Main menu:

Posts by Author

History of RPE Thought

Posts by Tag

RSS New from the CCPA

Progressive Bloggers

Meta

Recent Blog Posts

Recent Blog Comments

The Progressive Economics Forum

Archive for July, 2008

The D Word

As reported by Julian Beltram of Canadian Press: The federal government has started the new fiscal year in a rare deficit position, announcing yesterday it was $517 million in the red after two months as tax cuts and a slowing economy sliced into revenues. Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said revenues fell $1.6 billion combined in […]

How Low Can Canadian Business Taxes Go?

Canada has the third-lowest business taxes of ten countries examined in a study released as part of KPMG’s 2008 Competitive Alternatives report. The spin from KPMG has been that “If the provinces follow the federal lead and reduce their rates as well, Canada’s advantage will be enhanced.” Canadians should be asking a different question. If we […]

Is the Liberals’ Green Shift an Anti-Poverty Plan?

Rob Rainer of the National Anti-Poverty Organization has audited the federal Liberals’ Green Shift plan for anti-poverty measures and found it lacking a comprehensive approach. I’ve excerpted below the main points in his brief, which is not on the NAPO web site and should not be taken as the voice of NAPO on the matter […]

Party platforms and climate strategies

A well-intentioned article in the Vancouver Sun seeks to explain carbon taxes and cap-and-trade systems. A worthy objective, but the article really aims to pigeonhole various alternatives in terms of political parties. It ends up taking a far-too-simplified view that goes something like this: The debate is being played out in British Columbia, where the […]

On fingers doing the walking

With this whole Internet thing, I have not cracked a copy of The Yellow Pages in years. Somehow I assumed that at some point they would just stop delivering them in favour of online distribution or give me the option for a CD-ROM. Alas, no. So after receiving the bulk that is the Yellow Pages […]

A Carbon Tariff is Eminently Sensible

I am really glad Stephane Dion supplemented his Green Shift proposal with a call for a carbon tariff.  This is utterly consistent with demands the left has been making for years, namely that the rules of globalization have to be broadened to effectively address the role of environmental, labour, and social standards in determining competitiveness […]

The economy in cartoons

As a fan of satire, I love the medium of cartoons. Here are a few favourites who consistently produce good stuff, and a couple recent posts. Tom the Dancing Bug, explains the economics of gas prices and tells how America was destroyed. This Modern World says Farewell My Lovely Economy and soothes Republican angst. And […]

Potash, Workers and the Public Interest

As has been widely reported in the business press, members of the United Steelworkers union employed at the Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan’s Allan, Cory and Patience Lake mines voted 96% on Monday night for a strike mandate. The three locals served strike notice on Wednesday, which will put them in a legal strike position tomorrow. […]

Premiers on Labour Mobility and Internal Trade

Regarding the Premiers’ announcement in Quebec City last week, I would reiterate what I wrote a year ago about a very similar federal proclamation by then-Minister of Industry, Maxime Bernier. The main piece of real news is that Premiers have attached financial penalties to the existing Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT): Premiers announced an enhanced […]

Inflation, Wages and Interest Rates

This morning, Statistics Canada released the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for June. Inflation driven by commodity prices justifies higher wages, but should not prompt the Bank of Canada to hike interest rates. Inflation and Wages Rising consumer prices nullified most of the wage gains that Canadian workers made during the last year. From June 2007 […]

My Vacation and the Economics of Public Space

Here’s my self-indulgent Summer vacation blog. John Kenneth Galbraith is rightly renowned for the contrast he drew between private affluence and public squalor in the US. Yet he also argued that public investment is needed to sustain private affluence. What the US has generally – but not always – got hugely wrong is the balance […]

Is Job Quality Really Improving?

The widely publicized CIBC Employment Quality Index would have us believe that average job quality has been improving this year even as the pace of job creation has slowed down, and even as the national unemployment rate has risen from 6.0% to 6.2%. http://research.cibcwm.com/economic_public/download/eqi-cda-20080716.pdf I wonder if this is due to the realities of the […]

Canada-U.S. Productivity Comparisons

StatsCan released a new analytical study today on the decline of Canadian labour productivity relative to the U.S., up to 2003. http://www.statcan.ca/Daily/English/080721/d080721a.htm Main findings are not surprising: Canadian business sector productivity has slipped relative to U.S. productivity (to 87% by 2003).  (We know it’s fallen significantly further than that since — Canadian labour productivity has […]

WSJ Editor Checks Out of the Hotel California

The Wall Street Journal ran an op-ed this weekend entitled, “California Getaway: High taxes continue to drive businesses out of state,” about how the California State Automobile Association (CSAA) is relocating three call centres to other states. However, the CSAA, an affiliate of the American Automobile Association, is not really a “business”. I assume that, […]

Economics for Everyone: Two Reviews

Marc Lee took me gently to task a couple of weeks ago for being too modest and not promoting my new book (Economics for Everyone, meant to be a “primer” on economics for trade unionists and other rank-and-file folk) on this blog: http://www.progressive-economics.ca/2008/06/20/economics-for-everyone/ Thanks for your highly kind words Marc, and the prod. Instead, I […]

BC Public Accounts: Surprise, another surplus!

BC’s public accounts for 2007/08 were released yesterday, closing the fiscal year with a surplus of $2.886 billion. This marks BC’s fourth truly massive surplus in a row, after surpluses of $2.575 billion in 2004/05, $3.060 billion in 2005/06, and $4.056 billion in 2006/07. Like all of those budgets, the 2007/08 budget as tabled in […]

Road Trip Economics

I’m recently back from a family vacation, which consisted in driving down to Northern California and back, camping along the way. Our 1992 Corolla keeps on rolling, and in my mind it is better to keep it humming and wait it out for something electric in a few years time, than to buy a new […]

Are forecasters too bullish?

Here is the latest from the Conference Board: Its outlook projects Canada’s economy to grow 1.7 per cent this year – a far more bullish prediction than the Bank of Canada, which on Tuesday revised downward its growth forecast to one per cent this year. What is interesting is how the CP report calls them […]

Central Bank Idles as Economy Sputters

This morning, the Bank of Canada left interest rates unchanged. It should have cut interest rates because Canada’s slowing economy and overvalued currency are more serious problems than the spectre of inflation. Stimulus Needed Last week’s Labour Force Survey indicated that Canada lost 39,000 full-time jobs in June, pushing unemployment to its highest level in […]

Where Do Non-Fuel Emissions Come From?

Duncan Cameron’s comment about the role of agriculture in climate change prompted me to take a closer look at greenhouse-gas emissions from sources other than burning fossil fuels. The final column of the following table is a sectoral breakdown of row 8 from yesterday’s table. All of these emissions are exempt from the Liberal Green […]

Where Do Greenhouse Gases Come From?

A couple of weeks ago, Jeffrey Simpson inaccurately accused the NDP of “ignoring the fact that most emissions come from individuals.” Andrew Coyne is similarly fond of suggesting that, while half of greenhouse-gas emissions are generated by large final emitters, the other half are generated by “consumers”. Both commentators have, to varying degrees, commended the Liberals for […]

New Brunswick Tax Reforms: Pig in the Poke

As Andrew Jackson has written recently on this blog, the New Brunswick government is proposing a set of truly dreadful tax reforms. The proposals include: a 10% flat tax for personal income, or a two-tier rate at 9% and 12% reducing the corporate income tax from 13% down to as low as 5% a carbon tax […]

Summertime Blues for Canadian Workers

My assessment of today’s Labour Force Survey follows: Devastating Loss of Full-Time Jobs Canada lost 39,000 full-time jobs in June. While 34,000 of these positions were replaced with part-time jobs, 2,000 more Canadians entered the workforce, swelling the ranks of the unemployed by 7,000. One hopes that the Bank of Canada will respond to this […]

Tilting at Economic Freedom

The Fraser Institute released its annual report on economic freedom yesterday. As always, the report attempts to establish a causal relationship between its measure of “economic freedom” and economic growth. The first major problem is that economic growth is clearly driven by other more important factors. With respect to Newfoundland and Labrador, the Fraser Institute […]

Reigning in the Mortgage Industry

I’m pleased to see the federal government are taking action to modestly reign in the wilder excesses of the Canadian mortgage lending industry. They propose to insure only loans with a 5% downpayment and 35 year or less amortization period – compared to tnhe status quo which permits insurance of no down payment 40 year […]

The Colour of Margarine in Quebec

As reported yesterday and today, the Government of Quebec has lifted its ban on margarine coloured to look like butter and the province’s dairy farmers do not seem inclined to put up much of a fight. This story has provided excellent fodder for witty headline writers: “Can’t believe it’s not yellow?” – Globe and Mail […]

Workers Uniting – The Global Union

I was a delegate to the United Steelworkers’ triennial Constitutional Convention in Las Vegas last week. Video of Obama’s speech and other highlights is available through the union’s revamped website. The 2008 convention will likely be remembered for three historic decisions. First, a new position was added to the union’s International Executive Board. (Semi-regular news […]

New Brunswick “Tax Reform”

The New Brunswick government have proposed and are conducting hearings into a dreadful proposed “tax reform” package, centred on a flat personal income tax of just 10% and corporate tax cuts, to be financed mainly by a higher harmonized sales tax. I have written a short piece quantifying the benefits to high income New Brunswickers […]

Mike Harris Blames the Victim … Again

Lightning should surely have struck the offices of the Fraser Institute last week when it released a study co-authored by Mike Harris, the former Ontario Premier, on the supposedly declining state of the City of Toronto.   The study itself (“Is Toronto in Decline?”, available at http://www.fraserinstitute.org/researchandpublications/publications/5696.aspx)  was nothing to write home about.  It consisted […]

Recycling Carbon Tax Revenues

One key feature of Dion’s carbon tax proposal – among others – is that revenues are recycled back almost exclusively to households to maintain living standards, especially at the lower income end, while still preserving incentives to save on energy consumption. That’s reasonable as far as it goes. But what about the public sector and […]