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Archive for September, 2010

So what’s a green job, anyway?

Today CCPA released a new report by myself and Ken Carlaw, an economist at UBC-Okanagan, called Climate Justice, Green Jobs and Sustainable Production in BC. I doubt you’ll see any headlines about it in the major news dailies, but I think it will have a longer-lasting impact as a key economic framing piece for our […]

Should Students Pay One Flat Fee for a Degree?

Yesterday afternoon, Alex Usher–who regularly blogs for the Globe and Mail on post-secondary education–blogged about an innovative concept proposed by the (now ousted) Liberal Party in New Brunswick’s recent provincial election campaign.  The proposal is for universities to charge students one flat fee for the cost of a degree.  Usher argues in favour of this move on […]

Ontario, Quebec call census decision a “mistake”

Cabinet ministers from the governments of Ontario and Quebec have sent a letter to Minister Tony Clement, calling the census decision a “mistake” and asking that the federal government “reverse this course of action as soon as possible”. The provinces, together, represent 62% of the labour market and spend billions of dollars every year on […]

Stockwell’s Deficit “Solution”: Tax Cuts

This morning, the Canadian Foundation for Economic Education hosted a Bay Street breakfast meeting with Stockwell Day, President of the Treasury Board of Canada. Jim serves on the Foundation’s Board of Directors, but could not make today’s session. So, Armine and I ended up having breakfast with Tories at Torys. (Some other participants may not […]

It’s Not too Late to Fix the Census

The following will appear in the Hill Times on Monday, September 27, 2010 Everyone knows that the Harper government’s decision on the census is destructive madness, including the Harper government. But there is a growing sense that it’s too late to reverse the decision. It’s not. The Harper government has been saying it’s too late […]

Beggar-thy-Neighbour Trade Strategies Still Rule

My Globe and Mail column today looks at the issue of trade imbalances in global trade.  Countries like Germany have stimulated their own recoveires (for now) by deliberately targeting large trade surpluses; this strategy has also been followed for years by China, Japan, Korea, and others enamoured with export-led growth (which is a totally different […]

EI Running Out

The fact that 31,400 fewer Canadians received regular Employment Insurance (EI) benefits in July would be good news if it reflected an improved job market. But the Labour Force Survey indicates that, in July, employment decreased by 9,300 and unemployment increased by 17,900. These figures suggest that thousands of unemployed workers are running out of […]

Saving Statistics Canada

On September 9th, Canada’s Prime Minister received a letter from Mel Cappe, David Dodge, Alex Himelfarb and Ivan Fellegi. It opened with a stern warning that government actions with regard to the census over the summer “put the well earned credibility and respected international standing of Statistics Canada at risk”. Then they told him how […]

BC’s revenue negative carbon tax

BC’s carbon tax was supposed to be “revenue neutral”, meaning all carbon tax revenue would be “recycled” to British Columbians through personal income tax cuts, corporate income tax cuts and a low-income credit. When the 2008 budget launched the carbon tax, we were provided with a forecast that had revenues precisely match recycling through tax […]

What Would Bubbles Do?

Many blog readers are no doubt aware that, late last month, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives released a paper by David Macdonald entitled “Canada’s Housing Bubble:  An Accident Waiting to Happen.” As the title suggests, Macdonald argues: Canada is experiencing, for the first time in the last 30 years, a synchronized housing bubble across […]

A Tale of Two Inflations: Canada vs. Ontario

Today’s Consumer Price Index release told a tale of two inflations. The national rate decreased from 1.8% to 1.7% while Ontario’s inflation rate remained at 2.9%, the highest in Canada. Monetary Policy Of course, monetary policy should reflect the whole country. The national inflation rate decreasing to 1.7% in August begs the question of why […]

Bank Economist Proposes Higher Tuition Fees

A globeandmail.com article posted last night discusses a recent report on post-secondary education in Nova Scotia.  The report itself, released yesterday, was written by BMO’s former Chief Economist, Tim O’Neill.  According to the article, O’Neill’s report calls for “complete deregulation of tuition fees” in Nova Scotia.  Moreover: He believes that higher tuitions are more equitable because they […]

Pathway Colleges: A New Kind of P3

I have an opinion piece out on “pathway colleges,” a relatively new phenomenon in Canada.  In this public-private partnership (P3) model, private companies recruit international students to Canadian university campuses, targeting students who currently do not meet the university’s admissions criteria (usually because they lack the necessary English-language skills).  Once the students arrive in Canada, the […]

Mandryk on Potash: A Union Hack Responds

Murray Mandryk, CanWest’s seasoned Saskatchewan political columnist, has been writing some pretty sharp columns on potash. In particular, he questions excessively low resource royalties: . . . the messaging from Energy Minister Bill Boyd that his government wouldn’t touch oil royalty rates (even when it was selling at $150 a barrel), and the potash companies […]

The Rules of Disengagement

The following will appear in the Hill Times print edition next Monday, September 20, sans the groovy chart and links. Falling response rates and declining voter turnouts are two symptoms of increased disengagement in the mechanisms that inform and channel collective concerns. In such a political climate, the mandatory census long form questionnaire is a […]

The OECD Attack on Medicare

The OECD Economic Survey of Canada (unfortunately only a summary is available on line) was released this week, and its call to impose user fees or deductibles on services covered by Medicare (ie physician and hospital care) received quite a lot of media coverage.  I saw OECD economist Peter Jarrett doing at least two TV […]

Japan Shows Us The Way

A week ago, Paul Krugman wrote that Japan’s stable if sluggish economy and low unemployment could start looking pretty good compared to the Voodoo economics advocated by US Republicans. The counterintuitive case for Japan as an economic model just became more compelling with the Bank of Japan’s intervention to lower the yen. As reported on […]

The Globe’s Report on Private Schools

If there was truth in news reporting, the Globe’s “report” on private schools (Sept. 14) would be labeled a “special advertising supplement”. It is essentially a cheerleading exercise for private schools, funded by advertising from private schools, so you’ll find no news in this report. Which is too bad because the topic of private schools […]

In Praise of Export Cartels

Concerns about the prospect of BHP Billiton leaving Canpotex have prompted a backlash of hand-wringing about Canpotex’s very existence. For example, The Globe and Mail featured an editorial earlier this month that began by suggesting, “Canadian policy-makers should reconsider the status of Canpotex.” But it concluded, “In practice, unwinding Canpotex would be no simple matter. […]

Barrie McKenna’s Three Strikes on Internal Trade

I appreciate a compelling headline, but “The Walls that Divide Us” in today’s Globe and Mail is way over the top. For building the myth of “internal trade barriers,” Barrie McKenna’s column should have been entitled, “Another Brick in the Wall.” Three claims are especially questionable. First, “A recent back-of-the-envelope calculation by the Macdonald-Laurier Institute puts […]

Young university grads having a hard time in the Canadian labour market

While we’re talking about labour markets, here’s a blog post I wrote for CCPA’s PolicyNote blog. — An interesting chart from The Economist shows that over a third of young university graduates in Canada end up working in low skilled jobs. In fact, Canada is second only to Spain in the OECD when it comes […]

Fairy Tales and Labour Force Surveys

This is a true story. I made porridge for my children this morning, as I usually do.   When my son first tried it, it was too hot.  When I finally got around to eating, it after making the kid’s lunches, it was too cold.  But when my daughter tried it, it was just right (and […]

Jobs Report Worse Than It Appears

Total employment reportedly increased by 36,000 in August. This increase was entirely driven by 68,400 more jobs in educational services, which simply offset a decline of 65,300 in July. In other words, the educators that Statistics Canada counted as being “unemployed” in midsummer are now “employed.” So, today’s Labour Force Survey confirms that July’s release […]

EI Premiums Come Full Circle

For reasons that escape me, the Globe ran a headline front page story today on what all fiscal policy and Employment Insurance wonks have known to be true for some time. Under current legislation, and as announced in the 2009 Budget, the EI premium rate set by a supposedly autonomous but tightly constrained new body […]

With a thud on my door, it arrived …

… The Labour Day issue of the Vancouver Courier. It even had a story I was interested in, a lead article on local food, and another on the sustainability of fisheries. Good on small-scale independent journalism, I thought, until the moment I took off its rubber band to reveal an inch-thick pile of glossy inserts. […]

Linda McQuaig Thaws Public-Sector Pay

Linda McQuaig puts the heat on Ontario’s public-sector compensation freeze in today’s Toronto Star. Her excellent column begins by noting that the federal government has fended off proposed financial-sector taxes on the grounds that Canadian banks did not cause the global financial crisis. But Canadian public-sector workers, who are even less responsible for the crisis, […]

Plan B for Obama

Here is a good piece by Tom Palley in the FT Economists Forum on where the Obama Administration should be moving in terms of economic (though I am not holding my breath until the economic team is dumped) http://blogs.ft.com/economistsforum/2010/09/plan-b-for-obama-on-the-economy/#more-11616

What’s Happening to Wages?

One thing I find a bit annoying over at Statscan is that detailed tables related to a release sometimes appear on the web site a few days after headline numbers are released in the Daily. I was phoned by a couple of reporters seeking comment following the release of wage data (from the Survey of […]

Ontario’s Public-Sector Pay Freeze

This summer, the Ontario government has been attempting to implement its proposed public-sector compensation freeze. The provincial Finance Minister has essentially promised that he can convince organized labour to comply. But as recent news reports confirm, unions have not been volunteering for a pay freeze, especially since the government apparently has enough spare cash to […]

In Defence of Tuesday’s GDP Numbers

Jim and I responded somewhat differently to Tuesday’s GDP release. Jim’s Globe and Mail column suggested that it was especially bad: “We’re clearly heading for stagnation at best, and quite possibly another ‘double dip’ downturn.” I perceived a ray or two of hope and told The Toronto Star: “I’m not predicting a double dip.” While […]