – with your high taxes, generous social […]

More on BC’s green Throne Speech

Mitch Anderson in The Tyee comments further on BC’s Throne Speech and the outlines of a new plan on global warming. Premier’s Shaky Global Warming Pitch Will he or won’t he? That was the question on the minds of many British Columbians this week as Gordon Campbell prepared to release the throne speech and announce […]

How green is BC’s Throne Speech?

My Director, Seth Klein, likes to joke that the Campbell government has somehow managed to resuscitate Chairman Mao’s old speechwriter. We have seen the “New Era of Prosperity” back in the 2001 election, and the “Five Great Goals for a Golden Decade” in the 2005 election. With today’s Throne Speech, we have the “Pacific Century” […]

Stiglitz on global warming

Joseph Stiglitz points to some solutions to global warming, and some politics that stands in the way, excerpted from his latest column: What is required, first and foremost, are market-based incentives to induce Americans to use less energy and to produce more energy in ways that emit less carbon. But Bush has neither eliminated massive […]

BC’s new global warming plan?

This story below was the front page banner headline on Saturday’s Vancouver Sun. It is a pretty exciting thought that BC might seek to emulate California with aggressive emissions targets. And between the lines, there appears to be some backtracking with regard to the approval of two new coal-fired power plants (which would be the […]

Congestion pricing in NYC

This article from the New York Times generally roots for congestion pricing in NYC. As someone who rides a bike to work, I tend to agree, though I am concerned that there would be a hit on some modest-income people who need a car to get to work or who live in areas that are […]