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Archive for February, 2011

The Rise of the Global Elite

“The already wealthy have emerged from the global recession in an even wealthier position. What does the rise of global elites mean to power and influence at home and abroad?” That’s the blurb from TVO’s The Agenda with Steve Paikin, the latest Canadian news show to tackle the issue that explains so much of what […]

John Loxley’s New Book

I was at our neighbourhood leftie bookstore today and picked up a copy of the new book from John Loxley at the University of Manitoba: Aboriginal, Northern, and Community Economic Development: Papers and Retrospectives (Arbeiter Ring: 2010). It’s a collection of John’s work over the years in the area of first nations and northern economic […]

Avoiding a really bad drug trip – Pharmacare versus CETA

Boomers are getting blamed for an awful lot of fiscal problems these days. But blaming an aging population for healthcare costs spiraling out of control is misplaced. Missing opportunities to manage and contain costs is the real culprit. Take, for example, our spending on prescription drugs. Costs in that part of the healthcare system have […]

PotashCorp, US Regulators and Bruce Johnstone

Multinational corporations generally provide more detail to the US Security and Exchange Commission than in their Canadian annual reports. Thank goodness for American disclosure requirements. Along with its 2010 Annual Report, PotashCorp released its Annual Report on Form 10-K (a Security and Exchange Commission filing) on Friday afternoon. The following section is on pages 14 […]

PotashCorp’s Annual Report: The Fine Print

The Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan posted its 2010 annual report yesterday. It’s always worth taking a closer look at documents released on a Friday afternoon. Those interested in public revenues should see pages 109, 110 and 111. Note 19’s breakdown of “Provincial Mining and Other Taxes” confirms something that I had suspected. PotashCorp paid zero […]

Fly Emirates, or the Rich and the Rest of Us

(Revised Post adds detail.) If you read the Economist as I do you will be struck by those full page ads extolling the virtues of first class and business travel on Emirates airlines. A lounge on board. For those in first, a private suite with full fold out bed to sleep on. Even hot showers. Limo […]

What Kind of a Budget?

I’m finding the run-up to the federal Budget (widely expected March 22nd) more than a little frustrating. There is certainly  no sharp public policy debate regarding budget priorities. The dominant media frame reinforces the Conservative message that 1) recovery is underway 2) the federal books have to be balanced and 3) tax increases are bad. […]

“Job Creators” MIA

Statscan investment intentions data released today show thatgrowth of  real investment by the private sector is set to slow markedly in 2011 compared to 2010. (up 3.8% vs up 8.0% in 2010.)  So much for the stimulative effect of corporate tax cuts. Surprise, surprise investment is concentrated in the resource sector, especially oil, where high prices and […]

The Pensions Debate

My new colleague Chris Roberts has prepared an analysis of the pros and cons of the Canada Pension Plan and  the proposed Pooled Registered Pension Plans. The following is taken from the introduction: “Pooled Registered Pension Plans are privately administered workplace pension plans similar in many respects to a defined contribution (DC) workplace pension plan, […]

Look to Europe for Next Phase of BC’s Carbon Tax

Below is an oped on my new carbon pricing paper that was published today in the Vancouver Sun. Our communications officers have also done a cool animation about carbon pricing in BC, available on the CCPA web page. Look to Europe for Next Phase of BC’s Carbon Tax When it comes to good urban planning, […]

Who Are the Job Creators?

One of my pet beefs is the frequently heard CFIB claim that small businesses are the job creators, not large enterprises. What is small and what is big? It all depends on whether you look at the size of the workplace, or the number of employees of a company at all locations. Wal Mart may […]

Next generation carbon pricing

Climate change is upon us – it feels like we see evidence almost daily in the form of extreme weather events, floods, drought, reductions in food supply, and so on. We have a lot of work to do to transform our economy from one still dominated by a resource extraction mindset, where we cut taxes […]

Another Indicator of Canada’s Deindustrialization

I recently came across a fascinating working paper from the good folks at the Levy Institute, which provides some new data on Canada’s rather subservient role in world commerce: “Product Complexity and Economic Development,” by Arnelyn Abdon, Marife Bacate, Jesus Felipe (corresponding author), and Ustav Kumar.

The Non-Simple Economics of the Minimum Wage

The National Post ran a little pro-and-con debate on minimum wages in today’s paper.  I was the “pro” side; my argument was excerpted from a longer paper on “What determines wages and income distribution” that is available on the CAW’s web site. The “con” side was written by two economists at the Fraser Institute.

The Great Saskatchewan Potash Debate

The comment pages of Saskatchewan’s newspapers have been abuzz with debate about potash royalties since my latest op-ed on the subject appeared in the Saskatoon StarPhoenix a couple of weeks ago. Two days later, political columnist Murray Mandryk made the case that the province should demand higher royalties rather than just accepting a few more jobs and […]

Canada’s Immigration Policy: Who’s on the guest list?

This article first appeared in the Globe and Mail’s online feature Economy Lab on Friday. My thanks to all the commentators on this page for the great discussion of the topic. This week, the Minister of Immigration and Citizenship rightly noted that immigrants are Canada’s ticket to economic growth in the coming years. The untold […]

Death of the Tiger: A Cautionary Irish Tale

This blog has been posted on behalf of Bruce Campbell, Executive Director of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. The first version of this piece originally appeared in the blogosphere at the Huffington Post The Irish people go to the polls on February 25. The governing Fianna Fail party — that created the fallen Celtic […]

Another Attack on Public Servants

Today’s National Post gave front page coverage to a “study” from the Frontier Centre claiming that wages of public servants have far outstripped those of private sector workers over the past decade. “Wage increases doled out to federal and provincial public servants have nearly doubled those given to private-sector employees in the past decade, according […]

Debt Apocalypse Now!!

I was taken a bit aback by Kevin Carmichael’s piece on Obama’s budget plans in today’s ROB. In what is more a news than an opinion piece on  concerns regarding fiscal sustainability in the US , he baldly states without attribution that “Research and history suggests that a debt-to-GDP ratio of 60 per cent or […]

OECD Corporate Tax Rates: Does Size Matter?

Advocates of corporate tax cuts like comparing Canada to an unweighted average of Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development members. Since the OECD keeps admitting more microscopic economies with very low corporate tax rates, this average keeps falling regardless of whether any country actually lowers its rate. Last year’s admission of Estonia, Israel and Slovenia […]

The Long and The Short of Corporate Tax Cuts

A couple of weeks back I summarized five economic reasons to say no to further corporate tax cuts right now. A print edition of the piece caught the eye of Finance Canada, which fired off a chastening letter on February 10th saying:

The Economics of Terroir

For the wine lovers among us progressive economists, which definitely includes me, this NBER paper offers up a, well, sobering argument. “We examine the value of terroir, which refers to the special characteristics of a place that impart unique qualities to the wine produced. We do this by conducting a hedonic analysis of vineyard sales […]

Flogging a Dead Horse: The CFIB on Minimum Wage

The CFIB hav  a new study out attacking minimum wages Their estimate of job losses from a 10% increase in minimum wages is based on elasticities from studies which found significant negative impacts on employment and discounts the many studies which have found very small impacts. The OECD – which is more impartial – has […]

The Voice in Harper’s Head

The Canadian Press summary of the Prime Minister’s comments raised my eyebrows, but it was not a direct quote. So, I checked the Parliament of Canada website: Right Hon. Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, CPC): There is not a single business organization, not a single credible voice in this country, that supports the tax hikes proposed […]

Raise Potash Royalties

This blog has long been critiquing Saskatchewan’s inadequate potash royalties. But every time I check the numbers, I am again shocked by how low they have fallen. In 2010, the Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan paid just a nickel in provincial royalties for every dollar of gross margin it made on potash. I have the following […]

BNN and the Growing Gap

For the past few weeks, a business leader could scarcely pick up a magazine without bumping into that other inconvenient truth of our era: rising inequality. It’s been the topic of discussion everywhere from the Economist, to The Atlantic, to the World Economic Forum. Today CTV’s Business News Network (BNN) launched a three-part series looking […]

Laying pipe in Canada

It has been fascinating to watch the growing public reaction to the full-court press from Canada’s Big Pipe companies (aka, the telcos and cablecos) for usage-based billing (internet metering). The CRTC has played a corporatist role that has largely been compliant with the demands of industry. Even in the midst of the turning political tide, […]

The TMX Merger/Takeover

One concern is that this deal may undermine our ability to regulate financial markets. If the Canadian exchanges become majority owned in the UK, and if the Canada – EU deal is ratified with a Chapter 11 like investment clause, then we leave ourselves open to sanctions if and when we impose regulations which result […]

Financial Illiteracy

The Report of the Task Force on Financial Literacy is all that one would have expected from one co chaired by the CEO of Sun Life Financial and the Chairman of  BMO Nesbitt Burns. There is hardly a whisper of criticism of financial institutions and the myriad fees, charges and interest rates they extract from […]

The Gender Wage Gap Revisited

Statscan have released their regular (about every 5 years) statistical compilation, Women in Canada. In a box in the earnings section – around Table 20- one will find a short summary of a paper by Michael Baker and Statscan employee  Marie Drolet from the December, 2010 issue of Canadian Public Policy. Entitled “The Gender Wage […]