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The Progressive Economics Forum

How not to fund infrastructure

Recycling is supposed to be a good thing, so when the federal Liberals quietly announced that “asset recycling” would be part of their strategy for meeting their much-ballyhooed infrastructure promises, not many eyebrows were raised. They should have been. Asset recycling is an obscure code word for selling our public goods for private profit. It’s […]

Boosting the economy for the rest of us

Elites and the talking heads in the media are arguing about how to respond to Canada’s soured economic outlook. Who should try to boost the economy, the federal government via fiscal stimulus or the Bank of Canada via monetary policy? But while elites argue amongst themselves, the overriding context is a transfer and concentration of […]

Harper’s housing promises and the crisis of affordability

Over the past two weeks, Stephen Harper has made three new housing-related promises on the campaign trail. However, they won’t help the crisis of affordability. The pattern is familiar: make things worse and prepare to blame others. First, there’s the promise to allow first-time home buyers with RRSPs to take an extra $10,000 out of their […]

Canada’s new recession and the push for alternatives

The Bank of Canada cut its benchmark interest rate two weeks ago to nearly record lows, now just 0.5%. In the face of an oil shock and other weakness, monetary policy is expected to do the heavy lifting of beating an economic funk. Today’s move reflects a poverty of economic policy from the ruling Conservatives and […]

Budget 2015: A tale of austerity past, present and future

Cross-posted from my blog. I’ve been banging the drum of “slow-motion austerity” for a while and little in the 2015 federal budget suggests any change from the pattern of death by a thousand cuts. This budget is another is a series of unspectacular austerity budgets. Taken together, however, the cuts rapidly add up and budgets […]

Declining pensions and bargaining power

[Cross-posted on my blog here.] It’s relatively common knowledge that employer-run pensions have been scaled back over the past few decades. I’ve decided to dig up some data on pensions for this post to see just how this has taken place in Canada, motivated by a recently-released analysis of US pension reform that finds contradictions in […]

The labour share and income inequality

All the recent talk about the Canada’s shrinking middle class and rising income inequality got me thinking that it might be a good time to take a fresh look at a somewhat neglected economic concept: the labour share of income. The labour share of income hopes to measure the portion of the economic pie going […]

Canada’s Luxury Index is through the roof

Numbers season is over but good inequality data is still missing. January sees us regularly bombarded with a whole range of economic statistics about the previous year. GDP growth: likely 1.7%, low but looking brighter for next year. Unemployment: 7.2%, low but lots of workers leaving the job market altogether as the employment rate stagnates. […]

Problematic sources of recent real wage growth

The past 18 months have seen real wages increase in Canada. (Yes, I double-checked.) Indeed, real wages have gone through two distinct phases of growth since the financial crisis hit the global economy in 2007. This may be surprising as we have been accustomed to hearing about the stagnation of real wages and the “decoupling” […]