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Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Jordan Brennan discusses the utter failure of past trade agreements to live up to their promises, making it all the more unclear why we should be prepared to accept a new wave of even more inflexible restrictions against democratic decision-making. The trade and investment liberalization regime led to rapid and relentless restructuring of North American corporate ownership by opening the door to the two largest merger waves in Canadian history. On the world stage, these merger waves led to higher levels of Canadian corporate ownership abroad. Domestically, heightened amalgamation activity created larger Canadian-based (Read more…)

PostArctica: Cold Casseroles

A small group of hearty folks showed up tonight despite the cold and threat of rain. Every Thursday night at 7 until further notice. Quebecers protesting austerity.

General event facebook page.

Verdun facebook page.

Political Eh-conomy: Budget 2015: A tale of austerity past, present and future

I’ve been banging the drum of “slow-motion austerity” for a while and little in the 2015 federal budget suggests any change from the pattern of death by a thousand cuts. This budget is another is a series of unspectacular austerity budgets. Taken together, however, the cuts rapidly add up and budgets become more remarkable for the tenacity with they’ve made us pay to get to the present.

A long-term view focused on austerity is very different from much of the mainstream coverage of the budget with a tawdry focus on “goodies” for this group or that. While the media should be (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: ROCHON on 2015 budget: Conservatives making a mockery of working Canadians

CONSERVATIVES MAKING A MOCKERY OF WORKING CANADIANS

Louis-Philippe Rochon

Associate Professor of Economics, Laurentian University

Co-Editor, Review of Keynesian Economics

 

Today, with great fanfare, Minister of Finance, Joe Oliver, tabled his much-delayed budget in the House of Commons. Despite the government’s best effort to confuse Canadians with tales of terrorism, the economy and job creation remains by far the single most important issue facing hard-working Canadians. Unfortunately, this budget, full of accounting tricks, will do very little to revive Canada’s moribund economy, and it contains far less in terms of good news for working Canadians.

In fact, Mr. Oliver, (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: ROCHON on the IMF and labour market deregulations

LABOUR MARKET DEREGULATIONS NOT WORKING: IMF

See original CBC column here.

Recent — and potentially watershed — International Monetary Fund (IMF) documents have cast doubt on the merits of labour market deregulation of the last three decades, with important consequences for Canada. But will anyone listen?

The last 30 years have not been kind to economic growth and wealth creation.

The economic “successes” of the neo-liberal era, from roughly 1980 to 2007, pale in comparison to the three decades that followed the Second World War with respect to almost every economic variable imaginable.

One of the core arguments of the neo-liberal era, adopted at one time by the (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Paul Krugman laments how faith-based economics which value unmeasurable market confidence over any meaningful outcome continue to form the basis for disastrous austerity policies around the world.

- Bill Curry reports on the PBO’s latest study showing that the only reason the Cons are in a position to brag about a nominally balanced budget is their continued siphoning off of EI premiums which are supposed to be for the benefit of the many workers who have lost their jobs. And Andrew Jackson puts the Cons’ miserable jobs record in context.

- Meanwhile, (Read more…)

Political Eh-conomy: The Conservatives’ balanced budget legislation: Silly economics, smart politics

I wrote up the Conservatives’ new balanced budget law for Ricochet. In short, the law is really silly in terms of economics, but simply pointing out its economic stupidity is not enough, because the whole point is to shift the political consensus. Politically, it’s not that dumb. So rather than play games about who cut better and balanced budgets faster as many are doing, we need to look at the balance of economic power that drives these moves. The full piece is below:

The Conservative government’s balanced budget legislation is a classic attempt to shift the boundaries of acceptable public (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- PressProgress documents how the Cons are driving Canada’s economy into the ditch. And Michael Babad reports that economists with a better grounding in reality than Stephen Harper are begging the provinces not to impose the austerity demanded by the Cons.

- Kara Santokie writes that if the Cons’ balanced-budget legislation has any effect at all, it will be to attack Canada’s social programs when they’re needed most. And Louis-Philippe Rochon sees the false balance bill as standing out even among the Cons’ bad ideas.

- Dylan Matthews questions whether workers present and (Read more…)

Parchment in the Fire: New IMF research: No evidence that labour market deregulation increases growth

New IMF research: No evidence that labour market deregulation increases growth.

Filed under: Austerity Tagged: Labor Market reform, neoliberalism

The Progressive Economics Forum: ROCHON on balanced budgets

Balanced budget legislation will be disastrous for Canada

Louis-Philippe Rochon

Associate Professor of Economics, Laurentian University

Co-Editor, Review of Keynesian Economics

Twitter @LPROCHON

 

Finance Minister Joe Oliver’s latest muses about introducing balanced budget legislation is the worst policy for Canada, and will doom us to European-style crises and rob future generations of prosperity.

While the details of the specific plan are not yet available, the very idea of forcing governments in good or bad times to have a balanced budget is one of the worst economic ideas this government has had in its 9 years in office. To wit, (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Alison picks up on Armine Yalnizyan’s important question as to whether the Cons have a Plan B other than hoping for factors beyond our control to boost oil prices. And Brad Delong argues that based on the foreseeable direction of our economy, we need a stronger public sector now than we’ve ever had before: (A)s we move into the twenty-first century, the commodities we will be producing are becoming less rival, less excludible, more subject to adverse selection and moral hazard, and more subject to myopia and other behavioral-psychological market failures.

The (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: ROCHON on the upcoming federal budget (April 2015)

THE FEDERAL BUDGET AND CANADA’S ANNUS HORRIBILIS

See Original post here for the CBC.

Canada’s Finance Minister Joe Oliver announced a new – and long overdue – federal budget for April 21. With the Canadian economy doing so badly, this budget will be crucial.

Will the minister do the right thing and give Canadians a budget that will stimulate the economy? Or will he continue with the government’s obsession of balancing the budget and further doom the Canadian economy to a recession?

The facts about the Canadian economy are not encouraging: increasing unemployment (a real unemployment rate of nine per (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Dean Baker reminds us that we shouldn’t let ourselves get distracted from the serious problems with inequality when defenders of the status quo try to change the subject to mobility: (M)any of the policies that would most obviously promote equality also promote growth. For example, a Fed policy committed to high employment, even at the risk of somewhat higher rates of inflation, would lead to stronger wage growth at the middle and bottom of the wage ladder, while also likely leading to more investment and growth.…It is also important to remember that (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content for your long weekend reading.

- Jim Buchanan comments on the mountain of inequality looming over all of our political choices. Laurie Posner interviews Paul Gorski about the need for a vocabulary which accurately portrays inequality as the result of social conditions rather than merit or culture. And Robert Reich notes that if anybody can accurately be classified as having done nothing to earn a living, it’s the idle rich: In reality, a large and growing share of the nation’s poor work full time — sometimes sixty or more hours a week – yet still don’t earn enough (Read more…)

Political Eh-conomy: Podcast: The roots of the Greece crisis in European integration and what this means for the future

https://politicalehconomy.files.wordpress.com/2015/04/podcast150402-europe.mp3

 

As the simmering crisis between Greece and the institutions formerly known as the Troika heats up again, it’s a good time to look once more at the roots of the European crisis and what they mean for the possibilities open before Syriza at the present juncture. Greece is being squeezed by Europe: it’s cash is about to run out, they’ve been limited from raising new funds on bond markets and are being asked for ever greater concessions in terms of the reforms. Indeed, the red lines for compromise are right under Syriza’s feet and it’s (Read more…)

Political Eh-conomy: Transfers, taxes and who pays for austerity

The question of who pays for austerity and how is an enormous one. Promoters of austerity often claim that cuts to universal services are fine if they’re offset by transfers to those who can’t pay for newly-marketized services. The same goes for expanding services – why give everyone childcare if you could just give those at the bottom the money to pay for it the same as those who can afford it?

There are many arguments for why services should be public and universal that do not simply rely on whether everyone is able to pay for them privately. However, (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Simon Wren-Lewis connects the UK’s counterproductive austerity program to the lack of any wage growth. And Gary Lamphier observes that Alberta is serving as a case in point that jobs generated through public policy rigged in favour of the wealthy are no less precarious than any other type, while Erin Anderssen comments on the connection between public-sector work and greater wage equality.

- Adam Liptak writes that the First Amendment’s protection for speech – like so many other rights which have been redefined to suit the powerful – is now serving primarily (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: On value assessments

The Great Budget Debate at the Progress Summit of course reflected a thorough clash in values. But there was one note of obvious agreement which makes the conservative position untenable once its implications are drawn out.

All four speakers spent plenty of time talking about the fact that some investments are worthwhile, and acknowledging that the role of government includes assessing which ones justify the use of public money. But Monte Solberg in particular neatly demonstrated how anti-government bias undermines any attempt to carry out that task.

Solberg spent plenty of time on the Cons’ usual jurisdictional dodges, arguing at (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- David Vognar argues that we should push for a guaranteed annual income not only as a matter of social equity, but also as a means of building human capital.

- Mike Benusic, Chantel Lutchman, Najib Safieddine and Andrew Pinto make the case for stronger sick leave policies across Canadian workplaces: Canada’s current sick leave policies are not supporting the health of individuals and communities. First, employees are forced to choose between staying home when ill (losing income and potentially placing their job at risk) or to go to work (worsening their health (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: ROCHON on: A tale of two economies? Making sense of recent US and Canadian labour market data

Louis-Philippe ROCHON

Associate Professor, Laurentian University

Co-Editor, Review of Keynesian Economics

Follow him on Twitter @Lprochon

 

With data on the performance of Canada’s labour market released today, many economists and pundits on both sides of the 49th parallel are arguing that what seems to be emerging is two very clear and different paths for the US and Canadian economies. But that interpretation is not exactly correct.

Indeed, the US economy seems to be outperforming expectations, according to labour market data released last week, according to which the labour market is showing continued strong signs of life. In February (Read more…)

Parchment in the Fire: Greece: Phase Two | Jacobin

Very interesting interview with Syriza MP and SOAS Professor of Political Economy Costas Lapavitsas.

Greece: Phase Two | Jacobin.

Much — too much — has been written in a journalistic, superficial vein about Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis and last month’s negotiations with the European Union. But now that the lines have hardened and are clearer for us all to see, a new situation has opened up.

 

The scenario of Greece leaving the eurozone (“Grexit”) is more frequently and explicitly posed as the only way that Syriza’s government can avoid backtracking on its campaign promises.

 

To discuss this question (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: Deficit Déjà Voodoo again in New Brunswick

The Fredericton Daily Gleaner published an op-ed I wrote about how the province doesn’t have a structural deficit, despite the government claiming it does. The commentary piece is behind a pay wall so I’ve copied it below.

Last month, CUPE New Brunswick also published a paper I wrote on this issue, Deficit Déjà Voodoo: is New Brunswick really headed off the fiscal cliff? It and a presentation I gave, another blog post and other background material are also available through this post.

——————————————-

Want to know a secret? There is no structural deficit

By Toby Sanger

The New (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Following up on last week’s column, Frances Ryan laments the UK Conservatives’ choice to inflict needless suffering on anybody receiving public benefits: During seven weeks of undercover work at a universal credit contact centre in Bolton, Channel 4 journalists witnessed a farcical mess of centralised IT failure. But what really stood out were the underhand tactics DWP staff were found to use against claimants: from deliberately withholding hardship payments from people struggling after having their benefits sanctioned, to hiding the flexible fund put in place to pay for clothes or a (Read more…)

Parchment in the Fire: Contesting Capitalism in the Eurozone

In light of the new Syriza government’s difficult struggle against the German dominated institutions of the Eurozone, I’ve revisited a little known book published ten years ago by political scientist Richard Dunphy called Contesting Capitalism? Left Parties and European Integration (Manchester University Press, 2004). In the book, Dunphy charts out the trajectory of the European Far Left’s relationship to European integration. While at the time the book seemed to fly under the radar (this was just before the French and French rejection of the Lisbon Treaty in 2005 and the rapid accession of a number of new member states in (Read more…)

The Disaffected Lib: Deadlier Than Putin’s Missiles. The IMF Pays Ukraine a Visit.

The International Monetary Fund has worked its magic on Ukraine.  The carrot is about $17-billion in bailout funding.  The stick is the market price of natural gas. Soon the democracy-loving Ukrainians will see their gas bills soar nearly threefold.

While Kiev will have to help poorer families pay for pricier gas, the cost of that assistance pales in comparison with what artificially cheap local gas cost the government. The IMFestimated in 2012 that cheap gas cost Ukraine about 5 percent of its prewar GDP per year. Bringing gas tariffs back to something resembling market prices will also curb energy (Read more…)