During the 2013 BC election, Liberals talked frequently of “Debt-Free B.C.” The party platform included this:
No conscious person will be surprised when I state the performance has fallen short of the promise. It’s a liberal shortage. Consider the actual numbers versus the promise displayed above:
Liberals and their allies from the world of crony-capitalism claim the government party provides superior financial management. That may well be true for those in the business of extracting metals, minerals and fossil fuels, selling electricity to the province at multiples of its market value or running consulting and public relations operations. (Read more…) . . . → Read More: Northern Insight / Perceptivity: Performance short of promise
Over at Ricochet, I’ve transcribed my podcast interview with Yanis Varoufakis, economist and Syriza candidate in tomorrow’s Greek elections. With Syriza looking to get the most votes and possibly an outright parliamentary majority, I asked Yanis about the Greek economy, Syriza’s economic plans, his views on what these mean for Europe and how we can expect Greece to take its place in Europe come Monday. Here is the interview in full.
Michal Rozworski: I know this is an enormous topic but what is the current economic situation on the eve of the elections in Greece? Can you give a kind of snapshot?
Yanis (Read more…)
Growth in long-term debt at #BCHydro. #bcpoli pic.twitter.com/27grtfWv7g
— Norm Farrell (@Norm_Farrell) January 22, 2015
In addition to growth in long-term debt, #bchydro obliged to pay over $50 billion for private energy. #bcpoli pic.twitter.com/s79ILT3HUT
— Norm Farrell (@Norm_Farrell) January 22, 2015
Are you unhappy with rapidly increasing electricity rates and the general state of BC Hydro finances? Are you looking for the party responsible? Well, the Vancouver Sun has the answer. It’s a person named Clark, but not the one presently in the Premier’s office.
Vaughn Palmer thinks readers should be reminded of past NDP sins so he offers Gordon Campbell’s words from 2001: “Under the New Democratic Party, BC Hydro has been viewed as little more than a cash cow for the government,” declared Opposition leader and soon-to-be premier Gordon Campbell on the eve of the 2001 election campaign.
“Since (Read more…)
This and that for your weekend reading.
- Robert Ferdman reports on a Pew Research poll showing that wealthier Americans are downright resentful toward the poor – and think the people with the most difficult lives actually have it too easy: (T)he prevalence of the view might reflect an inability to understand the plight of those who have no choice but to seek help from the government. A quarter of the country, after all, feels that the leading reason for inequality in America is that the poor don’t work hard enough.
But as my colleague Christopher Ingraham pointed out last (Read more…)
This and that for your Sunday reading.
- Kevin Page points out a few of the issues which should be on the table when Canada’s finance ministers meet next week: Our finance ministers are smart. They know that faster growth is going to require higher investment rates and sustainable public finances. But the reality is that Canada is falling down on capital investments in both the private and public sectors. Business capital investment has grown a weak 2 per cent over the past two years. That is not boosting the investment rate. Meanwhile, government capital investment has declined 2 per (Read more…)
Assorted content for your Sunday reading.
- James Meek writes about the UK’s privatization scam, and how it’s resulted in citizens paying far more for the basic services which are better provided by a government which actually has the public interest within its mandate: Privatisation failed to demonstrate the case made by the privatisers that private companies are always more competent than state-owned ones – that private bosses, chasing the carrot of bonuses and dodging the stick of bankruptcy, will always do better than their state-employed counterparts. Through euphemisms such as “wealth creation” and “enjoying the rewards of success” Thatcher (Read more…)
When writing about her adopted home of Ontario in Roughing it in the Bush, settler Susanna Moodie recalls penning a letter to Lieutenant-Governor Sir George Arthur requesting that he continue her husband’s service in the militia in the aftermath of the Upper Canada Rebellion, so that the family could pay off their debts. Debt was […]
When Liberals formed British Columbia’s government in 2001, they had a commitment to manage provincial finances responsibly. The result: program cuts, reduced capital spending and lower costs of administration. Fiscal conservatism was the BC Liberal mantra and provincial debt reflected the style. In Gordon Campbell’s first term, debt rose by $577 million.
However, parsimony discourages existing friends and wins few new ones. As the end of the second Liberal term came into view, the commitment to fiscal conservatism altered. It didn’t merely soften; it dissolved.
The outflow of public cash was suddenly unrestrained. In the last four years, debt increased (Read more…)
This and that to end your weekend.
- PressProgress takes a look at the OECD’s long-term economic projections – which feature a combination of increasing inequality and slow growth across the developed world, with Canada do worse than almost anybody else on the inequality front unless we see a shift toward more progressive policies when it comes to unions, employment protections and fair taxes.
- Meanwhile, Derek Leahy discusses how much we have to lose by relying on the tar sands as our sole economic engine.
- David Cay Johnston points out that several of the largest forms of consumer (Read more…)
Assorted content to end your week.
- Simon Enoch discusses the costs of turning over a profitable system of public liquor stores to corporate control – as Brad Wall has finally admitted to wanting to do: A privatized liquor market is very likely to evolve into an ‘oligopoly’, where only a few corporations dominate and are able to exert monopoly-like power. Local, independent liquor retailers would likely find it difficult to compete. An oligopoly would have the supposed disadvantages of a monopoly, high prices and restricted supply, but lack the major advantage of public ownership, profits that flow in to (Read more…)
Jim Prentice and Wildrose champion Rob Anderson square off in Round 1, as members of the Calgary Chamber of Commerce look on. Actual scenes from Alberta political discourse may not appear exactly as illustrated. Judge Dave gives Round 1 to Mr. Prentice. Below: The real Mr. Prentice and the real Mr. Anderson.
Well, it’s hard to know for sure, but I’d say the first open policy scrap between Jim Prentice, Progressive Conservative Premier Apparent of Alberta, and the Wildrose Opposition yesterday morning went to Mr. Prentice.
Leastways, by most accounts Mr. Prentice managed to sound like a grownup when he (Read more…)
Miscellaneous material to start your week.
- David Atkins highlights how public policy and corporate strategy have both instead been directed toward squeezing every possible dime out of the public: The less noticed but potentially more consequential way that policymakers across the industrialized world set about accomplishing this goal was to push their middle classes to invest their wealth into assets, especially stocks and real estate, then use the levers of public policy to inflate the values of those assets in order to disguise the inevitable declines in wages. There was also a concerted effort to hide wage losses by (Read more…)
Board of trade president Sharon Horan wrote in her Telegram column last weekend that the unfunded pension liability will make up 85% of the provincial government’s debt not to long into the future. That will be up from the 75% of the public debt it makes today.
There you have proof that even the president of the largest business organization in the province does not understand the first thing about the state of the provincial government’s finances.
Public debt is a really basic idea that you have to know if you want to understand public finance. And you need to understand public finance if you want to have a useful say in how the government is running things. That’s what the folks at the board of trade want to do, one would expect.
And yet Horan got it wrong.
Not a mere technicality.
But dead wrong.
So if the . . . → Read More: The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Budget basics: debt #nlpoli
The Toronto Star just published an article I wrote in response to claims made by the Fraser Institute and the Toronto Sun that Ontario has a runaway debt problem worse than California’s.
The short version: I call BS. The slightly longer version: California has constraints, such as limits on the size of debt and difficulties in raising new taxes, that have severely hampered its ability to take on and manage debt. It has a smaller debt than Ontario on all measures but much worse credit standing. Ontario, on the other hand, still has a lot of flexibility to deal with (Read more…)
Today’s National Balance Sheet Accounts indicate that the amount of cash held by private non-financial corporations in Canada soared from $591 billion in the third quarter of 2013 to $626 billion in the fourth quarter of 2013. Corporate Canada’s accumulated stock of cash now exceeds the federal government’s accumulated deficit, which was $612 billion at the end of 2013.
Corporate Canada’s cash stash had been on track to exceed $600 billion at the start of 2013, but Statistics Canada narrowed its definition of “total currency and deposits.” Even under the new definition, this hoard of dead money surpassed (Read more…)
Numbers season is over but good inequality data is still missing. January sees us regularly bombarded with a whole range of economic statistics about the previous year. GDP growth: likely 1.7%, low but looking brighter for next year. Unemployment: 7.2%, low but lots of workers leaving the job market altogether as the employment rate stagnates. Inflation: 1.2%, low but deflation risks under control. “Low, but” is the theme of the year for the average Canadian. For the super-wealthy, however, the story is quite different. Indeed, if Canada had an official Luxury Index or reliable data on inequality, (Read more…)
Yesterday, I gave a pretty harsh critique on the self contradicting core conservative talking point of cutting debt and taxes to create jobs. What I argued was that if your vision is a dramatic reduction in the size and scope of government, then be honest about it and run on that. People will approve or they won’t, but don’t dress this up as being able to magically reduce the debt, cut taxation, and increase jobs simultaneously as if there are not contradictory trade offs to each of these.
So what about the left? Is the left similarly about a (Read more…)
“Privatizing gains and socializing losses” could be the motto for the neoliberal era. Alongside this and “there is no alternative”, few slogans better capture the ideology that has been so successfully diffused throughout the world over the past several decades.
Five years after latest financial crisis, this motto rings true as ever. To say that the losses stemming from the crisis were large is a heroic understatement; indeed, not only were they humongous, their exact size remains a tad fuzzy. Meanwhile, across the world in the aftermath of the crisis, stock markets have rebounded, wealth and income inequalities have grown (Read more…)
Virtually all incidences of modern Conservatism – Canada and the US, federally, state/provincially and municipally, from politician to politician – has a consistent central theme. Campaign planks comes and go, but this is the frame of the Conservative movement. It is also a lie, known by all who say it to be false, and at best a sort of spun half truth used for partisan gain. I’ll let the Ontario Tories’ big new Million Jobs Act talking point number one be the choice example of this theme: “Reduce debt and taxes to encourage employers to hire and to signal to (Read more…)
Imagine an eco-community of micro-homes designed as a first step out of homelessness.
Housing, easy to get into, if people care. Occupy Madison in Wisconsin has come up with an innovative first step of a solution [see below].
These 96 square foot homes are no long term solution, at all. But if you’re struggling to get some stability in your life and you’re homeless, it’s that much harder. Just having a roof over your head can give you warmth and a good night sleep to help you be more capable of doing everything else you need to improve your life.
This is the third and final post in what has become a three-part series on the puzzle of high profitability and low investment in the Canadian economy. In the first part, I looked at some data that shows the existence of the puzzle and explored a few of the factors that could be behind it. The follow-up post outlined broadly Keynesian and Marxian solutions aimed at raising investment: the former based on stimulating demand, the latter on eliminating overcapacity and increasing the relative profitability of productive capital. Here, I want to continue the thoughts that concluded the second part, (Read more…)