New Growth Model Needed?

Canadian Gross Domestic Product (GDP) fell by 0.1% in August. The decline mainly reflected temporary closures of major oil rigs, mines and mills due to maintenance or labour disputes. This explanation is valid, as far as it goes. However, the broader issue is that more widespread economic growth should be more than offsetting these isolated events. Today’s release reveals a […]

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More Deflation

While some prices rose slightly and others fell slightly between July, August and September, the total Consumer Price Index has remained exactly the same through these months. The annual inflation rate declined by 0.9% in September, tying July for the largest rate decline since 1953. All provinces but Saskatchewan now have negative inflation. While the main story continues to be […]

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Stimulus at Work

On Thanksgiving, Canadians can be thankful that public stimulus spending propelled a surprisingly strong labour-market rebound in September. This morning’s release shows full-time employment up and the unemployment rate down. However, the jobs picture is not as rosy as these top-line numbers imply. Stimulus Working? The improvement in Canada’s labour market should not be taken as an indication that government […]

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L-Shaped Recovery?

Flat Gross Domestic Product (GDP) figures for July provide a sobering reminder that the technical end of a recession may not imply a rapid recovery. Output appears to have stopped shrinking, but this morning’s release suggests stabilization rather than growth. Rounding to the nearest billion, all-industry GDP has been $1,184 billion for three months. It had peaked at $1,241 billion […]

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Canada’s Dirty Old Deal

Last week the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) published an update for the G20 Summit on its call from earlier this year for a Global Green New Deal.  This update showed that Canada is close to the bottom in the stimulus funds it is committing to green economic areas. According to the UNEP, only 8% of Canada’s stimulus spending is […]

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Harper’s Mystery Chart

The first chart in today’s Third Report on the Economic Action Plan (Chart 1.1, page 8 ) appears to show that Canada is tied with Japan for the largest stimulus package in the G-7. Exactly the same bar graph appeared in the Second Report back in June (Chart 1.2, page 12). While this seemingly impressive chart has been promoted to […]

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Deflation Continues

This morning’s consumer price figures for August are reminiscent of July. The annual Consumer Price Index decline was 0.8% (compared to 0.9% last month.) With the exception of July, August was the sharpest drop in consumer prices since 1953. In both July and August, eight of ten provinces posted negative inflation rates. The only province with positive inflation in both […]

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Public-Sector Recession?

Layoffs Continue Today’s Labour Force Survey indicates that full-time employment declined by 4,000 in August. There were 7,000 fewer jobs in goods-producing industries. Retailers Hire A surprising 21,000 new jobs in retail and wholesale trade propelled economy-wide employment up by 27,000. This increase consisted entirely of part-time jobs. While any employment gain is welcome news, the quality of these new […]

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Deflation Deepens

In July, the Consumer Price Index posted an annual decline of 0.9%, the most negative inflation rate since July of 1953. This decline is troubling not only because it is larger than last month’s decline, but also because it is more widespread. Recent decreases in inflation have mainly been driven by lower gasoline prices in 2009 compared to 2008. This […]

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Yes, Prime Minister (home renovation episode)

Thank you, Jim Flaherty and Stephen Harper. I just finished the first leg of a long-contemplated kitchen renovation that got pushed over the top by February’s federal budget tax credit for home renovations. This year only! Act now before it is too late! The credit is worth a maximum of $1,350 per family if you spent a full $10,000 or […]

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Deflation Has Landed

Deflation is no longer a spectre, but a reality for Canada. This morning, Statistics Canada reported an inflation rate of minus 0.3%. Inflation turning negative was widely predicted, including in my previous comments on the Consumer Price Index. Although not surprising, today’s news has important implications for the debate about further fiscal stimulus. Statistics Canada noted that June 2009 was […]

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Today’s Jobs Report: Less than Meets the Eye

After many months in which tens of thousands of jobs disappeared, the revelation that “only” 7,400 fewer Canadians were working in June may seem like good news. But this relatively small decline in total employment masks more ominous trends. Self-Employment In June, employers eliminated 44,600 paid positions in Canada, but 37,200 more Canadians declared themselves to be self-employed. This development […]

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Canadian Recession: It’s Official

This morning, Statistics Canada revealed the country’s worst-kept secret: the economy contracted for a second consecutive quarter in the first three months of 2009. Adjusted for inflation, Gross Domestic Product dropped by 1.4%. If this trend continued (and compounded) for a year, the Canadian economy would be 5.4% smaller. On the other hand, this decline was not bad enough to […]

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BC’s economy and the Liberal platform

With my oped last week on the NDP platform making me less than popular over at NDP HQ, today the Sun published my take on the Liberals’ platform, thereby guaranteeing that the list of Christmas parties I get invited to dwindles to next to nothing. BC’s Economic Challenges and the Liberal Platform By Marc Lee The BC Liberal platform features […]

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Wage cuts, deflation and the feds

CCPA Executive Director Bruce Campbell coordinated the following letter, published at rabble.ca, from a number of progressive economists (mostly academic and private sector, not from the trade union sector) about the growing risk of deflation in general and the federal government’s attack on auto workers in particular. Government pressure to cut wages will increase the risk of deflation It is […]

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The Output Gap and Fiscal Policy

Media coverage of the Bank of Canada’s much anticipated Monetary Policy Report inevitably focuses on the prospect of “unconventional” measures, such as quantitative and credit easing. But the verbs in today’s headlines – “may use” , “ready to” , “lays out” , “sets stage” – reflect how little was actually announced. The Bank provided three pages explaining quantitative and credit […]

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The G-20 Meeting and Canadian vulnerability facing the global economic crisis

A missive from CCPA Executive Director Bruce Campbell: The G-20 the leaders’ meeting in London on April 2 will be a important test of whether the major nations are up to the challenge of confronting this recession and preventing it from becoming a depression. Will their collective response of monetary, fiscal and financial reform measures be bold enough and sufficiently […]

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The wrong kind of stimulus

I am a big fan of stimulus packages for our ailing economy. But my pitch has been that we need to use the occasion to retrofit our economy to be on a more sustainable footing. So it matters a great deal on what we spend those stimulus dollars. If we launch projects that take us even further away from a […]

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The Big Easy

Having dropped its overnight interest rate to 0.5%, the Bank of England also announced a package of quantitative easing, of some £75 to 150 billion worth: It will create £75bn and use it to buy government bonds (gilts) and corporate debt over the next three months to boost the flow of money in the economy. The Bank has been given […]

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Two Cheers for the Bank of Canada

Kudos to the Bank of Canada for significantly reducing its target interest rate from 1% to 0.5%. A month ago, it took the position that already-announced monetary and fiscal stimulus was sufficient to propel a swift economic recovery later this year. Today, in both word and deed, it acknowledged worsening economic conditions and the need for more stimulus. Why Not […]

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Preparing for the BC Budget

I have an oped in today’s Vancouver Sun, juxtaposed against the Fraser Institute, unfortunately. I’d like to think mine is much more timely and appropriate given the current economic situation (I’ll get to theirs in a subsequent post). BC Needs an Action Plan to Fight a Nasty Recession On February 17 the BC government will table the province’s first recession […]

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Post-Partisan Depression

This afternoon’s news that the American stimulus bill passed without a single Republican vote in the US House of Representatives seems to validate Paul Krugman’s skepticism of bipartisanship. The Democratic effort to compromise with Republicans limited the amount of stimulus spending (as opposed to questionable tax cuts) in the package. If this constrained package proves insufficient, the Republicans will be able […]

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Relentless Self-Promotion: Michael Coren Show

I just returned from the Steelworker Mecca of Hamilton-Burlington, where the Michael Coren Show is taped. It will be broadcast at 8pm tonight through the Crossroads Television System (CTS) on cable in Ontario and Alberta, and on satellite across Canada. Sarah Blackstock of the Income Security Advocacy Centre and I squared off with two Kevins, one from the Canadian Taxpayers […]

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Trading on Thin Ice

It is amazing to see the charged responses to the idea of a made-in-Canada policy for procurement related to infrastructure stimulus spending. Perhaps it is just that all economists are supposed to accept free trade as the One True Policy. But what I am seeing are largely moral arguments for free trade in the abstract rather than an examination of […]

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American Steel

Alarmist media reports on “Buy America” rules for steel used in US public infrastructure projects have emphasized the value of Canadian steel exports allegedly threatened, but have largely ignored the similar value of American steel imported by Canada. In fact, in the most recent month for which data is available (November 2008), Canada bought more steel from the US than […]

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Gender analysis of Budget 2009

From Kathleen Lahey, a Law professor at Queen’s University: Budget  2009: Designed to Leave Women Behind  – Again The big picture:    Women make up slightly more than half the population of Canada, and are directly responsible for caring for the majority of minor children in the country on a day to day basis. The expectation:    As an ‘economic recovery’ and […]

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