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Archive for May, 2009

The Tortoise and the Hare

Some newspapers have paid some well-deserved attention to the multi-million dollar bonuses recently handed to the executives of the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) after they lost $24 billion of Canadian workers’ pension savings with their investments last year. What has received less attention are the low long-term rates of return that the CPPIB […]

Rising Unemployment Means More EI Exhaustees

There was a problem before the recession in terms of EI claimants exhausting their benefits before finding a new job, and it will soon get much worse. In 2006-07, before the recession, the national unemployment rate averaged just over 6%. Nonetheless, there were over 1.3 million new regular EI claims filed over the year, reflecting […]

EI and the Soaring Federal Deficit

If the federal deficit for 2009-10 soars by more than $16 Billion from $34 Billion to over $50 Billion, it won’t be mainly because of a jump in EI expenditures as Finance Minister Flaherty seems to have suggested. True, the 2009 Budget EI projections now look badly wrong. The forecast increase in total EI spending […]

The Download Decade and the Declining Reputation of the Conference Board

The Globe’s Download Decade started out well but by the end turned into a propaganda arm for big corporate rights holders. Surprise, surprise. This issue is all about who gets what in the digital age, and for the most part it is the already super-rich pressing the case to maintain and increase their revenue streams […]

Don’t Blame Auto Bailout for $50 b Deficit

In all the kerfuffle around Finance Minister Flaherty’s $50 billion deficit projection, the cost of the joint federal-Ontario support for the restructuring of GM and Chrysler has been getting a lot of attention. But while that restructuring support is an important and expensive undertaking, there’s no way it should be fingered as the major cause […]

Record deficit for Canada?

The 2009/10 federal deficit is now projected to hit $50 billion, the largest ever in nominal terms. The media seem to be obsessed with the nominal number, even though Canada’s economy has more than doubled in nominal terms since we saw the previous record of $39 billion in 1992/93. If that deficit number holds (and […]

EI: Little Accomplished, More To Do

March’s large increase in Employment Insurance (EI) recipients was no surprise given mass layoffs and February’s record-high number of EI benefit claims. But when compared to Labour Force Survey figures on March unemployment, today’s figures provide a sobering reminder that well below half of unemployed Canadians receive EI benefits. Employment Insurance Coverage, March 2009   […]

PEF at the Canadian Economics Association 2009 meetings

The PEF will once again be hosting panels at this year’s Canadian Economics Association meetings, May 29-31 in Toronto. We are sponsoring a record nine panels, plus our AGM and a Keynote by Paul Davidson. On behalf of the PEF, I would like to thank the Canadian Economics Association for a small grant that facilitates […]

Ethnic-sounding names a barrier in the Canadian labour market

So says a new paper by UBC economist Phil Oreopoulos, Why Do Skilled Immigrants Struggle in the Labor Market? A Field Experiment with Six Thousand Resumes. As a skilled immigrant with a non-Anglo sounding name I find this quite disturbing. As should native-born Canadians who like to think that their country is tolerant and welcoming […]

Deflation Strikes Back?

Today’s Consumer Price Index provides an important reminder that, despite expansive monetary policy from central banks and perceived “green shoots” in the economy, deflation remains a more serious risk than rising inflation. In April, the national inflation rate fell to 0.4%. Four provinces – Alberta, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island – posted […]

Downloading and the collapse of the old media regime

Most people I know do not watch TV in real time anymore but use bit torrent to download what they want to watch, when they want to watch it, and without commercial breaks. While charges of piracy have loomed over that activity, this practice is arguably legal right now in Canada – one of the […]

“Bigger Isn’t Better”

A thoughtful op ed from today’s Ottawa Citizen by Peter Victor, the author of “Managing Without Growth” (Edward Elgar)  on the case for a no growth future. http://www.ottawacitizen.com/business/fp/Bigger+better/1590471/story.html Here’s an extract: “Although no 21st-century Keynes has emerged to prepare the intellectual ground for such a change in thinking, we do have a body of knowledge […]

Reading the entrails of BC’s election

Three-peat. Hat trick. The media is full of jubilation for the re-election of the Campbell Liberals. But looking at the numbers, it was actually quite close: the BC Liberals got 45.7% of the popular vote, compared to 42.2% for the NDP. This slim margin validates the Angus Reid polling camp, which came closest on estimating […]

Public subsidies for billionaires

In a recent episode of The Simpsons, Monty Burns wins control over a professional basketball team and moves the franchise to Springfield. He then convinces the town to build him a new arena. On opening night, he tells the crowd: “Welcome to the American Dream: A billionaire using public funds to build a private playground […]

More on the “Do It Yourself” Recovery

Erin has already posted a comment on last month’s surge in self employment . http://www.progressive-economics.ca/2009/05/08/do-it-yourself-recovery/ My colleague Sylvain Schetagne extracted some data from the Labour Force micro data file to get a better handle on the change last month – note these are NOT seasonally adjusted data so they should be interpreted with a bit […]

Best cigarette ad ever

… is from duMaurier, which in spite of its hot red packaging is making a bid to go green. The new ads (full-page in my local entertainment weekly, The Georgia Straight) read “new look. new approach. we have updated our packaging to help reduce its impact on the environment. small steps make the difference” and […]

EI Before the Crisis

The new EI Monitoring and Assessment Report provides some useful information about access before the crisis. http://www.hrsdc.gc.ca/eng/employment/ei/reports/eimar_2008/index.shtml In 2007, about one in five (17.7%)  of  EI premium payers who were laid-off  did not qualify for access to EI due specifically to a lack of enough hours of insured work, including 66% of (mainly women) part-time […]

Training Before and After the Crisis

The 2008 Employment Insurance Monitoring and Assessment Report provides some useful information on the state of active labour market policy in Canada before the recession, much more, in fact, than in previous reports. http://www.hrsdc.gc.ca/eng/employment/ei/reports/eimar_2008/index.shtml EI Part II Funds are transferred to the provinces through Labour Market Development Agreements (or LMDAs) which are used (almost entirely) […]

Planet Before Politics

I signed the following open letter published in the Globe on the weekend. I cannot take any credit for organizing or writing the letter (hat tip to Ian Bruce of the David Suzuki Foundation). On the other hand, I can say that I have co-published with David Suzuki! It’s time to put the planet before […]

Do-It-Yourself Recovery

Here is my take on today’s Labour Force Survey: Self-Employment Surge April’s apparent gain in employment was entirely due to increased self-employment. Specifically, total employment rose by 36,000 while self-employment rose by 37,000, meaning that 1,000 fewer Canadians were paid by employers last month. One must ask whether more Canadians are becoming self-employed voluntarily or […]

What are we going to do with the oil and gas industry?

We all know about Alberta, but BC’s green image is increasingly, um, tarred by the expansion of the oil and gas industry, with tens of billions of dollars in new investment in the past eight years. And according to some, the best is yet to come. In today’s Vancouver Sun, David Collyer of the Canadian […]

There is more to good economic policy than protecting the interests of employers

But you wouldn’t know it if you listened to the message that the BC Liberals have been sending in this provincial election campaign. Instead of discussing the merits of his party’s proposed economic recovery policy, the incumbent Premier prefers to tell British Columbians that responsible economic stewardship involves keeping the business sector happy and anything […]

Clement on US Steel

A year ago, the Harper Conservatives blocked a proposed foreign takeover under the Investment Canada Act for the first time ever. Today, they announced an effort to hold US Steel to commitments it made under the Act in taking over Stelco. Here is what I said to the Business News Network, Canadian Press and The Financial Post. […]

Drummond on public pensions

Last week economists at the TD Bank called for uniform entrance requirements for the Employment Insurance program (although not as low as we’d like).   This week in an article in the Globe and Mail, TD Bank’s chief economist Don Drummond has called into question the effectiveness of the RRSP system and suggested that we need stronger public pensions, such […]

The Stock Market Rally

Having been chastised for giving what I thought was faint praise to Iggy for moving on EI a couple of days ago , I’m going to really, really stick my head out here and wonder if Alan Greenspan has a point when it comes to potential positive linkages between the stock market and the real […]

Neumann on the Union Advantage

In an op-ed printed in today’s Toronto Star, Ken Neumann (Canadian Director of the United Steelworkers) outlines how unions provide a better economic deal and more workplace rights for both union members and unorganized workers. Opinion – Even during downturns there is power in a union MARGARET SCOTT/NEWSART Unions not only win better wages but […]

More Cheers for Maloway

As an early booster of Jim Maloway’s private member’s bill, I am delighted to see it already achieving some results. Yesterday’s Globe reported that the airlines have countered by giving “new enforcement powers to CTA to serve as the industry watchdog on a range of consumer issues. They include ensuring airlines provide meal vouchers for […]

Ignatieff on EI

At long last, people are starting to get it. As recognized by the Globe and Mail in an editorial today (May 4) and by the TD Bank inthe study put out last Friday, our current EI system is leaving far too many unemployed Canadians out in the cold. Only four in ten unemployed workers currently even […]

Obama’s Corporate Tax Reform: Implications for Canada

Canadian governments should revisit planned corporate tax cuts in light of President Obama’s proposals to more fully tax American firms operating outside the US. The basic argument for lower corporate tax rates is that they will attract multinational firms to locate operations here as opposed to other jurisdictions. This argument assumes that profits are taxed only […]

Bonds, lame bonds

Below is a dispatch on bond rating agencies from my former CCPA colleague, Stuart Murray: Here is some more grist for the blog.  Bloomberg just published a very interesting and informative article on the role of the bond rating agencies in the current meltdown. http://bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601109&sid=au4oIx.judz4&refer=home The pitchforks are out for Moody’s and S&P, as they […]