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Archive for April, 2010

The Recovery Slows

In February, Canada experienced its slowest economic growth since October 2009. Of course, no one expected the initial rapid rebound out of recession to continue forever. Monthly growth of 0.3% corresponds to annual growth of 3.7%, which is quite strong by historical standards and stronger than the 3.2% US growth estimated this morning for the first […]

The Banks and Supplementary Public Pensions

The Canadian Bankers Association are deeply opposed to meddling with a pension system which they say is working just fine.  Which is understandable, albeit self-serving, given their dominance of the high fee mutual fund industry and the significant profits earned on spreads between low interest GICs and bank lending. The banks do just fine out […]

Beware the Canadian Austerity Model Mark II

A substantially revised version of my earlier blog post http://www.progressive-economics.ca/2010/03/01/beware-the-canadian-fiscal-model has been published as a Global Labour Column. It attempts to rebut Paul Martin’s prosletyzing in Europe on the virtues of his fiscal restraint program in the nid to late 1990s. http://column.global-labour-university.org/2010/01/beware-canadian-austerity-model.html

Canada’s Regulatory Obstacle Course

The CCPA released a report of mine, critiquing federal regulatory policy. Called Canada’s Regulatory Obstacle Course, the brief looks at the latest development in federal deregulation, the Cabinet Directive on Streamlining Regulation (CDSR, announced in the 2007 budget), but situates it in the context of ongoing deregulation that has been underway since the 1980s. The […]

Fiscal Federalism: Hints of a Greek Tragedy to Come?

The Greek crisis has prompted numerous commentators to remark on the dangers of a monetary union which has no common fiscal policy. From the perspective of euro members, the external value of the euro is threatened by large deficits and growing public debt in the so-called PIIG countries, notably Greece and Portugal.  There is no […]

Prospects for the Toronto G20

G20 finance ministers released a communique last week, as did G20 labour and employment ministers.  These are straws in the wind which tell us what is likely to take place at the June Toronto G20 summit. Not to put too fine a point on it, panic about the prospects for global capitalism has been supplanted […]

Revere Award for Economics

The real world economic review is still accepting votes from the public for the “Revere Award for Economics”.  This is to be awarded to the three economists “who first and most clearly anticipated and gave public warning of the Global Financial Collapse and whose work is most likely to prevent another GFC in the future”. This […]

Taxers of the World Unite

You know that you are doing something right when the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) starts making up new pejorative terms. Last Friday’s Toronto Sun included the following op-ed on the Taxers (with a capital “T”): Calls for new and higher taxes are coming from the usual tax-hike proponents (AKA Taxers); public sector unions, lobby groups […]

Where’s the Inflation Bogeyman?

Mark Carney saw a bogeyman on Tuesday morning. He was spooked into removing his conditional commitment to hold interest rates, which would otherwise have expired at the end of June. By signalling that it might raise interest rates ahead of schedule, the central bank drove the Canadian dollar from 98 US cents on Monday to […]

The Distribution of GHGs in BC

I have a short Climate Justice publication out for Earth Day today, looking at the breakdown of greenhouse gas emissions by income quintile in BC, then asking what is fair when it comes to mitigation policies. I draw on some fairness criteria from the international literature on fair emission reductions, and test out two stylized […]

Stingy EI Benefits

This morning, Statistics Canada released Employment Insurance (EI) figures for February. These figures show slightly more recipients nationally, but somewhat fewer recipients among provinces. Statistics Canada confirms that this apparent discrepancy reflects the fact that each province is seasonally adjusted separately from the national total. When seasonal adjustment is tipping the balance between an increase […]

Carbon calculator for the UK

The Guardian has done a great service by developing and putting on-line this cool carbon calculator. It is a visualization tool that lets ordinary folks, and politicians (as there is an election campaign on right now), plug in their choices about how to meet GHG emission targets. They even share the back end spreadsheet, so […]

Don’t Let Numbers Fool You: Common Statistical Tricks You Should Know About

As promised, here’s my fourth post inspired by the recent Fraser Institute report on taxes paid by Canadian families. I can’t stand seeing people fall simple numbers tricks. And while I realize that I don’t have the time to argue with everyone who is wrong on the Internet, I try to make it a point […]

Economics for the Rest of Us

A new book that looks interesting http://www.columbia.edu/~ma820/The%20New%20Press/Book%20reviews.pdf

Consumer Tax Index

When confronted with a document as muddled as yesterday’s Canadian Consumer Tax Index, a major challenge is figuring out where to begin in critiquing it. Indeed, this one Fraser Institute report supplied enough fodder for three separate posts today by Iglika (and she is promising a fourth!) I think that the report’s worst flaws are […]

Financial Transactions aka “Robin Hood” tax campaign

This morning Oxfam launched their “Robin Hood”  (financial transactions) tax campaign in Canada with a press conference in Ottawa and the launch of their website.   Together with Oxfam officials, I spoke in favour of the tax from an economics perspective and Dale Marshall from the David Suzuki Foundation talked about how revenue raised from it […]

Have Taxes Changed All That Much Over the Past Half Century?

A recently released Fraser Institute report claims that the tax bill of the average Canadian family grew by a whopping 1,624% since 1961. This is an enormous number, designed to appeal to our sensationalism-hungry media, but it does not provide a meaningful comparison of today’s average tax bill and the tax bill our parents’ and […]

It’s Not Just About Size: What Makes Up Our Tax Bill Matters

The Fraser Institute and the CCPA do not typically see eye to eye, but they seem to agree that personal income taxes take up a relatively small fraction of the average tax bill — about 13 – 14%. According to the Fraser Institute’s recent report on the average Canadian family’s tax bill, the average family […]

Are Canadians Paying Too Much in Taxes?

It’s tax season and people are looking more closely at their incomes and the amount of taxes they pay. The Fraser Institute released their annual Consumer Tax Index report yesterday, claiming that the total tax bill of the average Canadian family now takes up 41.7% of their income. This seems like a big number, which […]

Canada-US Income Tax

This blog’s readers will not be surprised at me questioning Neil Reynolds (although my last post on him was somewhat complimentary.) However, his latest Globe and Mail column was organized around an especially odd claim: The average Canadian household, for example, spends $14,800 (Canadian) a year on personal income taxes, the most expensive purchase – […]

ILO Study Puts Job Creation Ahead of Deficit Reduction

http://www.ilo.org/public/english/bureau/inst/download/promoting.pdf This is quite an interesting and very timely paper  from the ILO International Institute for Labour Studies, squarely directed to next week’s meeting of G20 labour ministers.  As pressures to cut budget deficits intensify, it argues that job-centered spending measures can in fact reinforce fiscal sustainability while boosting employment.  Austerity measures which raise unemployment […]

New Economic Thinking

There was some media coverage in the FT and the Guardian on a recent conference on this theme at King’s College, Cambridge, showcasing a new economic institute. A number of videos of presentations can be found here http://ineteconomics.org/ This venture is funded by Soros and includes many well-known progressive economists such as Stiglitz, Akerloff etc. […]

More on the Pension Debate

I have just returned from Calgary and the pension forum organized by Jack Mintz through the University of Calgary. Mintz was, of course, the author of a recent research report to the federal and provincial finance ministers which concluded that the status quo was basically working well, except for a modest proportion of middle income […]

Ontario Budget: Federal-Provincial Relations

My post on the night after Ontario’s budget hit the key features. However, the budget had a couple of other interesting aspects from a federal-provincial perspective. Childcare Funding Some progressive voices trumpeted the provincial budget’s allocation of $63.5 million annually to replace discontinued federal funding for childcare spaces. While the Ontario government finally made the […]

The Temporary Recovery

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Public Auto Insurance

A recent visit by some Regina friends reminded me how affordable public automobile insurance is. They insure two cars, one of which is newer than my car, for about the same rate as my one vehicle in Toronto. My first car, which I registered with Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI), cost about $500 per year. My sense is that […]

Uneven Job Numbers

This morning, Statistics Canada provided another piece of evidence that the job market is not recovering nearly as rapidly as Gross Domestic Product. In March, total employment rose by 17,900, but full-time employment was actually down by 14,200. This divergence reflected 32,200 more part-time positions. The modest increase in total employment kept pace with Canada’s […]

Western Canada’s Royalty Giveaway

Growing up in Saskatchewan, the oil and gas industry’s line was always that we had to charge lower royalties to compete with Alberta for investment. The provincial NDP government bought into that mantra and repeatedly slashed royalty rates, even as commodity prices took off during the past decade. When Alberta’s Conservative government announced in late […]

Risk, Uncertainty, and Black Swans

In 2009, in the midst of the financial and economic crises, Robert Skidelsky, the acclaimed three volume biographer of Keynes, added a fourth, Keynes: The Return of the Master. It is a radical and provocative assessment of economic theory since Keynes, insisting that at its core Keynes’ s Keynesianism was about uncertainty, about the irreducible […]

Great Minds Think Alike

Serge Coulombe, an economics professor at the University of Ottawa, has a great op-ed in today’s Financial Post: The Fraser report looks at the change in the contribution of government expenditures to the GDP growth between the second and the third quarters, and the third and the fourth quarters, of 2009. This approach is problematic […]