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In-Sights: Horgan speaks to the Premier

Hansard, May 28, 2015 The notion of a Debt-free British Columbia — hard to imagine when you’ve seen $135-billion increase in debt and contractual obligations under the B.C. Liberal watch. But somehow, in the fantasy world of the B.C. Liberals, you can make the assertion that we will be debt-free; you just don’t have to realize it.

It’s these assertions of reality that, I think, have most British Columbians perplexed. You say we’re going to be debt-free, yet the prospect of that is not even remotely on the horizon. You say we’re going to be the most (Read more…)

In-Sights: Farrell and Jessop on CFAX1070

The audio file below is a recording of my time with Ian Jessop May 26. We talk about credit rating agencies, provincial debt, contractual obligations, resource taxation and transit funding but we don’t deliver BC Liberal talking points like many others in media.

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Honest BC Liberals would pointed to the giant pile of debt and say, "We built that." http://t.co/Rvi0G6LUoI #bcpoli pic.twitter.com/vWnCoUdFGA

— Norm Farrell (@Norm_Farrell) May 26, 2015

. . . → Read More: In-Sights: Farrell and Jessop on CFAX1070

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Toby Sanger takes a look at Canada’s balance sheets and finds that both households and governments are piling up debt while the corporate sector hoards cash: (A)ll the recent handwringing over rising household and debt levels ignores one critical point: any one person’s financial liability is someone else’s financial asset. Across all the sectors in the economy (households, corporations, governments and non-residents) in the national balance sheet, net borrowing and lending all balance out to zero.

The rising income share of the top one percent has been startling (and also echoed in increasing (Read more…)

Northern Insight / Perceptivity: "You cain’t pray a lie" – H. Finn

Canadian Press, April 7, 2013: [Premier Christy] Clark told a Vancouver Island economic summit her government’s highly touted September 2011 jobs plan — with its focus on increased trade with China and Asia and promoting liquefied natural gas exports, new mines and exploring innovations in technology and agri-foods — was working.

Vancouver Sun, April 15, 2013: There was Premier Christy Clark Monday, dedicating herself to the goal of a “debt-free British Columbia,” and telling reporters that debt reduction has always been “a central value for me.”

As a central part of her campaign, Christy Clark promised more (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Lonnie Golden studies the harm done to workers by irregular schedules. And Matt Bruening comments on how Missouri, Kansas and other states are passing draconian restrictions on benefits by trying to get the middle class to envy the poor.

- Meanwhile, Scott Santens expands on the connection between increasing automation and a basic income which could ensure that people displaced from jobs by technological advancement aren’t left without a livelihood. And Sara Mojtehedzadeh talks to Guy Standing about a basic income as a means of relieving against reliance on precarious work: What is (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…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: ROCHON: Greece, Syriza and the Euro

This is a guest blog post from Louis-Philippe Rochon.

Follow him on Twitter @Lprochon.

What a tumultuous few weeks we witnessed in Greece. Though the victory of Syriza was ill-received in particular in Germany and the European Central Bank, it was nonetheless a resounding victory for democracy. This victory may now spill into other countries and give much credence in particular to the Spanish Podemos party.

Moreover, recent German threats to throw Greece out of the Euro zone only further masks what is increasingly becoming evident: the Euro is a flawed and poorly designed institution that condemns Europe and (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: Seccareccia on Greece, Austerity and the Eurozone

Over at the blog of the Institute for New Economic Thinking, Ottawa U professor Mario Seccareccia has given an interview titled “Greece Shows the Limits of Austerity in the Eurozone. What Now?”

The interview can be read here.

Political Eh-conomy: Three planks for a possible anti-austerity

What would anti-austerity in Canada look like? There are really two types of questions here. There are those of analysis: what has Canada’s austerity looked like, what makes it distinctive and how does it appear in people’s everyday experience? The others are those of political strategy. These are questions that will have to wait for a social, political force ready to meaningfully take up the cause of anti-austerity. With none on the immediate horizon, I don’t intend to pontificate on what Syriza can teach Canada; best look first at what we can learn of our own situation.

When I interviewed him last week, Yanis Varousfakis, now the (Read more…)

Northern Insight / Perceptivity: Performance short of promise

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

Political Eh-conomy: The Greek canary in the European coalmine: An interview with Yanis Varoufakis

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…)

Northern Insight / Perceptivity: A few billion here, a few billion there…

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

Northern Insight / Perceptivity: Distracting, dissembling, deflecting – lest you forget

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…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

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…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

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…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- In a theme all too familiar based on Brad Wall’s use of millions of public dollars to pay for access to U.S. lawmakers, Simon Enoch discusses the connections between Wall and ALEC: Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough is both a member and State corporate co-chair the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). You might know ALEC as the United States’ premier “corporate bill mill.” ALEC has also been characterized by the New York Times as a “stealth business lobbyist” and as a “bill laundry” for corporate policy ideas by Bloomberg BusinessWeek.…Some of (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

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…)

Joe Fantauzzi: Ontario’s Early Economic Development: A Political Economic Analysis

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.[1] Debt was […]

Northern Insight: Gifts for our children

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…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Afternoon Links

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…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

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…)

Alberta Diary: Post-fight analysis: Round 1 to Jim Prentice as Wildrose comes out swinging over debt remark

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…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

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…)

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Budget basics: debt #nlpoli

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

Political Eh-conomy: Published elsewhere: Ontario is no California when it comes to debt

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…)