Fiscal Austerity and Growth

This may come as a bit of a shock to Andrew Coyne and Jim Flaherty, but even the IMF are warning in their most recent fiscal policy update that  austerity in the advanced economies is going too far, and will dampen growth. Indeed, they even suggest that too much austerity may spook the dreaded bond markets. “Further declines in cyclically […]

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Coyne on Krugman and Keynes

Krugman hardly needs me to leap to his defence against Canadian economic flat earthers like Andrew Coyne,  but here goes. Coyne’s latest column  argues  that there is a recovery underway in the US which owes nothing to Keynesian stimulus.  Accordingly, “we can add America post-2008 to the long list of failed experiments in Keynesian demand management.” He charges Krugman with […]

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Could McGuinty’s cuts be worse than Harris?

The Ontario government’s long awaited and much discussed report of the Commission on the Reform of Ontario’s Public Services (aka, the Drummond report) was finally publicly released this afternoon. As was rumoured, the report says Ontario would need to increase program spending by no more than 0.8% per year for the government to reach balance by 2017/18.   Drummond has adopted […]

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The Davos Speech

The Prime Minister’s speech at Davos was, I would bet, written by Stephen Harper himself. It  bore the stamp of his long standing contempt for the European welfare state. He all but said that the Europeans had brought the crisis on themselves through trying to live beyond their fiscal means:  As I look around the world, as I look particularly at developed […]

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The IMF and Austerity

Today’s IMF economic update further downgrades growth projections, including here in Canada where growth in 2012 is forecast to be just 1.7%, down from the IMF’s September forecast of 1.9%.  That is well below the just released Bank of Canada forecast of 2.0%, and clearly implies rising unemployment. On fiscal policy they say: Countries should let automatic stabilizers operate freely […]

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Ontario’s Poverty Reduction Strategy

December marked the three-year anniversary of Ontario’s Poverty Reduction Strategy. While I believe there is much to celebrate, much remains to be done. The Strategy surprised a lot of observers, especially in light of the fact that it was announced in December 2008, just as Ontario was entering a recession.  Its focus was almost exclusively child poverty, and at full […]

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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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Austerity Kills: Conservative cure worst thing for what ails the economy says Stiglitz

Governments around the world are heading down a path to economic suicide. So said Nobel Prize-winning former chief economist of the World Bank, Joseph Stiglitz, to hundreds of well-heeled financiers and decision-makers who paid a bundle to hear him in Toronto. With a voice as gruff as gravel, and an energy bristling with urgency, he told governments in Canada and […]

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IMF Hints at Need for Less Fiscal Austerity and a Plan B for Canada

Albeit in a highly nuanced way, the IMF has called on the G-20  to temper short-term fiscal austerity now that the global economy “has entered a dangerous phase.” In their submission to the October 14-15 meetings of G-20 finance ministers, the IMF call for medium-term fiscal consolidation plans to “create more policy space for near-term support to growth and employment, […]

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Stephen Harper and Economics 101

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who prides himself on being an economist, has characterized his government’s fiscal policy as “expansionary.” If he really thinks the simple fact of running a budget deficit is “expansionary”, he should repeat Economics 101. The correct way to look at the question of whether fiscal policy is expansionary or contractionary is not to look at the […]

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The Ontario NDP Platform

Pollsters tell us that Ontario’s New Democrats may double their seat total in next month’s provincial election. It’s also entirely conceivable that they could be part of a coalition government at Queen’s Park. But what’s actually in the party’s election platform? One central feature of the NDP’s proposals is to implement a tax credit for companies that hire new workers. The tax credits would be valued at […]

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Wageless recovery and the politics of austerity

The UNTCAD just published its annual report on Trade and Development, titled Post-crisis Policy Challenges in the World Economy. The report describes a two speed global recovery, showing how developing economies have come out of the crisis stronger then their developed European and American counterparts. There the author invokes the contradictory forces at work in a “wageless” recovery, where wage […]

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Hurricane Trichet Hits Jackson Hole

After watching Jack Layton’s state funeral, I noticed that Jean-Claude Trichet’s speech from Jackson Hole is online. The European Central Bank president does not seem to get it. Far from acknowledging that last month’s interest-rate hike was premature, he touts “price stability.” His main theme is that the economic divergence between Eurozone countries is comparable to that between American states. […]

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Recession Ahead?

TD Economics yesterday released a rather gloomy report, putting the odds of a US recession at 40%, and arguing that that Canadian economy is more vulnerable to recession than it was in 2008.  It highlights reduced capacity for governments to respond given that interest rates are already very low, and given that household and government debt are significantly higher than […]

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Outlook Darkens as Budget Debate Begins

Allow me to indulge myself just this once. Almost exactly one month ago I wrote a post arguing that the Bank of Canada was being too optimistic about our economic prospects in the July Monetary Policy Report . Today, both the Governor (and Finance Minister Flaherty) conceded to the House of Commons Finance Committee that the outlook is indeed significantly […]

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On Balancing the Budget

Andrew Watt has written an especially cogent piece on why the balanced budget rule proposed for the Euro area by Merkel and Sarkozy is a very, very bad idea. It also makes relevant reading for Canadians. Andrew points out (1) that fiscal rules have to take into account overall balances and that the public sector cannot balance if the private […]

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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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Stimulus vs Public Investment

A column by Stiglitz in the Financial Times makes what I think is an important point. The current debate over fiscal policy for the US, Europe and Canada is often characterized in the media as one between advocates of  higher deficits from Keynesian style stimulus measures,  and advocates of lower deficits through public sector austerity.  Within this frame, the advocates […]

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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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The Myth of Expansionary Austerity

As the US and Europe turn from stimulus to fiscal austerity, claims are heard that spending cuts actually stimulate economic growth. That is the argument heard, not just from the Republicans in the US Congress, but also from the Obama Administration who have pretty much stopped listening to even mainstream macro-economists. And it is the argument of European finance ministers and […]

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Still Progressive and family friendly: evaluating Québec’s income tax policy

University of Sherbrooke economist and fiscal specialist Luc Godbout with Suzie St-Cerny and Michaël Robert-Angers has just published a timely research paper evaluating the net fiscal impact on households of Québec’s income tax system.Timely because, as discussed here be Armine Yalnizyan recent data from stats can shows that though globally income inequality has risen during the last recession, they have […]

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GDP Report: Awfully Weak Tea Leaves

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty was unusually blunt on CTV’s Question Period yesterday, saying he was worried about the possibility of another recession.  (Finance Ministers are usually very cautious about using the “r”-word, for fear that might worry consumers an dbring about a self-fulfilling prophecy.)  Maybe he had already seen today’s quarterly GDP numbers from Statistics Canada, which give lots of […]

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