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Archive for July, 2012

LBJ on Economics

“Making a speech on economics is a lot like pissing down your leg. It may seem hot to you,but it never does to anyone else.” Cited in Robert A. Caro, Master of the Senate: The Years of Lyndon Johnson (2012)

TFSAs: Cutting Taxes for the Affluent

The latest issue of the Canadian Tax Journal has a number of articles on Tax-Free Savings Accounts. Among the papers of interest: Kevin Milligan projects the potential tax impact of accumulated TFSA contribution room by estimating what a mature TFSA would have meant for income taxation in 2005. Even short of doubling the contribution limit […]

Dutch disease revised

As we know, Dutch disease is about damage to industry from resource exports. As we witness the widespread drought this summer in North America and the damage to crops, Dutch disease needs to be redefined to also include the damage to agriculture. The Canadian West eats its own as it produces oil.

Taking Over Nexen

The China National Offshore Oil Corporation’s (CNOOC) bid to acquire Nexen is a large and complex proposal. Canadians should call for a more thorough and transparent review than other foreign takeovers have received under the Investment Canada Act. A preliminary outline of possible costs and benefits follows. The Downside: Chinese Consumer Interests A company like […]

Saskatchewan’s Rising Cost of Living

Today’s Consumer Price Index provides further evidence of Saskatchewan’s rising cost of living. Among the provinces, Saskatchewan is tied for the second-highest annual inflation rate: 2.0%. Consumer prices decreased in June from May in nine provinces (all except Alberta). But Saskatchewan was tied for the smallest monthly price decline: -0.3%. Compared to the rest of […]

Baskin-Robbins and the Walmartization of Ice Cream

It’s been an unusually hot summer, and soaring temperatures have boosted sales of that quintessential summer food, ice cream. But Baskin-Robbins has decided to shut its production facility in Peterborough, Ont., and lay off 80 workers because of…wait for it… increased demand! From the department of “wait, what?”, here’s the scoop behind this brain-freeze-inducing decision. […]

Labour Losing to Capital

The just-released OECD Employment Outlook – full text not available on line – has an interesting chapter on the sharp decline of labour’s share of national income in virtually all OECD countries over the past 30 years, and especially the last twenty years. The median labour share in the OECD fell from 66.1% in the […]

EI Lags Unemployment

Today, Statistics Canada reported that 3,400 more Canadians received Employment Insurance (EI) benefits in May. It previously reported that unemployment rose by 8,000 that month. In other words, even more workers are now unemployed without EI benefits. In total, just 37% of unemployed Canadians received benefits in May (i.e. 512,600 out of 1,378,600). This proportion […]

Mosaic Profit Argues for Higher Royalties

Today’s Mosaic quarterly report provides further evidence that the Government of Saskatchewan should improve its royalty and tax structure to collect a better return on the province’s non-renewable resources like potash. Quarterly Comparison Despite higher potash prices, Mosaic paid lower royalties and resource taxes to Saskatchewan last quarter than in the same quarter of last […]

Investing in the Green & White – Why Not in Green Power?

At yesterday’s Saskatchewan Roughrider game, Premier Wall announced provincial funding for a new stadium: an $80-million grant and a $100-million loan to be repaid over time through a surcharge on tickets. While it’s unclear why a stadium should be anywhere near the top of the priority list, a readiness to invest in public infrastructure is […]

Fiscal “Crisis” In Context: Two Indicators

With all the predictions of doom and gloom coming from the austerity camp, one would think that Canada was already about to hit the famed (but never seen) “debt wall.”  Before we get too carried away, however, with the scary debt stuff, consider these two indicators of the fundamental fiscal fragility/stability of Canadian governments. The […]

Youth employment trends

As a follow-up to my last post, where I showed R7 – the unemployment rate that includes involuntary part-time, I was curious what the longer term trend was regarding youth and part-time employment. As you can see in the graph below, the proportion of 20-24 year olds engaged in full-time work has steadily fallen since […]

Randy Hoback’s Pulp Fiction

Last week, Conservative MP Randy Hoback had another letter in The Prince Albert Daily Herald blaming the NDP for the pulp-mill closure in 2006. He still has not addressed my main point about resource royalties. I have the following response on page 4 of today’s Herald: Pulp mill saga proves Mulcair’s point Notwithstanding MP Randy […]

Student Employment Rate Sinks

In the summer months, Statistics Canada collects labour force data on students who were attending school full time in March, and who intend to return full time in the fall. The unemployment rate for these students rose compared to June of last year. The June 2012 unemployment rate for students 17-19 was 17.3% (up from […]

More Canadians Give Up Looking for Work

Canada’s labour market stagnated again in June. Employment edged up by only 7,000 as the working-age population grew by 30,000. In response to this job shortage, 17,000 Canadians dropped out of the labour force. Canada’s economy is not generating nearly enough jobs to keep pace with the number of available workers. The good news is […]

Right to Work, again

In case anyone was wondering about the effectiveness of right to work laws in suppressing unionization, here is a chart of Union coverage rate by State (the percentage of all employees that are covered by a collective agreement) as of 2010.  Right to work states have an asterisk, and are outlined with a black dotted line. (Chart […]

Changing concepts of time

Occasionally we can still get a glimpse of the radical difference between modern and pre-modern concepts of time. A significant number of Marshall Islanders have migrated to the U.S. According to a recent story in the NY Times (july 4): “They puzzle over the American obsession with time…” The principal of an Arkansas school where […]

Let’s Make Taxes Voluntary, too!

Further to my recent post on the Ontario PC party’s proposal for right-to-work laws in that province, here is a slightly longer version of my column in today’s Globe and Mail:

Canada: Land of Mines and Banks

Just in time for Canada Day, the Globe and Mail’s Report on Business issued its annual Top 1000 rankings of the thousand largest publicly traded companies (by assets) in Canada (ranked by profit).  I blogged about this last year as well.  It’s such an interesting snapshot of Canadian business it’s worth perusing. Once again, this listing […]