Dutch Disease is Dead … Long Live Dutch Disease!!!

In the hyper-polarized context of Canadian energy policy debates, even suggesting that there might be a downside to the untrammeled energy boom centred in northern Alberta is enough to get you labelled a traitor or an economic illiterate — or both.  Conservative political leaders in both Ottawa and Edmonton, backed by energy-friendly think-tanks and the Sun media chain, have tried […]

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Canadians Giving Up on the World of Work

The glaring contrast between employment numbers, and the unemployment rate, was highlighted by today’s labour force numbers from Statistics Canada (capably dissected elsewhere on this blog by Angella MacEwan). Paid employment (ie. employees) declined by 46,000.  Total employment (including self-employment) fell by 22,000.  Yet the unemployment rate fell to 7% — its lowest level since late 2008. Fewer people were […]

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ONA Study on Macroeconomic Side-Effects of Austerity

The Ontario Nurses Association has been publishing some awesome economic analysis over the last couple of years, highlighting the talents of their new economist & PEF member Salimah Valiani.  Apart from a strong analytical & quantitative approach, ONA’s recent research has been very refreshing in the emphasis it has placed on gender analysis and the unique features of caring labour. […]

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Transparency for Unions and other “Little People”

I had a good old-fashioned knock-em-down drag-em-out debate with Ian Lee from Carleton University on CBC’s Power & Politics yesterday re C377. http://www.cbc.ca/player/News/Politics/ID/2318279928/ There were a number of “zingers” from Prof. Lee that are worth considering: • He said “hundreds of thousands” of Ontarians have their salaries listed on the government’s sunshine list (reporting salaries of those who earn over […]

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Nexen & Progress Takeovers Approved: What Next?

The federal government’s announcement on Friday that it is approving two more big oilsands takeovers (by China’s CNOOC and Malaysia’s Petronas, both state-owned suitors) was political tap-dancing at its best.  Prime Minister Harper’s speech listed several reasons why takeovers by foreign state-owned firms are a problem … but then proceeded to approve $21 billion worth of them.  Future takeovers by […]

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FTA’s Assumed Benefits Can’t Be Found

Last month’s over-the-top “celebrations”of the 25th anniversary of Brian Mulroney and Ronald Reagan’s signing of the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement seemed strained, to my mind.  The self-congratulation and back-patting struck me as rather overdone, contrived even.  Remember, this wasn’t the 25th anniversary of the FTA’s implementation (that won’t occur until Jan. 1 2014).  It was only the anniversary of its signing – […]

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Back of the Line Buddy

Posted below is my column from today’s Globe & Mail regarding this nefarious practice of providing “priority lanes” for higher-income customers — even (in the case of airport security screening) for a PUBLIC service that we all pay the same for!  And if you wonder why you get so pissed off when the high-flyer jumps the queue, watch this hilarious […]

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Oil Prices and the Loonie Again

There’s a refreshingly pragmatic and detailed piece in today’s National Post by Peter Spiro questioning the assumed correlation between oil prices and the loonie.  It builds nicely on previous discussion of the “oil price-loonie transmission mechanism” that has occurred here and here. Among other salient points, Mr. Spiro points out that: Canadian petroleum exports have grown, but not that dramatically […]

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Spinning Mr. Carney

For novelty value if nothing else, Mark Carney’s appearance at the CAW convention last week was bound to spark lots of attention.  After all, we could find no other historical example of a Bank of Canada Governor ever speaking to a union convention.  That says something in and of itself, of course.  Central bankers speak to audiences of financial leaders […]

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Fiscal “Crisis” In Context: Two Indicators

With all the predictions of doom and gloom coming from the austerity camp, one would think that Canada was already about to hit the famed (but never seen) “debt wall.”  Before we get too carried away, however, with the scary debt stuff, consider these two indicators of the fundamental fiscal fragility/stability of Canadian governments. The first figure shows the net financial […]

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Canada: Land of Mines and Banks

Just in time for Canada Day, the Globe and Mail’s Report on Business issued its annual Top 1000 rankings of the thousand largest publicly traded companies (by assets) in Canada (ranked by profit).  I blogged about this last year as well.  It’s such an interesting snapshot of Canadian business it’s worth perusing. Once again, this listing reveals the extent to which […]

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U.S. Right-to-Work Thinking Now Infecting Canada

It’s clear we’re going to have to gear up our arguments on right-to-work laws, dues check-off, the Rand Formula, etc. In the last year three mainstream parties have introduced proposals for right-to-work style legal changes in Canada (Brad Wall’s Saskatchewan Party, the Wild Rose Alliance, and now yesterday Tim Hudak’s Ontario PCs).  This used to be terrain solely inhabited by the […]

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Trans Pacific Partnership: A Few Questions

The Harper government currently lists 18 different sets of free trade negotiations “in play.”  (See my recent post on this.)  Today the government announced (from the G-20 meetings in Mexico) the 19th: Canada has been invited to join the Trans Pacific Partnership talks.  The TPP negotiations were initiated several years ago bya number of smaller Pacific countries.  The Obama government […]

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Galbraith Lecture by Mike McCracken

I always come back from the annual CEA/PEF meetings highly energized by the companionship of so many other fine committed PEF members, and our success in engaging with the broader profession.  This past weekend’s meetings in Calgary were no exception.  A highlight, of course, was the 3rd Biennial Galbraith Lecture delivered by Mike McCracken, CEO and Chair of Informetrica, Inc., […]

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Canada’s Own Third World

There’s a fascinating new report from the Centre for the Study of Living Standards that calculates Human Development Index (HDI) scores for all of Canada’s provinces and territories.  Here’s the citation: The Human Development Index in Canada: Estimates for the Canadian Provinces and Territories, 2000-2011, by Elspeth Hazell, Kar-Fai Gee, and Andrew Sharpe (Ottawa: Centre for the Study of Living […]

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Running on Fumes

StatsCan released the first-quarter GDP numbers this morning, and the deafening silence you hear is of champagne corks not popping. Quarterly growth was 0.5% (1.9% annualized): uninspiring but not disastrous.  Erin Weir has aptly pointed out the leading role of government spending cuts in dragging down growth.  Erin noted that government current consumption fell 0.4% in the quarter.  Government investment […]

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Promoting Trade and Signing Free Trade Deals are NOT the Same Thing

DFAIT’s web site currently lists 18 different trade deals currently “in play” (and that doesn’t count the Trans-Pacific Partnership, where Ottawa is so far just flirting). But Harper’s push to sign as many FTAs as possible while he has a majority will not improve Canada’s actual trade, which is deteriorating (both quantitatively and qualitatively) the more FTAs the government signs.  Linked […]

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Energy McCarthyism

The high-and-mighty virtiol which greeted Tom Mulcair’s comments last week about the downside of oil-powered currency appreciation is lamentable (repeating the over-the-top reaction to Dalton McGuinty’s similar comments a few weeks ago).  Mulcair made two modest and empirically substantiated statements: the loonie is sky-high as a result of the oil boom in Alberta’s bitumen sands (I doubt you’d find a […]

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Temporary Foreign Workers and the Labour Market

Further to recent commentary regarding the Harper government’s dramatic expansion of the Temporary Foreign Worker (TWF) program, consider this shocking factoid: Even before the expansion of the program envisioned in the current omnibus “budget” bill, temporary foreign workers (who do not have the same rights as other Canadian workers, and whose presence here depends entirely on keeping their employers happy) […]

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Canada’s Oil: For Sale to the Highest Bidder

Want to know why Canada’s currency is sky-high despite our sluggish recovery, our large and persistent current account deficit, and our lousy export performance? Check out this fascinating story in Friday’s National Post, by Yadullah Hussain, on why Canada’s oil reserves are such a uniquely hot commodity in the eyes of global oil corporations. The story explains how private petroleum […]

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If You Could Change One Thing

I had a great change of pace last week, when I stayed out at the CAW Family Education Centre at Port Elgin to teach a 5-day course on “Economics for Trade Unionists” through the CAW’s Paid Educational Leave program. While I have guest lectured many times at Port Elgin, I have never actually taught a course there, so this was […]

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The Oil Price-Loonie Transmission Mechanism

The most interesting comments from Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney last week, in releasing the Bank’s semi-annual Monetary Policy Report, dealt with the relationship between the price of oil and the Canadian currency.  The Globe and Mail reported Carney as publicly questioning why currency traders automatically presume such a direct link between the loonie and the world oil price.  […]

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