Discussing Quebec Student Protests on Talk Radio

Last Friday, I blogged here about the Quebec student protests.  Subsequently, I was invited to appear on 580 CFRA News Talk Radio, with hosts Rob Snow and Lowell Green. I should note that Mr. Green is the author of several books, including: -How the Granola Crunching, Tree Hugging Thug Huggers are Wrecking our Country; –Mayday Mayday. Curb Immigration. Stop Multiculturalism […]

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The Economist Takes Note: Modern Monetary Theory Gets Much Deserved Attention

As faithful readers of this blog will know, I make only very sporadic contributions to this blog but a substantial fraction of those contributions have made reference to modern monetary theory (MMT), the view (crudely put) that, based on a detailed understanding of the institutional mechanisms behind monetary operations, calls into question our obsession with balancing the budget. Well, after […]

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Why Not Lock In Low Interest Rates?

The federal government has failed to take up an historic opportunity to lock in ultra low interest rates on long term Government of Canada bonds. Normally – as outlined in annual debt management reports – the government follows a strategy which is intended to achieve two main goals -  low overall debt servicing costs, and stable and predictable bond markets.  […]

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Why the Excitement About Debt?

Further to our recent discussions on this blog about the role of private finance and credit in our present crisis, we present a guest contribution from Ralph Musgrave, an economist in the U.K. National debts have risen recently, which has caused excessive and unnecessary consternation. The consternation is particularly unnecessary for countries which issue their own currency, and these are the […]

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Who’s Bailing Whom? Challenging the Private Credit System

The time since 2008 has been a crucial historical moment for progressive economists to pull back the green curtain that surrounds the operation of the for-profit banking system, and expose that system for what it is: a government-protected, government-subsidized license to print money. The problem is, as soon as you start saying things like that, people conclude you are some kind […]

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Student Debt Rising Amongst New Physicians

Newly-released data indicate that student debt is rising amongst new physicians in Canada. In 2010, 23 percent of medical residents reported having more than $120,000 in education-related debt upon completion of their residency training (as compared with just 17 percent in 2007). (Note: across Canada, average tuition fees for medical students amount to just over $10,000 a year.) This appears to have important implications for Canada’s health […]

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PSE in Newfoundland and Labrador

Last March, Keith Dunne and I wrote an opinion piece on Danny Williams’ post-secondary education (PSE) legacy in Newfoundland and Labrador. Among other things, we pointed out that average undergraduate tuition fees (for domestic students) in Newfoundland and Labrador are $2,624/yr., compared with $5,138 for Canada as a whole and $6,307 in Ontario. With a provincial election slated to take place in Newfoundland and Labrador on […]

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“Grade-Boosting” Stimulant Use on Campus

A recent editorial in the Canadian Medical Association Journal looks at the use of “grade-boosting” stimulants (such as Ritalin) by Canadian post-secondary students. According to the editorial: “Universities and colleges are ground zero for ‘grade-boosting’ stimulant abuse.” The thrust of the editorial’s argument is that universities and colleges need to work proactively to reduce the misuse of such substances, including by […]

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Ontario Student Debt

Last week, the CCPA released a paper by David Macdonald and Erika Shaker entitled Under Pressure: The Impact of Rising Tuition Fees on Ontario Families. The paper does a good job of explaining which households have been most impacted by rising tuition fees in Ontario. Points made in the paper include the following: -In light of rising levels of household debt, Canadian […]

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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 features the following provocative excerpt: […]

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Mythologies: Money and Hyperinflation

In an earlier post, Marc Lee mentioned in passing the German hyperinflation episode of the 1920s. It’s remarkable that this event still holds such sway over the popular imagination despite other more recent instances of hyperinflation. Certainly, the imagery is powerful: German citizens pushing wheelbarrows full of worthless paper money around for everyday purchases, banknotes used as wallpaper, or dramatic […]

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MMT: What it Means for Canada

Arun Dubois’ blog post yesterday on Modern Monetary Theory has prompted me to write my own take on the subject.  For those interested, an interesting thumbnail sketch of MMT, essentially functional finance augmented by a full understanding of monetary operations, is explained here. While MMT deals with the details of monetary and fiscal matters, the implications of its analysis are […]

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Thoughts on “Why not print money?”

Richard Gilbert’s “Why not print money?” in the Globe’s Economy Lab toys with more radical monetary intervention as a response to the crisis. Desperate times, they say, call for desperate measures. The title (which was perhaps not Gilbert’s at all) is more provocative than the article itself, which is mostly about tolerating higher inflation that could have beneficial impacts for […]

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S&P Pantsed by US Treasury

I have been reluctant to condemn the credit-rating agencies for sovereign downgrades because it seemed like shooting the messenger. As the bond markets have noticed, a few European countries have serious fiscal problems. Blaming the raters for also noticing did not seem like an effective response. However, I think that Standard and Poor’s decision – alone among the major raters […]

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More on Public Sector Austerity in Canada

A short addendum to my previous post: I checked the most recent IMF projections in the June, 2011 Update to the Fiscal Monitor. Table 1 provides estimates of changes in the general government government cyclically adjusted balance in percent of potential GDP. Basically changes are the result of discretionary changes in fiscal policy rather than due to improvement or deterioration […]

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Navigating challenging economic waters

Down south, the Obama administration is in a dangerous game of chicken with Republican congressional leaders, who are cynically holding the US economy hostage in order to impose a radical agenda of spending cuts. Obama has seemingly bought into the rhetoric of cutting debt, rather than focusing on the real US problem of unemployment. Yet, even his foolish offer to […]

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Reduce Student Debt to Reduce Household Debt

At this year’s Annual Conference of the Canadian Economics Association, Armine Yalnizyan gave a presentation entitled “Surviving the Recovery:  The Distribution of Canadian Household Debt.” The panel was co-sponsored by the Canadian Association for Business Economics and the Progressive Economics Forum. As Armine made clear in her presentation, household debt in Canada has steadily risen over the past two decades.  In 1990, […]

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NDP’s “Balanced Budget” Platform

Jack Layton unveiled the NDP’s policy platform today.  Among other things, it promises to eliminate the deficit (i.e. balance the federal budget) within four years.  I’m not sure it should. Several years back, I had the opportunity to take a directed reading course from John Smithin.  In addition to being a long-time member of the Progressive Economics Forum, John is […]

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Debt Apocalypse Now!!

I was taken a bit aback by Kevin Carmichael’s piece on Obama’s budget plans in today’s ROB. In what is more a news than an opinion piece on  concerns regarding fiscal sustainability in the US , he baldly states without attribution that “Research and history suggests that a debt-to-GDP ratio of 60 per cent or higher is a prelude for […]

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Keeping it Real: Cash, Clunkers and Why Our GrandChildren Have Nothing to Fear

Conversation fragment overheard the other day: “This deficit thing. It worries me. My grandchildren you know?”  To which his interlocutor replies:  “Yes, it worries me too. We just can’t keep this up.” And so it goes.  The grandchildren are trotted out.  We shudder in collective guilt, thinking about the financial hardship that our selfishness imposes on the progeny of our […]

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What to do about Household Debt?

It’s a funny old economy we live in. The release of today’s national balance sheet accounts has aroused great concern about the rise of the ratio of household debt to personal disposable income to a new record of 148%. Mark Carney and our banks want – quite rightly – to discourage further borrowing to prevent a disaster for highly leveraged […]

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What’s Canada’s Carbon Debt?

Martin Khor, of the South Centre, has done an interesting analysis for the (doomed) Cancun negotiations on climate change. The talks have broken down on north-south lines, with southern countries wanting to keep the Kyoto framework that puts the onus on northern (advanced, industrialized) countries to reduce emissions and give carbon space to southern countries carbon to develop their economies. […]

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Confusion Over Monetary Policy

It’s always been my understanding that left-of-centre economists, on the whole, like it when real interest rates are low (but not negative).  Among other things, this encourages more companies to borrow (and hire more workers), reduces unemployment, reduces debt-servicing costs for government, and increases the power of labour. In July of this year, I blogged over my concern that “important voices among Canada’s […]

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Balancing Budgets – What Harper Should Be Worried About Now

In the past few weeks some of Canada’s most respected economic authorities, including Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney, have voiced concerns over the fragility of the recovery, globally and at home.  Now Paul Krugman joins that chorus of Cassandras, pointing his finger straight at the wishful thinkers who say Canada’s heavy lifting is done when it comes to economic […]

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How About Monetary Policy?

Today’s Toronto Star features an op-ed by John Cartwright, President of the Toronto and York Region Labour Council. (I once had the chance to hear John speak at a press conference in Toronto and found him to be an oustanding public speaker.  But I digress…) In the piece, he argues that “we” (I think he means both the Harper government and the […]

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