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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BC’s poverty amidst plenty

My latest column for The Tyee: Without any fanfare a report popped up on the web site of Human Resources and Social Development Canada this past month. No press release, no communications strategy at all. Just another statistical report on poverty in a society that thinks of itself as middle class. But this is not just another statistical report on […]

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Shaking the Invisible Hand

Browsing at a used book store in Vancouver, I picked up some classics on the cheap. Someone must have dumped their economics books, thinking them passe. I’m keen to revisit those classics – the more I learn, the more I get out of them. So I got a 1964 edition of Keynes’s General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, Robert […]

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Canadian R&D spending is weak

Today’s Daily from Statscan points to a new short review of Canadian R&D spending, 2002 to 2006. They report: Spending on industrial research and development (R&D) will edge up this year, according to reported intentions. Canadian companies will spend an estimated $14.9 billion on R&D, up 1.3% from the preliminary figure for 2005. Manufacturers will spend an estimated $8.3 billion, […]

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The R Word

That sinking feeling is coming on. The US economy is slowing and several well-respected economists have made their call. Leading off, Paul Krugman: The key point is that the forces that caused a recession five years ago never went away. Business spending hasn’t really recovered from the slump it went into after the technology bubble burst… Also, the trade deficit […]

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Latin America watch

Mark Weisbrot of the Washington, DC-based Center for Economic and Policy Research looks to recent political developments in Latin America, and sees the end of an era of neoliberal policies. His article, forthcoming in the International Journal of Health Services, begins: The changes that have taken place in Latin America in recent years are part of an epoch-making transformation. To […]

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The World Upside Down

by Jim Stanford I’ve now been in Melbourne Australia for one month of my 12-month sabbattical. It’s always interesting for an economist to live somewhere else and compare the micro-minutae of life. It’s a sure-fire way to drive your travelling partners nuts. Here are my main impressions of economic life on the bottom side of the planet so far: 1. […]

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Defending Sweden

The Globe and Mail’s Neil Reynolds does a hatchet job on Sweden. Alas, conservatives have called for the end of the Swedish welfare state for a long time, and this smear job may postpone the day that Canadians start looking at Sweden as a model we may want to emulate. Truth be told, I have never been to Sweden (though […]

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Fear of Sharing

All of this equalization talk has Preston Manning worried. While Alberta Premier Ralph Klein would have just told the rest of us to keep our grubby hands off Alberta’s wealth, Manning and his co-author Fred Kerr take 1200 words to explain to us that Alberta is already sharing as much as it can. Let’s take a walk though their oped […]

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Adam Smith the anti-poverty activist

Princeton economist Alan Kreuger provides another take on the “Adam Smith did not wear the Adam Smith necktie” theme, from a 2001 New York Times column, that reviews “Economic Sentiments: Adam Smith, Condorcet and the Enlightenment” (Harvard University Press) by Emma Rothschild, director of the Center for History and Economics at King’s College, Cambridge: Emma Rothschild … argues that Smith […]

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Lots of kindling

Are we headed towards a recession in 2007? Housing markets have begun to turn, interest rates are back where they were pre-9/11 and oil is near $80 a barrel. Nouriel Roubini puts the risk of a US recession at 50% for 2007. I like this approach – no one can predict the future so we must think ahead in terms […]

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