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Archive for September, 2011

No Technical Recession, Not That It Matters

Today’s GDP numbers (a sprightly gain of 0.3% at basic prices in July) ensure that there will not be a so-called “technical recession” in Canada — at least, not yet. Economists have a perverted definition of “recession”, whereby it’s considered official only if real GDP declines 2 quarters in a row.  That’s hilariously arbitrary.  And […]

The State of the Economy and Labour’s Response

The advanced economies, including Canada, risk falling back into recession because of government spending cuts and a looming financial crisis. The Canadian Labour Congress has been calling for our federal government and the G20 governments to respond by putting jobs first. This paper summarizes the economic situation as of the end of September, 2011 and […]

Bring Out the Printing Press!

That’s the only way out of the deepening crisis of the advanced economies, according to FT economics editor Martin Wolf in his column today. “It is the policy that dare not speak its name: the printing press. The time has come to employ this nuclear option on a grand scale. The alternative is likely to […]

Who’s over or under-paid?

We all know that the wages and compensation individuals receive in private competitive markets reflects their productivity, unless pesky unions and government regulations get in the way–because Economics 101 (and Michael Hlinka) have told us so.   Corporate CEOs are worth every penny their “independent compensation committees” award in compensation and stock options them because they are “creating value” […]

Stephen Harper and Economics 101

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who prides himself on being an economist, has characterized his government’s fiscal policy as “expansionary.” If he really thinks the simple fact of running a budget deficit is “expansionary”, he should repeat Economics 101. The correct way to look at the question of whether fiscal policy is expansionary or contractionary is […]

Wage Deflation Confirmed

In an earlier post, I noted that falling real wages as indicated by July and August data from the Labour Force Survey which showed increases of just 1.4% in nominal hourly wages over the past year  signalled trouble ahead: “If this trend continues, it is likely to further undermine a weak recovery, negatively impacting upon […]

CCPA Comparison of 3 Ontario Election Platforms

Hugh Mackenzie of the CCPA has prepared a comprehensive comparison of the election platforms of the three major parties in Ontario’s election. It reveals an enormous fiscal “hole” in the Conservative platform, that will inevitably result in dramatic reductions in public spending if that party wins the October 6 election. The report, released yesterday, added […]

The G20 and Jobs

The meeting of G20 Labour Ministers in Paris on September 26-27, held in advance of the November G20 Summit in Cannes, reached some conclusions which go some (extremely modest) way toward living up to prior G20 commitments in London and Pittsburgh to promote quality jobs and a more progressive labour market model as part of […]

Fighting energy poverty and the transition to zero-emission housing

Today CCPA released a new Climate Justice Project report, Fighting Energy Poverty in the Transition to Zero-Emission Housing: A Framework for BC, by yours truly, Eugene Kung (a lawyer with the BC Public Interest Advocacy Centre and a steering committee member of the CJP) and Jason Owen (who worked on this project as a student at UBC, now with the […]

The Globe on Corporate Cash Hoards

Today’s Globe and Mail (page B15) mentions the PEF in a story on the corporate sector’s record-breaking accumulation of cash, a subject about which we have often blogged. Corporate Canada has tripled its cash stash in each of the last two decades. The following Statistics Canada figures are “Canadian currency and deposits” plus “Foreign currency […]

Ontario’s Corporate Tax Debate

Today’s Ottawa Citizen (page A15) features the following op-ed on Ontario corporate taxes. I have added links to references. I recently discussed this issue on TV Ontario: Corporate Taxes are Low Enough By Erin Weir, Ottawa Citizen, September 27, 2011 Corporate taxes are a major dividing line in Ontario’s election campaign. Liberals and Conservatives would […]

Ontario NDP Platform: The Full Monty

Today, the Ontario NDP presented its comprehensive platform costing, including all policies announced during the election campaign. A popular theme among commentators has been that platform costings are unrealistic given the deteriorating economic outlook. As Andrea Horwath noted, her platform includes significant contingency funds. It is also cautiously built on the fiscal framework set out […]

William Watson on PSE

On Wednesday, William Watson wrote a comment piece in the Financial Post in which he was critical of Armine Yalnizyan’s recent essay on inequality. In his piece, Mr. Watson alleges that Armine “is guilty of fantastical reminiscence,” particularly with respect to her take on post-secondary education (PSE). Among other things, Mr. Watson points to the […]

Profile of Displaced Workers

There’s an interesting new research report from Statistics Canada, by Ping Ching Winnie Chan, Rene Morissette, and Marc Frenette, profiling the workers who were displaced in the recent recession, and comparing the outcomes to previous recessions in earlier decades (the downturns of the early 1980s and 1990s).  “Workers Laid Off During the Last Three Recessions,” […]

Taxing the Rich

Over at the Globe and Mail Economy Lab our friend Stephen Gordon argues that there are only limited revenues to be gained by taxing the rich. He plays around with some back of the envelope calculations based on CRA data on the incomes of those making more than $500,000 – accurately enough, I think –  […]

Global Imbalances

The IMF World Economic Outlook notes that the desired process of rebalancing global demand from countries with large trade deficits (notably the US) to countries with large trade surpluses (notably China) is not going very well. Relatedly, it points out just how difficult it is for increased demand in developing economies to offset stagnant or […]

Why even conservatives are worried about rising inequality

This essay was commissioned by the National Post.  It was published in today’s edition under the headline “A Problem for Everyone“.  In the print edition, the overline –  a large font summary of what you are about to read  written by the editors —  reads:  “Income inequality isn’t just unfair — it threatens the whole […]

Trade Unions Urge G20 Action on Jobs

I am attending the G20 labour ministers meeting next week, which is being held against the background of high unemployment in the advanced economies, and the prospect – highlighted by the IMF yesterday – for unemployment to increase even further in the months ahead. A key union demand – that the G20 establish an ongoing […]

The Ontario NDP Platform

Pollsters tell us that Ontario’s New Democrats may double their seat total in next month’s provincial election. It’s also entirely conceivable that they could be part of a coalition government at Queen’s Park. But what’s actually in the party’s election platform? One central feature of the NDP’s proposals is to implement a tax credit for companies that hire new workers. The tax […]

Gloom and Doom from the IMF

Further to my earlier post on Recession Ahead?, the IMF have today sharply revised down their forecasts of Canadian growth – from 2.9% to 2.1% in 2001, and from 2.6% to 1.9% in 2o12. The downward revisions for Canada compared to June, 2011 are just about the largest for the advanced economies, second only to […]

Fighting Unemployment

I was sorry to miss a celebration of the life and work of Ian Stewart organized by the Centre for the Study of Living Standards last Friday night. Ian was a former senior economic official back in the now distant days of Keynesian dominance, including a stint as Deputy Minister of Finance which will be […]

BC’s New Jobs Plan

If you are interested in what BC’s new Premier Christy Clark is doing on the job creation front, check out a couple articles on the BC Policy Note blog (here and here). Like the Dance of the Seven Veils, the Jobs Plan is being revealed piece by piece over the next few days, and today […]

Liberal Math

This Ontario NDP fact check should warm the hearts of economists, accountants and math teachers everywhere: Are Liberals Smarter Than a 5th Grader? The Ontario Liberals put out a release with this erroneous secondary headline: “NDP K-12 plan amounts to just 0.0009% of total education budget.” To calculate this figure, they divided $20 million by […]

PSE in Newfoundland and Labrador

Last March, Keith Dunne and I wrote an opinion piece on Danny Williams’ post-secondary education (PSE) legacy in Newfoundland and Labrador. Among other things, we pointed out that average undergraduate tuition fees (for domestic students) in Newfoundland and Labrador are $2,624/yr., compared with $5,138 for Canada as a whole and $6,307 in Ontario. With a provincial election slated to take […]

Inequality is bad for business

In August Canadian Business magazine published my article on why inequality is bad for business.  It is produced in full below. Last week the International Monetary Fund, not known for left-leaning views, released a series of articles entitled “Why Inequality Throws Us Off Balance”. One of the papers is by Andrew Berg and Jonathan Ostry […]

Falling Real Wages Signal Trouble Ahead

The Labour Force Survey for August showed that average hourly wages were up by just 1.4% from a year earlier, the same low level of increase as was registered in July.  Consumer price inflation was 2.7% in July, a bit down from 3.1% in June and 3.7% in May, but it seems that we have […]

Buy America Redux

Scott Sinclair writes cogently on the CCPA blog about the current edition of the Buy American debate. We had somewhat different views of the 2010 Canada-U.S. Agreement on Government Procurement. However, I certainly endorse Scott’s conclusion that the Canadian government should be strengthening public investment here rather than just complaining about proposed public investment south […]

The Eurozone Crisis

There is a cogent commentary from Martin Wolf in today’s FT.  It is scary indeed that averting financial collapse demands structural changes in the euro area which seem to be politically impossible to achieve.

C. D. Howe Shills for Oil Companies

The C. D. Howe Institute is out this morning with a press release entitled, “Raising Oil and Gas Royalties Does Not Benefit Provincial Coffers.” A complete analysis of the accompanying 30-page paper – featuring many graphs, tables and regressions – will take time. But here is my initial take. Background The Institute correctly notes that […]

McGuinty Proposes Undergraduate Tuition Grant

An Ontario election is slated for October 6, and the reigning Liberal Party will attempt to pull off a third consecutive majority government. In that vein, the Liberals have recently made a slew of campaign promises in the post-secondary education (PSE) sector. Notably, they’ve committed to reducing undergraduate tuition for “middle-class Ontario families” by 30 percent, amounting […]