Money Runners for Marx

On Bloomberg today is a piece by George Magnus, senior economic advisor at UBS, on the relevance of Marxian ideas. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-08-29/give-marx-a-chance-to-save-the-world-economy-commentary-by-george-magnus.html Policy makers struggling to understand the barrage of financial panics, protests and other ills afflicting the world would do well to study the works of a long-dead economist: Karl Marx. The sooner they recognize we’re facing a once-in-a-lifetime crisis […]

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Is Capitalism Terminally Ill?

Today (June 15th) the Toronto Star broke news that the NDP was planning to drop the term “socialism” from its party’s platform. This was a mere formality of what had been in existence for decades: the party hasn’t been “socialist” in any shape or form for a very long time. On the very same day, new data emerged from the […]

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Does Capitalism Save Lives?

I was watching CNBC and happened to see this panel about how the number of Americans killed by natural disasters has declined over time. It was also noted that, in early 2010, fewer people died in Chile’s earthquake than in Haiti’s earthquake. The discussion quite reasonably outlined how improvements in emergency preparedness, building codes, and infrastructure help to protect people […]

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Contemporary Capitalism Conference

PEF members Louis-Philippe Rochon and Mario Seccareccia have organized a conference on “Contemporary Capitalism: Its Financial Circuits, Its Transformation and Future Prospects” on May 31 and June 1 in Ottawa, right before the PEF summer school and Canadian Economics Association conference. Click here for the program. For more information, please contact lprochon2003 [a] yahoo.com

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The Rise of the Global Elite

“The already wealthy have emerged from the global recession in an even wealthier position. What does the rise of global elites mean to power and influence at home and abroad?” That’s the blurb from TVO’s The Agenda with Steve Paikin, the latest Canadian news show to tackle the issue that explains so much of what is going on: rising inequality. […]

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Laying pipe in Canada

It has been fascinating to watch the growing public reaction to the full-court press from Canada’s Big Pipe companies (aka, the telcos and cablecos) for usage-based billing (internet metering). The CRTC has played a corporatist role that has largely been compliant with the demands of industry. Even in the midst of the turning political tide, the CRTC seems more interested […]

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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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Poor Capitalists?

Over at Worthwhile Canadian Initiative, Stephen Gordon argues that capitalists are not rich. Of course, wealth is more or less synonymous with owning things that can be broadly defined as capital. Stephen’s argument is focused on income: “If capital income is concentrated among high earners, then it could still be argued that increasing labour’s share of income will reduce inequality.” […]

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Can Socialism be Revived?

Can socialism be revived? Does it have a chance to gain some traction ever again? Unfortunately, the two great experiments in socialism attempted during the last century – social democracy and the Stalinist model of state-controlled socialism – are now spent forces. In respect to sweeping capitalism into the dustbin of history, they both failed. And socialism as an ideological, […]

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Is Social Democracy Dying? – Part 2

I would venture there are three reasons why social democracy is pretty much kaput: 1) a flawed ideology 2) the power of capital and 3) a propensity for selling out and drifting to the right. 1) Flawed ideology Ever since people have exploited other people’s labour for their personal gain, it’s long been the dream of the slave, serf, peasant […]

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Is Social Democracy Dying? – Part 1

Rob Ford, a belligerent right-wing serial liar with a proclivity for infantile temper tantrums and drunkenness, was elected mayor of Toronto this past week. Handily. This was after seven years of competent and scandal-free leadership by an NDP mayor, David Miller. The man Miller endorsed to replace him was a long-time NDP councilor renowned for his decency and sterling public […]

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Why Is The French Labour Movement So Powerful?

From time to time, I check out the The Real News Network.  I’ve just finished watching a video clip they’ve featured on labour protests in France over the government’s attempt to raise the “pension age” from 60 to 62.  The coverage includes a brief look at the impact of the blockades of French oil refineries. I’m struck by how powerful the French […]

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Reflections on The Spirit Level

The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better, by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, is an important book. It is not a huge tome, as one might expect from such a broad topic, weighing in at just 265 pages of text (including lots of figures mapping inequality against some health and social statistic, and some clever cartoons). […]

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Bill Robson and the Future of Capitalism

On the eve of the Whitehorse meeting of Finance Ministers in December, the Howe released a report co-authored by Bill Robson which charged that the federal government’s pension plan liabilities on behalf of its own employees are greatly under-stated – to the tune of $58 billion. This sum  should, he argued, be added to the federal public debt. http://www.cdhowe.org/pdf/backgrounder_122.pdf As […]

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Economic Bill of Rights

I got speak on a panel for the BC Cooperative Association this week after a screening of Michael Moore’s new film, Capitalism: A Love Story. I thought it was quite well done, and better than I expected. Less of the MM kitsch and a fairly broad sweep over the history and current foibles of American capitalism. While this approach means […]

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Capitalism: A Love Story

Last night, I saw the North American premiere of Michael Moore’s latest movie at the Toronto International Film Festival. Ironically, it was held in the Visa Screening Room, which grants preferential access to bearers of Visa Gold, Platinum or Infinite credit cards. (The unwashed masses who use MasterCard, AMEX or lower grades of Visa waited in a separate line.) While […]

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Davidson: Efficient Market Theory Vs. Keynes’s Liquidity Theory

Paul Davidson gave a great talk to the Progressive Economics Forum at the recent Canadian Economics Association meetings. Below is a teaser; the full talk is here. ALTERNATIVE EXPLANATIONS OF THE OPERATION OF A CAPITALIST ECONOMY: EFFICIENT MARKET THEORY VS. KEYNES’S LIQUIDITY THEORY by Paul Davidson, Editor, Journal of Post Keynesian Economics Politicians and talking heads on television are continuously […]

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Cutting versus Building

Posted below is my Globe and Mail column this week raising questions about whether troubled companies can really “cut their way to viability.” When companies face trouble, the knee-jerk response is always to cut back: close plants, reduce headcount, cut compensation.  Reflecting their shorter-term time horizon (and their consequent hunger for a faster payback), financial markets favour the most determined […]

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The Future of Capitalism

Some weekend reading: Amartya Sen, that other voice of sanity among recent Nobel laureates in economics, draws lines between the current economic crisis and the history of economic thought (with an emphasis on Smith, Keynes and Pigou), and what that all means for a “new capitalism”. Then, over at the Financial Times, a whole series looks at the future of […]

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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 book.” —Larry Elliott, Guardian “A […]

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CLC Response – The FULL Version!

Here’s the full version of the summary posted earlier – a much longer analytical section, and more detail on our suggested policy response. http://canadianlabour.ca/en/clc-response-economic-crisis-full-version CLC Response to the Economic Crisis Global capitalism: on the edge of the abyss Dramatic recent events have thrown into sharp relief some chronic and long-standing problems of our global and national economic system: an over-developed […]

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Milton and the Meltdown in Iceland

I was intrigued by what is happening in Iceland, so the following is a piece I’ve written on it.  It has some introductory macro-economics in it, which I think it is good to keep in perspective as we consider the frantic attempts being made to prevent an economic depression. The economic and financial collapse of 2008 is shaping up to be […]

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Galbraith’s Predator State

James Galbraith bats this one out of the park: Years ago, I realized that the free-market, supply-side crowd, true conservatives who’d ridden high with Reagan, dislike Bush as much as I do. I speak of the hard money, low-tax, Wall Street Journal, deregulate-and-privatize team, the nemeses of my youth, people like Bruce Bartlett, Paul Craig Roberts, the late Jude Wanniski. […]

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Blood in the aisles = black in the boardroom?

Was it just me or did others get a nagging feeling about the intent behind Air Canada’s surprise announcement of 2,000 layoffs yesterday? The media coverage played along the lines of their press release, with a strong focus on the rising cost of fuel.  This is certainly an issue, together with the impact of the higher Canadian dollar and the […]

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Ememies of the heir beware

My old classmate from Upper Canada College, Ed Rogers, was featured in a story in the Globe on the weekend. This gist is that Ed has been waiting a long time to assume the throne of the Rogers empire, but he does not a lock on the top job: Five years after taking the reins of the company’s cable division […]

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Is infinite economic growth possible?

Most environmentalists would probably say no. But I’m going to make the opposite case here. The thing we need to remember about economic growth is that over long periods of time the products we consume and the processes by which we produce them change dramatically. As my old prof Dick Lipsey pointed out repeatedly, we have a higher standard of […]

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My Natural Gas Woes

I just love the way “free markets” work. Here is a classic example of  price “stickiness.” In Ontario I have the privilege of purchasing my gas from an independent supplier under a fixed term/fixed price contract, or at a fluctuating price from my distributor, Enbridge. The rational economist in me tells me that it should make no real difference whether […]

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