Grocery Wars: Lessons from Canada’s Changing Retail Landscape

As Target Canada tumbled into bankruptcy, Loblaw announced that its fourth-quarter profits more than doubled. What can be learned from this tale of two retailers? The main reason for Loblaw’s surge was its acquisition of Shoppers Drug Mart last March, which turned it into Canada’s largest grocer and pharmacy chain.  Shoppers contributed $3 billion to Loblaw’s $11.4 billion take in […]

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Louis-Philippe Rochon’s Top 10 Economic Predictions for 2015

Louis-Philippe Rochon has written a provocative blog post for the CBC titled “Top 10 Economic Predictions for 2015.” The post is available here. Nick FalvoNick Falvo is a Calgary-based research consultant with a PhD in Public Policy. He has academic affiliation at both Carleton University and Case Western Reserve University, and is Section Editor of the Canadian Review of Social […]

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What Have we Learned From the Financial Crisis? Part 4: Bernard Vallageas

What follows are comments from a roundtable discussion held at the University of Ottawa on February 28, organized by Mario Seccareccia, and which featured participation from Marc Lavoie, Louis-Philippe Rochon, Mario Seccareccia, Slim Thabet and Bernard Vallageas. This is Part 4 of 5 sequential blog entries. – Bernard Vallageas Vice-président de l’Association pour le Développement des Etudes Keynésiennes (France) Ancien membre élu du […]

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What Have we Learned From the Financial Crisis? Part 3: Mario Seccareccia

What follows are comments from a roundtable discussion held at the University of Ottawa on February 28, organized by Mario Seccareccia, and which featured participation from Marc Lavoie, Louis-Philippe Rochon, Mario Seccareccia, Slim Thabet and Bernard Vallageas. This is Part 3 of 5 sequential blog entries. – Mario Seccareccia Professor of Economics, University of Ottawa Editor, International Journal of Political Economy I […]

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What Have we Learned From the Financial Crisis? Part 2: Louis-Philippe Rochon

What follows are comments from a roundtable discussion held at the University of Ottawa on February 28, organized by Mario Seccareccia, and which featured participation from Marc Lavoie, Louis-Philippe Rochon, Mario Seccareccia, Slim Thabet and Bernard Vallageas. This is Part 2 of 5 sequential blog entries. – Louis-Philippe Rochon Associate Professor of Economics, Laurentian University Founding co-editor, Review of Keynesian Economics Co-Director, […]

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What Have we Learned From the Financial Crisis? Part 1: Marc Lavoie

What follows are comments from a roundtable discussion held at the University of Ottawa on February 28, organized by Mario Seccareccia, and which featured participation from Marc Lavoie, Louis-Philippe Rochon, Mario Seccareccia, Slim Thabet and Bernard Vallageas. Parts 2, 3, 4 and 5 will follow in subsequent blog posts. – Marc Lavoie Professor of Economics, University of Ottawa Co-Editor, European Journal of Economics […]

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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. Inflation: 1.2%, low but deflation […]

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Black Friday GDP: Consumption Slows, But Inventories Jump

Ironically, Statistics Canada’s third-quarter GDP report on Black Friday showed the growth rate of consumption being cut in half. Final consumption expenditure grew by 0.4% in the third quarter compared to 0.8% in the second quarter. Household spending growth fell to 0.6% from 0.9%. Government consumption growth plummeted to 0.1% from 0.4%. In other words, public-sector austerity is taking a […]

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GDP: Consumers to the Rescue

Following positive GDP numbers in April and May, Statistics Canada reported today that a sharp drop in June dragged Canada’s economic growth to a mediocre pace of 0.4% for the second quarter. June’s declines in manufacturing and resource extraction did further damage to industries that had declined in April and May. Construction also declined in June, pulling the whole goods-producing […]

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Boost the Minimum Wage, Boost the Economy

A version of this article appeared today in the Globe and Mail’s Economy Lab. (This version includes references to the debate plus charts and graphs from data specially tabulated from Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey. The data don’t include the self-employed.) President Obama put the idea of raising the minimum wage on the radar in the U.S. It deserves to […]

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The Loonie’s Stagnant Purchasing Power

The following note also appears on Business Insider. I owe Paul Tulloch a hat tip for reminding me of these issues in a good comment on my last post. When Ontario’s Premier recently complained that Canada’s petro-dollar undermines manufacturing exports, many economists tripped over each other to counter that a strong loonie benefits all Canadians through cheaper imports. In theory, […]

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Luxury carbon

I was talking about carbon pricing and BC’s carbon tax recently and Michael Byers asked me about the prospects for a progressive carbon tax in terms of its rate structure. My first answer was that I liked the idea but was not sure how that could work in practice; that is, tax carbon and deal with inequality through the income […]

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The HST and Consumer Prices

This morning, Statistics Canada reported that the implementation of Harmonized Sales Tax in Ontario and British Columbia helped drive the national inflation rate from 1.0% in June to 1.8% in July. By comparison, the Bank of Canada’s core inflation rate (which excludes tax changes and volatile items) edged down from 1.7% to 1.6%. However, annual inflation rates are not the […]

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Marc’s Summer Reading

With summer comes a lightening of my work load, so I’ve finally found some time to dive into a few interesting books. These are all related to my ongoing research interests (I do have some fiction sitting around waiting for a real holiday, with Barbara Kingsolver’s The Lacuna at the top of the pile): The Story of Stuff by Annie […]

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Affordability Gap

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives released a new study today comparing the expenditures of rich and poor Canadians. This approach is interesting because inequality is typically measured in terms of income or wealth. Conservatives sometimes claim that, while temporary fluctuations in income or asset values create the appearance of massive inequality at any given point in time, consumption (and […]

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More Cheers for Maloway

As an early booster of Jim Maloway’s private member’s bill, I am delighted to see it already achieving some results. Yesterday’s Globe reported that the airlines have countered by giving “new enforcement powers to CTA to serve as the industry watchdog on a range of consumer issues. They include ensuring airlines provide meal vouchers for four-hour delays, pay for hotel […]

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Three Cheers for Maloway

Canadian airlines are squealing that MP Jim Maloway’s proposed “Air passenger bill of rights” would “send airfares soaring and throw flights into chaos.” What strikes me is that American airlines already provide much of what Maloway suggests. They frequently over-book flights, but always offer free flights to induce passengers to volunteer to be bumped. In these cases and other instances […]

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Vanier Institute’s report on family finances 2009

has just been published and is avalaible here. It largely confirms research conducted by PEF members on household wealth, indebtedness and income.  The report highlights the state of financial precarity of many households, the gap between income and spending, the growing debtload and the important impact the “recession” (if we still want to call it that, given its deflationary driven […]

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Phone spam

Spurred by his success in using facebook to derail the government’s new draconian copyright proposals, Michael Geist has set up a service to complement (perhaps, do the work for) the Canadian do-not-call registry. I signed up for that months ago and still get phone spam. I find this deeply annoying, especially when I have settled into the beanbag and the […]

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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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