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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So you think you can budget!

With the Alternative Federal Budget (AFB) officially released, you’d think the budget gnomes at the CCPA would have some much deserved time off.  Unfortunately with the snow still falling in Ottawa, we figured we’d put them back to work. Every year, the AFB puts together ideas from all of the partners involved.  Once everything is said and done, those ideas […]

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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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John Loxley’s JKG Prize Lecture

At the end of May in Quebec City at the annual Canadian Economics Association conference, the PEF awarded the second John Kenneth Galbraith Prize in Economics to John Loxley. Below is the full text of John’s Galbraith Lecture (pdf version with proper footnotes and formatting here). Congrats again to John for a lifetime of amazing work! Also, thanks to one […]

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How Effective Was the Stimulus?

When the global recession hit in late 2008, economic output and employment fell so steeply in such a short period of time that policy-makers were seriously concerned about the possibility of the downturn growing into a global depression. The sense of urgency led to unprecedented levels of multilateral economic coordination, with stimulus spending rolled out worldwide and significant deficits incurred […]

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Tales from the Mouth of the Fraser: Did Stimulus Spending Play a Role in the Recovery

Yesterday, the Fraser Institute published a new report, which argues that the government stimulus did not drive Canadian economic growth in the last two quarters of 2009 and suggests that government spending on infrastructure was useless for the economy. The report earned the scorn of Finance Minister Flaherty, who was quoted in the Vancouver Sun calling the report “poorly done […]

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Reflections on Macro Policy after the Great Recession

As the communique from the Pittsburgh G20 put it,  “it worked.”  Unprecedented macro-economic stimulus in the form of ultra low interest rates and large government deficits pulled the global economy back from the abyss.  Canada has now joined most countries in exiting the recession, at least very tentatively. But what is next? The official line from the Canadian government, the […]

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CBC “Bottom Line” Panel: Paper & Reality

I have enjoyed being one of the three economists appearing on the occasional “Bottom Line” panel which CBC TV has been running on its National News.  My fellow panelists (Patricia Croft from RBC Securities and Mark Mullins of the Fraser Institute) are personable, informed, and for the most part non-dogmatic about things.  (I know it will surprise many PEF readers […]

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OECD Endorses Canadian Opposition

I was out of the country but have the impression that the extremely gloomy OECD forecast and critical recommendations for Canada released just before the G20 London summit were not given the attention they deserved. http://www.oecd.org/document/59/0,3343,en_2649_33733_42234619_1_1_1_1,00.html The OECD released its intermim outlook largely to push the case for more stimulus by G20 countries, particularly those, like Canada, with strong fiscal […]

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The Crisis and Macro-Economic Theory

I really enjoyed a recent piece by Tom Palley “After the Bust: The Outlook for Macroeconomics and Macroeconomic Policy.”   He argues with great assurance that only progressive Post Keynesian analytics can explain the crisis, and that we won’t get out of it with a bit of Keynesian tweaking of the neo liberal paradigm. http://www.levy.org/vdoc.aspx?docid=1116 “Change” was the buzzword of the […]

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Time to Revisit the Mainstream Theoretical Framework

There’s a great article in today’s Vancouver Sun hammering on the fact that all major mainstream economists failed to anticipate the economic crisis. Provocatively titled Economics 101: Everything you know is wrong, the article quotes James Galbraith’s indictment on the mainstream of the profession that originally appeared in a New York Times Magazine article: “There are thousands of economists. Most […]

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The Case for Public Investment Led Growth

It strikes me that progressive economists should talk less about the need for immediate fiscal stimulus, and more about the case for an extended period of public investment led growth. Of course, as we slide into recession, Canadian governments will likely shift from surpluses to deficits simply by not cutting spending as much as revenues fall in line with shrinking […]

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Milton and the Meltdown in Iceland

I was intrigued by what is happening in Iceland, so the following is a piece I’ve written on it.  It has some introductory macro-economics in it, which I think it is good to keep in perspective as we consider the frantic attempts being made to prevent an economic depression. The economic and financial collapse of 2008 is shaping up to be […]

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Monetary Policy: Pushing on a String

The Bank of Canada today announced what appeared to be a dramatic cut (witness the splashy headlines) in the target for the overnight rate — a 50 basis point reduction. Bank of Canada to the rescue? Think again. The move was greeted with yawns from the banking community, which lowered mortgage rates by a mere 25 basis points. I’m surprised […]

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Obama. Galbraith. Hope.

It’s not often that I get my hopes up about a potential volte-face in the way we talk and think about economics at the policy and political level but this is by far the best news I’ve heard in a long long time. It seems that our very own Jamie Galbraith, scion of John Kenneth Galbraith and keynote speaker for […]

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Denial About the Recession

Denial with a capital “D”.  That’s the only way to describe the reaction to Friday’s stunner from Statistics Canada: real GDP shrank 0.3% (at annualized rates) in the first quarter, and hence Canada is likely already in the recession that our fearless government leaders have been saying can’t happen here. For months economists have been wondering if Canada could escape […]

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