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 released in Canada by the […]

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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, by energy prices). This sets […]

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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 by e-mailing him at kbpollock54@gmail.com. […]

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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 good and more detailed resources […]

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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 promising a shock-and-awe austerity budget […]

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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 2014:

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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 unemployment, even when we focus […]

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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 Survey report for July will […]

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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, inspired the Globe and Mail’s […]

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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 reduction I was discussing.

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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’ reports that were said to […]

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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 (even though it was usually […]

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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 lowest level of labour force participation since […]

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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 “corporate welfare” that Mr. Hudak […]

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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). I wrote the article on […]

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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 Paul to reprise his commentary.  […]

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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 a useful summary of recent […]

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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 fall becomes entrenched among enough […]

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The Staple Theory @ 50: Mel Watkins

We now present the final instalment 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 series, reflecting on the […]

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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’ identification of the importance of […]

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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 globally-recognized development economist and professor […]

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