Behind Chile’s political crisis

More than one million people marched in Santiago on October 26 to protest the Government’s security response to Chile’s current political crisis and to demand structural economic reforms to reduce inequality and increase social services. In this post I analyze these grievances from a quantitative perspective and explore what it would take to translate them into policy. This is my […]

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Canadian Political Economy on Staple Thesis

In an impressive overview of the state of Canadian Political Economy, a new book Change and Continuity ed. by Mark P. Thomas et.al. includes two important articles on the continuing relevance of the staple thesis. On the one hand, Jim Stanford’s “Staples Dependence Renewed and Betrayed: Canada’s Twenty-First Century Boom and Best” does just as its title tells because of […]

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Plausible Socialism

After the fall of the Berlin Wall, there was a widespread sense that liberal capitalism had triumphed in the battle of ideas, and that socialism as a plausible alternative was pretty much dead. But the many crises of contemporary capitalism – obscene levels of economic inequality, looming ecological disaster, the rise of the racist and anti democratic populist right, the […]

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Ontario Electricity VII – Committee Testimony

The PC Government in Ontario has introduced Bill 87 which would eliminate the rate-based borrowing to subsidize electricity prices and replace it with Government borrowing. Last week’s Provincial Budget estimates that the required borrowing to subsidize electricity prices for 2018/19 was $2.8 billion. It is likely to exceed $3 billion in 2019/20. Ontario is the only jurisdiction in North America […]

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Populism in the Time of Neoliberalism

The way of the world in recent and present time is the preach and the practice of neoliberalism, of pushing markets to their extremes. The Turkish writer and political analyst Ece Temelkuran in her new book How to Lose a Country: the Seven Steps from Democracy to Dictatorship, draws on her Turkish experience and applies its lesson elsewhere, notably to […]

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Help please!

Can anyone out there help me? Just saw a headline on CNN saying that, in spite of Brexit chaos, unemployment was at an historic low. Likewise in US where in spite of Trump — could it really be because of? — unemployment is also at an historic low. Reminds me that back in the late 1970s there was a G-7 […]

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Technology and Democracy (continued)

Post the Second World War, the US became dominant in the world economy and a shift from coal to oil was deliberately taken by the state to weaken the power of coal-centred industrialization and tie the Middle East into American and European control. Transport of oil by pipeline and tanker created a fluidity that tended to eliminate nodal points where […]

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Technology and Democracy: Contrasting Coal and Oil

The opening sentence of the 2011 book, Carbon Democracy: Political Power in the Age of Oil by the historian Timothy Mitchell, reads “Fossil fuels helped create both the possibility of modern democracy and its limits.” Carbon democracy is “a certain kind of democratic politics.” He observes: “Countries that depend upon petroleum resources for a large part of their earnings from […]

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Possessive Individualism

That’s what the political theorist C.B. Macpherson (1911-1987) saw emerging historically with the rise of capitalism. Frank Cunningham in his just published intellectual biography of Macpherson, The Political Thought of C.B. Macpherson: Contemporary Applications describes possessive individualism as “The individual is proprietor of his own person, for which he owes nothing to society”. That sounds like an apt description of […]

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Abraham Rotstein and the Radical Decade from the mid-sixties to the mid-seventies

Remarks at a posthumous book launch of his Myth, Mind and Religion at Massey College, University of Toronto, October 2018 For more than 50 years, going back to the days of the old Department of Political Economy, Abe was my colleague in teaching and researching economic history and political economy, my intellectual soulmate, and my closest friend. I have many […]

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The New Language of Resource Exploitation: From Staples Dependency to Extraction Empire

“Staples dependency” we know from Innis onwards.  It can mean reliant upon, dependent on, the export of staples, and permits of a staple theory of linkages as economic theory. It can also mean a resource margin of a more developed imperium. Economic theory is infused by the power relations inherent in “dependency” and is transformed into political economy. In the […]

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Rotstein’s Monumental Epitaph

The late Abraham/Abe Rotstein (1929-2015) was an economist of a leftist persuasion, literally a Left Liberal. He left behind an almost completed manuscript which he had been working on for more than three decades. It has now been published.  Its title Myth, Mind and Religion: The Apocalyptic Narrative is indicative of its extraordinary breadth. Problems, possibilities, catastrophes, which compel resolution […]

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Was Innis Wrong?

The question is taken from the title of an article by Nancy Olewiler of Simon Fraser University in the Canadian Journal of Economics (November 2017), which, as it happens, was delivered as the Innis Lecture at the meetings of the Canadian Economics Association in 2017: “Canada’s dependence on natural capital wealth: Was Innis wrong?”  Her answer: she writes “Literature and […]

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The Bank of Canada should target full employment: 61 economists

On May 28th, 61 Canadian economists (myself included) signed the following letter urging the federal government to instruct the Bank of Canada to consider full employment and not only inflation when conducting interest rate decisions.  It was through the great organization of Mario Seccareccia that this was made possible and has received reviews by several media commentators, notably Barrie McKenna and Neil […]

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Winner of the 2018 Galbraith Prize in Economics: Jim Stanford

The Progressive Economics Forum is pleased to announce Jim Stanford as the winner of the 2018 Galbraith Prize in Economics. The selection committee included Fletcher Baragar (Manitoba), Hassan Bougrine (Laurentian), Toby Sanger (Canadian Union of Public Employees), Christine Saulnier (CCPA-NS) and Kevin Young (University of Massachusetts at Amherst), and was chaired by David Pringle (PEF). Jim has accepted the Prize […]

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A Tale of Two Books

Just published is Volume I of an exhaustive – occasionally exhausting – biography of Paul Samuelson. It’s titled Founder of Modern Economics: Paul A Samuelson Vol I: Becoming Samuelson, 1915-1948 and authored by Roger E Backhouse. The two books of my blog title are Foundations of Economic Analysis, published in 1947, a revision of Samuelson’s Harvard doctoral dissertation, in which he unearthed the mathematical scaffolding […]

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Media release: Alberta needs a provincial sales tax

(March 20, 2018-Edmonton) Today, a coalition of researchers, economists, and members of civil society released an alternative budget to boost Alberta’s economic growth while reducing income inequality. “Alberta is on the road to recovery after a deep recession,” said economist Nick Falvo, “now is not the time to reverse the course.” The document, High Stakes, Clear Choices, sets a progressive […]

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Toward a Better World

That is the well chosen title of a marvelous new book by Gerry Helleiner,  sub-titled Memoirs of a Life in International and Development Economics. Helleiner, from his home base at the University of Toronto, tells us in this most readable book, in his own modest way, the stories, notably from Africa, of how he devoted his life as an economist to […]

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Ontario’s Electricity Sector IV: Pre-Election Update

My first, second and third posts on the Ontario electricity sector described how policy and administrative decisions by different Liberal Governments gave rise to excess electricity generation with an inflated cost structure, leading to higher electricity prices. In anticipation of June 2018 elections, the Liberal Government recently implemented a costly and first-in-Canada financial scheme to fund its “Fair Hydro Plan” […]

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Update on Jimbo’s Minimum Wage Wager

It’s been over a week now since I challenged the authors of 5 business-friendly economic reports to a friendly wager over the future trajectory of employment in provinces that are raising their minimum wage to $15 per hour.  The challenge was issued in my Globe and Mail column of October 3. I was responding to the several business groups and […]

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A Post-Keynesian Summer School – TORONTO – June 23-25, 2017

The Review of Keynesian Economics and the Progressive Economic Forum are sponsoring a “Post-Keynesian Summer School”, to be held on the campus of the University of Toronto, June 23-25, 2017, and featuring leading post-Keynesian scholars from Canada, the US, and Europe. The summer school is aims at both undergraduate and graduate students, and registration is only $25 US per person, […]

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POST-KEYNESIAN SUMMER SCHOOL – Toronto – June 23-25, 2017

The Review of Keynesian Economics (ROKE) and the Progressive Economic Forum (PEF) are hosting a: “Post-Keynesian Summer School”, on the campus of the University of Toronto, June 23-25, 2017. Over 2 and a half days, the summer school will introduce students to post-Keynesian economics, both theory and policy, and will feature some of the biggest names in post-Keynesian economics.  Registration […]

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A Critical Take on Staples

Almost a century ago W.A. Mackintosh and Harold Innis created the staple approach to Canadian studies which came to be the core of “Canadian political economy.” Post World War II the staple approach was revised and rejuvenated, and became the core of what was now called “the New Canadian Political Economy.” There have always been doubters about the efficacy of […]

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Brexit and Neoliberalism

In the end, what was meant to be a referendum about the economic benefits of remaining in the European Union, was about everything but. There will be countless analyses of the results and of the reasons that motivated the British people to vote to leave the European Union. But in the end, I fear that very few of these analyses […]

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Litinerance au Canada: Sa croissance, les reponses politiques, et le plaidoyer

Le 1er février, j’ai fait une conférence sur l’itinérance adressée aux étudiants du séminaire d’études supérieures de monsieur Steve Pomeroy à la School of Public Policy and Administration à l’Université Carleton. Le thème de ma présentation a été l’émergence de l’itinérance au Canada en tant que domaine politique publique pressant dans les années 1980. J’ai parlé la croissance de l’itinérance, […]

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W. A. Mackintosh: Great Canadian Economist of the 20th Century

There were two great Canadian economists of the last century: H.A. Innis and W.A. Mackintosh. Innis had been much written about but not Mackintosh. This is now corrected by a thoroughly researched biography by Hugh Grant of the University of Winnipeg with the straightforward title W.A. Mackintosh: The Life of a Canadian economist. Mackintosh was both a distinguished scholar and […]

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