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Archive for December, 2010

Tax Increase. What Tax Increase?

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) got some uncritical media attention with their “study” of tax increases for 2011. Their release states that: “Increases in EI and CPP payroll tax thresholds mean that anyone earning more than $44,200 will pay an additional $76, while employers pay an additional $110 in 2011 payroll taxes. Increases in payroll […]

Economic Climate for Bargaining

The December 2010 issue of the quarterly Economic Climate for Bargaining publication that I produce is now on CUPE’s website in both English and French. In each issue I summarize developments and trends for the economy, labour markets, inflation and wages, and also include short pieces of 1-2 pages on related topical issues.  In this issue, the focus […]

Why we need public spending

David Hall at the University of Greenwich in the U.K. recently produced a really good report on Why we need public spending.  It’s over 70 pages in length, is well-written, has a great deal of really useful material from around the world (including charts and graphics and extensive references) making the argument for why public spending […]

The Age of Retirement

Jeffrey Simpson seems to favour the sensible option of CPP expansion, but also wants to raise the CPP retirement age. “Curiously, there seems to be an aversion among governments to easing future retirement costs by raising the age of retirement. Australia, France and the United States have already done so, lifting the age for future […]

Origins of FLIPP

Flaherty’s proposed new pension vehicle bears a remarkably close resemblance to that put forward by Frank Swedlove of the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association to the IRPP pensions conference. (I guess he wins the prize for most influential presentation. I put the case for CPP expansion, while Bill Robson argued for not doing very […]

Flaherty’s Inferior Pension Plan (FLIPP)

Here are the CLC’s Q and As re proposed Pooled Registered Pension Plans. Basically they are like group RRSPs, but sponsored by a financial institution with a fiduciary responsibility as opposed to an employer. They may be somewhat lower cost than individual RRSPs, as with current group RRSPs. However, there will be a lot of […]

The World Bank’s Slippery Advocacy of Tax Cuts

Doing Business enjoys the highest circulation of any World Bank publication. It ranks countries based on the favourability of their regulations to business. It is like the Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom and the Cato/Fraser Institute’s Economic Freedom of the World Report, but supported by the World Bank’s credibility and clout. (Notwithstanding corporate Canada’s […]

When CEOs Run Universities

Yesterday’s Globe and Mail features an article on the resignation of Paul Bates as Dean of McMaster’s business school.  I believe the article is instructive in terms of understanding what can happen when private-sector actors are put in senior administrative roles at Canadian univerities According to the article, McMaster hired Mr. Bates in 2004.  Mr. Bates […]

Taxing Multinational Corporations

Earlier this month, I attended a very interesting conference on the taxation of multinational corporations. It included a case study of how SABMiller avoids paying tax in Africa. While many of the points presented are undoubtedly familiar to this blog’s readers, the conference put it all together with a clarity that I attempt to reproduce […]

Keeping it Real: Cash, Clunkers and Why Our GrandChildren Have Nothing to Fear

Conversation fragment overheard the other day: “This deficit thing. It worries me. My grandchildren you know?”  To which his interlocutor replies:  “Yes, it worries me too. We just can’t keep this up.” And so it goes.  The grandchildren are trotted out.  We shudder in collective guilt, thinking about the financial hardship that our selfishness imposes […]

Inequality, Wages and Debt

Further to my earlier post on how to respond to record household debt, I wrote a longer piece for a wider audience at The Mark. Thanks for the great comments on the post!

Missing the Vote: Democratic Reform in BC

I’ve long thought that we should lower the voting age to 16, so thanks to Mike deJong for raising it in the BC Liberal leadership campaign. I speak from some experience, as I voted shortly after I turned 17 in the Ontario provincial election. I was a frosh in residence at Western and no one […]

Homelessness in Canada’s North

I’m the main researcher on a three-year SSHRC-funded research project looking at homelessness and affordable housing in the Northwest Territories (NWT).  Frances Abele (Carleton University) is Principal Investigator on the project, and Arlene Haché (Yellowknife Women’s Society) is Co-Investigator.  The project falls under the larger umbrella of the Social Economy Research Network of Northern Canada. Though several […]

Global Wage Crisis

The International Labour Organization has just released its second Global Wage Report, “Wage Policies in Times of Crisis.” The International Trade Union Confederation’s press release follows: 15 December 2010 – The ITUC has welcomed the second Global Wage Report from the International Labour Organization (ILO). “Today’s report reinforces what unions around the world have been […]

What to do about Household Debt?

It’s a funny old economy we live in. The release of today’s national balance sheet accounts has aroused great concern about the rise of the ratio of household debt to personal disposable income to a new record of 148%. Mark Carney and our banks want – quite rightly – to discourage further borrowing to prevent […]

A Provincial Scattergram

Further to my earlier post on Happiness and Inequality, here is a scattergram on the relationship between income inequality (measured by the ratio of the top to bottom quintile of after tax family income) and happiness (satisfied and very satisfied with life.) Quite a tight fit.  

The Economic Footprint of a Canadian-Made Car

Like most dailies, the Globe and Mail produces a honking big weekly supplement on cars; theirs is called Globe Drive, and comes out every Friday.  One feature of the section is a mildly amusing column called “My Wheels,” each edition of which features some minor Canadian celebrity discussing their personal choice of vehicle. I recently […]

The Jobs Crisis and the Recovery

The tripartite International Labour Organization (ILO) has released it’s flagship 2010 World of Work Report. It offers a useful partial counterpoint to the economic analysis of other international organizations such as the IMF and the OECD. The ILO argues that the employment rate in advanced countries will not return to pre crisis levels until well […]

Industry Canada Pans Free Trade?

Shortly before I left Canada, Canadian Business magazine contacted me for a story on productivity. It highlighted a presentation by Industry Canada economist Annette Ryan. I was struck by slide 40 (41 of 44 in the PDF): In an endogenous sunk cost model, opening free trade and intensifying competition leads to a divergence in innovation […]

Poor Capitalists?

Over at Worthwhile Canadian Initiative, Stephen Gordon argues that capitalists are not rich. Of course, wealth is more or less synonymous with owning things that can be broadly defined as capital. Stephen’s argument is focused on income: “If capital income is concentrated among high earners, then it could still be argued that increasing labour’s share […]

Canadian Housing Observer 2010

In late-October, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation released the Canadian Housing Observer 2010.  I’ve finally given it a thorough read and am struck by some of the statistics. The MLS average price of a home in Canada has almost doubled in the past decade.  In 2000, the figure was just under $164,000.  By 2009, it was just over $320,000.  Perhaps not surprisingly, […]

Happiness and Inequality Revisited

I was correctly chided for my earlier post on the connection between inequality and happiness, and thanks for the comments. My thinking was also clarified by hearing Wilkinson deliver a fabulous lecture to the Ottawa Economics Association this week. Wilkinson and  Pickett’s central argument is that the connection between income inequality and a wide range […]

What’s Canada’s Carbon Debt?

Martin Khor, of the South Centre, has done an interesting analysis for the (doomed) Cancun negotiations on climate change. The talks have broken down on north-south lines, with southern countries wanting to keep the Kyoto framework that puts the onus on northern (advanced, industrialized) countries to reduce emissions and give carbon space to southern countries […]

Recession Watch

Here is the link to the fourth isssue of the CLC  bulletin on the impacts of the Great Recession on the job market – this looks at the differing fortunes of younger and older workers; the changing composition of the unemployed; and the erosion of EI.

Wikileaks and the Power of Corporatism

As we witness the on-going drama of governments and conservative forces around the world trying to shut down the whistleblower site Wikileaks and imprison and silence its founder, Julian Assange, on very thin grounds of sexual assault (read the British newspaper The Daily Mail’s story on the Swedish police report on the allegations – they […]

Lessons from the Eurocrisis: If the fire marshal is saying that you shoulda had a fire detector, it might already be too late.

In the current battle against an all-out conflagration in Euroland, markets are twitchy about European (and other) banks in the event that the firefighters don’t get ahead of the blaze.  If markets lose confidence in those large banks exposed to the problems in Europe (or anywhere else, for that matter), the next chapter in the […]

The Vision Thing (Anarchy in BC edition)

For many years now, the year 2010 had an almost mythic quality to it. More than just a decade-ending round number (we never collectively named that decade; I like “the naughties” myself), it had deep meaning for BC because THEY WERE COMING. The Olympics. Vancouver 2010. In the early days, utopian olympianism ruled the province. […]

Labour Market Exodus and Other Unhappy Math

Friday’s labour force survey numbers from Statistics Canada were another nail in the coffin of Canada’s fleeting, fragile economic “recovery.” On first glance, the data seemed to tell a good story: the official unemployment rate tumbled from 7.9% to 7.6% in November.  Immediately, that seemed strange — given that 0nly 15,000 jobs were created for […]

Blaming the Victims: Quebec Students

Last month, I blogged about a major new report on the living conditions of Quebec undergraduate students.  The report’s findings include the fact that 50% of full-time undergraduate students in Quebec report living on less $12,200 per year. On the heels of that report’s release comes the news that the Conference of Rectors and Principals of Quebec Universities […]

Happiness vs Inequality

Perhaps  the contradiction is more apparent than real. If  so please set me straight. The  inequality folks like Wilkinson and Pickett argue – convincingly, to my mind  – that those at the top of the income spectrum do hugely better on a wide range of objective well being indicators (eg longevity) than those at the […]