I always come back from the annual CEA/PEF meetings highly energized by the companionship of so many other fine committed PEF members, and our success in engaging with the broader profession. This past weekend’s meetings in Calgary were no exception. A highlight, of course, was the 3rd Biennial Galbraith Lecture delivered by Mike McCracken, CEO and Chair of Informetrica, Inc., who made a great personal commitment to travel to Calgary to receive his John Kenneth Galbraith Prize for Economics and Social Justice.
Mike’s lecture, to a packed room (that included many luminaries from the mainsteram of the profession), was titled “The Search for Full Employment: My continuing battle for the unemployed.” It was a fine mixture of personal reminiscences of his work as an economist and advisor to governments over the last five decades, and a passionate, convincing argument for the continuing relevance of full employment (TRUE full employment, not this NAIRU nonsense!) as the central goal for economic policy.
Mike mapped out a scenario in which Canada could achieve something approximating genuine full employment by 2020, with a sustained program of fiscal measures, government investment, and monetary and incomes policies. Using the Informetrica simulation model, he laid out the main features of this scenario as follows:
* Unemployment rate: 3.1%
* Labour force participation: higher than base case by 4.5 points
* Employment rate: higher than base by 6.3 points
* GDP: Higher than base by $245 billion
* Government fiscal balance (all levels): higher than base by $38 billion
* CPI inflation: 3.1%
Mike reminded us that by putting Canadians back to work (and taking advantage of Okun-type spin-off benefits) we raise our standard of living and elimiante deficits, to boot.
His lecture will eventually be published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. His stirring conclusion (I was writing it down as quickly as I could) went something like this: “I have accomplished little in the last 50 years, except to anger and annoy a lot of politicians. I want to leave you with the idea that full employment is a worthwhile goal. I suggest you embrace it, work on it, and build it. And don’t forget to anger and annoy the politicians!”
Apart from his unjustified modestly regarding his own contributions, I agree wholeheartedly. Thank you Mike for making the trip out (and to Carole for helping make it happen), and for all you’ve done for our profession and for the planet!
Here are a couple of pictures snapped by the assembled progressive economic paparazzi!
Mike delivering his lecture.
At the wine & cheese after (with Erin Weir, Jim Stanford, Lars Osberg, Armine Yalnizyan, and unidentified progressive economics recruit!)
- Crowley’s Red Hot Labour Market (April 22nd, 2013)
- Closing the Loop: Zero Waste, GHG Emissions and Green Jobs in BC (March 28th, 2013)
- Back to Balance in Nova Scotia (March 25th, 2013)
- EI: It’s all in the details (February 19th, 2013)
- Canadians Giving Up on the World of Work (February 8th, 2013)