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The Progressive Economics Forum: Jason Kenney, TFWs, and Canada’s Services Trade

When he announced the sudden moratorium on new Temporary Foreign Workers (TFW) in the restaurant industry, Employment and Social Development Minister Jason Kenney tried to reconcile this dramatic about-face with his government’s long-standing support for the whole idea of migrant guest-workers. So while strongly criticizing a few particular restaurants for their high-profile “abuses” of the program (even though it was usually hard to see what rules were actually broken), he at the same time mounted an energetic defense of the whole TFW program. (Here’s my Globe and Mail column on the political reasons for Kenney’s reversal.)

Simultaneously supporting (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: What Caused the American Civil War?

One hundred and fifty years ago Americans were fighting a most bloody civil war. There were serious persons then and now that blamed the war on Eli Whitney for his invention of the cotton gin in 1794.

While Whitney’s gin directly reduced the demand for slaves to separate cotton fibre from the seeds, it broke a bottleneck in the production process. It significantly reduced the cost of production of cotton and hence its price. The increase in the demand for cotton led to a dramatic increase in production. This in turn greatly increased the quantity demanded of slaves, particularly at

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The Progressive Economics Forum: The Current Account Deficit

The National Bank have published a very useful and interesting report on the current account deficit, which is now running at about 3% of GDP. They argue that the deficit – largely driven by a huge fall in our manufacturing and wider goods trade balance – has now become structural, and should be cause for much greater concern than is now the case. They also argue that the Canadian dollar is clearly over-valued, and that its rise has been fuelled by large inflows of hot money rather than by the strength of resource exports.

As Arthur Donner has pointed out,

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