Oil: Can we give it back?

Every now and then you see a sad story on TV about someone who won the lottery, and then their life went to shit (they gave it all away or lost it gambling, became an alcoholic, etc.).  They invariably say at the end, “I wish I’d never won the lottery.” I kind of feel the same way about oil.  I […]

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A Looming Global Crisis?

Recently in Paris for meetings between the OECD Economic Department and TUAC (the Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD), I found my trade union colleagues concerned about the “downside” risks of an increasingly gloomy economic outlook. The OECD Economics Department believes that there will be a pronounced slowdown in the US – driven by the housing downturn. However, it […]

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TILMA: A solution in search of a problem

Bilateral and multilateral trade negotiations often go hand in hand, with bilaterals able to achieve results that are more liberalizing than could be achieved on a multilateral basis. If the bilateral agreement is among two major players, however, it can be used to pressure others into signing on. The US is using this as its strategy for global trade talks, […]

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Hayek’s role for the state

A fascinating defense of Hayek, in response to Sach’s column (posted here the other day). According to Tim Duy, Hayek was more reasonable than we give him credit for being (thanks to Economist’s View for this one): In Defense of Hayek, by Tim Duy: I feel a need to at least quickly defend Hayek against Jeffery Sachs attacks. Sachs leaves […]

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What if Jack Layton had said that?

Said Prime Minister Harper on the coming Clean Air Act: “This approach will mark a fundamental departure from the approach of the previous government. Canada’s Clean Air Act will allow us to move industry from voluntary compliance to strict regulation. It will replace the current ad-hoc patchwork system with clear, consistent and comprehensive national standards.” Cynicism and all that aside, […]

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Pyramid schemes for kids

I have twice now been invited to join pyramid schemes for my child. The other day we got a letter in the mail from a friend soliciting us to join a “sticker club” (a few months ago, it was a “book club”). Two other children’s names and addresses were on the page, with the instructions that we were to send […]

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IMFlattening the Flat-taxers

A new working paper from the IMF looks at flat taxes and finds they have not lived up to their hype. Thanks to New Economist for posting this one and adding additional commentary. The paper can be found here. The summary: One of the most striking tax developments in recent years, and one that continues to attract considerable attention, is […]

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Softwood capitulation: Epilogue

Ben Parfitt, the CCPA’s BC Resource Policy Analysis reflects on the capitulation we know as the new Softwood Lumber Agreement and what is means for BC, the most affected province. Softwood deal will spur more raw log exports By Ben Parfitt The recent vote in the House of Commons ratifying the softwood lumber agreement with the United States may bring […]

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Business Divided on Industrial Policy?

Challenges Facing the Canadian Manufacturing Sector – Interim Report of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology http://cmte.parl.gc.ca/cmte/CommitteePublication.aspx?COM=10476&Lang=1&SourceId=149639 This short report briefly analyzes some of the dynamics behind the manufacturing crisis, and summarizes policy recommendations presented to date (mainly by business associations.) It reveals some interesting tensions within the “business community.” The key factors behind the […]

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A critical look at microcredit

So why is it that microcredit is as celebrated on the right as the left? wondered someone in the comments to a recent post on Muhammad Yunus, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. Certainly, it has appeal in elite circles because it reinforces the storyline of hard-working people pulling themselves up by their bootstraps through grit and entrepreneurship. Focus on […]

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Happy 60th birthday, CMHC! You’re fired.

Today’s Globe has a story that the feds are contemplating the privatization of CMHC. Let me get this straight. With the run-up in real estate prices, housing affordability is perhaps as bad as it has ever been. In recent years, CMHC has pulled away from supporting the creation of new affordable housing (although it does help support existing social housing […]

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I’m leaving Aeroplan

Aeroplan increases its payouts to its shareholders, I mean “unit holders”, while at the same time sticking it to people who have been loyal in the past. People like my wife, for example, who does not travel much but has been steadily accruing points for some future reward, and in doing so has put up with a lot of crap […]

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Jim Flaherty, meet Jeffrey Sachs

Here are two items that go together well. First, here is the most recent tax cut talk from Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, as quoted by the Globe and Mail:   “I can assure you that our government is by no means finished in our efforts to improve our tax system for the benefit of Canadian families and businesses,” the Conservative […]

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For whom the Nobel tolls (a real one)

Some econo-bloggers have been having fun with the fact that Muhammad Yunus, founder of the Grameen Bank and father of micro-credit, won the Nobel Peace Prize. Yunus, an economist who would not be shortlisted for the (kind of) Nobel Prize in Economics, wins a real one instead. I saw Yunus speak in Ottawa over ten years ago, and he was […]

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Autoworkers and emissions controls

A few posts back, Marc Lee was discussing the Harper government’s sudden discovery of the dangers of global warming.  He mentioned in passing reports that the CAW was opposed to the idea of stronger emissions regulations for vehicles.  In fact the CAW has been in support of the Kyoto process, Canadian efforts to meet its targets, and the principle of […]

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The mother of all externalities

We are still waiting for the Harper government’s proposed “green plan” or “clean air act” despite a big launch in Vancouver the other day. Expectations are being lowered as more details come out. The tough talking rhetoric does not appear to have much substance behind it. According to a CP wire story today based on a draft leaked to environmental […]

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The skinny on METRs

The push for “competitiveness” is often framed around differences in corporate taxation. Our tax rates, it is argued, must be equivalent to or less than those of our competitors so that we can attract the investment we need to increase our standard of living. There is some truth to that in that if our taxes were way out of line […]

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What’s up with income trusts?

Just weeks ago it was Telus that was the biggest ever conversion to an income trust. Now BCE jumps to the top. This mania for income trusts has me wondering how the rash of conversions from corporate entities to income trusts can make good economic sense. Income trusts are clearly a vehicle by which corporate taxes can be avoided, that […]

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Taxing in Scandinavia

Jim Stanford and Stephen Gordon are keeping me busy today. Another missive from Jim Stanford in the Globe prompted this post from Stephen that leads to some interesting points of comparison between the Nordic model and the Canadian status quo: Welfare states can be competitive Jim Stanford sets aside our shared scepticism about the WEF competitiveness rankings to make two […]

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Debating free trade with Korea

The prospect of a free trade deal with South Korea has set off a mini-debate at Stephen Gordon’s Worthwhile Canadian Initiative. Jim Stanford’s column in the Globe prompted this post from Stephen: Mercantilism at the Globe and Mail Courtesy of Jim Stanford: Why the rush to ink more deals? Where free trade is concerned, Canada is getting worse with practice: […]

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Norway to cancel illegitimate debt

Kudos to Norway, already a leader in foreign aid as a share of GDP, for cancelling the bilateral debts of five poor nations. The amount of money is not huge, so one might ask why it has taken this long – the 2000 Jubilee campaign might have been a better time. From the story below, Norway actually seems pretty innocent […]

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For whom the Nobel tolls

The 2006 Nobel Prize in Economics goes to Edmund Phelps. (Technically, this is the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, because Nobel did not actually endow a prize in economics back in 1901; the economics prize was added in 1968.) The essay accompanying the prize can be found here. Below I’ve pasted two differing econo-blog […]

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Homo sapiens vs homo economicus

“We are not acquisitive automatons conditioned always to follow narrow self-interest.” So says the UK’s The Times in an article on “neuro-economics”, a sub-field of economics that bridges psychology and neurology in an attempt to understand human behaviour. Alas, rather than an empirical approach to human behaviour, the economics profession has been willing to make the huge assumption about human […]

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September Job Numbers: Trouble Ahead

Against the backdrop of fears of a slowing economy, today’s job numbers for the month of September are superficially re-assuring. The national unemployment rate is down slightly, from 6.5% to 6.4%, and total employment is up by 16,000. However, the fall in the unemployment rate is partly driven by a decline in the total work-force. Most importantly, there are signs […]

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Single-payer health insurance

Here’s a post from Economist’s View starting with a novel argument against single payer health insurance: that it would hurt innovation. Mark Thoma then rebuts and throws in some Paul Krugman for safe measure. Krugman makes an important point that often we assume that innovation is always a good thing. True, some innovations lead to better health outcomes. Others do […]

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The Globe on drugs (2)

Since it appears to be drug day at RPE, I should mention as a follow-up to a previous post on the National Pharmaceuticals Strategy that I did track down the document in question, a NPS Progress Report,  and that the Globe reporter did indeed misrepresent the estimates of the cost of that program. The Globe stated that the Report “pegs […]

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