Remembering John Loxley

The progressive economics community, in Canada and around the world, lost a wonderful colleague, comrade and friend with the passing of John Loxley on July 28, 2020. Here I would like to share some personal reflections on John’s impact on my life as a progressive economist, and the very rich legacy he has left our shared community. (I also commend […]

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Federal Support Package: The Pros, the Cons, and the Next Shoe to Drop

Here are some quick thoughts on the extensive package of emergency measures announced today by Prime Minister Trudeau, Finance Minister Morneau, and Bank of Canada Governor Poloz: The Pros: The government has worked quickly and creatively to find ways to deliver support to Canadians, and fast – using the infrastructure of existing benefits, and developing new channels where needed. The […]

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Economic Response to Pandemic: Go Big, Go Fast

The health emergency created by the COVID-19 pandemic is of course the primary concern of Canadians, and the first priority for government to address. But it is increasingly clear that the economic fallout from the pandemic is also going to constitute an emergency. And it requires government to respond as urgently and powerfully in the economic sphere, as they are […]

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The Economic Pay-Off from Public Education

On a trip back to Toronto this week I attended the launch of a new report commissioned by the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation, and written by Aimee McArthur-Gupta from the Conference Board of Canada. The report presents some estimates of the economic, fiscal and social benefits of public education programs. The full report is here. It is a useful […]

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NDP Math Error will Help the Party, Not Hurt It

The number-cruncher in me cringed in sympathy for the anonymous research nerds who made the now-famous math error in the Ontario NDP’s fiscal platform. They wrongly added a $700 million contingency reserve to net revenue, instead of to expenses.  The result is an underestimation of the planned deficit (if we include that reserve – more on that below) by $1.4 billion in […]

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Update on Jimbo’s Minimum Wage Wager

It’s been over a week now since I challenged the authors of 5 business-friendly economic reports to a friendly wager over the future trajectory of employment in provinces that are raising their minimum wage to $15 per hour.  The challenge was issued in my Globe and Mail column of October 3. I was responding to the several business groups and […]

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Denying Globalization’s Downside Won’t Stop Right-Wing Populism

I was somewhat surprised to see Stephen Poloz recently urging economists to do more work identifying and disseminating research on the supposed benefits of free trade.  That’s slightly beyond his job description (perhaps more fitting with his last position as head of Export Development Canada).  But like economic leaders elsewhere in the world, Mr. Poloz is obviously concerned with the […]

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The Stylized Facts of Canada-China Trade

Prime Minister Trudeau leads a big entourage to China this week, in hopes of expanding Canada’s foothold in that huge economy.  A couple of interesting media stories today set the stage for the visit: an overview of China’s evolving diplomatic and economic strategies by Andy Blatchford of Canadian Press, and a review of China’s growing emphasis on migrant labour provisions […]

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Challenging Inflation Targeting

Every 5 years the federal Finance Minister updates the “marching orders” that guide the Bank of Canada and its conduct of monetary policy.  This process is the one opportunity for democratic oversight of the Bank, which otherwise is deemed to be operating “independently” of government — all the better to ensure that it has the authority to take away the […]

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Is Slow “Growth” Inevitable?

Most of the world economy (including Canada’s) has performed sluggishly since the Global Financial Crisis of 2008-09.  And many economic and fiscal projections now accept this pattern of slow growth as more-or-less inevitable, as a “new normal.” This argument is typically invoked to justify a ratcheting down of expectations regarding job prospects, incomes, and public services. In my view it’s […]

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“Signing Trade Deals” is NOT Synonymous with “Promoting Trade”

The fine folks at the Institute for Research on Public Policy have undertaken an important and eclectic review of Canadian trade policy. They have marshaled 30 contributions from researchers addressing all aspects of Canada’s recent trade performance, and how we can improve it. The contributions will eventually be published in a single volume, Redesigning Canadian Trade Policies for New Global […]

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Comparing Fiscal Federalism in Canada and Australia

One interesting topic for a Canadian living in Australia is the manner in which fiscal and social responsibilities are divided between the levels of government.  Both countries are big, regionally diverse, and resource-rich (with all the pluses and minuses that entails).  As in Canada, Australian states are largely responsible for the big-ticket social programs: including health care, hospitals, and education. […]

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Stanford Responds to Moffatt: Why I Still Worry About Auto Job Losses Under a TPP

My friend and fellow #cdnecon tweeter Mike Moffatt has published a thought-provoking commentary regarding the impact of the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) on Canada’s auto industry. Specifically, Mike engages critically with previous arguments I have made (on this site and elsewhere) that the TPP, as currently negotiated, could result in the ultimate loss of tens of thousands of Canadian […]

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Redistribution, Inequality, and Federal Policy: Guest Post by Edgardo Sepulveda

We are pleased to present this rich guest post by a new PEF member, Edgardo Sepulveda. Edgardo has been a consulting economist for more than two decades advising Governments and operators in more than 40 countries on telecommunications policy and regulation matters (www.esepulveda.com). Redistribution, Inequality and the new Federal Tax & Transfer initiatives I want to present an analysis of […]

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Canada Once Again Adding Value to Its Exports

In the course of researching a forthcoming commentary on Canada’s trade policy for the good folks over at the IRPP, I stumbled upon a surprising and encouraging bit of data.  I grouped Statistics Canada’s series on exports and imports by broad commodity grouping (CANSIM Table 228-8059) into three categories: 4 primary sectors (including agriculture, energy, mining, and forestry), 2 intermediate […]

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Economics for Everyone, 2nd Ed.: Book Tour!

The second edition of Economics for Everyone: A Short Guide to the Economics of Capitalism was co-published by Pluto Books, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, and Fernwood Publishing this summer.  With the federal election now safely behind us, I am pleased to announce a series of book launch events in 4 cities.  Details are below; each event will feature […]

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Election 2015 and the Battle of Economic Ideas

I am not a member of a political party. I recognize the importance of elections, participate in election campaigns (including canvassing and raising money for good candidates), and engage heavily in election-related debates (like the detailed critique of the Harper government’s economic record I co-authored, with Jordan Brennan, for Unifor). But I am skeptical of the motivations and opportunism of […]

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#HarperEconomy: From Worst to … Worster?

As this marathon election campaign enters its final days, it is interesting to look back on the evolution of the economic debate during the past 11 weeks on the hustings.  The Harper Conservatives once again tried to play the “economic card,” claiming their policies are essential to Canada’s future growth and prosperity.  But this time, that argument did not resonate […]

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Too Early to Call Recession Over

Statistics Canada is reporting a 0.3% increase in monthly GDP for July, on top of a (downward revised) 0.4% increase in June. This will no doubt spark Conservative politicians, and many economists, to declare that the shallow recession which Canada experienced in the first half of 2015 is already over. As recently as last week, Finance Minister Joe Oliver was […]

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TPP: Renegotiating NAFTA, By the Back Door

For years, trade and justice activists have proposed renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement to address some of the deal’s most damaging features: for example, by removing the anti-democratic investor-state dispute settlement provisions of Chapter 11, linking trade benefits to genuine protections for human and labour rights (all the more important given the deteriorating democratic situation in Mexico), and […]

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Federal Surplus: Digging Deeper

This week Stephen Harper’s Conservatives are trumpeting the announcement of a small surplus ($1.9 billion) for fiscal 2014-15.  The political symbolism of this “good news” is a welcome change for them from a string of negative economic reports (most importantly, news that Canada slipped into recession in the first half of 2015) that has damaged their traditional claim to be […]

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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 given the Conservatives’ self-congratulatory rhetoric […]

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“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 short but lively set, consisting […]

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