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The Progressive Economics Forum

Archive for October, 2011

Recovery Demands Increase in Labour’s Share

The just-released 2011 ILO World of Work Report is a must read for progressive economists. Released on the eve of the G-20 meetings, the report underlines the gravity of the current global employment situation and warns of the need to put job creation first if we are to avoid a very extended period of high […]

Families, Time and Well-Being

Inequality of well-being among families with children is increasing at an even faster rate than income inequality, according to a new study by Peter Burton and Shelley Phipps, “Families, Time, and Well-Being in Canada”. They find that total family working hours have increased for most families, but not for those at the top of the […]

Austerity Kills: Conservative cure worst thing for what ails the economy says Stiglitz

Governments around the world are heading down a path to economic suicide. So said Nobel Prize-winning former chief economist of the World Bank, Joseph Stiglitz, to hundreds of well-heeled financiers and decision-makers who paid a bundle to hear him in Toronto. With a voice as gruff as gravel, and an energy bristling with urgency, he […]

Sask Party Shills for PotashCorp

Yesterday’s strong earnings report from the Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan confirms what this blog and the NDP have been contending: even modestly increasing Saskatchewan’s extremely low royalties on hugely profitable potash mines could fund substantially better provincial public services. The Saskatchewan Party still refuses to review potash royalties. In a well-timed column, Greg Fingas developed […]

A New Round of Euro Austerity

The Euro deal at least averted an immediate banking crisis and induced temporary market euphoria, but it is not going to provide a lasting solution to the euro sovereign debt crisis because it will block  any lasting recovery for the euro economy. It is worth reading the text of the deal,  which represents a major […]

The Euro Crisis

I don’t have much new to add to what is surely the key economic issue of the hour beyond pointing to useful commentary by Larry Elliott  in the Guardian and Martin Wolf in the FT. I think Wolf is right that the key to resolving the crisis is to make the ECB the backstop for […]

Home energy retrofit (part 2)

This summer I put our household through an energy efficiency retrofit. I was working on a research paper on energy efficiency, and then both the BC and federal governments announced new funding for their retrofit programs, so I engaged in some direct action research, staring with an energy audit of our home (more in part […]

The financial wealth of Canada’s top 1%

Following up on my post on wealth and income of the top 1%, Eric Pineault wrote to add some data on financial wealth distribution for Canada. He had a research assistant comb through microdata from Statcan’s Survey of Financial Security from 2005, and notes: “the 1% richest (all households are classed according to net worth rather […]

What if Potash Tanks?

Regarding the NDP platform’s reliance on additional potash revenue, columnist Murray Mandryk asks, “What if potash tanks as it did in 2009?” Of course, budgets are necessarily based on assumptions about future commodity prices. Saskatchewan Finance estimates that each dollar of change in the price of oil alters provincial revenues by $20 million (page 35). […]

Saskatchewan Platform Comparison

Saskatchewan’s two major parties have unveiled their election platforms. The NDP’s fiscal plan is to collect higher potash royalties and reinvest the proceeds in public priorities like healthcare, education and housing. Columnist Murray Mandryk notes the spectre of Erin Weir. The NDP has expressed a willingness to discuss sharing resource revenues with First Nations. The […]

The Economic Impacts of Breast Cancer

A research paper published by the Canadian Breast Cancer Network underlines that the economic costs of cancer are huge due to a lack of supportive public and workplace  policies. As they say ” we may think of breast cancer as a health condition, but it is also an economic condition.” Based on surveys of former […]

IMF Hints at Need for Less Fiscal Austerity and a Plan B for Canada

Albeit in a highly nuanced way, the IMF has called on the G-20  to temper short-term fiscal austerity now that the global economy “has entered a dangerous phase.” In their submission to the October 14-15 meetings of G-20 finance ministers, the IMF call for medium-term fiscal consolidation plans to “create more policy space for near-term […]

The Sask Party’s 0.1% Health Plan

The banner headline, in block capitals, on the front page of yesterday’s Regina Leader-Post was “SASK. PARTY HAS FIVE-POINT HEALTH PLAN.” That’s accurate reporting, as far as it goes. The Saskatchewan Party did announce a healthcare plan featuring five points. It would have been similarly accurate to report that this announcement was accompanied by a […]

Wealth and Income in the Top 1%

One thing I really like about the Occupy movement is that it reclaiming mental space. I’m thinking of the overt focus on the riches gained by the top 1%, and of naming and shaming capitalism. Two are one and the same, of course. It is in the top 1% that we find the capitalists – […]

What CETA Would Mean for Canada’s Auto Industry

Canadian free trade negotiators are going all-out to get a deal with the EU on a new free trade agreement. The Harper government wants a deal badly for largely symbolic and ideological purposes, to show that the free trade agenda is back on track under this “stable majority government.”  Many valid concerns have been raised […]

Are the 1% just lucky?

I expect some folks who oppose the Occupy movement will weigh in on merit – that the top 1% are deserving of their riches because they include people who pay a lot of wages and salaries for ordinary folk. That is, the story of hard-working, risk-taking entrepreneurs who should not be punished for being successful. […]

Federal R&D Panel Report

In a week when business lobby groups are appearing before the House of Commons Committee on Finance and calling for more tax breaks, the federal R&D Panel appointed a year ago released a very good report saying Canada’s very generous system of R&D tax incentives haven’t been effective and what we need instead are more direct grants […]

Occupation, democracy and coops

I hung out a while yesterday at the Vancouver Occupation, and was impressed with their efforts at radical democracy. Many in the mainstream press have been quick to pile on for how time-consuming decision-making can be under this model, but perhaps they have not spent enough time in legislatures and committee meetings and public consultations. […]

Occupy Together: It’s About Time!

Here is a Globe and Mail commentary I wrote after attending the wonderful Occupy Toronto protests on the weekend. The media keep going off about how this movement has no “central demand.”  Go to a Tea Party event in the U.S. and see if you can find “one central demand.”  That doesn’t stop them from […]

Recent Immigrants and the Crisis

It is no secret that times of  high unemployment and precarious work are especially tough for new and recent entrants to the job market, notably young workers and recent immigrants. The latter were especially hard hit in the recession and slow recovery of the 1990s, when new immigrants had great difficulty finding decent jobs and […]

Sask Party Deficit Math

The Saskatchewan NDP is proposing to collect higher potash royalties and save a portion of the proceeds in a new Bright Futures Fund. The NDP has also expressed its willingness to negotiate with First Nations about the possibility of resource revenue sharing. The right-wing Saskatchewan Party strangely claims that the NDP’s plan “would plunge the province […]

Europe, G20 and financial transactions taxes

Thanks mostly to the superb campaigning by international development, poverty and environmental activists, there’s been remarkable progress in getting Europe to introduce financial transactions taxes, aka the Robin Hood Tax.    Last month, the European Commission presented a proposal for a broad-based financial transactions tax in all 27 members states of the European Union. At […]

Canada’s Billionaires

Just in time for the “Occupy Bay Street” protest this weekend, Canadian Business magazine has come out with its annual listing of the richest 100 people in Canada.  So in honour of the protestors and their noble cause (demanding more attention to the 99%, instead of the 1%), let’s peruse together the sordid details of […]

Small Business and the Attack on Unions

In case you had any doubts where the escalating attack on Canadian unions is coming from, check out the web site of the Canadian Labour Watch Association. The Labour Watch site provides detailed information and advice to individual workers and employers on how to fight unionization drives and how to decertify existing unions, including by […]

Why Are They So Angry at Wall Street?

Well, we know, but these Charts tell an incredible story.   http://www.businessinsider.com/what-wall-street-protesters-are-so-angry-about-2011-10?op=1

Roubini on the Instability of Inequality

Business-school professor and economist Nouriel Roubini earned his nickname Dr. Doom by repeatedly predicting the chain of events that would cause the global economic house of cards to fall down. Yesterday he laid out the economic dilemmas that are triggering a global Occupy movement and concludes: “Any economic model that does not properly address inequality […]

Sask Party Healthcare Math

Yesterday, the Saskatchewan Party claimed that the provincial NDP’s plan for 30 additional primary healthcare clinics would cost $840 million. It has since removed this goofy press release from its website, but here’s a screenshot. The Sask Party multiplied the Saskatoon Community Clinic’s $7-million annual provincial cost by 30, and then multiplied that total by […]

The Prime Minister and the G20

Prime Minister Harper’s op ed in the Globe today on his hopes for the Cannes summit is disappointing, even if the content comes as no surprise. His focus is on the danger of a relapse into a global recession precipitated by a worsening of the European financial crisis. This is indeed a hugely important issue which […]

Access Copyright

I have an opinion piece out on Access Copyright, English Canada’s longtime copyright middleman. I argue that Access Copyright is a bit like the Blockbuster Video of Canadian university libraries—once indispensable, and now almost obsolete (largely due the Internet). Within a year from now, it’s possible that no Canadian university will still have day-to-day dealings with […]

First We Take Manhattan….. What Occupy Wall Street Could Mean

This is not the stuff of usual protests. Over the past month, a little idea from a Vancouver outfit has mushroomed into a cross-continent movement. Occupy Wall Street, kicked off by Adbusters in July and coming to Toronto this weekend, has already spread to 70 American cities and is going global as protestors challenge society […]