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The Progressive Economics Forum: Economics 101

On October 21, Chris Ragan wrote a column for the Globe and Mail titled “In defence of Economics 101.” The link to his column is available here.

On October 24, Marc Lavoie, Louis-Philippe Rochon and Mario Seccareccia replied to him. The link to their response is available here.

The Progressive Economics Forum: Impact of Fur Trade in U.S.

The fur trade in Canada is often said to have been less malign than in the US, and it was, but that doesn’t say much given the extraordinary disruption it is said to have createn in colonial America by the American historian Bernard Bailyn in his recent (2012) book, appropriately titled The Barbarous Years: The Peopling of British North America: The Conflict of Civilizations, 1600-1675: “[S]omething general and profound…was developing on the eve of English settlement in North America. Emerging slowly at a latent level were the beginnings of fundamental alterations in native culture that, within a single generation after (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: Call for Research

“The interpretation of the history of North America in terms of rum and brandy has not been written, but in the fur trade, rum represented the contribution of the West Indies to trade of the Old Empire, and brandy the emphasis on French vineyards and self-sufficienty.” Innis, 1933 So far as I know, still not written Must be willing to travel.

The Progressive Economics Forum: Review of Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty

Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty (Belknap Press, 2014) is the economics publishing sensation of our times, especially in the United States. Currently the number one seller on the US Amazon web site and widely debated in the “blogosphere”, this long book is being favourably compared to the seminal works of Adam Smith, David Ricardo, and Karl Marx which placed the distribution of income and wealth at the very centre of economic inquiry.

 

As an aside, there seems to have been remarkably little discussion and debate of the book in Canada to date. It does not yet (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: Pikkety on Capital in the 21st Century (Tom Palley)

I have just finished Piketty’s magnum opus which is clearly one of the most important economic books of our time. I am still trying to digest the theoretical argument.

Below I provide a link and intro to an important commentary by Tom Palley who argues that Pikkety is too close to the neo classical paradigm re rewards to capital.

This may be a bit exaggerated, but Pikkety does relatively neglect the role of economic and political power in determining the rate of profit and capital’s share of national income. To my mind he also systematically confuses wealth and capital, and (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: Fur trade and tar sands

Here is Joseph Boyden talking with the Globe and Mail last fall about his novel Orenda:

“You look at this novel and you think immigration, who you allow in and who you don’t. The Hurons allow in the ones who ulimately destroy them, because the Huron aren’t perfect either. They need the trade, and how much greed was involved in that? Look environmentally – you wipe out all the furs and your economy is gone. It’s like the oil sands.”

The fur trade destroyed the Huron economy and the Huron. Bitumen destroys the Canadian economy, and through carbon emissions (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: Neoliberalism in Canada: 3 moments, 3 indicators

The current edition of Canadian Dimension magazine has a fascinating series of articles on episodes of economic transition around the world (more of them bad than good in recent times, of course). It’s a very thoughtful & informative collection, and I highly recommend it (and every progressive economist should subscribe to CD, by the way).

I wrote the article on Canada, reviewing the history of how neoliberalism was implemented here, and discussing some of its unique Canadian features (especially, of course, the unique role of resource extraction in Canada’s neoliberal economy). Here is the link to the (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: What Have we Learned From the Financial Crisis? Part 4: Bernard Vallageas

What follows are comments from a roundtable discussion held at the University of Ottawa on February 28, organized by Mario Seccareccia, and which featured participation from Marc Lavoie, Louis-Philippe Rochon, Mario Seccareccia, Slim Thabet and Bernard Vallageas.

This is Part 4 of 5 sequential blog entries.

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Bernard Vallageas Vice-président de l’Association pour le Développement des Etudes Keynésiennes (France) Ancien membre élu du Conseil National des Universités Ancien membre du Conseil d’Administration de l’Association Française d’Economie Politique Faculté Jean Monnet (Collège d’Etudes interdisciplinaires) Université Paris-Sud, Sceaux, France

Mon intervention porte sur la façon dont est perçue et analysée la crise par l’opinion (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: What Have we Learned From the Financial Crisis? Part 3: Mario Seccareccia

What follows are comments from a roundtable discussion held at the University of Ottawa on January 28, organized by Mario Seccareccia, and which featured participation from Marc Lavoie, Louis-Philippe Rochon, Mario Seccareccia, Slim Thabet and Bernard Vallageas.

This is Part 3 of 3 consecutive blog entries.

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Mario Seccareccia Professor of Economics, University of Ottawa Editor, (Read more…)

. . . → Read More: The Progressive Economics Forum: What Have we Learned From the Financial Crisis? Part 3: Mario Seccareccia

The Progressive Economics Forum: What Have we Learned From the Financial Crisis? Part 2: Louis-Philippe Rochon

What follows are comments from a roundtable discussion held at the University of Ottawa on January 28, organized by Mario Seccareccia, and which featured participation from Marc Lavoie, Louis-Philippe Rochon, Mario Seccareccia, Slim Thabet and Bernard Vallageas.

This is Part 2 of 3 consecutive blog entries.

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Louis-Philippe Rochon Associate Professor of Economics, Laurentian University Founding (Read more…)

. . . → Read More: The Progressive Economics Forum: What Have we Learned From the Financial Crisis? Part 2: Louis-Philippe Rochon

The Progressive Economics Forum: What Have we Learned From the Financial Crisis? Part 1: Marc Lavoie

What follows are comments from a roundtable discussion held at the University of Ottawa on January 28, organized by Mario Seccareccia, and which featured participation from Marc Lavoie, Louis-Philippe Rochon, Mario Seccareccia, Slim Thabet and Bernard Vallageas.

Parts 2 and 3 will follow in subsequent blog posts.

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Marc Lavoie Professor of Economics, University of Ottawa Co-Editor, European Journal of Economics and Economic Policy: Intervention

. . . → Read More: The Progressive Economics Forum: What Have we Learned From the Financial Crisis? Part 1: Marc Lavoie

The Progressive Economics Forum: The Staple Theory @ 50: Hugh Grant

As part of our continuing series of special commentaries marking the 50th anniversary of the publication of Mel Watkins’ classic article, “A Staple Theory of Economic Development,” we present the following contribution by Hugh Grant from the Economics Dept. at the University of Winnipeg. Grant is a former student of Mel’s, and an important chronicler of the history of Canadian economic thought. Here he argues that the historical roots of the staples theory enunciated by Watkins go back a little further than just Harold Innis. Learn here about the initial contributions of W.A. Mackintosh.

Who’s Your (Grand) (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: Albert Hirschman 1915-2012

Albert Hirschman died in December of last year at the grand old age of 97. I never had the pleasure of meeting him but I was an avid reader of his writings and much influenced by them.

In the 1950s and 1960s, as the field of economic development emerged within economics, there was a debate between the advocates of balanced growth or the across-the-board big push internalizing all the demand-side externalities – and its critics. As a graduate student at MIT in the 50s I took a course on economic development – one of the first taught at least in

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The Progressive Economics Forum: Just How Stupid is Niall Ferguson? Very Stupid.

“But the real point of me isn’t that I’m good looking. It’s that I’m clever. I’ve got a brain! I would rather be called a highly intelligent historian than a gorgeous pouting one” – Harvard historian Niall Ferguson, Sept. 2011.

One of the predictable habits of the mainstream media is to seek out opinions on worldly matters from so-called academic “stars”. They’re given access to op-ed pages, interviewed on talk shows and their books widely promoted and gushed over. Few have burned as bright in this regard as Niall Ferguson, a handsome, arrogant 48-year-old Scot and one of the world’s

. . . → Read More: The Progressive Economics Forum: Just How Stupid is Niall Ferguson? Very Stupid.