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Archive for June, 2010

Statistics Canada’s Senseless Census Decision

June 30, 2010 Open letter to the Honourable Tony Clement, Ministry of Industry and Minister Responsible for Statistics Canada and Munir Sheikh, Chief Statistician, Statistics Canada Dear Sirs I am concerned by the Canwest report about the decision to restrict the upcoming Census, and the path the highly-regarded Statistics Canada and the Government of Canada […]

GDP Stalls

Following a strong increase in March, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) decreased slightly in April. Output edged down in both the goods-producing sector and the service sector. Annualized output stood at $1,229 billion in April, compared to a pre-crisis peak of $1,241 billion in July 2008 and a trough of $1,186 billion in May 2009. We […]

Fox Guarding the Henhouse?

From the “fox guarding the henhouse” category comes news that the Bank of Canada has appointed Tim Hodgson, CEO of Goldman Sachs’ Canadian subsidiary, to be a special advisor for the next 18 months on financial regulatory reform.  Hodgson worked with Governor Mark Carney when the latter was also at Goldman Sachs.  (Don’t forget, Carney […]

Stanford vs Watson on Industrial Policy

Bill Watson might just be my very favourite right-wing economist.  (He might disagree with that moniker.  Or he might not.  He probably thinks he’s just being ”rational.”)  Prof at McGill, punchy commentator for the National Post, and always game for a fair debate (unlike most of his ilk who just try to ignore us in hopes […]

Follow the Lead of China’s Strikers

How fascinating, and inspiring, to see China’s workers continuing to build their fightback against the low pay and grueling working conditions that have unfortunately been part and parcel of China’s recent development. And how appropriate that it was a fight against a global auto giant, Honda, that finally put the global spotlight on this struggle. […]

How to spend $1 billion on security

I’m happy to be in Vancouver not my home town of Toronto right now. Turning Toronto into a police state for a few days at the cost of $1 billion hardly seems like a good use of public funds, especially when we know the final communique will preach fiscal belt tightening. But what does $1 […]

HST and Family Budgets: What’s Behind the Vastly Different Results

That the HST will take a bite out of family budgets is clear to everyone. The main question right now is just how big of a bite. Two studies released in BC earlier this week asked this exact question but came to very different conclusions. On Monday, the Fraser Institute released a paper arguing that […]

The G20 – Towards a New Economic Model?

I spoke yesterday at a well-attended pre G20 conference in Toronto  organized by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation and the Munk Centre at the University of Toronto. My comments as part of a union researchers panel were based on a  short paper I wrote for the Foundation on the need for a new labour market model […]

Lone Parent Success Story Not Because of Tough Love

John Richards tells us “tough love” was the right public policy stance for governments to take in the mid 1990s.  In his report released today by the C.D.Howe Institute, Reducing Lone Parent Poverty: A Canadian Success Story,Richards tells us that the tightening of access to welfare and the imposition of workfare was the kick-in-the-butt that […]

A Court Challenges Program for Corporate Canada

Brian Lee Crowley used to run the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies. Through the new Macdonald-Laurier Institute, he is now (to paraphrase ZZ Top) not only bad, but also nationwide. So far, the Macdonald-Laurier Institute has released two papers. I missed the first one in March. The second paper, released on Monday, is entitled Citizen […]

Austerity Won’t Tighten Belts on Costly Crime Agenda

The Parliamentary Budget Office today released its report showing that just one legislative change by the federal Conservatives – the Truth in Sentencing Act, which came into effect on February 23 – will double the costs of correctional services in this country over the next five years, from $4.4 billion to $9.5 billion.  Most of […]

Where’s the Inflation Threat?

Earlier this month, the Bank of Canada raised interest rates ahead of its original schedule to head off inflation. Some commentators are calling for further rate hikes in the near future. But today’s Consumer Price Index suggests that inflation is not an impending threat. Adjusting for seasonal factors, consumer prices were lower in May than […]

Running up a Profit, Running down a City

The title for this post borrows from an article by Robert Rowthorn (my old Cambridge professor) and Terry Ward in the 1979 Cambridge Journal of Economics, titled “How to run a company and run down an economy.”  It’s still a classic on the difference between private cost-benefit accounting and social cost-benefit accounting (showing how the […]

National Post on CPP: Partying Like It’s 2003

I could not make head nor tail of the unsourced numbers in last week’s National Post editorial on the Canada Pension Plan (CPP): If workers were able to take the more than $3,000 they and their employers pay into CPP on their behalf each year and invest it in a conservative private fund, at the […]

Message to Britain: Don’t Follow Our Lead on Austerity

In his column today in The Guardian, Will Hutton is the latest pundit to suggest Canada’s example from the mid 1990s is the right way to tackle austerity. Hutton’s aim is true.  He knows the current proposals for balancing the books will unleash “the needless squandering of [British] lives.”  In his effort to point to a […]

Soccer’s goal crisis

After watching yet another 0-0 draw, my excitement for the World Cup is more muted than when things kicked off a week ago. In part, it was dismal play by my home squad, England, but it’s deeper than that. Coming right off the Stanley Cup playoffs, even the drama of international competition can only somewhat […]

A New Era for Measuring Poverty in Canada

Last Thursday’s Statistics Canada release of individual and household income data for 2008 marks a new era in the study of poverty in Canada. Instead of reporting only on the Low Income Cut Offs (LICO), as they used to, Statistics Canada reported on three of the most common measures of low income in the same […]

The new Grecian formula: still toxic

The latest issue of the quarterly Economic Climate for Bargaining publication that I produce has just been posted on CUPE’s website. In this issue I have pieces about: the new spectre that is haunting Europe, this time of a public debt crisis impact analysis of Ontario’s HST tax reform by income group, already discussed below some analysis […]

Federal Taxes and Inequality in the U.S. — and Ontario’s HST

Today the U.S. Congressional Budget Office (CBO) published analysis and data on the incidence of different US federal taxes by income group.  They are a model of summary data and accessibility, with easily downloadable spreadsheet files, that Canada’s federal agencies (whether Revenue Canada, Statscan or the Parliamentary Budget Office) would do well to emulate.  The data show […]

EI: Is No News Good News?

Today’s Employment Insurance (EI) figures for April indicate essentially no change in the number of Canadians receiving benefits or in the number filing claims. To put these flat EI numbers in context, April was the strongest month yet of labour-market recovery. Indeed, it saw the largest percentage increase in employment since August 2002. In one […]

Brazilian Success

This article ‘More pay and more jobs: how Brazil got both’ by Paulo Eduardo de Andrade Baltar outlines how collective bargaining together with progressive government policies in the Lula years have improved the livelihood of many Brazilians.  The minimum wage has risen significantly faster than inflation as have bargained wages, significantly raising pay at the […]

“Innovation” and Students

I have an online opinion piece on the federal government’s “innovation strategy.” My piece focuses on how the strategy directly impacts university students.  I argue that the federal government’s current strategy creates winners and losers.

CFIB on CPP: A Reality Check

On Monday, Catherine Swift of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) was on TV expressing outrage that doubling the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) would entail mandatory contributions equal to 20% of earnings. Her logic is that a self-employed person currently contributes 9.9% of pensionable earnings. That figure doubles to 19.8%. This argument misses a couple […]

The G20 – Fiscal Austerity or Co-ordinated Recovery?

Further to my earlier post on the turn to fiscal austerity on the part of the IMF, OECD and G20, it increasingly strikes me that there is a fundamental contradiction between G20 goals going into the Toronto summit. At Pittsburgh, the G20 called for a “Framework for Strong, Sustainable, and Balanced Growth.” “We will need […]

Do Tuition Rates Matter?

Alex Usher is a frequent commentator on post-secondary education in Canada.  He regularly blogs for the Globe and Mail at globecampus.ca.  Yesterday, he wrote an open letter to leaders of Canada’s three major political parties in which he offered advice on post-secondary education policy. I found the following passage to be particularly provocative: First, scratch […]

Duelling HST Studies: Voodoo Economics from Ontario Finance?

On Tuesday, the Ministry of Finance released “Ontario’s Tax Plan for Jobs and Growth: Technical Paper on How the Tax Changes Affect People.” This study is an attempt to counter the Statistics Canada study released by the NDP a month ago. Until recently, proponents were claiming that the HST will simultaneously deliver huge savings to […]

The Business Case for Tough Regulation

This toughly argued lead article in Bloomberg Business Week on the BP oil leak disaster is a keeper – it sets out a very strong endorsement of the key regulatory role of government in curbing the dangerous excesses of capitalism. “This is a moment to think big and creatively. As distant as risky drilling rigs […]

What is Happening to Laid-off Manufacturing Workers?

The CAW have released the preliminary results of  a tracking survey following the fortunes of 2600 auto industry workers laid off in the early days of or even before the Great Recession. The major focus is on the services received at Action Centres providing some access to re-employment and training  opportunities. Written by Sam Vrankulj […]

Global Trade Union Statement to the G20

http://www.canadianlabour.ca/news-room/statements/global-unions-statement-g8g20-ontario-summit-take-action-jobs-sustain-recovery As G20 Leaders meet in Ontario, it is clear that the economic crisis that has wreaked havoc on the lives and livelihoods of working people is far from over. Not only is the ’global recovery’ fragile and uncertain, but in the Eurozone the financial crisis has evolved into a wave of speculation against major […]

Bending the Laffer Curve

Arthur Laffer had a boldly titled op-ed in Monday’s Wall Street Journal, “Tax Hikes and the 2011 Economic Collapse.” This piece has been invoked at least once every ten minutes on each subsequent episode of The Kudlow Report. US tax rates will rise in 2011, when the Bush tax cuts expire. Laffer argues that, to […]