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Archive for January, 2008

Whither the automatic stabilizers?

Given the storm clouds on the horizon, and the prospect of a slowdown/recession, one of the more interesting aspects of fiscal policy has to do with automatic stabilizers. As the economy turns, revenues will fall and expenditures on income support will naturally increase, driving the budget towards deficit and thereby propping up demand just as […]

Recession watch

With the recent turmoil in the markets, and the words “slowdown” and “recession” all over the news, the biggest danger is that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. Consumers slow spending based on concerns about what comes next, and businesses put the brakes on new investments based on perceived soft demand. This could drive the economy […]

Will Hutton on the Financial Crisis

From today’s Observer – http://observer.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,,2247583,00.html 

A Perfect Explanation of Sub Prime Lending

Check out this brilliant video on You Tube, everything you need to know about finance and the sub prime crisis. http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=long%20johns%20sub%20prime&search=Search&sa=X&oi=spell&resnum=0&spell=1 

Climate Change, Justice and Fairness

On the intersection between climate change and inequality, Alan Durning of the Sightline Institute nails it in this post: Climate Fairness   Climate change is a universal menace, threatening hardships for everyone. But it’s not an egalitarian menace: everyone will not suffer equally. Perversely, those people and nations least to blame for causing it are […]

Manufacturing TILMA consent

Keith Reynolds from CUPE has done some extensive FOI requests about the BC government’s contracts with the Conference Board of Canada to prop up its push for the BC-Alberta Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement (see this previous post and also see here, here, here and here for additional background on the Conference Board’s “methodology”). […]

The Danish Flexicurity Model

The Nordic Model blog posted this summary of a paper by one of the grand-daddies of Danish flexicurity (blog comments in italics, followed by the text): When Per Kongshøj Madsen, one of the fathers of the flexicurity Danish model, from the CARMA centre of the University of Aalborg, writes an excellent synthesis about flexicurity and […]

Flaherty’s stimulus spin

Here is a challenge for you: find me a quote from Jim Flaherty during or just after the release of the October Economic and Fiscal Update where he says the tax cuts in the EFU were a stimulus package because of worries about an economic slowdown in Canada. I’d love to see that because here […]

The D Word

My Alternative Federal Budget technical paper from last week seems to have single-handedly re-inserted the word “deficit” into Ottawa’s policy lexicon after a decade’s absence. A couple good columns have come out repeating the main premise of my paper (see Thomas Walkom in the Toronto Star and Frances Russell in the Winnipeg Free Press). And […]

Saskatchewan Rejects TILMA . . . Again

Saskatchewan’s new Premier, Brad Wall, addressed the Petroleum Club in Calgary on Monday to emphasize his willingness to continue giving away his province’s oil reserves for scandalously low royalties. Several media outlets reported that he also expressed interest in joining TILMA, which he had previously rejected. For example, The Globe and Mail reported, “He mentioned […]

Beyond Defending the State

PEF member Tom Slee sends this missive challenging the Left: The recent blog post by Robert Chernomas and Ian Hudson is a wholesome read. It reminds us that markets and private enterprise deserve less credit than they receive for our current prosperity, such as it is; it lays out the contribution of the state to […]

Calm Amidst the Economic Storm – “Only in Canada, You Say?”

With outright panic sweeping global financial markets,  the relative calm among Canadian economic policy-makers seems increasingly strange.   Today’s timid quarter point interest rate cut by the Bank of Canada was hugely eclipsed by the US Federal Reserve’s three quarter point cut, rushed out the door  to try and soothe the savage beast known as Wall […]

The Globe on TILMA

Ten days ago, The Globe and Mail’s online edition included an excellent op-ed by Murray Dobbin debunking the notion that supposed inter-provincial trade barriers necessitate TILMA. Unfortunately, The Globe followed it with an editorial endorsing TILMA in Friday’s print edition: How to bulldoze a wall The Globe And Mail Friday, January 18, 2008 Page: A14 […]

Indicators of Well-Being in Canada

I’m really impressed by this web resource launched by Human Resources and Social Development Canada. It provides indicators across several domains – income, work, health, learning etc. to a total of perhaps 80 in all – charts major national trends, disggregates many indicators by gender and (bravely for the federal government) by province, and provides […]

Progressive Child Benefit Reform

This report from Ken Battle of the Caledon Institute was released today. I’ve not yet had a chance to read it in full but the approach seems bang-on to me – fold the two new badly designed Tory child benefits into the CCTB, with a new and much higher maximum of $5,000, phased out relatively […]

Social Murder and Conservative Economics

A salvo from University of Manitoba economists, and PEF members, Ian Hudson and Robert Chernomas, based on their new book, Social Murder and Other Shortcomings of Conservative Economics: The Myth of Conservative Economics January 2008 “The government can’t pick winners, but losers pick government.”  Former Canadian Deputy Industry Minister V. Peter Harder cited in The […]

Carbon Taxes, Imports and Jobs

I note that the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) has called for a carbon tax on imports into the EU if Europe’s trading partners  do not take actions to reduce emissions similar to those of the EU. (text follows.) The aim is to ensure that jobs in European heavy industry are not lost to lower-cost […]

Housing and Homelessness in Toronto

From PEF member Nick Falvo, from today’s Toronto Star: City has a useful plan but still needs funding TheStar.com – comment – City has a useful plan but still needs funding January 15, 2008 Nick Falvo Over the past decade, media attention surrounding homelessness has been widespread, prompting Canadians to become increasingly concerned about a […]

Carbon tax and driving

Dave Sawyer, one of the authors of the National Round Table on Environment and Economy report, and blogger at EnviroEconomics.ca, makes some pertinent insider comments on the efficacy of a carbon tax in reducing emissions from personal transportation, a major source of emissions: While the carbon tax will “drive” some reductions in vehicle kilometers traveled, […]

Northern Saskatchewan Ablaze with Controversy

As discussed here three weeks ago, Dion appointed Joan Beatty as the Liberal by-election candidate in Desnethe-Missinippi-Churchill River just over a week ago.  Since then, Ralph Goodale has tried to make much of the fact that other prospective candidates should have been aware of this possibility and opponents of the appointment have organized feverishly.

Flaherty responds to Marc’s report

The Finance Minister denies my charges that a slowdown could lead to a deficit, as reported on CBC: Flaherty rejects think-tank’s deficit warning Last Updated: Monday, January 14, 2008 | 2:50 PM ET Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said Monday that there’s no substance to worries that the country will head back into a deficit situation if the economy slows. […]

Canadian fiscal policy in the event of a downturn

With each passing day, more and more commentators are concerned about an economic slowdown. South of the border, the talk is even more pessimistic with the consensus essentially that the US economy is headed for recession in 2008, if not already in one. The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities and Brookings have each released […]

The NRTEE and carbon pricing

The National Round Table on Environment and Economy made the news this week with its report to the federal government on how the feds’ own climate change targets could be achieved, and with minimal impact on the economy. The NRTEE was established way back when by Brian Mulroney, who a couple years ago was dubbed […]

Today’s Labour Force Release (January 11.)

Today’s job numbers show that fears of a looming recession are justified, and underline the need for immediate action. Labour has called for cuts to interest rates to help bring down the dollar, a national high level task force on the manufacturing jobs crisis, targeted measures to support new manufacturing investment, and job creation through […]

Poverty reduction strategies

“Targets and timelines” is the new mantra for anti-poverty activists, and increasingly, governments. When it comes to climate change, taking it seriously means setting goals and deadlines to meet them, a process now underway, if perhaps too slowly. The same is true for poverty reduction. If we are serious about eradicating poverty (say, over the […]

A Primer on Pump-Priming

With a weakening US economy that may well spill over into Canada, it is time to start thinking about fiscal policy responses should recession rear its ugly head. To date much of the focus has been on monetary policy, with calls for central banks to lower interest rates. This is providing some relief, but as […]

Levy Institute on sub-prime and US developments

Randall Wray, in a paper for the Levy Institute, provides a nice history of the sub-prime debacle, and connects it to the economics of Hyman Minsky (whose name has resurfaced in the wake of the current connundrum) in Lessons from the Sub-prime Meltdown: This paper uses Hyman P. Minsky’s approach to analyze the current international […]

Cityphilia

A good piece by novelist John Lanchester from the London Review of Books – on the City (London finance), inequality,  and the credit crisis. http://www.lrb.co.uk/v30/n01/lanc01_.html

Manifesto Destiny

In my holiday reading were two manifestos – how often can you say that? The first arrived by mail just before the break, the Manifesto on Global Economic Transitions, published in September 2007 by the International Forum on Globalization, the Institute for Policy Studies, and the Global Project on Economic Transitions (I will dub this […]

Michael Moore on the Democratic Primaries

Moore makes several accurate and entertaining points in today’s open letter. Although he stops short of officially endorsing Edwards, his final paragraph comes pretty close. Who Do We Vote For This Time Around? A Letter from Michael Moore Friends, A new year has begun. And before we’ve had a chance to break our New Year’s […]