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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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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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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When Good Data Goes Bad: The NHS2011

This piece was  published today in the Globe and Mail’s Economy Lab.  Two findings stand out in the National Household Survey (NHS) data released Wednesday, both critical in this post-recession era of uncertainty: 1) A quarter of Canadian households spent 30 per cent or more of their pre-tax income on shelter, the official measure of housing affordability. 2) There was virtually no change […]

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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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Dead Money

Kudos to Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney for raising the profile of the over $500 billion Canadian corporations are holding in excess cash surpluses and not investing in the economy, which garnered front page coverage (and kudos to the CAW for inviting him to speak.) It’s not the first time he’s raised this  concern.  Last year at the Empire […]

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Deflating Housing Bubble Risks Recession

Seen in isolation,  Finance Minister Flaherty probably did the right thing yesterday in seeking to safely deflate the housing bubble and lower the dangerous growth of household credit to a record level as a share of household income. But he did it very late in the game, and risks tipping an already very fragile economy into recession if he and […]

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US family net worth crushed by financial crisis

The US Federal Reserve today released its triennial examination of incomes and net worth of American households in the Survey of Consumer Finances.  It shows the crushing effects on net worth of a housing and financial bust unparalleled since the great depression. The shocking results of this study overviewed in the New York Times are that ALL  real net wealth […]

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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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William Watson on PSE

On Wednesday, William Watson wrote a comment piece in the Financial Post in which he was critical of Armine Yalnizyan’s recent essay on inequality. In his piece, Mr. Watson alleges that Armine “is guilty of fantastical reminiscence,” particularly with respect to her take on post-secondary education (PSE). Among other things, Mr. Watson points to the fact that PSE enrolment has […]

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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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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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Is Capitalism Terminally Ill?

Today (June 15th) the Toronto Star broke news that the NDP was planning to drop the term “socialism” from its party’s platform. This was a mere formality of what had been in existence for decades: the party hasn’t been “socialist” in any shape or form for a very long time. On the very same day, new data emerged from the […]

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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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PEF Conference 2011

The Progressive Economics Forum has the following line-up of sessions for this year’s Canadian Economics Association conference on June 3-5 at the University of Ottawa. Thanks very much to Nick Falvo for coordinating our conference activities and putting this schedule together. We are also hosting a summer school the day before and announcing our essay contest winners at the conference. […]

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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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Housing Bubble Prompts New Borrowing Rules

Finance Minister Flaherty’s announcement of restrictions on mortgage lending deserves some credit (pun intended.)  But there is a bit more to this than is immediately apparent. The government has decided that, to qualify for government-backed mortgage insurance, the amortization period of a mortgage should be no more than 30 years (down from 35 years now, and 40 years in 2006, […]

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Economic Climate for Bargaining

The December 2010 issue of the quarterly Economic Climate for Bargaining publication that I produce is now on CUPE’s website in both English and French. In each issue I summarize developments and trends for the economy, labour markets, inflation and wages, and also include short pieces of 1-2 pages on related topical issues.  In this issue, the focus is very much on pre-budget […]

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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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Why the Great Recession Will Go On and On…

The cover of last week’s Economist magazine boasted the headline “Grow, dammit, grow!” above a picture of a bald man looking up at a tiny sprout of hair on his pate. As the Great Recession continues to grind on with no end in sight – with growth remaining anemic and unemployment stubbornly high in North America and Europe – mainstream […]

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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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Carney Makes His Move

Further to my recent post on the last Monetary Policy Report  http://www.progressive-economics.ca/2010/05/11/the-bank-of-canada-and-the-recovery/ I cannot claim to be surprised that the the Bank of Canada has decided to begin to raise interest rates, albeit by an initial quarter point from  extraordinarily low levels. They are also returning to normal overnight money market operations which will tighten credit to a degree. I […]

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Reining in speculation in the housing market

This morning federal finance minister Flaherty announced a number of measures ostensibly aimed at reining in speculation in the housing market.  His announcement was typically well-timed to coincide with the Vanier Institute’s annual report on the state of Canadian family finances, which reports record high levels of household debt, growing inequality and housing prices increasingly out of whack with incomes. But […]

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Warning: Credit Card Use May be Harmful (to Your Country’s Income Distribution)

Ah plastic. What’s not to love? Convenient? Check. Light in the pocket? Check. Monthly bill summaries? Check. Free short-term credit? Check (provided you pay your bills in full, on time). Benefits (free car rental insurance, points, cash back etc): Check AND… Take from the poor and give to the rich? err… wait a minute. Unfortunately, credit cards — especially those […]

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