Main menu:

History of RPE Thought

Posts by Tag

RSS New from the CCPA

  • Help us build a better Ontario September 14, 2017
    If you live in Ontario, you may have recently been selected to receive our 2017 grassroots poll on vital issues affecting the province. Your answers to these and other essential questions will help us decide what issues to focus on as we head towards the June 2018 election in Ontario. For decades, the CCPA has […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Does the Site C dam make economic sense for BC? August 31, 2017
    Today CCPC-BC senior economist Marc Lee submitted an analysis to the BC Utilities Commission in response to their consultation on the economics of the Site C dam. You can read it here. In short, the submission discussses how the economic case for Site C assumes that industrial demand for electricity—in particular for natural gas extraction […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Ontario's middle and working class families are losing ground August 15, 2017
    Ontario is becoming more polarized as middle and working class families see their share of the income pie shrinking while upper middle and rich families take home even more. New research from CCPA-Ontario Senior Economist Sheila Block reveals a staggering divide between two labour markets in the province: the top half of families continue to pile […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Join us in October for the CCPA-BC fundraising gala, featuring Senator Murray Sinclair August 14, 2017
    We are incredibly honoured to announce that Senator Murray Sinclair will address our 2017 Annual Gala as keynote speaker, on Thursday, October 19 in Vancouver. Tickets are now on sale. Will you join us? Senator Sinclair has served as chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), was the first Indigenous judge appointed in Manitoba, […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • How to make NAFTA sustainable, equitable July 19, 2017
    Global Affairs Canada is consulting Canadians on their priorities for, and concerns about, the planned renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). In CCPA’s submission to this process, Scott Sinclair, Stuart Trew and Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood point out how NAFTA has failed to live up to its promise with respect to job and productivity […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
Progressive Bloggers

Meta

Recent Blog Posts

Posts by Author

Recent Blog Comments

The Progressive Economics Forum

Canadian Triumphalism Increasingly Bizarre

Prime Minister  Harper went to Davos yesterday to sing Canada’s praises.  No sooner had he finished reciting a long list of our national achievements, however, then he launched into a list of the sober, realistic, inevitable things that must be done in Canada to ensure “sustainability” in the long term.  Top of the list is rolling back our universal public pension system (especially targeting the OAS and the GIS), which is one of our genuine national achievements.  Harper plans to use his majority power and adept use of “shock doctrine” ideology to try to do what others (including Mulroney and Martin) failed: roll back this most important component of our sadly-inadequate pension system.  I hope that everyone with a stake in this — seniors, labour, anti-poverty groups — are ready to fight him on it.  This could be the issue where Harper over-reaches, majority and all.

But the obvious question is this: if Canada has been so wonderfully successful, why must we take money away from Canada’s pensioners (let alone all the other blood that’s clearly going to spilled with this 2012 budget)?

The triumphalism of the federal government throughout the global crisis (which is still very much with us, as the IMF powerfully warned the other day) has become increasingly far-fetched, but the Harper government shows no shame in continuing to milk it for all it’s worth. 

A paper I wrote for the Alternative Federal Budget compiles international and historical data to show that there’s no empirical basis for the twin boasts that: 1. the economic damage from the recession has been repaired, and 2. Canada escaped the worst of the downturn (compared to other countries).

Here’s a link to the full paper, released yesterday by the CCPA:

http://www.policyalternatives.ca/newsroom/updates/what-economic-recovery

Adjusting for population growth (a no-brainer when making any historical or international comparisons of absolute variables like GDP and employment), Canada hs not remotely regained the ground lost to the recession.  Per capita real GDP is well below its pre-recession levels (and at least $3000 per person below its potential, given pre-recession trends).  The employment rate has recovered even more poorly: not even one-fifth of the downturn in that crucial measure of labour market well-being has been recouped in two-and-a-half years of non-recovery since mid-2009.

Internationally, if there is one word to summarize Canada’s relative performance through this recession, it should be “mediocre.”  Canada ranks 17th out of 34 OECD countries in real per capita GDP growth since the pre-recession peak, and 17th out of 33 in the cumulative change in the employment rate (see table below). 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yes, we’ve done better than countries which experienced major banking or financial failures: the US, the UK, Ireland, Iceland, and Greece.  But among industrialized countries which did not suffer bank failures, we rank relatively poorly.  Instead of continually boasting that we’ve done better than the Americans or the Greeks, we should be asking why we haven’t done nearly as well as the Germans, the Koreans, or the Australians in recovering from recession.  The premature cessation of fiscal stimulus, the devastating impacts of currency overvaluation, and the longer-run failure to pursue successful sector-based development strategies, all loom large in answering this question.

The government’s continuing claim that Canada has done so well, is an insult to the many millions of Canadians who have suffered real harm, and continue to suffer real harm, as a result of the recession, and Canada’s incomplete, mediocre recovery from it.

 

 

Enjoy and share:

Comments

Comment from David MacInnes
Time: January 27, 2012, 12:31 pm

Jim mentions the problem of currency overvaluation. What would the elements of an effective policy to reduce the value of the Canadian dollar be and would the job go to the Bank of Canada?

Write a comment





Related articles