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Archive for 'bubble'

Carbon bubbles and fossil fuel divestment

Divestment from fossil fuels is an idea whose time has come. Sparked by Bill McKibben’s Rolling Stone article last summer, “Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math”, divestment campaigns are now up and running on over 300 university campuses in the US, with 4 early victories already notched. Students in Canada have declared tomorrow (March 27) Fossil Fools Day, a national day […]

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 […]

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 […]

Impact of Increased Health Privatization on PSE

An article in yesterday’s Village Voice looks at the rising costs of post-secondary education (PSE) in the United States. It points to research suggesting that the “biggest single factor” contributing to the rising cost of PSE for both private and public institutions is the cost of employee health benefits. I would infer from the above that, insofar […]

Is There a Student Debt Bubble?

A recent article in The Atlantic looks at student debt in the United States and suggests there may be a student debt bubble. Written by the authors of the recent book, Higher Education?, the article points out that “college loans are nearing the $1 trillion mark, more than what all households owe on their credit cards.” The article also […]

Housing on the knife’s edge

At long last, the federal government has decided to seriously address the housing price bubble that has increasingly concerned Canadians. On the heels of multiple warnings from the Bank of Canada that Canadians have taken on too much household debt for comfort (we hold the dubious distinction of having the worst consumer debt to financial […]

Canadian Housing Observer 2010

In late-October, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation released the Canadian Housing Observer 2010.  I’ve finally given it a thorough read and am struck by some of the statistics. The MLS average price of a home in Canada has almost doubled in the past decade.  In 2000, the figure was just under $164,000.  By 2009, it was just over $320,000.  Perhaps not surprisingly, […]

What Would Bubbles Do?

Many blog readers are no doubt aware that, late last month, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives released a paper by David Macdonald entitled “Canada’s Housing Bubble:  An Accident Waiting to Happen.” As the title suggests, Macdonald argues: Canada is experiencing, for the first time in the last 30 years, a synchronized housing bubble across […]

The Housing Bubble

It is striking that, even while moved to concern and some action, the Bank of Canada and the Minister of Finance are still desperately afraid to admit that Canada is experiencing a housing bubble. One can go on and on about how difficult it is to spot a bubble. But, as Dean Baker has often […]

Reining in speculation in the housing market

This morning federal finance minister Flaherty announced a number of measures ostensibly aimed at reining in speculation in the housing market.  His announcement was typically well-timed to coincide with the Vanier Institute’s annual report on the state of Canadian family finances, which reports record high levels of household debt, growing inequality and housing prices increasingly out […]

Financial Boom and Bust … In Cartoons!

I want to share with everyone a new CAW resource that was produced for our Constitutional Convention (which took place last month in Quebec City). It’s a 4-page cartoon book explaining the core dynamics of financial cycles, that was illustrated and deesigned by Tony Biddle — the awesome Toronto political cartoonist who also illustrated Economics […]

Obama’s Bank Bail Out

Martin Wolf of the Financial Times has written a pretty scathing critique of the new US Administation’s overhaul of the TARP program.  I am increasingly convinced by Duncan Cameron’s  argument that – in the US at least – the best way out is to nationalize the banks, run them as a public utility, and compensate […]

Benchmarking the recession: longer and deeper

Over at Worthwhile Canadian Initiative, Stephen has posted a nice graph comparing the average projections from the private sector (as compiled by the Parliamentary Budget Officer) and the Bank of Canada with the paths of the last two recessions. He is poking a hole in a story that there is a gap between the more […]

Reading the Crisis

I highly recommend “The Credit Crunch: Housing Bubbles, Globalisation and the Worldwide Economic Crisis” by Graham Turner. “Graham Turner is one of only a handful of economists to understand the roots of the current financial crisis, its implications for all of us and crucially what should be done now. I strongly recommend you read this […]

Report From an Unfolding Crisis, or What I Learned in Washington.

I was in Washington last week for meetings of economists from central trade union bodies, mainly from the OECD countries. While the main purpose of the meetings was to draft the annual union statement to the upcoming G-8 summit in Japan, we had a full day of meetings with researchers and senior officials from the […]

Financial Meltdown

As background to the “flight from risk” which underpins the growing financial crisis in the US and Europe, see the latest annual report from the Bank for International Settlements published in June, especially the chapter on financial markets in the advanced industrial countries. The BIS is a kind of central bank for central banks. http://www.bis.org/publ/annualreport.htm […]

Housing prices: bubble or fundamentals?

Over at MaxSpeak, the state of housing and whether or not it is a bubble is reviewed: THE GREAT HOUSING BUBBLE FLAP Probably most who read this blog accept that there was a bubble in the US housing market, and that it has come to an end. Some regulars here, notably the notable Dean Baker, […]

Strategic Oil Reserve

Thomas Palley credibly suggests that the Bush White House has been driving up oil prices by expanding this reserve, but then lowering them during American elections by depleting the reserve. I have also heard suggestions that the Clinton White House depleted the reserve at election time, but am not sure whether it expanded the reserve outside of […]

Reeling Stock Markets

http://business.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,,2023410,00.html The current panic on the world’s markets is indicative of more than just the madness of crowds, writes Larry Elliott Wednesday February 28, 2007 Guardian Unlimited Predictably, the crash in global share prices is being shrugged off as a mere blip. The fact that Shanghai fell by 9% in a day and Wall Street […]

Building Empires, or Building the Economy?

The CAW has merged with about 35 smaller unions since we were formed in 1985.  That doesn’t stop me, however, from questioning the economic usefulness of Canadian corporate mergers.  M&A activity last year reached an incredible $270 billion.  That’s 20 percent of our GDP.  And what good actually comes from it?  At best, the M&A […]

Recession watch: 2007

Compare and contrast. First, the “soft landing” view, from Carlos Leitao, Chief Economist of The Laurentian Bank, as quoted in the Globe and Mail: [T]he Canadian economy is in the midst of ”a significant slowdown that we still think should be relatively short-lived. Nevertheless, the downside risks are important and far outweigh upside risks.” [T]he […]

Thailand’s attempt at capital controls

Larry Elliott, writing in The Guardian’s Comment is Free area, on Thailand’s capital controls and its subsequent capitulation: A financial U-turn Thailand’s use of capital controls was intended to penalise short-term investors – but the market reaction was swift and brutal. December 20, 2006 07:04 PM It’s not often I feel sorry for military regimes, […]

Mortgage excesses in the US

This is scary: The Concerns of Comptroller of the Currency About the Excesses in the Mortgage Market Nouriel Roubini | Dec 18, 2006 A colleague in the financial sector pointed to my attention a speech that the Comptroller of the Currency – John Duggan – has recently given where he expressed some serious concerns about […]

Recession watch: Krugman edition

Paul Krugman is in the bears’ camp for 2007 (thanks to Economist’s View for posting NYT Select content): Economic Storm Signals … Before I explain what the bond market is telling us, let’s talk about why the economy may be at a turning point. Between mid-2003 and mid-2006, economic growth in the United States was […]

Bubble trouble

Dean Baker has a gloomy take on the impact of the housing bubble bursting: After the Housing Bubble Bursts By Dean Baker t r u t h o u t | Perspective Tuesday 24 October 2006 Every new release of data on the housing market provides more evidence that the housing bubble is finally bursting. […]

Pyramid schemes for kids

I have twice now been invited to join pyramid schemes for my child. The other day we got a letter in the mail from a friend soliciting us to join a “sticker club” (a few months ago, it was a “book club”). Two other children’s names and addresses were on the page, with the instructions […]

Recession watch: Baker

Dean Baker looks back to 2001 for a reality check (note: Canada, unlike the US, did not technically have a recession in 2001) about the reliability of most forecasters: Virtually all economists missed the 2001 recession, in most cases not even predicting it until it was almost over. The main reason was that the recession […]

Bubble bubble toil and trouble: Roubini

Nouriel Roubini in recent posts has provided some of the best economic analysis of the housing bubble and debunking of the spin from optimists. Full posts are here and here. Analysis is focused on what is happening in the US. In Canada, we appear to be lagging developments south of the border. What is scary […]

BC’s poverty amidst plenty

My latest column for The Tyee: Without any fanfare a report popped up on the web site of Human Resources and Social Development Canada this past month. No press release, no communications strategy at all. Just another statistical report on poverty in a society that thinks of itself as middle class. But this is not […]

The R Word

That sinking feeling is coming on. The US economy is slowing and several well-respected economists have made their call. Leading off, Paul Krugman: The key point is that the forces that caused a recession five years ago never went away. Business spending hasn’t really recovered from the slump it went into after the technology bubble […]