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Archive for March, 2008

Taking the SPs to Task on TILMA

As Joe Kuchta points out, Saskatoon’s StarPhoenix (SP) newspaper has essentially reversed its position on TILMA without any acknowledgement that its previous position was mistaken. The other SP, the province’s governing Saskatchewan Party, did the same thing. At least the StarPhoenix printed the following op-ed from Joe: SP’s TILMA stance hypocritical Joe Kuchta Special to […]

Phone spam

Spurred by his success in using facebook to derail the government’s new draconian copyright proposals, Michael Geist has set up a service to complement (perhaps, do the work for) the Canadian do-not-call registry. I signed up for that months ago and still get phone spam. I find this deeply annoying, especially when I have settled […]

Early learning and child care strategies

For as long as I can remember (i.e. when I was a kid) Ontario has had junior kindergarten for four-year-olds. It is mostly half-day, I think, as is senior kindergarten for five-year olds. Here in BC they just have one kindergarten for five-year-olds, and is generally two-and-a-half to three hours per day. In the recent […]

The cost of homelessness

For the first time in years, I forked out a toonie to buy the Vancouver Sun this past Saturday. It must have been a guest editor for Easter or something because the banner headline screamed: The Cost of Homelessness: BC spends $644 million a year on services for those on the street. A study says […]

Tax cuts and the uber-rich

 A good one from Eric Beauchesne on the Canwest wire. Some highlights: Canada’s wealthy benefit most from tax cuts, OECD finds The tax burden on wages has eased in most of the world’s industrial countries this decade, including here, but Canada is among a minority where most of the relief has gone to high-income earners […]

Now that the pendulum is swinging back …

Andrew Jackson closes his lengthy and excellent post on the fallout of the US financial crisis with this paragraph (which I repeat here only because Andrew’s post was so comprehensive): We are at a moment when progressives will have to move from critique to prescription. As Naomi Klein argued in the Shock Doctrine, neo liberalism […]

Toronto Airport Inefficiency

In my experience, flights are often delayed in Pearson airport. I always wonder whether there is some particular problem with the management of Pearson or whether delays just tend to happen there because air travel is somehow prone to delay and so many flights go through Pearson. A recent Canadian Press story seems to support the […]

Report From an Unfolding Crisis, or What I Learned in Washington.

I was in Washington last week for meetings of economists from central trade union bodies, mainly from the OECD countries. While the main purpose of the meetings was to draft the annual union statement to the upcoming G-8 summit in Japan, we had a full day of meetings with researchers and senior officials from the […]

Unionizing Dofasco

The United Steelworkers are currently trying to organize Dofasco. I encourage progressives to vote “yes” in The Hamilton Spectator’s online poll. UPDATE (March 24): The Dofasco poll no longer seems to be on The Spectator’s website.

Some Inconvenient Accounting and the Fall 2008 Fiscal Update

Ah, the confluence of the events! The tabling of a “prudent” federal budget for uncertain times, followed a week later by news of slowing economic growth. Of course, rumors of the economy’s imminent decline may be greatly exaggerated, given January’s jobs report and trade data. But let’s carry forth with the economic accounts data.   […]

Shocking FDI Statistics

No this isn’t the Economics National Enquirer.  I mean shocking.  Really shocking. Hasn’t anyone else out there noticed what’s happened to Canada’s net FDI position, in the wake of the mega-massive takeovers of Canadian resource companies that have occurred as a result of the global commodity price boom?  Resource companies with more money than they […]

Ottawa’s Automotive Tax Grab

Even Jim Flaherty’s “We Don’t Pick Winners” Conservatives were under pressure in this budget to do something for the auto industry.  The fact that at least a dozen swing ridings in southwestern Ontario could determine the outcome of the next election might have something to do with their sensitivity to the continuing industrial destruction being […]

Monetary policy in the time of (financial) cholera

I was on CBC’s The House this weekend on the US economy and its implication for Canada and the federal budget. My co-commentator was Chris Ragan, of McGill and CD Howe. We are in general agreement as far as diagnosis goes, though he seems more optimistic than I about Canada’s ability to stay clear of […]

More on carbon taxes

Gwyn Morgan, retired founding CEO of EnCana Corp., makes some interesting points about the BC carbon tax in this Globe article. But he also misses the point by focusing his analogy on transportation, as many of us do because it is most what we relate to. While transportation is characterized by highly inelastic responses, the […]

Household savings and debt

It is a grim story for household finances according to a recent report by Roger Sauve for the Vanier Institute for the Family. Savings have all but vanished for most families, with debt rising to record highs relative to income. Interest payments have jumped up relative to income, suggesting more households are mortgage and credit […]

Jim Prentice’s TILMA Testimony

Last week, Industry Minister Jim Prentice appeared before the  Senate Banking, Trade and Commerce Committee to make the case for TILMA as a means of overcoming those dreaded interprovincial trade barriers, examples of which, according to the Minister “are legion”. What examples does the Minister cite? Here is what I can find: For example, some […]

PEF at the CEA 2008

In Vancouver, June 6-8, the Progressive Economics Forum will be holding five panels at the annual meetings of the Canadian Economics Association. In addition we will be awarding the new John Kenneth Galbraith Prize in Economics for the first time (more to come on this). We would like to thank the CEA, who last year […]

Public infrastructure in Canada

A new release from Statistics Canada on infrastructure finds that: In the public sector, infrastructure is primarily concentrated in schools, hospitals, roads and water mains. In 2002, about one-third (34%) of assets were devoted to transportation in the public sector, unchanged from 1970. About 26% were devoted to recreation, culture and education, 13% to health […]

Today’s Job Numbers

There is good news today, but ample reason for caution looking ahead Canada’s job market continues to surprise. Despite a strong drop in economic growth in late 2007 and recognition this week from the Bank of Canada that a US downturn will spill over into Canada, employment rose by 43,000 last month and the unemployment […]

Women – Still a Long Way from Economic Equality

 The CLC today released – on the eve of International Women’s Day – a major report on women and economic equality.   I’ll be presenting it at the PEF meetings in June. The report flags a question which is not posed often or clearly enough – why has the pay (and wider opportunity) gap between women […]

Modeling climate change reduction strategies

National Post Dinosaur-in-Chief Terence Corcoran has nothing but bile to spew at the David Suzuki Foundation and its recent report on carbon pricing. With characteristic bombast, he still seems to think that global warming is a vast left-wing conspiracy to overthrow capitalism. But Terry is right about one thing. All of the modeling for greenhouse […]

Impact of U.S. Slowdown on Canada

Mark Weisbrot and his colleagues at the Washington-based Center for Economic and Policy Analysis have just released a report that estimates the economic impact of a U.S.  slowdown on the Americas, including Canada.    They estimate the impact simply through trade adjustment, assuming in the low adjustment scenario that the U.S. trade deficit falls from 5.2% […]

Corporations piling up cash and surpluses while household deficits grow

The New York Times has an article today about how, unlike households, American corporations are piling up cash.  Unlike most American consumers, whose failure to save has exasperated economists for years, the typical American corporation has increased its savings so sharply that it probably has enough cash on hand to completely pay off its debts. […]

Bank of Canada Still Playing Catch-Up

The good news is that the Bank of Canada today matched the maximum market expectation of them, a half point cut in the target for the overnight rate. They even suggested that further interest rate cuts are in store. “Further monetary stimulus is likely to be required in the near term to keep aggregate supply […]

Pity the Poor Capital Gains-Makers

I am glad that Jim Flaherty’s budget did not actually come through with a rumoured exemption for capital gains income.  Recall that the Conservatives’ 2006 platform had promised a ridiculous and unworkable exemption from income taxes on capital gains so long as the winnings were “re-invested.”  This high-profile broken promise still clearly niggled the Harper […]

The Pitfalls of the “Service Economy”

In working on the CAW’s recent submission to the Red Wilson panel, I did a bit of work to debunk the common argument that the growth of the “services economy” can somehow offset the damage that is occurring these days to our manufacturing sector and other tradeable industries. Here is the link to our full […]

Structural Regression, the Energy Boom, and Deindustrialization

I want to encourage folks to look through the CAW’s detailed submission to the federal government’s panel on competition policy (headed by Red Wilson).  Here is the link: http://www.caw.ca/whoweare/CAWpoliciesandstatements/pdfs/CompetitionInvestmentPanel.pdf I think it’s a major statement about the structural transformation occurring in Canada’s economy as a result of the global commodity boom.  Basic summary: high global […]

Toronto Fiscal Panel: The View From Inside

I recently took a crash course in the fascinating, challenging economics of municipal finance. I was one of the 6 members of the independent panel that was formed to review the City of Toronto’s fiscal situation. The panel issued its report last month. Most progressive economists have long recognized the growing economic importance of cities, […]

The Last of the Lapointe Fish Market Budgets?

And so, as we recover from Tuesday’s budget and recoil at the spectacle that is the Cadman affair, let us all pause and mark this moment for it may be the last of an era, one we may come to know as the “pre-PBO” era, an era where, in the context of contrived “budgetary scarcity,” […]