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Archive for April, 2012

Travels in Harperland

On my recent book tour to promote “Thieves of Bay Street” I have journeyed to Alberta, Montreal and Ottawa. In so doing, I have gotten a taste of the Canada which Stephen Harper and his merry band of Tories are trying to forge. In Calgary, I arrived in time for the final weekend of the Alberta […]

The Big Banks’ Big Secret

The CCPA today released my report: “The Big Banks Big Secret” which provides the first public estimates of the emergency funds taken by Canadian banks.  The report bases its estimates on publicly available data from CMHC, the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions, US Federal Reserve, the Bank of Canada, as well as quarterly […]

Canadian Mining and Manufacturing Stumble

Statistics Canada reported today that the economy shrank in February, driven by declines in resource extraction and manufacturing. Oil and gas extraction as well as hard-rock mining decreased due to temporary shutdowns. However, the most dramatic decline was in potash production, down 19% due to mine closures in Saskatchewan. The provincial government, which is budgeting […]

Quebec Tuition: Between a Rock and Hard Place?

In the context of student protests over Quebec tuition fees, my friend Luan Ngo has just written a very informative blog post on Quebec’s fiscal situation. While I encourage readers to read his full post, I do want to use the present space to make mention of three important points he makes: -On a per […]

PEF Conference, June 8-9

The Progressive Economics Forum will be occupying the Calgary School (also Jim’s and my alma mater) on June 8 and 9 at the annual Canadian Economics Association conference. Our schedule of sessions is now available.

Climate change will shape BC in 2035, one way or another

I have an oped in today’s Vancouver Sun as part of its BC in 2035 series. Climate change will shape BC in 2035, one way or another We live on a different planet from the one our parents grew up on, says environmentalist Bill McKibben. Climate change from our rampant combustion of fossil fuels has […]

The Quebec Student Protests: ‘Going International’

A recent article by Stefani Forster, of the Canadian Press, suggests that the Quebec student protests may be starting a larger social movement outside of Quebec. According to the article: In the last few days, Quebec’s student protests have received coverage in French news outlets like Le Monde and Agence France-Presse, in Australia, in New […]

Quebec Students: “Faire Leur Juste Part”

Simon Tremblay-Pepin, an emerging social policy scholar, has recently blogged here (in French) about Quebec tuition fees. He points out that, when one adjusts for inflation, Quebec tuition fees are headed into uncharted territory. Indeed, contrary to some recent spin from the Charest government, Tremblay-Pepin makes two important observations: 1. When one takes an average […]

Discussing Quebec Student Protests on Talk Radio

Last Friday, I blogged here about the Quebec student protests.  Subsequently, I was invited to appear on 580 CFRA News Talk Radio, with hosts Rob Snow and Lowell Green. I should note that Mr. Green is the author of several books, including: -How the Granola Crunching, Tree Hugging Thug Huggers are Wrecking our Country; -Mayday […]

PBO Strikes Again

I wanted to tip my hat to the hard working folks at the PBO for a particularly revealing Economic and Fiscal Outlook that was published today.  While the PBO has more than once eaten my lunch on various issue they’ve done a superb job of looking at Canada’s economic and fiscal position.

The Oil Price-Loonie Transmission Mechanism

The most interesting comments from Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney last week, in releasing the Bank’s semi-annual Monetary Policy Report, dealt with the relationship between the price of oil and the Canadian currency.  The Globe and Mail reported Carney as publicly questioning why currency traders automatically presume such a direct link between the loonie […]

McGuinty Budget Would Cut Over 100,000 Jobs

Last week, the Ontario Public Service Employees Union released an interesting report by the Centre for Spatial Economics on the economic impact of proposed provincial budget cuts. It provides a timely reminder that the public sector is a crucial component of the economy, with public spending also supporting many private-sector jobs. The Centre for Spatial Economics […]

Neil Reynolds’ Fuzzy Tax Math

If you need help with your tax return, don’t ask Neil Reynolds. His latest attack on the New Democrat proposal to collect modestly more tax from Ontario’s super-rich stated that “the province’s highest marginal rate on personal income would rise, federal and provincial rates combined, from 46.4 per cent to 49.4 per cent – meaning that […]

Meilinomics I: The Little Boats

The following is an excerpt from Dr. Ryan Meili’s new book, A Healthy Society: How a Focus on Health Can Revive Canadian Democracy. There’s a family that comes frequently to the West Side Clinic; we’ll call them Lucas and Annie. Hardly a week goes by that I don’t see them in for a medical visit […]

Rex Murphy’s Naive Take on the Quebec Student Protests

On CBC’s The National last night, Rex Murphy weighed in on Quebec’s student protests; the transcript can be found here,  and the three-minute video here.  He calls the protests “short sighted,” points out that Quebec already has the lowest tuition fees in Canada, and suggests the students’ actions are “crude attempts at precipitating a crisis.” He […]

Deflating the Monetary Hawks

Canada’s business press has recently been filled with speculation that the Bank of Canada may soon hike interest rates based on its somewhat more optimistic economic outlook. But today’s Consumer Price Index report indicates that there is no need to raise interest rates. Statistics Canada reported that both headline and core inflation fell to 1.9% […]

When a University Recruits Abroad, Who’s in Charge?

A few years ago, I wrote an opinion piece on “pathway colleges”—i.e. private companies that recruit students from other countries and then ‘bridge’ them into Canadian universities by providing pre-university courses, including English as a Second Language. A recent CBC News article  underlines how perilous such recruitment of post-secondary students from abroad can be, and why it is important […]

A Bank for the Taxpayer’s Buck?

Hi all, I interrupt your regular blog viewing to bring you one of my infrequent posts, this time by a guest contributor — Alan Milner — who for reasons of job security, must remain anonymous.  With no further ado: ******************************************************************* A  Bank for the Taxpayer’s Buck? The Canadian tax system provides a variety of incentives […]

BMO Professor vs. Bank Regulation

Last week, the C. D. Howe Institute was out with an op-ed contending that Canadian household debt is not worth worrying too much about: “There does not seem to be a strong case for restrictive regulation of consumer credit products, such as tight caps on interest rates.” The C. D. Howe Institute arguing for looser […]

The Economics of Deception

The following is a guest post by Robyn Allan, the former president of the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia who appeared with me on TVO’s panel about Dutch disease. It summarizes her recent paper: An Analysis of Canadian Oil Expansion Economics. There is a chorus singing the praises of the oil industry and its vast economic […]

Social Statistics: Ignorance Is Bliss

Pretty soon asking even the most basic social policy questions will require huge amounts of investment in primary research. Regularly published statistical reports and summaries are disappearing by the minute. The elimination of the National Council of Welfare in the Budget means that we will no longer be getting Welfare Incomes, a more or less […]

Later Retirement: A Win – Win Solution?

The C D Howe Institute have put out a study on later retirement by Peter Hicks, a former senior official with HRSDC and the OECD who has written a lot on the policy implications of ageing societies. I find this to be one of his less convincing efforts. The argument – with parenthetical comments – […]

Who’s a bigger drag on Canada’s future? The old or the young?

This is my latest column for Canadian Business magazine.  Giorgio, a hard-working, smart-as-a-whip University of Toronto student, asked me a great question after a recent guest lecture: What if the biggest challenge facing Canadian businesses and governments in the coming years isn’t an aging society but the economic and fiscal drag of hundreds of thousands […]

Katimavik

I am sure readers of this blog are not unsympathetic to the case for a government supported program which, at a time of very high youth unemployment, annually enables some 1500 young people to volunteer to work in not for profit sponsored community development projects across the country. Participants- aged 17 to 21 – are […]

SK Budget: Where’s the Inter-governmental Love?

A hallmark of Brad Wall’s premiership has been cosy relations with municipal governments and the two westernmost provincial governments. Since taking office, the Sask. Party has been throwing money at municipalities. It pledged not to sign the Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement with Alberta and BC, but then did so through the New West […]

Job Gains in March: An Aberration?

Coming after several months of flat or falling job growth, the large jump in employment in March – up 82,300 – has prompted concerns that it could be a statistical aberration, due to sampling error rather than a real change. This could indeed be the case. However, the Standard Error for the national estimate of employment […]

Real Unemployment Rate = 11.3%

Statistics Canada reported significant employment growth today for the first time in six months. As Andrew has already noted, welcome strength in March does not make up for the five preceding months of stagnation. Compared to September 2011, full-time employment has increased by 21,900 while Canada’s labour force and population (age 15+) have expanded by […]

A Good Month Leaves Us Well Short of a Recovery

Today’s job numbers for March are much stronger than they have been since last September. Job creation was very strong – up 82,300 in the month, with 70,000 of those positions being full-time. The national unemployment rate fell from 7.4% to 7.2%, the level it was at last September. The youth unemployment rate also fell […]

Bear Safety Tips for Bob Rae

Liberal leader Bob Rae seems intent on provoking a Grizzly attack. I have slightly adapted some internet advice for him: – Play dead! (The latest polling results should make that relatively easy.) – Lie face down on the ground with your hands around the back of your neck. – Stay silent and try not to move. – […]

Federal Job Cuts…the Real Numbers

Andrew Jackson has started off this discussion with his post today looking at the job impacts of federal cuts.  I wanted to add my own two sense and some calculations that I’ve whipped up. Thankfully the federal budget has started to fill in some of the details of its latest round of cuts.  In particular, it […]