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Archive for August, 2012

Unionization and Labour Market Performance

Further to my earlier post on the “own goal” scored by the Fraser Institute report on North American labour markets, the Table below shows the rankings of the Canadian provinces – out of 60 states and provinces – for (1) labour market performance, 2007-11 and (2) the unionization rate. (I have reversed the Fraser ranking […]

More Dead Money

The sector and financial-flow accounts released with today’s GDP figures indicate an expansion of the pool of dead money flagged by this blog and by Mark Carney. The National Balance Sheet Accounts have not yet been released for the second quarter, so we cannot update the accumulated total of $526 billion. However, the updated Financial […]

Oil Prices and the Loonie Again

There’s a refreshingly pragmatic and detailed piece in today’s National Post by Peter Spiro questioning the assumed correlation between oil prices and the loonie.  It builds nicely on previous discussion of the “oil price-loonie transmission mechanism” that has occurred here and here. Among other salient points, Mr. Spiro points out that: Canadian petroleum exports have […]

Labour Market Regulation and Labour Market Performance

A release by the Fraser Institute – Measuring Labour Markets in Canada and the United States, 2012 Edition – registers as a spectacular own goal. The Fraser Institute believes – and argues in this study – that strong unions, high minimum wages and high levels of public sector employment undermine labour market performance measured in […]

Excerpts From CAW Convention Document

Last week’s CAW convention in Toronto was one of the most exciting labour events I’ve ever been to. 

Raising Saskatchewan’s Minimum Wage

Saskatchewan Federation of Labour president Larry Hubich and I have the following joint op-ed in today’s Regina Leader-Post (page A10). It’s been fourteen years since I first wrote into The Leader-Post advocating a minimum-wage increase. UPDATE (August 31): The op-ed also appeared in today’s Saskatoon StarPhoenix (page A11), Wednesday’s Estevan Mercury (page A7) and Swift Current’s […]

Spinning Mr. Carney

For novelty value if nothing else, Mark Carney’s appearance at the CAW convention last week was bound to spark lots of attention.  After all, we could find no other historical example of a Bank of Canada Governor ever speaking to a union convention.  That says something in and of itself, of course.  Central bankers speak […]

Pour en finir avec la dette…

The previous post reflects a general mood about the Québec election and its perennial debates, constitutional and otherwise. Nonetheless, for all the talk about Québec’s specificity, many economic discussions bear striking resemblance to what is happening in the rest of North America. Worry about the public debt is one of them, one that has taken […]

Elections and the yearning for change

Watching the election campaign unfold in a province where the [empty] slogan of change manages to obscure most of the spring street action, I was reminded of Tommy Douglas’ nice rendering of Mouseland. It seemed like an appropriate response to the sad series of three bilateral debates between the three main contenders. (Interestingly, Québec Solidaire […]

Dead Money

Kudos to Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney for raising the profile of the over $500 billion Canadian corporations are holding in excess cash surpluses and not investing in the economy, which garnered front page coverage (and kudos to the CAW for inviting him to speak.) It’s not the first time he’s raised this  concern. […]

Broadening the Bank of Canada’s Mandate

Yesterday, Mike Moffatt took to The Globe and Mail’s “Economy Lab” in response to my suggestion that the Bank of Canada should moderate the exchange rate. (Perhaps his motive for encouraging me to seek the Saskatchewan NDP leadership was to get me as far as possible from the levers of monetary policy.) My rebuttal of […]

No Vale on the Plains?

I had the following comments in yesterday’s front-page story on Vale’s decision to postpone its proposed $3-billion potash mine at Kronau, Saskatchewan: Regina economist Erin Weir, who is widely expected to run for the leadership of the provincial NDP, said in a statement Friday that the Vale announcement “represents a failure of the Saskatchewan government’s […]

The Right Response to “No Job Is A Bad Job”

Last May federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said there was no such thing as a bad job. The Law Commission of Ontario may disagree. This week it put out a report about the rise in vulnerable workers and precarious jobs. Now that he’s heard from executives who think Canadians are paid too much, Mr. Flaherty […]

Prices Decline Yet Again

Statistics Canada reported today that, for a third consecutive month, consumer prices declined and the inflation rate fell below 2%. In July, the inflation rate was 1.3% and the Bank of Canada’s core rate was 1.7%. Gasoline and natural gas prices, which have been lower this summer than last, dragged down the overall Consumer Price […]

Canadian banks use of tax havens keeps growing

A growing share of Canada’s investment overseas is being channeled by Canadian banks into tax havens. The latest Statistics Canada figures  show 24% of Canadian direct investment overseas in 2011 went to the top twelve tax havens, up from 10% in 1987.   In fact, tax havens of the Barbados, Cayman Islands, Ireland, Luxembourg and Bermuda were […]

The Economic Crisis: Notes from the Underground

Tom Palley has published a new book – The Economic Crisis: Notes from the Underground.  I recommend it unread, having learned a lot from his excellent recent book,  From Financial Crisis to Stagnation. The back cover description follows. The book can be ordered – for just $9.99  – from https://www.createspace.com/3820028 This book provides a collection […]

Canada’s Economic Problem is NOT High Wages

Bill Curry reports in today’s Globe that, at last year’s economic policy retreat, business leaders urged Finance Minister Flaherty to reduce the pay of “overpriced” Canadian workers, including through anti union right to work legislation. Coincidentally, or not, the subsequent 2012 federal Budget introduced new rules which will require most EI claimants to accept jobs […]

1% Potash Royalties: Typo or Foreshadowing?

Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Energy and Resources has released its 2011-12 Annual Report. The potash table (page 36) incredibly shows “Royalty/Tax” revenue of only $62.5 million in 2010-11 and $38.4 million in 2011-12. These figures amount to just 1.2% and 0.6% respectively of the value of potash sales. I have long argued that Saskatchewan’s potash royalties […]

To address health inequalities, look beyond the role of individual responsibility

A new report by the Canadian Medical Association provides a timely reminder that money buys better health, even in a country with a universal public healthcare system. A poll commissioned by the CMA found a large and increasing gap between the health status of  Canadians in lower income groups (household income less than $30,000) and […]

Labour Minister Wrong on Manufacturing Jobs

Saskatchewan newspapers report: “Certainly in professional, scientific and technical areas and in the mining and the manufacturing sector (the job numbers) are very strong,” Don Morgan, minister of advanced education and labour relations, told reporters at news conference Friday. On Friday, Statistics Canada reported that Saskatchewan manufacturing employment dropped by 900 last month and declined […]

A Breakdown of the Job Losses

Further to Angella’s post, after two months of treading water, Canada lost 30,000 jobs in July. The increase in unemployment was limited to 22,000 only because 8,000 people abandoned the labour force and are no longer counted as unemployed. Regional Breakdown Most of the job losses were in Quebec and BC, which could weaken those […]

July Job Numbers Fall

Statistics Canada’s monthly job numbers are out, and it doesn’t look great.  After big jumps in March and April, there was little change in May and June.  In July, total employment fell by 30,000, mostly due to a fall in the numbers of women part-time workers over 55.  The unemployment rate rose to 7.3%. Employment […]

Labour Law and Jobs: A Tale of Two Provinces

Ontario Conservative Leader Tim Hudak claims that union busting right to work laws would create jobs in hard hit industrial Ontario. I have already noted that there is no evidence that Right to Work states in the US do better than other US states in terms of attracting and retaining manufacturing jobs. A glance closer […]

Canada’s Emissions Deception

The federal government released an updated Canada’s Emission Trends 2012 report today. In a remarkable shift in federal rhetoric just this past week, the Harperites now appear to be more sensitive to concerns about the Enbridge pipeline and climate change more generally. But appearances can be deceiving and there is good reason to believe the current […]

“Right to Work” Laws and Jobs

Ontario Conservative leader Tim Hudak claims that passage of an anti union “right to work” (RTW) law (making mandatory union dues illegal) would create jobs, especially in hard-hit manufacturing. With companies like Caterpillar moving to get ever cheaper labour, it seems semi plausible that anti union laws might attract footloose new investment , albeit at […]

Alberta’s Bogus Labour Shortage

The following is a guest post by the Alberta Federation of Labour’s Tony Clark: A labour shortage occurs when the demand for labour exceeds the supply of labour, right? Well, apparently not in Alberta. The Alberta Federation of Labour took a long hard look at the Government of Alberta’s projections showing an astronomical labour shortage of […]

Agrium Halves Potash Royalties

Agrium reports that it paid half as much to the people of Saskatchewan in the second quarter as it had in the same quarter of last year. The company’s quarterly “potash profit and capital tax” payment dropped to $8 million from $15 million a year ago. Agrium’s only potash mine is in Saskatchewan. The value […]