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The Progressive Economics Forum

Benjamin Zycher’s Eight-Year Itch

The controversy regarding the mathematical errors in the Ontario PCs’ “million jobs plan” went viral last week, after a critical mass of economists weighed in to confirm that the party had indeed badly misinterpreted the findings (by as much as 8 times over) of their own consultants’ studies.  This sparked a firestorm of media coverage, […]

More on Conference Board Model of Corporate Tax Cuts

Further to my post yesterday about how the Ontario PCs have vastly overstated their own consultants’ estimates of the number of jobs produced by their various policy proposals (including lower corporate taxes, lower electricity prices, interprovincial free trade, and regulatory reduction), some have asked me about precisesly how the Conference Board report simulated the corporate tax […]

Major Numerical Problems in Tim Hudak’s Jobs Plan

When Ontario PC leader Tim Hudak kicked off the current election campaign with a plan to “create a million new jobs” in Ontario, he tried to dress up the platform launch with a certain scientific respectability.  The party released a “technical backgrounder” showing the precise composition of the million new jobs, along with two commissioned consultants’ […]

Jason Kenney, TFWs, and Canada’s Services Trade

When he announced the sudden moratorium on new Temporary Foreign Workers (TFW) in the restaurant industry, Employment and Social Development Minister Jason Kenney tried to reconcile this dramatic about-face with his government’s long-standing support for the whole idea of migrant guest-workers.  So while strongly criticizing a few particular restaurants for their high-profile “abuses” of the program […]

More on Demographics, Demand, and Canada’s Falling Employment Rate

My post last week on the continuing decline in the employment rate in Canada (to below 61.5% in April, barely higher than the low point reached in the 2008-09 recession) has sparked some continuing discussion about the role of demographic change in explaining that decline (as opposed to a shortage of labour demand). Is the […]

Austerity Bites, Employment Rate Falls Again

Today’s labour force numbers are ugly, there’s no other word for it.  Employment down 29,000 jobs.  Paid employment (ie. not counting self-employment) down 46,000 jobs.  The only reason the unemployment rate held steady (at 6.9%) is because labour force participation fell again: by almost 2 tenths of a point, to just over 66%.  That’s the […]

How NOT to Create A Million Jobs

It was almost too painful to watch: Tim Hudak and top Conservative luminaries kicked off their campaign for the 2014 Ontario election in a Toronto music recording studio.  Problem: that studio (like others in the business) is supported in part by recording and production industry grants from the provincial government — exactly the kind of […]

Neoliberalism in Canada: 3 moments, 3 indicators

The current edition of Canadian Dimension magazine has a fascinating series of articles on episodes of economic transition around the world (more of them bad than good in recent times, of course).  It’s a very thoughtful & informative collection, and I highly recommend it (and every progressive economist should subscribe to CD, by the way). […]

Uruguay’s Fitting Recognition

Here is a guest post from Paul Pugh, from Thunder Bay, who provided us a couple of years ago with some interesting and encouraging data about Uruguay’s incremental successes in building a more inclusive, sustainable economic and social model.  In light of The Economist’s surprising choice of Uruguay as its first-ever “country of the year,” we asked […]

Collective Bargaining and Poverty Reduction: OECD Data

My union Unifor is currently undertaking an important “Rights at Work” campaign, which involves a national tour of meetings with our officers and local leaders and stewards, followed by a membership canvass and community outreach effort, all aimed at beating back the current attack on fundamental labour rights coming from conservatives at all levels in […]

Are Higher Minimum Wages Un-Canadian?

The debate over increasing the minimium wage, so clearly necessary to lift working incomes above the poverty line (not to mention boost consumer spending power), is heating up in many provinces.  Predictably, free-market theorists are pushng back (as they have since the concept of minimum wages was first invented over a century ago).  Here is […]

The Odd Conversion of Mainstream Economists to the Virtues of Depreciation

The long-overdue depreciation of Canada’s currency is gathering steam. The dollar lost 8 cents against its U.S. counterpart, in fits and starts, over 2013. It’s lost another 2 cents since the start of 2014, and negative sentiment about the currency is accumulating among financial analysts and traders. Indeed, once the expectation that the loonie will […]

The Staple Theory @ 50: Mel Watkins

We now present the final installment in our autumn-long series of special commentaries marking the 50th anniversary of the publication of “A Staple Theory of Economic Development,” the classic article by Mel Watkins published in the Canadian Journal of Economics and Political Science in 1963.  We have invited Mel himself to provide a rejoinder to […]

The Staple Theory @ 50: Index of Contributions

Here for ease of access is a consolidated listing (in order of posting) of the contributions to the special series of commentaries we have posted this autmn marking the 50th anniversary of the publication of Mel Watkins’ classic 1963 article, “A Staple Theory of Economic Development” (Canadian Journal of Economics and Political Science, 29/2, pp. […]

The Staple Theory @ 50: Jim Stanford

Winter is now officially upon us, and so it is time to conclude our autumn-long series of special commentaries marking the 50th anniversary of Mel Watkins’ classic article, “A Staple Theory of Economic Development.” To wrap up the series, I would like to throw my own views into the brew.  I argue here that Watkins’ […]

The Staple Theory @ 50: Gerry Helleiner

One remarkable and gratifying aspect of our special series of commentaries marking the 50th Anniversary of Mel Watkins’ classic 1963 article on staple theory, is the interest and input it has generated from researchers and scholars who have applied Mel’s work in various capacities, in Canada and internationally.  One such contributor is Gerry Helleiner, a […]

The Staple Theory @ 50: Duncan Cameron

We are nearing the end of our series of special commentaries celebrating the 50th anniversay of the 1963 publication of Mel Watkins’ classic article, “A Staple Theory of Economic Growth.”  Here is a fascinating historical retrospective on the influence of Innis and Watkins on Canadian political-economy by Duncan Cameron, President of rabble.ca, former President of […]

Capital Gains and the Incomes of the Wealthy

Yesterday’s release from Statistics Canada on the income share of the wealthy generated some interesting coverage and commentary.  It reported that the top 1%’s share of total income in Canada remained steady in 2011 in Canada, at 10.6 percent — but still significantly higher than in the 1980s. Most observers did not mention, however, that this […]

The Staple Theory @ 50: Marjorie Griffin Cohen

The latest entry in our continuing series of commentaries marking the 50th anniversary of the publication of Mel Watkins’ classic article, “A Staple Theory of Economic Growth,” we present the following contribution by Mel’s long-time collaborator, Marjorie Griffin Cohen.  Marjorie considers the gender dimensions of staple analysis. Staples Theory: Its Gendered Nature Marjorie Griffin Cohen […]

Good Time to Rethink Corporate Tax Cuts

Canada’s macroeconomy continues to be lethargic at best, and there is growing recognition that the continuing sluggishness of business capital spending since the 2008-09 crisis is a big part of the reason why.  Governments are in austerity mode; consumers are maxxed out and cautious about new spending; our exports are restrained by an overvalued dollar and uncertain […]

The Staple Theory @ 50: Alberto Gago

Here is an entry from the Global South in our continuing series of commentaries marking the 50th anniversary of Mel Watkins’ classic article, “A Staple Theory of Economic Growth.”  Dr. Alberto Daniel Gago teaches political economy at the National Universities of San Juan and Cuyo-Argentina.  He is a long-time collaborator of Mel’s, and has written extensively […]

The Staple Theory @ 50: Daniel Poon

We continue our special series of commentaries marking the 50th anniversary of the publication of Mel Watkins’ classic article, “A Staple Theory of Economic Growth,” with the following contribution from Daniel Poon.  Daniel is one of Canada’s leading experts on the theory and practice of industrial policy, and the successfull industrialization experience of East Asia. He is […]

The Staple Theory @ 50: Alistair and Sheila Dow

Here is a very intriguing and creative entry in our continuing series of commentaries marking the 50th Anniversary of the publication of Mel Watkins’ classic article, “A Staple Theory of Economic Growth.”  We are delighted to have the participation of Alistair and Sheila Dow, two leading heterodox economists from the U.K.  They argue here, in […]

The Staple Theory @ 50: Thomas Gunton

Here is the latest installment in our continuing series of commentaries celebrating the 50th anniversary of the publication of Mel Watkins’ classic article, “A Staple Theory of Economic Growth.”  This commentary is from Mel’s long-time collaborator Thomas Gunton, Director of the Resource and Environmental planning Program at Simon Fraser University.  Gunton’s submission, supplemented by an […]

Staple Theory @ 50: Daniel Drache

As part of our continuing series of commentaries marking the 50th Anniversary of the publication of Mel Watkins’ classic article “A Staple Theory of Economic Development,” we present the following submission by Daniel Drache, Professor Emeritus of Political Science at York University, and prolific writer on the nature of Canadian political-economic development.  Here Daniel considers […]

The Staple Theory @ 50: Hugh Grant

As part of our continuing series of special commentaries marking the 50th anniversary of the publication of Mel Watkins’ classic article, “A Staple Theory of Economic Development,” we present the following contribution by Hugh Grant from the Economics Dept. at the University of Winnipeg.  Grant is a former student of Mel’s, and an important chronicler of […]

The Staple Theory @ 50: Marc Lee

As part of our continuing series of commentaries celebrating the 50th anniversary of Mel Watkins’ classic article, “A Staple Theory of Economic Growth,” we present the following commentary by Marc Lee, economist with the B.C. office of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.  Marc considers the implications — both economic and environmental — of the current […]

The Staple Theory @ 50: Brendan Haley

As part of our continuing special series celebrating the 50th anniversary of the publication of Mel Watkins’ classic article, “A Staple Theory of Economic Development,” we present here an innovative and provocative commentary by Brendna Haley, Ph.D. candidate at Carleton University and author of several recent works on green industrial policy.  Haley argues there is […]

The Staple Theory @ 50: Dan Ciuriak

As part of our special series celebrating the 50th anniversary of the publication of Mel Watkins’ classic article, “A Staple Theory of Economic Development,” we present the following commentary by Dan Ciuriak.  Dan was the co-author of a provocative IRPP paper earlier this year on the need for a modern, revitalized industrial policy capacity in […]

The Staple Theory @ 50: Gord Laxer

The next installment in our special series of commentaries celebrating the 50th anniversary of Mel Watkins’ classic article on staple theory, focuses our attention on the latest staple boom to remake Canada’s economy: the bitumen sands of northern Alberta.  The author is Gordon Laxer, founding Director of the Parkland Institute at the University of Alberta.