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Archive for July, 2009

A Better Letter to the Queen

Letter to the Queen: Why No One Predicted the Crisis Her Majesty The Queen Buckingham Palace London SW1A 1AA 29 July 2009 MADAM, In response to your question why no one predicted the crisis you have recently received a letter from Professors Tim Besley and Peter Hennessy, sent on behalf of the British Academy. They […]

The Recession Spreads

While this morning’s American GDP numbers were less bad than expected, this morning’s Canadian GDP numbers were worse than expected. May saw the second-deepest decline of any month so far in 2009. Indeed, May’s 0.5% contraction was almost as bad as January’s 0.6% contraction. Sectoral Breakdown Like January and the intervening months, May was characterized […]

EI Claims Surge

The worst news in today’s Employment Insurance (EI) figures is that new benefit claims hit a record high. Rising numbers of unemployed workers and hence EI beneficiaries are an unsurprising result of a deteriorating labour market. However, the increase the number of new EI claims suggests that the pace of deterioration is worsening rather than easing. […]

BC and the HST [updated]

In its first major economic policy announcement, the freshly re-elected BC Liberal government announced that it would be harmonizing the 7% Provincial Sales Tax (PST) with the 5% federal GST, as of July 1, 2010. What is striking about the new Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) of 12% is that it did not feature in the […]

Recession Watch

Here’s the link to the second issue of the CLC publication “Recession Watch” detailing recent labour market developments http://canadianlabour.ca/sites/clc/files/Recession-Watch-02-EN.pdf

Is the Great Recession Really Over?

I normally hesitate to make short term economic prognostications and the Bank of Canada could indeed be right that growth might tip over the cusp from negative to positive in the third quarter as the first sign of a “nascent recovery” from the Great Recession.  As many have noted, including Jim on the National on […]

EI “Generosity” and Unemployment

The Spring, 2009 issue of the Oxford Review of Economic Policy contains a useful and interesting piece which convincingly rebuts the often cited and assumed link between Unemployment Insurance “generosity” and higher unemployment due to alleged disincentives to work. You’ll have to pay for the full article, I’m afraid, but here is the abstract. Unemployment […]

The Coming Public Sector Pension Debate

The Economist has recently launched a major attack on public sector pensions, joining the likes of the CFIB and the Howe in Canada who similarly draw invidious contrasts between suuposedly gold-plated public sector pensions and those on offer in the private sector. http://www.economist.com/research/articlesBySubject/displaystory.cfm?subjectid=987105&story_id=13988606 It is true that in Canada, as elsewhere, defined benefit pension plans […]

The Macro Roots of the Crisis

My friend and former union (AFL-CIO) economist colleague Tom Palley has produced a characteristically lucid piece on the macro economic roots of the US and global crisis for the New America Foundation. He interprets our predicament as a crisis of the neo liberal growth model and not as a failure of financial regulation or, for […]

More Clement on US Steel

To my surprise, the Harper Conservatives seem to again be breaking new ground in enforcing the Investment Canada Act. This afternoon, the Industry Minister announced that he is taking US Steel to court for violating its commitments. Back in May, my union argued that the federal government must be prepared to take US Steel to […]

The Wall Street Journal wants a new tax on big financial institutions

The WSJ is concerned about the implicit subsidy provided to financial institutions that are “too big to fail”(TBTF). Given the obvious willingness of the US government to support Wall Street titans during the height of the financial crisis, the market is pricing in the expectation that the government stands behind those institutions regarded as TBTF. […]

Deflation Has Landed

Deflation is no longer a spectre, but a reality for Canada. This morning, Statistics Canada reported an inflation rate of minus 0.3%. Inflation turning negative was widely predicted, including in my previous comments on the Consumer Price Index. Although not surprising, today’s news has important implications for the debate about further fiscal stimulus. Statistics Canada […]

The Economic Crisis and Labour Disputes

Jim has written a couple of posts about “the current mini wave of industrial unrest in Canada.” My union recently joined the fray by striking against Vale Inco. While several prominent strikes have recently captured Canadian headlines, I wondered whether the economic crisis has actually led to more labour disputes. On the one hand, concessionary […]

Another Economics Journalism is Possible

I’ve always been annoyed by the trite, horse-race-style coverage of financial markets that dominates so much of what passes for economics journalism in Canada (especially in the electronic media). How many 2-minute “market updates” do we really need, anyway?  I typically hear 4 or more on the radio any given workday, just getting to and […]

Oh, about the size of that BC deficit for next year…

It’s the leading article in the BC section of national newspapers today: BC’s Finance Minister has finally admitted that next year’s budget deficit would be much larger than the $495 million number than our Premier swore by during the recent election campaign. Private sector economists have been saying it for a while and it was […]

BC Pulls Off a Small Surplus in 2008/09

The BC Public Accounts for 2008/09 fiscal year were released yesterday, showing that the province posted a surplus of $78 million or $28 million higher than projected in the 2008 Budget. Oh, phew, now we don’t have to worry about cabinet ministers facing the fines associated with a budget deficit under the Liberals’ balanced budget […]

Today’s Jobs Report: Less than Meets the Eye

After many months in which tens of thousands of jobs disappeared, the revelation that “only” 7,400 fewer Canadians were working in June may seem like good news. But this relatively small decline in total employment masks more ominous trends. Self-Employment In June, employers eliminated 44,600 paid positions in Canada, but 37,200 more Canadians declared themselves […]

Blame Unions? Try Blaming Employers

Further to my recent post about the current mini wave of industrial unrest in Canada, and who should wear the blame for it… Now we have the latest developments at Air Canada, where the Machinists local has rejected a tentative multi-union agreement which would have deferred Air Canada’s pension contributions in hopes of seeing the […]