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The Progressive Economics Forum

Why France’s Economic Problems Matter

I’ve had the good fortune to live in France for the past 10 months on a year-long sabbatical and therefore been able to witness firsthand the travails of the Socialist government as it wrestles with the country’s economic woes. Indeed, the unpopularity of president Francois Hollande was exposed a couple of weeks ago after nation-wide […]

Tony Blair and the Corporatization of Social Democracy

Tony Blair, by any sensible yardstick, is a douchebag. Recently, The Guardian, under the headline “Toxic”, detailed Blair’s “downward spiral”. This included the revelation that he may have been having an affair with Wendi Murdoch, the now ex-wife of media mogul Rupert Murdoch. Blair was once good pals with Murdoch and Wendi and is godparent […]

Intellectual Dishonesty at the Ivey Business Journal

Under the headline “Canada Isn’t Rotten to the Core”, the new editor of the Ivey Business Journal, Thomas Watson, attacked my book “Thieves of Bay Street” in his inaugural editorial. Although the book hit bookstores almost two years ago, and has faded from view, I found this assault so distorted to what “Thieves” explores I […]

The NSA Scandal is all about Economics

Back in 1998, I wrote a lengthy investigative feature for The Financial Post about Canada’s signals intelligence agency, the Communications Security Establishment (CSE), and its post-Cold War role. You can read it here: http://circ.jmellon.com/docs/pdf/trolling_for_secrets_economic_espionage.pdf The CSE and its sister signals intelligence agency in the US, the National Security Agency (NSA), engage in espionage using solely […]

How Offshore Tax Havens Destroy Governments

Last fall, Greek magazine editor Kostas Vaxevanis published in his magazine Hot Doc a list of 2,000 wealthy Greeks who were hiding taxable savings in the Geneva branch of HSBC. The list had been furnished years earlier by the then French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde to the Greek government, who did nothing in regards to chasing after […]

Niall Ferguson’s Latest Idiocy

As I discussed in an earlier post, Niall Ferguson, the Harvard historian and author of numerous bad books about economics, is prone to writing and saying completely ignorant things, making one wonder about the intellectual heft of so-called academic “stars” who populate our institutions of higher learning. The latest bit of idiocy uttered by Ferguson […]

Just How Stupid is Niall Ferguson? Very Stupid.

“But the real point of me isn’t that I’m good looking. It’s that I’m clever. I’ve got a brain! I would rather be called a highly intelligent historian than a gorgeous pouting one” – Harvard historian Niall Ferguson, Sept. 2011. One of the predictable habits of the mainstream media is to seek out opinions on […]

On Being Sued by Conrad Black

Last week, Conrad Black launched a $1.25-million libel lawsuit against me, Random House of Canada and its editors over four sentences in my book “Thieves of Bay Street” that discuss his case. You can see the National Post article here about the suit: http://news.nationalpost.com/2012/06/22/conrad-black-suing-publisher-for-1-25m/ While I won’t argue the merits of the suit on this […]

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 […]

Stock Market Swindles Galore

This past weekend (March 31st), Sino-Forest Corp. announced it was filing for bankruptcy protection. The Chinese-Canadian company, once the largest publicly-traded forestry firm on the TSX, collapsed under allegations it was nothing more than a sophisticated fraud and Ponzi scheme. Sino-Forest’s demise wiped out about $6-billion in shareholders’ value, making it a catastrophe on par […]

The Rise of the Casino Economy

I was on a road trip recently, driving through the American south, and ended up coming face to face with the economics of gambling. The friend I was travelling with is a professional poker player, making his living at casinos all across the US. He used to work as an IT consultant in Toronto, helping […]

Canada – The Petrotyranny

The revelations over how the federal Tories used a robo-calling firm (or firms) to contact voters in possibly 30 or more ridings during last year’s election – misleading them about where polling stations were located – is just another example of the Harper government’s undemocratic tactics. This is on top of their new on-line surveillance […]

Is Labour Doomed?

Last week (Feb. 2nd) I drove up to London, Ontario, to shoot some film footage of the locked-out workers picketing outside the Electro-Motive Diesel plant for a documentary I am working on. The company, the only one to make locomotives in Canada, is owned by Caterpillar Inc., the world’s largest equipment manufacturer. They’d locked out […]

Jack Layton and the Politics of Anger

My wife and I (and our dog Charlie) attended Jack Layton’s memorial service in downtown Toronto yesterday along with thousands of other mourners. It was a moving, emotional, soulful and remarkable ceremony, a testament to a fabulous human being’s honourable political legacy and his fundamental decency as a person. It’s tragic that just when Jack […]

Is Capitalism Terminally Ill?

Today (June 15th) the Toronto Star broke news that the NDP was planning to drop the term “socialism” from its party’s platform. This was a mere formality of what had been in existence for decades: the party hasn’t been “socialist” in any shape or form for a very long time. On the very same day, […]

Did NDP Sectarianism Screw Canada? Part 2

On Saturday, May 7, The Toronto Star, published a front-page “Exclusive” article entitled “What Really Sunk Ignatieff and the Liberals”, written by veteran reporter Linda Diebel. You can read it here: http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/politics/article/987422–exclusive-what-really-sunk-michael-ignatieff-and-the-liberals?bn=1 Among the reasons it cites for the Liberal’s demise was the fact that during the April 12th leaders’ debate, NDP leader Jack Layton […]

Did NDP Sectarianism Screw Canada?

While NDP supporters might be celebrating last night’s election results, the reality is that it was an umitigated disaster for Canada. The Tory majority will mean more tax breaks for corporations, the gutting of social services and cultural institutions, the widening of the already cavernous income gap, the public defunding of political parties, and the […]

The Lumpenization of the Global Economy

Gabriella Moldonado looked like someone who was thoroughly whipped by life. This past October I was standing on the front stoop of her sagging home in Laredo, Texas, interviewing the middle-aged, portly woman for a television documentary about Mexico’s drug cartel wars. Laredo is a city of 230,000 that lies on the Rio Grande river […]

Wikileaks and the Power of Corporatism

As we witness the on-going drama of governments and conservative forces around the world trying to shut down the whistleblower site Wikileaks and imprison and silence its founder, Julian Assange, on very thin grounds of sexual assault (read the British newspaper The Daily Mail’s story on the Swedish police report on the allegations – they […]

Can Socialism be Revived?

Can socialism be revived? Does it have a chance to gain some traction ever again? Unfortunately, the two great experiments in socialism attempted during the last century – social democracy and the Stalinist model of state-controlled socialism – are now spent forces. In respect to sweeping capitalism into the dustbin of history, they both failed. […]

Is Social Democracy Dying? – Part 2

I would venture there are three reasons why social democracy is pretty much kaput: 1) a flawed ideology 2) the power of capital and 3) a propensity for selling out and drifting to the right. 1) Flawed ideology Ever since people have exploited other people’s labour for their personal gain, it’s long been the dream […]

Is Social Democracy Dying? – Part 1

Rob Ford, a belligerent right-wing serial liar with a proclivity for infantile temper tantrums and drunkenness, was elected mayor of Toronto this past week. Handily. This was after seven years of competent and scandal-free leadership by an NDP mayor, David Miller. The man Miller endorsed to replace him was a long-time NDP councilor renowned for […]

The Sell-Off of Corporate Canada

The announcement this week that Prime Minister Stephen Harper is not going to intervene in the sale of Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan to the Australian conglomerate, BHP Billiton Ltd., speaks volumes about how Bay Street  and its servants in Ottawa are so willing and eager to sell off Canada’s corporate assets to foreign corporations. It’s […]

Why the Great Recession Will Go On and On…

The cover of last week’s Economist magazine boasted the headline “Grow, dammit, grow!” above a picture of a bald man looking up at a tiny sprout of hair on his pate. As the Great Recession continues to grind on with no end in sight – with growth remaining anemic and unemployment stubbornly high in North […]

Finance Capital Turns Parasitic

In an announcement that largely went unnoticed last week, U.S. Steel said it plans to close down the blast furnace at Stelco’s Hilton Works in Hamilton, Ontario. Hilton Works was once the main steelmaking operation of what was once Canada’s largest integrated steelmaker. Its demise exposes how Stelco has been reduced to a mere shell […]