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  • Could skyrocketing private sector debt spell economic crisis? June 21, 2017
    Our latest report finds that Canada is racking up private sector debt faster than any other advanced economy in the world, putting the country at risk of serious economic consequences. The report, Addicted to Debt, reveals that Canada has added $1 trillion in private sector debt over the past five years, with the corporate sector […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Betting on Bitumen: Alberta's energy policies from Lougheed to Klein June 8, 2017
    The role of government in Alberta, both involvement and funding, has been critical in ensuring that more than narrow corporate interests were served in the development of the province’s bitumen resources.  A new report contrasts the approaches taken by two former premiers during the industry’s early development and rapid expansion periods.  The Lougheed government invested […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Canada-China FTA will leave workers worse off June 2, 2017
    Global Affairs Canada is currently consulting Canadians on a possible Canada-China free trade agreement. In CCPA’s submission to this process, CCPA senior researcher Scott Sinclair argues that an FTA based on Canada’s standard template would almost certainly reinforce rather than improve upon Canada’s imbalanced and deleterious trade with China. It can also be expected to […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Faulty assumptions about pipelines and tidewater access May 30, 2017
    The federal and Alberta governments and the oil industry argue that pipelines to tidewater will unlock new markets where Canadian oil can command a better price than in the US, where the majority of Canadian oil is currently exported. Both governments have approved Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain Expansion Project, but a new report finds that […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Weathering the storm: is this the end of CRA’s political activities audits? May 5, 2017
    Yesterday, following a panel’s recommendation to allow charities more freedom to speak out, the federal government decided to suspend the Canada Revenue Agency’s controversial political activities audit program. Indeed this is good news for Canadian charities. Everyone at the CCPA is proud of the role our organization has played in challenging these audits and in […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
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The Progressive Economics Forum

Dumb ideas for fighting the downturn

The financial crisis and economic downturn have led to some silly ideas, namely, completing the Doha Round of trade talks at the WTO, and in Canada, a variant around eliminating inter-provincial trade barriers.

BC Premier Gordon Campbell has pressed for the latter, in spite of scant evidence that any meaningful barriers actually exist (the perception, however, runs deep with the CBC’s conservative media panel the other day endorsing the idea). Having signed the Trade Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement with Alberta, only to see the momentum stop at the Saskatchewan border, Campbell is pushing again on this non-issue as a “solution” to our current woes. At best this is more gimmickery from Campbell that panders to the perceptions for political gain; at worst, it will drive deregulation at a time when we need more regulation and more regionalized responses, not less.

Yet, Campbell rejects a real solution to the economic challenge, running deficits, that is essentially the mainstream view right now. In fact, we are on schedule to see a BC replay of the federal election come May, with both the Liberals and NDP saying they will never run a deficit. This means we will be putting off any meaningful action until Summer 2009 (I review the existing Liberal and NDP plans here and here).

As for Doha, it is worth noting the context. The developing world did not want this round of negotiations but they were strong-armed through just after 9/11/2001 to “save” the global economy from that crisis. Those very same countries have fought the press from advanced countries to dismantle what remains of domestic policies, while refusing to reduce barriers to goods from the developing world. That’s why there has been a stalemate for the past five years. And in spite of calls for resuscitation I see no movement on the positions of advanced countries to lower barriers to make life easier for poor countries.

Like Naomi Klein argues in The Shock Doctine, crises often lead to new justifications for pre-existing agendas. But even if all went forward, the Doha Round completed next month and the last trade barrier remaining in Canada eliminated, would this matter to the economic crisis? A big no, I’m afraid, and if anything these would tie up resources we need on other fronts. So focus, people, we have some work to do – we need real international and interprovincial cooperation on a stimulus package that averts a catastrophe.

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Comments

Comment from Travis Fast
Time: November 23, 2008, 8:47 pm

Look if you want fight deflation just ask yourself what would a contrarian of Friedman do? That is, what public policy, according to Friedman, would increase a downward price stickiness? Fun times, fun times.

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