Economists’ Manifesto for Productivity

TD Economics has posted this manifesto, penned by Chief Economist Don Drummond, in the belief that it represents a broad consensus among economists on how to raise the rate of productivity growth in Canada. http://www.td.com/economics/special/dd0906_prod.pdf The manifesto – unsurprisingly – closely reflects the mainstream (Bay Street, Department of Finance, OECD) focus on “sound” macro policy, free trade, de-regulation and tax […]

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Unspinning the Swedish elections

OK, so the glee of the right regarding the loss of the Socialists in the Swedish elections on Sunday was getting to me. Even though the new government, The Moderates, won by a squeaker, the end of the Swedish model has been triumphantly splashed across the world’s business pages. But as Peter Lindert has pointed out, the end of the […]

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European employment rates

A short missive from Dean Baker: Old Europe Goes to Work Remember the days when the European welfare state led to economic stagnation and high unemployment? Well, like hula hoops and bobby socks, this story may be a relic of the past. The latest data from the OECD show that employment to population (EPOP) ratios for prime age workers (ages […]

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It’s the crude, dude

Sorry Linda McQuaig, but that was the worst title ever for a book. Still, I could not resist using it, so what does that tell you? Last week, Statistics Canada released a short report, Boom Times: Canada’s crude petroleum industry (summary in the Daily here and full report here). Here is an interesting tidbit from the summary: In total, Canada […]

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Who Benefits from Earned Income Tax Credits?

The last federal Liberal Budget promised to introduce a tax credit to supplement the incomes of the working poor, and this commitment was re-iterated in the first Conservative Budget. The recent Toronto-based task force on Modernizing Income Security for Working Age Adults advocated such a supplement, and this widely-publicized proposal has been taken up by several of the leading federal […]

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The China (and India) Syndrome

Many progressive Canadian economists have noted recently that the share of GDP going to wages and salaries has dropped perilously low, as low as recorded statistics take us back in any event. This article from the Economist, via Mark Thoma’s Economist’s View, points out that this trend is not particular to Canada. They suggest that this is globalization at work, […]

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HRSDC, Low Earnings and the Working Poor

An excellent article on issues facing the working poor in today’s Toronto Star cites a recent study by Human Resources and Social Development Canada in support of the employer counter-point that raising minimum wages would do little to help working poor families. http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/Article_Type1&call_pageid=971358637177&c=Article&cid=1158531020220 Indeed, precisely this point is made in an August, 2006 HRSDC Working Paper “When Working is not […]

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Lies, damned lies and the Olympics

This CP article (published in the Globe and Mail) poo-poos the growing concern that Vancouver’s Olympic Games are coming in at great expense. Specifically, the article questions what projects should be included in the total price tag. The article should come with a warning, however: content written by the wife of former Finance Minister to the Campbell government back when […]

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Olympic costs escalate

Back when Vancouver made its Olympic bid, the boosterism was phenomenal. The games were going to create 244,000 new jobs, $10.7 billion of economic activity, and so on. The BC government, who is on the hook for any cost over-runs, never did do a proper cost-benefit analysis of the games. In fact, they willfully confused costs and benefits by counting […]

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Risk and deregulation

A new report by myself and Bruce Campbell for the CCPA was released today. It’s called Putting Canadians At Risk: How the federal government’s deregulation agenda threatens health and environmental standards. A lengthy title for a rather lengthy publication. In it we take issue with the government’s promotion of “smart regulation”, the current euphemism for deregulation (they discovered that deregulation […]

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The OECD on Canadian Education Performance

An OECD Briefing Note on Canada released with the 2006 “Education at a Glance” Indicators http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/52/1/37392733.pdf shows that we are generally doing very well in a comparative context – high rates of post secondary education completion; good scores on international attainment tests; and relatively equal educational outcomes by social class compared to other countries. However, the report notes stagnation in […]

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Economic risk and the middle class

An interesting discussion is happening over at The American Prospect. Called Debating the Middle it asks “Just how is the middle class faring in the modern American economy, and how should progressives tailor their message and program accordingly?” As in other posts on the US inequality debate, there are some insights and implications to be gleaned for Canada. And while […]

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Sweden and the Future of Social Democracy

This week’s Economist magazine celebrates in advance the widely expected defeat of the Swedish social democrats in imminent national elections. Actually, a close reading of the data in the piece underlines the fact that Sweden’s economic performance has been well above average over the past decade, precisely the period in which one would have expected competitive downward pressures from the […]

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What’s New on the “Fiscal Imbalance”?

The Institute for Research on Public Policy (IRPP) organized a breakfast forum in Ottawa today (September 12), to launch a special issue of Policy Options on the so-called “fiscal imbalance” issue. A moderately decentralist (France St Hillaire) to distinctly pro province/ right of centre (Tom Courchene and Gilles Paquet) panel of economic experts lamented the collapse of provincial unity around […]

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Bob Evans declares “class war”

UBC’s Bob Evans, a national treasure, reviews the data on income inequality as context for the attack on public health insurance in this recent article in Healthcare Policy. The abstract: From World War to Class War: The Rebound of the Rich Incomes in Canada, as in many other countries, are becoming increasingly unequal. In North America this process has several […]

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Recession watch: Baker

Dean Baker looks back to 2001 for a reality check (note: Canada, unlike the US, did not technically have a recession in 2001) about the reliability of most forecasters: Virtually all economists missed the 2001 recession, in most cases not even predicting it until it was almost over. The main reason was that the recession did not follow the usual […]

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Farmers and the Canadian Wheat Board

Having just recently been out to a family farm (one of a dying breed) in Saskatchewan, it is clear that farmers are having a tough time of it these days – those that have not become employees working corporate farms. Squeezed between flat commodity prices and soaring input costs, many small farmers must hold down another full-time job off the […]

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Pondering a Guaranteed Annual Income

Senator Hugh Segal reviews the history and the need for a Guaranteed Annual Income: Canada’s on-again, off-again relationship with a guaranteed annual income (GAI) has made the rounds for many years. The most renowned recommendation for the GAI came out of the 1985 report of the Royal Commission on the Economic Union and Development Prospects for Canada, chaired by Donald […]

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The Legacy of John Kenneth Galbraith

Ralph Nader pays tribute to John Kenneth Galbraith: Challenging the Vested Interests The Legacy of John Kenneth Galbraith By RALPH NADER I first came across the name of John Kenneth Galbraith during my student years at Princeton where I picked up his book American Capitalism. Wondering why it was not on any reading list for my economics course, I put […]

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What the homeless need …

are homes. I find Globe columnist on BC, Gary Mason, obnoxious much of the time, but in this two-column effort to come to grips with Vancouver and Victoria’s growing army of street people, he gets it right. Time to try a home remedy for the homeless … In a groundbreaking study 15 years ago, Prof. Culhane found that 80 per […]

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The US Inequality Debate

Brad DeLong makes the definitive summary of the positions and evidence being put forward about inequality in the US of A. This is the blog-o-sphere at its best: real-time expert debate, in this case among top American economists – and in full public view, contributions welcomed, rather than in a classroom at an academic conference, much less a dated collection […]

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Paging Dr. Day

In the Brian Day vs. Jack Burak fight for the presidency of the Canadian Medical Association, why is Day just described as an advocate for privatized health care, as it this were just a policy matter. Day operates a private clinic in Vancouver, one that was opened, perhaps ironically, during the tenure of the NDP as a way of fast-tracking […]

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The Beauty of the Free Market in Action

by Jim Stanford We all know that private companies are efficient, because they are forced to be by the discipline of the free market. Companies which do not operate efficiently will be driven out of business by those that do. This creative destruction will leave us all better off (abstracting from adjustment costs): higher productivity, cheaper, higher quality products and […]

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The Economics of Wal-Mart

I’ve often wondered why Wal-Mart is so singled out for attack. True, Wal-Mart is anti-union with a vengence. And Wal-Mart sources products from countries, China mostly, that do not necessarily have the best interests of workers top of mind. But say these two problems could be rectified with a sweep of the magic wand: would we still be opposed to […]

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Another Statscan error, a big one

On the front page of today’s Globe and Mail, it was reported that Statistics Canada’s estimates of the Consumer Price Index had been miscalculated by a weany one-tenth of a percentage point since 2001. I know of a more pressing problem with Statscan data, and so do they: conventional surveys are vastly understating the incomes of the poorest Canadians, and […]

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Cheques in the mail

A few weeks ago, the Canada Revenue Agency sent my family our 2006 Canada Child Tax Benefit (CCTB) paperwork. At the time, what struck me was no mention whatsoever of the new Harper government’s “child care” allowance. This seemed a major omission and I wondered if we would have to fill out some more paperwork to get our $100 a […]

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Should Canadians care about poverty?

Writing in the Institute for Research on Public Policy’s Policy Options magazine, York University’s (and PEF member) Dennis Raphael comments on poverty in Canada: In modern industrialized nations such as Canada, poverty is best understood as a barrier to citizens, communities and entire societies reaching their full potential. Living in poverty limits participation in a wide range of cultural, economic, […]

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Stiglitz: Arrested development

Starting with the collapse of the Doha Round, Joseph Stiglitz beats up on US agriculture subsidies that distort world trade and undermine the position of farmers in the South. From The Guardian: The failure hardly comes as a surprise: the United States and the European Union had long ago reneged on the promises they made in 2001 at Doha to […]

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