The Alternative Federal Budget 2017

This year’s Alternative Federal Budget (AFB) was released on March 9. I was proud to be the primary author of its housing chapter (that chapter is available in English here and in French here). The first AFB exercise began in 1994, with the first AFB being published in 1995. That involved a joint effort between the Canadian Centre for Policy […]

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Boosting the economy for the rest of us

Elites and the talking heads in the media are arguing about how to respond to Canada’s soured economic outlook. Who should try to boost the economy, the federal government via fiscal stimulus or the Bank of Canada via monetary policy? But while elites argue amongst themselves, the overriding context is a transfer and concentration of economic power upwards. This, not […]

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Why the economy sucks (in one chart)

(The following is something I’ve prepared for the next issue of CUPE’s Economy at Work, a popular economics quarterly publication I produce.) In his annual Economic and Fiscal Update (EFU), finance minister Joe Oliver told Canadians that while the federal government will finally record a surplus next year after seven years of deficits, we can’t expect the economy to grow […]

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Great Divergence or Financialized recovery ?

The IMF’s latest delivery of the World Economic outlook contains an interesting analysis of the current “non” recovery in terms of a divergence between fiscal and monetary policy, the first between restrictive and procyclical in nature and the second being accommodating and reinforcing a financial expansion. As argued here by the IMF economists who worked on this issue, the “great” […]

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Canada Goose Egg

This morning, Statistics Canada reported zero economic growth in October. While growth had been driven by strong mining and fossil-fuel exports during the third quarter, Canadians got a lump of coal in October. This Christmas goose egg should come as a wake-up call to economic policymakers. It follows Labour Force Surveys showing two consecutive months of job losses and higher unemployment. […]

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Ontario’s Stimulating Election Platforms

A common refrain among political pundits has been that all of Ontario’s election platforms are unrealistic given a deteriorating economic outlook. Rather than bemoaning this alleged lack of realism, we should evaluate how each party’s platform would fare in a downturn. The NDP platform is built on the fiscal framework set out in the 2011 provincial budget. The Liberal and […]

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Navigating challenging economic waters

Down south, the Obama administration is in a dangerous game of chicken with Republican congressional leaders, who are cynically holding the US economy hostage in order to impose a radical agenda of spending cuts. Obama has seemingly bought into the rhetoric of cutting debt, rather than focusing on the real US problem of unemployment. Yet, even his foolish offer to […]

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Canada’s Economic Ad/ction Plan

Oh, the cynicism of it all. I was just watching the Evan Solomon Power and Politics show on Newsworld (about 5.40pm ) when an ad came up extolling opportunities for re-training under Canada’s Economic Action Plan and referring viewers to the same web site. That’s strange, I thought. Have those programs not expired? I checked the web site and find […]

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Stockwell’s Deficit “Solution”: Tax Cuts

This morning, the Canadian Foundation for Economic Education hosted a Bay Street breakfast meeting with Stockwell Day, President of the Treasury Board of Canada. Jim serves on the Foundation’s Board of Directors, but could not make today’s session. So, Armine and I ended up having breakfast with Tories at Torys. (Some other participants may not have been Tories, but I […]

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GDP: Canada Gets Its Head Above Water

UPDATE (September 1): Quoted in The Toronto Star. Canadian Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew modestly in the second quarter, but that modest growth returned GDP to a level not seen since before the economic crisis. Recent Developments: The Second Quarter Canada’s output expanded at a quarterly rate of 0.5%, which corresponds to an annual rate of 2.0%. Such growth would […]

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Balancing Budgets – What Harper Should Be Worried About Now

In the past few weeks some of Canada’s most respected economic authorities, including Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney, have voiced concerns over the fragility of the recovery, globally and at home.  Now Paul Krugman joins that chorus of Cassandras, pointing his finger straight at the wishful thinkers who say Canada’s heavy lifting is done when it comes to economic […]

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Growth After Stimulus

This morning, Statistics Canada reported a robust economic expansion in March and hence in the first quarter of 2010. Although February’s growth was revised down to 0.2%, strong growth of 0.6% in both January and March propelled the quarterly total to 1.5%. That figure corresponds to an annual growth rate of 6.1%, more than double the 3.0% growth reported south […]

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Great Minds Think Alike

Serge Coulombe, an economics professor at the University of Ottawa, has a great op-ed in today’s Financial Post: The Fraser report looks at the change in the contribution of government expenditures to the GDP growth between the second and the third quarters, and the third and the fourth quarters, of 2009. This approach is problematic since it focuses on the […]

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Stand Up for Harper

When conflict erupts between Conservative politicians and the Fraser Institute, I am inclined to react as Henry Kissinger did to the Iran-Iraq War: “It’s too bad they can’t both lose.” But in the recent spat over stimulus, it was easy to choose sides. However grudging the Harper government’s decision and however inadequate its execution, it did the right thing by […]

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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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Fraser Institute on Stimulus: Take Two

Iglika makes several cogent, high-level criticisms of the Fraser Institute’s “analysis” of how much government stimulus has contributed to Canada’s economic recovery. However, I think that it is guilty of a far more basic flaw. To determine how much government purchases and investment contributed to economic growth, one would compare the increase in government purchases and investment with the increase […]

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This is Your Economy on Stimulus

My post on this past Monday’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) release emphasized the disconnect between profits and investment in the corporate sector. As Andrew commented on that post, the public sector’s contribution to the recovery is also noteworthy. That point seems especially relevant in the wake of a federal budget devoted to continuing previously announced stimulus. The right-wing critique from […]

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Job-Creation Needed

Both employment and unemployment edged down between November and December, reflecting a smaller total labour force. This news raises concern that some jobless workers are leaving the labour force altogether. However, the labour-force decrease was only 9,000, far smaller than the previous monthly increase. Overall employment changed so little because private-sector payrolls stabilized. While stability is welcome after the recent […]

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Inflation Rebound

The national inflation rate jumped to 1.0% in November from 0.1% in October. As Statistics Canada notes, this apparently large increase is “due primarily to gasoline prices.” Specifically, last month’s gasoline prices are being compared to the depressed gasoline prices of November 2008. Given the changed base of comparison, it is not surprising that the headline inflation rate has returned […]

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Inflation Returns

Canada’s extended summer of deflation ended in October, when the national inflation rate rose to 0.1%. This change reflects a lowered base of comparison: the price of gasoline plummeted between September and October of last year. The return of inflation should not be overstated. Today’s inflation rate is barely positive and falls short of the 0.3% that analysts had been […]

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