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Archive for October, 2010

Is Social Democracy Dying? – Part 1

Rob Ford, a belligerent right-wing serial liar with a proclivity for infantile temper tantrums and drunkenness, was elected mayor of Toronto this past week. Handily. This was after seven years of competent and scandal-free leadership by an NDP mayor, David Miller. The man Miller endorsed to replace him was a long-time NDP councilor renowned for […]

P3 and Immigration Law in Arizona – “Both” Sides Win?

NPR has just published a very nice piece of investigative journalism about the role of the private prisons industry in influencing immigration law in Arizona. The new law, passed last spring, extends the power (and responsibilities) of police officers to scrutinize immigrants, essentially allowing policemen to stop anybody they deem suspicious and ask them for […]

Out of Equilibrium: Why EU-Canada Free Trade Won’t Work in the REAL World

The Canadian and EU governments are working toward a free trade agreement that would comprehensively liberalize trade in goods and services, government procurement, foreign investment, and other important economic interactions between the two parties.  Canada enters these negotiations with a notable disadvantage in terms of both quantitative trade flows, and the qualitative composition of trade.  […]

Upset about offsets

A recent story on offsets reported in the Tyee caught my eye. In a nutshell, a residential subdivision development on Denman Island was prevented from going ahead in part because of the magic of carbon offsets. First of all, more conservation by preventing this type of development is a good thing. But in what way […]

Getting Over Brad’s Wall of Potash

On Thursday, Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall said “No” to BHP: Do we want to add PotashCorp to that list of once-proud Canadian companies that are now under foreign control? . . . It’s our government’s belief that the people of Saskatchewan deserve nothing less than a potash industry unequivocally managed, operated and marketed for the […]

How to Lower Poverty Without Really Trying

Followers of statistical entrails have known for some time that the incidence of poverty (sorry, low income)  varies between surveys. The Census – which covers 20% of the population – captures significantly more low income persons  than does the annual Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics which is based on a much smaller sample which […]

Why Is The French Labour Movement So Powerful?

From time to time, I check out the The Real News Network.  I’ve just finished watching a video clip they’ve featured on labour protests in France over the government’s attempt to raise the “pension age” from 60 to 62.  The coverage includes a brief look at the impact of the blockades of French oil refineries. I’m struck […]

Worthwhile Canadian Inspiration?

An Irish economist working for the European Trade Union Institute (in the same building as me) recently drew my attention to the following team blog, which appears to have started in February 2009: www.progressive-economy.ie

Taxes and Economic Growth

The term “Austrian economists” usually refers to the likes of Hayek, Menger and von Mises. But I recently met some rather different economists from the Austrian Chamber of Labour. Austrian law requires that union members pay dues to the Chamber of Labour, so it is very well-funded for a progressive think tank. Similarly, all Austrian […]

The Sell-Off of Corporate Canada

The announcement this week that Prime Minister Stephen Harper is not going to intervene in the sale of Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan to the Australian conglomerate, BHP Billiton Ltd., speaks volumes about how Bay Street  and its servants in Ottawa are so willing and eager to sell off Canada’s corporate assets to foreign corporations. It’s […]

The Travails of Toronto

TD Economics have released an interesting if rather thin report on the Toronto recovery. I say thin because, while there is not a wealth of current data, we do get labour market data for the huge Toronto Census Metropolitan Area. As they show, there has been a huge loss of manufacturing jobs in the region, […]

The Currency Wars and Global Trade Imbalances

In the run up to the Seoul Summit, the issue du jour has become “the currency wars.” I certainly side with those who think that the under-valuation of the Chinese currency and its fix to the US dollar at that low level constitutes a huge subsidy to Chinese exports  which has played a major role […]

The Myth of Expansionary Fiscal Austerity

This looks like a good contribution from Dean Baker. http://www.cepr.net/documents/publications/austerity-myth-2010-10.pdf

The trouble with flying

I just got back from a conference in Geneva where I was asked to speak to trade unionists from around the world about our BC climate justice project. In addition to this great opportunity to share information about green jobs and climate policy with a friendly audience, it was also an eye-opener to be in […]

3D Policy

There is a new economics blog in town.  http://www.3dpolicy.ca It is put together by former Finance Deputy Minister Scott Clark and former Director of Fiscal Policy, Peter Devries.  I disagree with their fiscally very cautious line, but this is highly informed commentary on the numbers – with a major piece on the recent Economic and […]

Now is Not the Time for Spending Cuts

The CCPA today released a paper I wrote (“Big Train Coming” )as a framing piece for the Alternative Federal Budget and the upcoming federal and provincial debate over the turn to austerity at a time of high unemployment. Here is the media release: “Given the fragile economic recovery and the weak job market, now is […]

Stephen Gordon on Manufacturing

Over at Economy Lab, Stephen Gordon writes: The fundamental problem facing manufacturing firms is that the [industrial] prices have been growing more slowly than consumer prices. CPI inflation has averaged 1.85 per cent a year since 2002, but the Industrial Price Index for all manufactures has only increased at a rate of 1 per cent. […]

Why the Great Recession Will Go On and On…

The cover of last week’s Economist magazine boasted the headline “Grow, dammit, grow!” above a picture of a bald man looking up at a tiny sprout of hair on his pate. As the Great Recession continues to grind on with no end in sight – with growth remaining anemic and unemployment stubbornly high in North […]

University Recruitment of International Students

Last month, I blogged about “pathway colleges,” which are private companies that have been entering into P3 arrangements with Canadian universities in recent years.  The private company helps recruit international students and then gives the students pre-university training.  If all goes according to plan, the students in question eventually become full-fledged students at the university in question.   […]

Economy Lab at the Globe and Mail

Here’s my take on Canada’s jobs recovery, written for the Economy Lab. The Economy Lab is a new on-line feature of the on-line business section of the Globe and Mail, part the newspaper’s extensive print and electronic make-over launched on October 1. Editor Rob Gilroy has made it a lively spot. The Daily Mix is […]

Jack Vicq Rides Again

Jack Vicq is Saskatchewan’s answer to Jack Mintz, a relentless advocate of lower taxes for high-income individuals and profitable corporations. His first report for the provincial government presaged massive personal income tax cuts in 2000 (which soon pushed the province into deficit). His second report for the provincial government presaged massive corporate tax cuts. Saskatchewan […]

Why incentive pay won’t fix education or health care

It turns out — surprise! — that it’s really hard to measure quality in complex social systems and that employing simplistic quantitative measures can backfire. That’s the take-home message from a recent talk by UC Berkley economist and public policy professor Jesse Rothstein who came to SFU to present his latest research on using standardized […]

The “Big Five” Proposal for Canadian Universities

I have an opinion piece out on the so-called “Big Five” proposal for Canadian universities.  The plan, first articulated in MacLean’s magazine just over a year ago, would entail two main things: 1) more research money concentrated at five major Canadian universities; and 2) lower undergraduate-to-graduate student ratios for those same five universities.  The universities in question […]

The Entrails of the Update

There are some interesting if rather subtle differences between the fiscal situation of the federal government as forecast in the last Budget, and that given to us yesterday in the Update. Not much change to the revenue picture, with 09-10 being a bit better than forecast, and next year being a bit weaker than forecast. […]

The Conference Board on Potash Royalties

A week ago, the Government of Saskatchewan released the Conference Board of Canada’s report on the possible Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan (PCS) takeover. It provides 77 pages of useful information, but is disappointingly thin on policy recommendations. The Conference Board downplays concerns about BHP leaving Canpotex after acquiring PCS. It argues that, with or without […]

Jobs Recovery?

The Update of Economic and Fiscal Projections released today is fairly upbeat on the recovery in the job market, noting that “all of the jobs lost during the recession have now been recouped.” Well yes, but  that still leaves us down  211,000  permanent full-time employee positions, with all of the net job creation over teh […]

A hip hop version of the Keynes vs Hayek debate

Here’s a new take on bringing economic theory to the masses — a rap battle between Keynes and Hayek. What’s amazing about it is the amount of solid (if not plain nerdy) content this video packs into such a short time. It’s fun to watch for sure (very high production values), but you get that […]

StatCan Cuts and Flaming Snowballs

It would be funny if it wasn’t so sad. In the news today: Statistics Canada has been trying to find $7 million in cuts. Five surveys have been axed so far. But those five don’t add up to enough savings, so more cuts to come. That’s on top of the surveys cut, throttled or mothballed […]

The Long and the Short of It – Census and NHS Questions

The following will appear in the Hill Times’ October 18th edition. The Harper Conservatives repeatedly banged Canadians over the head this summer with their minority viewpoint on Canada’s long-form census questionnaire. The questions, they said, were intrusive, and the government coercive for expecting answers. Mandatory suddenly became an ugly word for the law-and-order brigade. Interestingly, […]

Finance Capital Turns Parasitic

In an announcement that largely went unnoticed last week, U.S. Steel said it plans to close down the blast furnace at Stelco’s Hilton Works in Hamilton, Ontario. Hilton Works was once the main steelmaking operation of what was once Canada’s largest integrated steelmaker. Its demise exposes how Stelco has been reduced to a mere shell […]