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Archive for August, 2010

GDP: Canada Gets Its Head Above Water

UPDATE (September 1): Quoted in The Toronto Star. Canadian Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew modestly in the second quarter, but that modest growth returned GDP to a level not seen since before the economic crisis. Recent Developments: The Second Quarter Canada’s output expanded at a quarterly rate of 0.5%, which corresponds to an annual rate […]

What Should the US Federal Reserve Do?

  With the US on the brink of a relapse into recession or, at best, a period of very slow growth and rising unemployment, all eyes are on the Federal Reserve. After all, it seems to be the only show in town. The conventional wisdom is that there will be no second round of fiscal […]

Recession Reduces Health Care Utilization

Here’s a fascinating finding from an NBER study: “The Economic Crisis and Medical Care Usage,” by Annamaria Lusardi, Daniel Schneider, and Peter Tufano (NBER study #15843). They undertook a broad public survey across 5 countries (the U.S., Canada, U.K., Germany, and France) on the economic and social impacts of the recession.  The survey covered over […]

Don’t Know Much About Canpotex

A key issue arising from the proposed potash takeover is BHP Billiton’s musing about leaving Canpotex, the agency that has long marketed Canadian potash offshore. (Growing up near the railroad tracks in Regina, Canpotex train cars were a familiar sight.) Perhaps BHP believes that it alone has sufficient clout to manage supply and negotiate overseas […]

The New ABC: Abitibi Bowater Conservatives

As sometimes happens, I started writing a comment on Jim’s excellent post and then realized that there was enough material for a new post. I agree with Jim that Ottawa’s $130-million settlement with AbitibiBowater deserves more attention, but I have been waist-deep in potash. I think that my initial take on Abitibi’s NAFTA challenge still holds up […]

Potash: The Folly of Privatization

I have the following op-ed in today’s Regina Leader-Post. Below it is a table supporting my statement that “the mines that PCS owned in 1989 still account for 80 per cent of its potash production and capacity.” Privatizing Potash was a Costly Mistake The greatest tragedy in BHP Billiton’s $38.6-billion (U.S.) bid for the Potash […]

Harper’s $130 Million Chapter 11 Giveaway

            Canada’s federal government made an important announcement this week.  It was kept deliberately quiet: with a news release issued at 4:45 pm on a calm Tuesday in the middle of the late-summer news “dead zone.”  But it should set alarm bells ringing for anyone concerned with the anti-democratic direction of global trade law.

New Research Money for the University of Alberta

An article in today’s Globe and Mail discusses some new research funding for the University of Alberta.  In particular, the article notes: The U of A ranks second in total research funding, behind only U of T and up from fifth in 2006. This year, the U of A will spend $514-million on research, more […]

Steelworkers on the Potash Takeover

Last week, I was in Halifax at USW’s Ontario-Atlantic district conference. It was a great conference in a great city. But having so many key people out of the office limited our response to BHP Billiton’s bid for the Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan. (Next time BHP launches a hostile takeover, it should better coordinate the […]

Krugman on Rowe

I got this wrong first time round. Krugman commends Nick Rowe over at Worthwhile Canadian Initiative for his spirited views and writing on monetary policy.

Remembering My Gordon

Prof.  Myron Gordon was an economist, a long-time member of faculty at the Rotman School of business at the U of T, and a founding member of the Progressive Economics Forum.  Sadly he passed away in Toronto on July 5 of this year. My Gordon was very influential with me, and I know with many other independent-minded […]

One Million Served

One million. No, it’s not the number of posts that Armine has written about the census. (I count only 32.) A million is the number of times this blog has been viewed since Marc started it back in the summer of 2006. It has been an eventful few years in Canadian economics: the commodity “super […]

More on the Bond Market

Paul Krugman agrees with my view that the bond market is signaling  long term economic stagnation rather than experiencing a bubble – and he is, of course, far more influential and cogent than I. “But the argument has become even stranger recently, as it has become clear that investors aren’t worried about deficits; they’re worried […]

Flanagan on the Census

Tom Flanagan, Steven Harper’s guru in younger days and a political sherpa who helped guide the rise of the New Right in Canada in its early days, has put in his two cents on the census affair. It is a thoughtful piece, if somewhat predictable. But it leans on two important facts in an erroneous […]

The HST and Consumer Prices

This morning, Statistics Canada reported that the implementation of Harmonized Sales Tax in Ontario and British Columbia helped drive the national inflation rate from 1.0% in June to 1.8% in July. By comparison, the Bank of Canada’s core inflation rate (which excludes tax changes and volatile items) edged down from 1.7% to 1.6%. However, annual […]

Selecting the Next Chief Statistician

There are many ways to view the legacy of Prime Minister Harper and his Government thus far, but few offer evidence that the processes and institutions of democracy are held with any esteem. The selection of the latest Governor General of Canada has been described as one such rare example. The process of selecting the […]

Is the Bond Market Saying that Capitalism Has No Future?

The short answer to that question is that I don’t know. I am not a believer in the infallibility of financial markets and perfect information and all that stuff. But the bond market is surely speaking loud and clear. As an aside, the media focus excessively on the ups and downs of the stock market. […]

The Privacy/Information Trade-off

Don Tapscott nails it in his commentary in today’s Globe and Mail. Everyone wants to see and not be seen.  That’s getting less possible, even for the most guarded individual. Today’s zeitgeist is Google, and the Google Zeitgeist is transparency.  The push-back  — and every thesis has its antithesis, as all you Hegel fans out […]

Whither Fiscal Federalism?

Yes, yawn, fiscal federalism is pretty darn dull. But it is also pretty darn important.  The division of responsibilities and resources between the feds and the provinces is central to the shape of Canadian fiscal policy overall and to the level and design of a host of jointly financed programs, including health, post secondary education […]

Balancing Budgets – What Harper Should Be Worried About Now

In the past few weeks some of Canada’s most respected economic authorities, including Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney, have voiced concerns over the fragility of the recovery, globally and at home.  Now Paul Krugman joins that chorus of Cassandras, pointing his finger straight at the wishful thinkers who say Canada’s heavy lifting is done […]

How Political is Statscan?

The recent controversy over the long-form census has caused me to be a bit more suspicious of Statscan lately.  Two recent events in particular have left me scratching my head. First, as part of my doctoral dissertation research, I was trying to get ahold of (time series) social assistance statistics for all 10 Canadian provinces, namely social assistance […]

National Statistics Council Statement on Census

Statement issued yesterday: RESOLVING THE CENSUS DEBATE Welcoming the Changes Announced on August 11th The National Statistics Council, the senior, external advisory group appointed by the government of Canada to advise the Chief Statistician, has noted the Government’s announcement that it intends “to remove threats of jail time for persons refusing to fill out the […]

Should We Reduce University Tuition?

On Thursday, the Globe and Mail’s post-secondary education blogger, Alex Usher, wrote this piece, in which he argues that any increased government assistance with the goal of increasing access to university ought to be targeted to low-income students (and not consist of an across-the-board tuition reduction).  I have three points to make in response to […]

The Medium (Form) is the Message

Since I last posted something on the Census here (August 1! Time flies!), every passing day has advanced the census story with dizzying speed. I’ve said it before: this story has more legs than a bucket of chicken. Here are the top notes of the last 10 days, ending in a fascinating and uniquely Canadian […]

Boan Cuts Through the Bozone

Jack Boan retired from the University of Regina’s economics department before I began studying there. Although I never had the privilege of taking a class from him, I received a medal named in his honour. Recently, I was pleased to see Dr. Boan zing the Harper government with a couple of letters to the editor. He […]

Are the July Education Job Losses Over-Stated?

They are according to  a couple of  bank economists cited in a prominent story today’s Globe who think the big loss of education jobs in July (down 60,000) is due to a failure by Stats Can to properly calibrate seasonal adjustment  to take account of  supposed recent changes in employment patterns.  They think many education […]

Stimulate the Job Market

The Mark are running a contribution of mine on the latest job numbers and the continued need for special EI and job creation  measures.

Gwyn Morgan Misleads on Global Trade

Gwyn Morgan may have made a lot of money for EnCana shareholders, but I have rarely found his economic commentary in the Report on Business to be very well-informed. The main point he makes in today’s column “New Economic Order Demands New Attitude” is accurate if familiar – Canada participates in the global economy primarily […]

An Appalling Jobs Report

From my colleague CLC Senior Economist Sylvain Schetagne: The performance of the labour market in July 2010 was catastrophic. The unemployment rate is back up to 8.0%. The number of full-time jobs in Canada decreased very rapidly in July, when 139,000 full-time jobs were eliminated. The number of permanent employees fell by even more, by […]

Job Market Stalls

In recent months, Canada’s job numbers seemed a little too good to be true. Today’s Labour Force Survey paints a more sobering picture. Employment was somewhat lower in July, among both employees and the self-employed. Far more significant than the overall decline in employment was the replacement of 139,000 full-time positions with 129,700 part-time positions. […]