An Analysis of Financial Flows in the Canadian Economy

An essential but perhaps overlooked way of looking at the economy is a sector financial balance approach. Pioneered by the late UK economist Wynne Godley, this approach starts with National Accounts data (called Financial Flow Accounts) for four broad sectors of the economy: households, corporations, government and non-residents. Here’s how it works: in any given quarter or year each sector […]

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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 III: Legislative & Finance Update

My January and April posts on the Ontario electricity sector described how decisions by different Ontario governments gave rise to excess electricity generation with an inflated cost structure, leading to higher electricity prices. Here I discuss the latest development, the Liberal Government of Ontario’s proposed financial framework for its “Fair Hydro Plan” (FHP). In election mode, the Government tabled Bill […]

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Finance Minister Bill Morneau on the Dangers of Bank of Canada Funding

A guest blog post from Larry Kazdan, publisher of the “Modern Monetary Theory in Canada” blog: https://mmtincanada.jimdo.com/contact/. Under legislation that came into effect in December 2015, e-petitions that garner at least 500 on-line signatures and that are sponsored by an MP can be tabled in Parliament. The federal government is then required to provide a written response, also posted online, within […]

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ROCHON: Harper in closet over the economy as Canada heads toward another recession

This guest blog post has been written by Louis-Philippe Rochon. You can follow him on Twitter @Lprochon – Harper’s recent incarnation as an anti-terrorist crusader has caught many Canadians by surprise. Harper is spending considerable political energy beating the drums of war against terrorists, and introducing a far-reaching, and much condemned, bill aimed at restricting free speech, and increasing police […]

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Financial Risk and Alberta’s Tar Sands

When it comes to global warming, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change notes that what matters is the total volume of greenhouse gas emissions going forward. This amounts to about 30 years of emissions at current levels – a global carbon budget that would provide the world a 66% chance of staying below 2°C. There is some debate about whether an upper limit of […]

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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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Are Canadian investors headed for a carbon cliff?

An oped based on my and Brock Ellis’ recent report, Canada’s Carbon Liabilities, was published in iPolitics (alas, behind a pay wall): Canada’s economic development model is on a collision course with the urgent need for global climate action. Worldwide, extreme weather events from drought to floods to powerful storms and record-breaking temperatures are making a powerful statement that climate […]

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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 of action, with many campuses launching […]

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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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Complete details of 2008-09 Bank Support

Readers of this blog will have hopefully read my report “The big banks big secret” which examines the $114 billion that Canada’s banks received during the 2008-09 financial crisis.  Its major finding was that at some point three of Canada’s five big banks had received support worth more than their market capitalization, or the value of all the stock, at around $20-25 […]

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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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Stock Market Swindles Galore

This past weekend (March 31st), Sino-Forest Corp. announced it was filing for bankruptcy protection. The Chinese-Canadian company, once the largest publicly-traded forestry firm on the TSX, collapsed under allegations it was nothing more than a sophisticated fraud and Ponzi scheme. Sino-Forest’s demise wiped out about $6-billion in shareholders’ value, making it a catastrophe on par with Bre-X Minerals back in […]

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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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The financial wealth of Canada’s top 1%

Following up on my post on wealth and income of the top 1%, Eric Pineault wrote to add some data on financial wealth distribution for Canada. He had a research assistant comb through microdata from Statcan’s Survey of Financial Security from 2005, and notes: “the 1% richest (all households are classed according to net worth rather then income) hold 22% of […]

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Market Mayhem

The wild swings in the North American financial markets this week serve as yet another reminder of the weakness of  any linkage between levels and changes in financial asset values and levels and changes in real economic variables. This is apparent for both bonds and equities. In the case of the US and Canada, the rise in government bond prices is […]

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World Bank Joint Ventures With JP Morgan

(The following was sent by ITUC Washington representative Peter Bakvis and deserves wider distribution. While this action by the World Bank might reduce food prices at the margin, it would be far preferable for them to push for regulation of speculation in food instead of joining in a destructive game.)   In partnership with Wall Street investment bank JP Morgan, […]

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The TMX Merger/Takeover

One concern is that this deal may undermine our ability to regulate financial markets. If the Canadian exchanges become majority owned in the UK, and if the Canada – EU deal is ratified with a Chapter 11 like investment clause, then we leave ourselves open to sanctions if and when we impose regulations which result in a loss of expected […]

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Financial Illiteracy

The Report of the Task Force on Financial Literacy is all that one would have expected from one co chaired by the CEO of Sun Life Financial and the Chairman of  BMO Nesbitt Burns. There is hardly a whisper of criticism of financial institutions and the myriad fees, charges and interest rates they extract from ordinary Canadians. You will not […]

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ECB vs. the speculators

I’d get popcorn to watch ECB vs. the speculators, if the whole sorry story weren’t so sickening. The European Central Bank is meeting today to figure out what the bleep to do about this mess in Europe (the press conference is happening as I write). In the lead-up to the ECB announcement, non-core bonds (like Spain’s) were doing well in […]

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Worker Bargaining Power and the Crisis

Here is a keeper – an IMF study that argues that loss of working class bargaining power is an underlying cause of financial crises, and that retoration thereof is key to reducing debt. The abstract – “The paper studies how high leverage and crises can arise as a result of changes in the income distribution. Empirically, the periods 1920-1929 and […]

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Might the proposed new federal securities regulator weaken regulatory oversight?

The front page of today’s Globe and Mail reports the latest chapter in the federal attempt to create a national securities regulator. (Premiers push back against national securities regulator plan).   Part of the Harper government’s response to the financial crisis was to promise to remedy the patchwork of provincial securities regulators.  If securities regulators are going to avert future […]

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