The Alternative Federal Budget 2017

This year’s Alternative Federal Budget (AFB) was released on March 9. I was proud to be the primary author of its housing chapter (that chapter is available in English here and in French here). The first AFB exercise began in 1994, with the first AFB being published in 1995. That involved a joint effort between the Canadian Centre for Policy […]

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Five Things to Know About Pre-1964 Canadian Housing Policy

On November 4, I gave a historical presentation on Canadian housing policy at the annual conference of the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness. My slide presentation, which focused on pre-1964 Canadian social history, can be downloaded here. Here are five things to know about pre-1964 history that set the tone for important developments in Canadian housing policy: Prior to the […]

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Cinq choses a savoir sur la politique du logement au Canada, avant 1964

Le 4 novembre, j’ai fait une présentation sur la politique du logement au Canada, lors de la Conférence nationale pour mettre fin à l’itinérance. Ma présentation (qui a porté sur l’histoire sociale canadienne avant 1964) illustrée de diapositives, peut être téléchargée ici. Voici cinq choses à savoir sur l’histoire avant 1964, période qui a donné le ton à des développements […]

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ROCHON: Harper in closet over the economy as Canada heads toward another recession

This guest blog post has been written by Louis-Philippe Rochon. You can follow him on Twitter @Lprochon – Harper’s recent incarnation as an anti-terrorist crusader has caught many Canadians by surprise. Harper is spending considerable political energy beating the drums of war against terrorists, and introducing a far-reaching, and much condemned, bill aimed at restricting free speech, and increasing police […]

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Responsibility for Housing

On Monday I gave a guest presentation to Craig Jones‘ graduate seminar class in Carleton University’s School of Social Work.  My presentation sought to answer two questions: 1. Why should government play a role in creating affordable housing? 2. Which level of government is responsible? With those questions as a backdrop, here are 10 things one needs to know: 1. […]

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Low Oil Prices, Good or Bad for Canada?

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock somewhere, you’re probably well aware that the price of oil has fallen dramatically, to less than $50 / barrel. What this means for Canada’s economic output & labour markets is not yet clear. But Stephen Poloz at the Bank of Canada has said that he expects the effect to be “not trivial”, and suggested […]

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Canada Post: A Billion-Dollar Boondoggle?

One of the most frequently repeated claims in coverage of yesterday’s Canada Post announcement is that the Crown corporation is on track to lose a billion dollars annually by the decade’s end. This apprehended threat to taxpayers supposedly justifies the complete elimination of door-to-door mail delivery. The Conference Board made this billion-dollar projection earlier this year in a report commissioned […]

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How Offshore Tax Havens Destroy Governments

Last fall, Greek magazine editor Kostas Vaxevanis published in his magazine Hot Doc a list of 2,000 wealthy Greeks who were hiding taxable savings in the Geneva branch of HSBC. The list had been furnished years earlier by the then French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde to the Greek government, who did nothing in regards to chasing after the money or the offenders […]

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The Senate and Bank Mergers

L. Ian MacDonald wrote a defence of the Senate in today’s Montreal Gazette. He makes the familiar argument that it provides useful study of policy issues. However, his first example is the 2002 Senate report supporting bank mergers. In the wake of the global financial crisis, we should be glad that opposition MPs like Lorne Nystrom provided a sober second thought […]

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Glass-House Mortgages

A letter appears in today’s Globe and Mail in response to recent direction given by Minister Flaherty to private mortgage lenders over mortgage rates.  The letter was written by Steve Pomeroy, one of Canada’s leading housing policy experts. Here is the full text of the letter: – Glass-house mortgages Twice in recent weeks, the Minister of Finance has chastised Canada’s […]

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Canada: Land of Mines and Banks

Just in time for Canada Day, the Globe and Mail’s Report on Business issued its annual Top 1000 rankings of the thousand largest publicly traded companies (by assets) in Canada (ranked by profit).  I blogged about this last year as well.  It’s such an interesting snapshot of Canadian business it’s worth perusing. Once again, this listing reveals the extent to which […]

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US family net worth crushed by financial crisis

The US Federal Reserve today released its triennial examination of incomes and net worth of American households in the Survey of Consumer Finances.  It shows the crushing effects on net worth of a housing and financial bust unparalleled since the great depression. The shocking results of this study overviewed in the New York Times are that ALL  real net wealth […]

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Complete details of 2008-09 Bank Support

Readers of this blog will have hopefully read my report “The big banks big secret” which examines the $114 billion that Canada’s banks received during the 2008-09 financial crisis.  Its major finding was that at some point three of Canada’s five big banks had received support worth more than their market capitalization, or the value of all the stock, at around $20-25 […]

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The Big Banks’ Big Secret

The CCPA today released my report: “The Big Banks Big Secret” which provides the first public estimates of the emergency funds taken by Canadian banks.  The report bases its estimates on publicly available data from CMHC, the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions, US Federal Reserve, the Bank of Canada, as well as quarterly reports from the banks themselves. […]

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A Bank for the Taxpayer’s Buck?

Hi all, I interrupt your regular blog viewing to bring you one of my infrequent posts, this time by a guest contributor — Alan Milner — who for reasons of job security, must remain anonymous.  With no further ado: ******************************************************************* A  Bank for the Taxpayer’s Buck? The Canadian tax system provides a variety of incentives meant to support the productive […]

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BMO Professor vs. Bank Regulation

Last week, the C. D. Howe Institute was out with an op-ed contending that Canadian household debt is not worth worrying too much about: “There does not seem to be a strong case for restrictive regulation of consumer credit products, such as tight caps on interest rates.” The C. D. Howe Institute arguing for looser financial regulation is nothing new. […]

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McGuinty’s Business Tax Breaks

An interesting nugget in last week’s Drummond report is Table 11.1, an updated version of Table 2 from “Ontario’s Tax Plan for Jobs and Growth” (2009). It provides a sectoral breakdown of the McGuinty government’s recent business tax breaks: HST input tax credits, cutting the corporate income tax, and eliminating the corporate capital tax. The combined annual cost of these […]

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Were the Canadian Banks Bailed Out?

The conventional line has been, no. Our banks were strong. Unlike the US and Europe, no bailout was needed to deal with the global financial crisis of 2008. This line, of course, always conveniently neglected the Extraordinary Financing Framework, or dismissed it as trivial. Now Finance Minister Flaherty – seeking new powers to turn down foreign investments by our banks […]

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Of Bailouts and Liquidity Shakedowns

Here is an amazing multimedia article published by Bloomberg Markets Magazine in the U.S., that lists all of the individual banks which received financial assistance from the U.S. Federal Reserve during the 2008-09 crisis.  It shows each bank’s peak borrowing from the Fed, the number of days they held the funds, and the timeline for paying it back.  You can […]

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Occupation, democracy and coops

I hung out a while yesterday at the Vancouver Occupation, and was impressed with their efforts at radical democracy. Many in the mainstream press have been quick to pile on for how time-consuming decision-making can be under this model, but perhaps they have not spent enough time in legislatures and committee meetings and public consultations. Democracy takes time, so what? […]

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Canada’s Caribbean Bank Tax Holiday

There’s a disturbing trend buried in this morning’s report by Statscan on Canada’s foreign direct investment (FDI) abroad.  Not only is an increasing share of Canadian direct investment abroad going through finance and insurance industries, but a growing share is also being funnelled into tax havens. The finance and insurance now accounts for over 52% of all Canadian direct investment abroad, a total of […]

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PEF Conference 2011

The Progressive Economics Forum has the following line-up of sessions for this year’s Canadian Economics Association conference on June 3-5 at the University of Ottawa. Thanks very much to Nick Falvo for coordinating our conference activities and putting this schedule together. We are also hosting a summer school the day before and announcing our essay contest winners at the conference. […]

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TFSA: Just The Facts Ma’am

Here are the most important facts about the Tax Free Savings Account. Will blog further on this tomorrow. Introduction of the Tax Free Savings Account: January 1, 2009, right at the height of the economic meltdown What’s new: Stephen Harper promises to double the contribution limits to the Tax Free Savings Account, from $5,000 a year to $10,000. REALITY CHECK […]

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Banking on Corporate Tax Breaks

Michael Lewis has a great article in today’s Toronto Star about the windfall that banks are reaping from corporate tax cuts. He quotes three of our favourite bloggers: Toby Sanger, Armine Yalnizyan and Jim Stanford. He also cites a BMO Capital Markets report that I shared with him. Since BMO appears to have removed this document from its website, I […]

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The Lumpenization of the Global Economy

Gabriella Moldonado looked like someone who was thoroughly whipped by life. This past October I was standing on the front stoop of her sagging home in Laredo, Texas, interviewing the middle-aged, portly woman for a television documentary about Mexico’s drug cartel wars. Laredo is a city of 230,000 that lies on the Rio Grande river just across from Mexico. It […]

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From Wall Street to the White House

Sometimes the crudest forms of Marxist analysis of the relationship between class and politics make the most sense. Read this  scorching commentary by Simon Johnson – the former IMF Chief Economist turned ubercritic of the power of the big banks -  on the appointment of  a senior Wall Street figure, Bill Daley from Morgan Stanley, as President Obama’s new chief […]

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