Why Can’t We Afford What We Used to Have?

In this age of  austerity, we are constantly told by governments that we have to tighten our belts. Tuition fees have to go up; public pensions, Unemployment Insurance and social assistance benefits have to be cut; universal public health care is no longer affordable, and so on ad nauseam. But, as my friend Peter Puxley recently reminded me,  it is […]

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The Big Banks’ Big Secret

The CCPA today released my report: “The Big Banks Big Secret” which provides the first public estimates of the emergency funds taken by Canadian banks.  The report bases its estimates on publicly available data from CMHC, the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions, US Federal Reserve, the Bank of Canada, as well as quarterly reports from the banks themselves. […]

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Who’s a bigger drag on Canada’s future? The old or the young?

This is my latest column for Canadian Business magazine.  Giorgio, a hard-working, smart-as-a-whip University of Toronto student, asked me a great question after a recent guest lecture: What if the biggest challenge facing Canadian businesses and governments in the coming years isn’t an aging society but the economic and fiscal drag of hundreds of thousands of young people who can’t […]

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Globaloney

So recent is the word “globalization” that, if you consult the revised 1978 edition of The New Political Dictionary: The Definitive Guide to the New Language of Politics by the eminent neo-conservative writer William Safire, you will not find it. Instead you will find “Globaloney,” a term used in the early 1940s to riducule the progressive foreign policy proposals of […]

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Marc’s Conflict of Interest Disclosure

On January 5th, 2012, the American Economics Association adopted new guidelines for the disclosure of potential conflicts of interests by economists. Please find my disclosure information below (thanks to Andrew Leach for turning the AEA guidelines into a template, which I have used as the basis for my own). Employment: I have been employed with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives as […]

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Globalization, Literally Speaking

What is this thing called “globalization?” To be absolutely precise, it’s the word that took over discourse about the global economy and pretty much everything else for what seemed like an eternity but, in fact, labelled a phenomenon that lasted only for a single decade, that of the 1990s, from the end of the Cold War to 9/11. It’s the […]

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Families, Time and Well-Being

Inequality of well-being among families with children is increasing at an even faster rate than income inequality, according to a new study by Peter Burton and Shelley Phipps, “Families, Time, and Well-Being in Canada”. They find that total family working hours have increased for most families, but not for those at the top of the income spectrum who have been […]

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Are the 1% just lucky?

I expect some folks who oppose the Occupy movement will weigh in on merit – that the top 1% are deserving of their riches because they include people who pay a lot of wages and salaries for ordinary folk. That is, the story of hard-working, risk-taking entrepreneurs who should not be punished for being successful. I don’t really have any […]

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Wageless recovery and the politics of austerity

The UNTCAD just published its annual report on Trade and Development, titled Post-crisis Policy Challenges in the World Economy. The report describes a two speed global recovery, showing how developing economies have come out of the crisis stronger then their developed European and American counterparts. There the author invokes the contradictory forces at work in a “wageless” recovery, where wage […]

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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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The Economics of Terroir

For the wine lovers among us progressive economists, which definitely includes me, this NBER paper offers up a, well, sobering argument. “We examine the value of terroir, which refers to the special characteristics of a place that impart unique qualities to the wine produced. We do this by conducting a hedonic analysis of vineyard sales in the Willamette Valley of […]

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Climbing Down the Value Ladder

There’s a shockingly honest and accurate article about Canada’s deteriorating trade performance in today’s Globe and Mail by Barrie McKenna. It notes that Canada’s trade balance improved dramatically in November (almost completely closing October’s $1.5 billion).  However, it cited some Bay Street economists lamenting that this was for the “wrong reasons”: namely, a sharp slowdown in Canadian spending and hence […]

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Jobs Recovery?

The Update of Economic and Fiscal Projections released today is fairly upbeat on the recovery in the job market, noting that “all of the jobs lost during the recession have now been recouped.” Well yes, but  that still leaves us down  211,000  permanent full-time employee positions, with all of the net job creation over teh past year or so having […]

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Work and Labour in Canada

CSPI have just published the second edition of my book, Work and Labour in Canada: Critical Issues. While this is written mainly as a text for university level courses, others may find it useful as a resource on a wide range of labour market issues and trends, including the role of unions. The book can be ordered from CSPI or […]

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Is Our Pension System Really Working?

Further to my earlier post on the Mintz report on pensions http://www.progressive-economics.ca/2009/12/20/the-mintz-report-and-the-pensions-debate/ Statistics Canada have released the major study on income replacement rates in retirement by Yuri Ostrovsky and Grant Schellenberg which was cited at some length by Mintz. http://cansim2.statcan.gc.ca/cgi-win/cnsmcgi.pgm?Lang=E&AS_Abst=11F0019M2009321&ResultTemplate=/Stu-Etu/Anal_RchAbst The study looks at the incomes of retirees in their early 70s in 2006 in relation to their earnings some […]

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Financial Boom and Bust … In Cartoons!

I want to share with everyone a new CAW resource that was produced for our Constitutional Convention (which took place last month in Quebec City). It’s a 4-page cartoon book explaining the core dynamics of financial cycles, that was illustrated and deesigned by Tony Biddle — the awesome Toronto political cartoonist who also illustrated Economics for Everyone. The cartoon book […]

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Is the Great Recession Really Over?

I normally hesitate to make short term economic prognostications and the Bank of Canada could indeed be right that growth might tip over the cusp from negative to positive in the third quarter as the first sign of a “nascent recovery” from the Great Recession.  As many have noted, including Jim on the National on Thursday night,  a mildly positive […]

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Financialization and the Financial Crisis

Eric Pineault is the designated hitter on the topic of financialization but I thought I might make a small contribution to get the discussion rolling. I’ve been reading Galbraith’s The Predator State — see a review here — and it got me to thinking just how little our federal government — and governments elsewhere — has done to radically change […]

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The Financial Crisis: You Should Have Known Better

Ian Brown has a wonderful column in today’s Globe which rightfully suggests that maybe, just maybe, people should be a little upset about all the false promises of endless prosperity and perfect social harmony that were made in the leadup to the current economic and financial crisis.  Maybe, just maybe, the “system” must bear some responsibility for this collapse. But […]

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Canada’s Beggar-Thy-Neighbour Economists

It has come to my attention that some economists claim that our sovereign federal government is more or less powerless to kickstart the economy because of our great dependence on the United States and therefore should do next to nothing: “Mr. Orr and other economists urged Ottawa to ignore pleas to boost stimulus spending further – a move that would […]

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Dangers of Wage Deflation

I’ve just read an excellent paper “From Financial Crisis to Depression and Deflation” by Hansjorg Herr of the Berlin School of Economics, circulated by the Global Union Research Network (but not yet posted to their web site.) Herr argues that demand deflation is inevitable in a downturn like the one we are in, but this becomes really dangerous for the […]

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2008: The Year in a Picture

We are on the edge of disaster without being able to situate it in the future: it is rather always already past. Maurice Blanchot.   Over the last month, I admittedly got so caught up in the rhetorical swirl of the coming disaster that I woke up December 1st expecting statistical confirmation that Canada slipped into recession in 2008 only to […]

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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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Bail-out to where?

The 110 page U.S. Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 is certainly better than Paulson’s original 3 page proposal, but it falls so far short of what is needed that I wonder whether it will do more harm than good.   Despite its growth in size, it is still little more than a bail-out-come-swap financing deal for the  financial sector.  The question […]

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