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GDP Recession a Symptom of Deeper Failures

There were surely more people (myself included) watching Statistics Canada’s GDP release at 8:30 am Tuesday, than any other release in recent history! This reflected the political significance of the possibility that an official recession would be confirmed by the numbers, right smack in the middle of an election campaign — all the more so […]

“Taking Care of Business,” by Stephen Harper and the Senators!

At the big Unifor Canadian Council meeting in Montreal last weekend there was a surprise appearance by a new musical group, called “Stephen Harper and the Senators”, featuring Stephen Harper on guitar and vocals, Patrick Brazeau on drums, Pamela Wallin on bass, and Mike Duffy on lead guitar and general spiritual advising.  They played a […]

When Bad News is Good News: Harper’s Call to Poloz

Was there any concrete economic reason for Stephen Harper to call Stephen Poloz yesterday, as global stock markets continued their gyrations?  And then to have his office subsequently issue a cryptic and rather foreboding statement about the conversation?

Quality Public Child Care: An Economic No-Brainer

Child care will be a major issue in this federal election campaign. The NDP has pledged to create 370,000 new $15-per-day spaces through joint federal-provincial initiatives by 2017-18, at an estimated cost of around $2 billion per year (growing that to 1 million spaces by 2023). The Liberals have not yet announced their child care […]

Rhetoric vs Reality: The Harper Govt Economic Record

Speculation is intense that the unofficial election campaign we have already been experiencing for several months, is about to become official: Ottawa is awash in rumours the writ may be dropped as early as this weekend, setting the stage for months of promises, accusations, and photo-ops. As always the economy will be the top issue.  […]

The Deficit Battle and the Economic War

Evidence continues to mount regarding Canada’s lousy economic trajectory, and there is now a pretty broad consensus among Canadian economists that the economy was likely in recession in the first half of the year.  That’s not a sure thing, of course: we won’t know until September 1 if second quarter GDP grew or shrank.

Economics for Everyone: Second Edition

This week marks the official publication release of the second edition of Economics for Everyone: A Short Guide to the Economics of Capitalism.  In this blog I explain my motivations in writing the book, and promoting critical economic literacy more generally; the commentary was originally published by Pluto Books (the international publisher).  The book is […]

Judging the Odds for an “Election Recession”

Canada’s first-quarter GDP report was not just “atrocious,” as predicted by Stephen Poloz.  It was downright negative: total real GDP shrank at an annualized rate of 0.6% (fastest pace of decline since the 2008-09 recession).  Nominal GDP fell faster (annualized rate of 3%), as deflation took hold across the broader production economy (led, of course, […]

Guest Blog from Kim Pollock: Stagnation Without End

We are pleased to present this guest commentary from Kim Pollock, a former union researcher based in B.C. and Saskatchewan. Now retired, Kim is investigating various aspects of Canada’s economic performance.  A longer version of this paper will be presented by him at the upcoming Society for Socialist Studies meetings in Ottawa, and can be obtained […]

My “Top Five” Most Outrageous Things About This Budget

With a document whose very timing, let alone content, was so transparently politicized and manipulative, it’s hard to even know where to start.  Among the many galling, short-sighted, and ultimately destructive components of this federal budget, here are 5 that stand out in my view:

Primer on Investor-State Dispute Settlement

In light of the latest NAFTA Chapter 11 decision to go against Canada, I was asked to put together some background notes for our Unifor leadership on this bizarre quasi-judicial kangaroo courtsystem.  Here they are, in case they are useful for anyone else getting up to speed on the whole investor-state dispute system. Some very […]

Thinking Through the Fall-Out of Lower Oil Prices

Canada’s economic and fiscal debates in recent months have been dominated by the possible impacts of the sudden fall in oil prices since last autumn on growth, employment, and fiscal balances.  Finance Minister Joe Oliver delayed the budget, the Bank of Canada shocked markets with a rate cut, and Alberta Premier Jim Prentice is now […]

Confusing “Deficit Elimination” with “Prosperity”

The banner headline across the top of the front page of the national Globe and Mail edition caught my eye Saturday morning: “How B.C. became a ‘have’ province.”  Wow, I thought to myself, that is quite something (and without a single LNG plant yet visible on the horizon!).  So I prepared to sit down with […]

Don’t Play Tories’ Game on “Risk” of Deficit

Acres of newsprint have been devoted in recent weeks to the possibility that lower oil prices might push the federal budget back into a deficit position.  As I argue in my column in today’s Globe and Mail, this drama is mostly political theatre — and progressives should be cautious about accidentally accepting the Conservative frame […]

Five Good Economic Developments in 2014

Every year has its ups and downs, of course. But there’s something about New Year’s that makes one naturally want to emphasize the positive.  So here is my personal list of 5 positive economic developments from the year past — both globally and right here at home — that warmed this particular economist’s left-wing heart in […]

Good Results from Latin American Elections (Guest Post by Paul Pugh)

Paul Pugh is a long-time progressive activist, trade unionist, and city councillor from Thuunder Bay, Ont., who has guest-written previous posts for us on economic policies in Uruguay. Here is a short report from Paul on the outcome of recent crucial elections in Latin America. Thank you Paul, and congratulations on your own re-election this […]

Minimum Wages and Employment Outcomes

Last week my Unifor colleague Jordan Brennan and I published a study through the CCPA Ontario office examining the historical empirical evidence regarding the link between changes in minimum wages and employment outcomes.  We find there is no robust evidence in Canadian historical data that increases in real minimum wages cause either lower employment or higher […]

The Troubled Economics, and the Curious Politics, of the Canada-Korea Trade Deal

There are many motivations to explain the Harper government’s rush to sign free trade deals.  Since coming to power, the Conservatives have implemented 6 FTAs, have “concluded” 2 more (with Korea and, purportedly, with the EU), and have fully 14 other FTA negotiations on the go.

Revised LFS Numbers Don’t Change the Big Picture

What a rough week it’s been over at Statistics Canada.  It’s a world-renowned statistical agency — though its lustre has been tarnished in recent years by budget cuts, cancelled data programs and series, and the nonsense of the Harper government’s libertarian crusade against the long form census.  The problems this week around its Labour Force […]

Free Traders Panic Over German Challenge to Investor-State Dispute-Settlement

In my many years documenting and critiquing the overblown claims of free trade proponents about the supposedly self-regulating efficiency-promoting mutually-benefiting effects of globalization, I’ve encountered some real doozies. 

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 […]