What Impact will the 2019 Federal Budget have on Canada’s Housing Market?

I’ve written a blog post about what the recent federal budget means for Canada’s housing market. Points I make in the blog post include the following: -The budget contains several initiatives designed to make it easier for households of modest means to become homeowners. -Such initiatives are often framed as being win-win propositions, while their unintended consequences are rarely discussed. […]

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Rethinking the economics of extreme events

Review of Worst-Case Economics: Extreme Events in Climate and Finance by Frank Ackerman *** Long ago economics was termed “the dismal science,” but in recent years that title has arguably been passed on to climate science, with its regular and dire warnings that humanity needs to rapidly transition off of its use of fossil fuels for energy. In the face […]

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Ontario’s Electricity Sector IV: Pre-Election Update

My first, second and third posts on the Ontario electricity sector described how policy and administrative decisions by different Liberal Governments gave rise to excess electricity generation with an inflated cost structure, leading to higher electricity prices. In anticipation of June 2018 elections, the Liberal Government recently implemented a costly and first-in-Canada financial scheme to fund its “Fair Hydro Plan” […]

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Central Agencies in Canada

Do you ever lie awake wondering what it is that Finance Canada, the Privy Council Office and Treasury Board Secretariat actually do?  Well, wonder no more my friends!  Over at the web site of the Calgary Homeless Foundation, I’ve written a blog post titled “Ten things to know about central agencies in Canada.” Here’s the link to the post.   […]

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Do High Tuition Fees Make for Good Public Policy?

This afternoon I gave a presentation to Professor Ted Jackson’s graduate seminar course on higher education, taught in Carleton University’s School of Public Policy and Administration.  The link to my slide deck, titled “The Political Economy of Post-Secondary Education in Canada,” can be found here. Points I raised in the presentation include the following: -Tuition fees have been rising in […]

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Intellectual Dishonesty at the Ivey Business Journal

Under the headline “Canada Isn’t Rotten to the Core”, the new editor of the Ivey Business Journal, Thomas Watson, attacked my book “Thieves of Bay Street” in his inaugural editorial. Although the book hit bookstores almost two years ago, and has faded from view, I found this assault so distorted to what “Thieves” explores I felt it warranted a response. […]

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Household debt going from bad to worse

Canadians are now more indebted than either Americans or the Brits at the peak of their housing bubble.  Statistics Canada today revised the national accounts.  The result on the household debt front was that instead of Canadian households having a debt to disposable income ratio of 154, it has now been revised upwards to 166. The new data allows better […]

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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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Who’s a bigger drag on Canada’s future? The old or the young?

This is my latest column for Canadian Business magazine.  Giorgio, a hard-working, smart-as-a-whip University of Toronto student, asked me a great question after a recent guest lecture: What if the biggest challenge facing Canadian businesses and governments in the coming years isn’t an aging society but the economic and fiscal drag of hundreds of thousands of young people who can’t […]

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Risk, Altruism and A Monkey Economy Like Ours

The “science” of economics has for most of its history relied on theory more than experimentation, which is quite literally the testing grounds of all “real” science. The birth of behavioural economics in the 1970s permitted economists to start testing theory rigorously, by borrowing empirical methods from psychology and other social sciences to lift the veil behind what makes us, […]

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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 assets ratio among 20 OECD […]

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Economy Lab at the Globe and Mail

Here’s my take on Canada’s jobs recovery, written for the Economy Lab. The Economy Lab is a new on-line feature of the on-line business section of the Globe and Mail, part the newspaper’s extensive print and electronic make-over launched on October 1. Editor Rob Gilroy has made it a lively spot. The Daily Mix is full of links to interesting […]

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The OECD on Iceland

Further to Toby’s excellent post on Iceland. Here are some extracts from OECD Country Reviews – courtesy of Roland Schneider of TUAC – which show gross disregard for the risks as they were building. Economic Survey of Iceland 2006 Published on 9 August 2006 Chapter 1: Policy challenges in sustaining improved economic performance Iceland’s growth performance has considerably improved since […]

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Another Inconvenient Truth

Al Gore has famously and correctly characterized the scientific consensus about global warming as “An Inconvenient Truth”. In today’s Financial Post, Buzz Hargrove identifies another “inconvenient truth” for Canadian progressives: “it is impossible to achieve Kyoto targets in the time frames spelled out in Kyoto.” Canada’s Kyoto commitment was relatively modest and achievable. However, after signing it, the Liberal government […]

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Wheat Board Plebiscite

Yesterday, the Conservatives announced three ballot options for an upcoming mail-in vote on the Canadian Wheat Board’s marketing of barley: (1) maintain single-desk marketing, (2) end the Board’s marketing of barley, or (3) have the Board market barley without its monopoly. In effect, Board elections have always been plebiscites on the organization’s role and supporters of single-desk marketing have always won. […]

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Wage Reductions for Laid-Off Workers

http://www.statcan.ca/Daily/English/070116/d070116a.htm One thing we don’t know about the current round of manufacturing job losses is what is happening to laid-off workers – though employment rates are slipping for older male workers in Ontario and Quebec, and even a supposedly “tight” job market is generating little if any real wage growth for most workers. This suggests that many affected by layoffs […]

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New Zealand Social Report

http://www.socialreport.msd.govt.nz/ This is worth a look as a serious attempt at an “official” social audit. A good selection of economic and social indicators, and what is interesting is that the report highlights some progessive benchmarks and targets, and some not terribly impressive performance. A brave government indeed, compared to our own.

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Economic risk and the middle class

An interesting discussion is happening over at The American Prospect. Called Debating the Middle it asks “Just how is the middle class faring in the modern American economy, and how should progressives tailor their message and program accordingly?” As in other posts on the US inequality debate, there are some insights and implications to be gleaned for Canada. And while […]

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