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The Progressive Economics Forum

Corporate Olympics: Profit Sprint vs. Investment Crawl

Statistics Canada reported today that private and public investment intentions are up by 1.4% for 2014, even weaker than Canada’s investment growth of 1.5% in 2013.

Private-sector investment intentions are only 1.3% higher this year, a far cry from the growth of after-tax corporate profits. Yesterday, Statistics Canada reported that net profits were 17.3% higher in the fourth quarter of 2013 than in the fourth quarter of 2012.

While construction investment is expected to stagnate, the bright spot is that companies plan to invest 3.9% more in machinery and equipment in 2014. But even that increase is not particularly impressive compared to the growth of corporate profits.

Continued weak private-sector investment confirms that no-strings-attached corporate tax cuts are not working and should be reversed. The additional revenue could be used to fund needed public-sector investment.

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Comments

Comment from rcp
Time: February 27, 2014, 2:13 pm

If the current business investment slowdown proves that corporate tax cuts are not working, does the previous 8.5% annual growth over 2010-2012 prove that they previously were?

http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/business-investment-slowing-statscan-data-suggests-1.1413732

Comment from Paul Tulloch
Time: February 28, 2014, 1:19 am

Statistics Canada released the Survey of Innovation and Business Strategy 2012 last week so piling onto your post Erin- (blogging small on my site is a bit pointless so I will comment them in here.) A few key points should be underlined from the survey that kind of add some qualitative and quantitative into the investment question.

1) Innovation as defined and measured by the survey was significantly down from the ’07-’09 in to the ’10-’12 period by over 16% to 60.1% of firms signifying some form of innovation. Broadly speaking, this slow down in terms of innovation translates into further evidence of a slow down in investment- and most likely the most vital type of investment when considering productivity and competitiveness.

2) As we have indicated on this forum over the past several years- one policy option that is highly effective within a high value adding/high wage economy is targeted investment. Firms surveyed indicated that the most critical of all government programs to support innovation are tax credits. Despite Mr. Flaherty’s constant ideological stance of not wanting to “pick winners and losers” (which is quite a simplistic and destructive stance) it quite obvious that businesses feel this a required policy with over half of all respondents indicating that it is important determinant of investments. Notably up from 34.9 percent in the previous survey period- which is highly significant as we stagger through this elongated slump.

3) The last that I thought was quite enlightening centers on this whole notion that the tories keep pumping the well on is skills shortages. Businesses reported that only a mere 7% felt that government help on training was necessary for innovation and this actually fell during this period from 19%. If indeed we were suffering through a massive skills shortage that the Tories claim, than I would imagine businesses would be ranking Training a lot higher than 7%.

Wow that last point is a zinger! How can the tories stake their entire human resource strategy on the country that there is a skills shortage when only 7% of businesses feel it is an issue. I have to say this empirical evidence surely must make the tories look again at the whole skills shortage argument it is indeed the straw man.

4) Lastly this survey again debunks the claim of small business being agile, innovative and bleeding edge as Large enterprises indicated a much higher innovation rate than small business.

Some very interesting findings.

When will this survey get cancelled??

http://www.statcan.gc.ca/daily-quotidien/140214/dq140214b-eng.htm

This is the highly cut back- business enhanced/ worker and labour content subtracted version of the workplace and employee survey (WES- long live WES! It was a survey to trump all surveys and take policy to the eternal fountain of truth of higher productivity and worker outcomes! Now a shadow of itself and look at our economy since WES was cancelled in 2009). We can now call it the productivity survey for sure.

Paul

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