The Progressive Economics Forum (PEF) normally hosts sessions at the Canadian Economics Association’s annual conference. But the House of Commons finance committee threw most of the union economists testifying in its pre-budget hearings onto the same panel on November 21. I began my testimony as follows:
In addition to my work as an economist for the United Steelworkers union, I also serve as the volunteer chair of an organization called the Progressive Economics Forum, which has about 200 members across Canada. I’m very proud of the fact that four of those members are sitting in front of you on this (Read more…)
Ironically, Statistics Canada’s third-quarter GDP report on Black Friday showed the growth rate of consumption being cut in half. Final consumption expenditure grew by 0.4% in the third quarter compared to 0.8% in the second quarter.
Household spending growth fell to 0.6% from 0.9%. Government consumption growth plummeted to 0.1% from 0.4%. In other words, public-sector austerity is taking a bite out of economic demand.
Business investment grew by 0.6%, its best quarter so far this year but still lagging the overall quarterly growth rate of 0.7%. The economy grew faster than (Read more…)
Canada’s macroeconomy continues to be lethargic at best, and there is growing recognition that the continuing sluggishness of business capital spending since the 2008-09 crisis is a big part of the reason why. Governments are in austerity mode; consumers are maxxed out and cautious about new spending; our exports are restrained by an overvalued dollar and uncertain demand in our key markets. The traditional engine of growth in a capitalist economy is supposed to be business investment — and vibrant capital spending by companies could help to jump-start all of those other categories of spending (by creating jobs, stimulating more (Read more…)
The basic storyline of today’s C. D. Howe Institute “E-Brief”, “Canada Lagging Peers in 2013 Business Investment Growth,” is that corporate tax cuts helped boost investment per worker in Canada above the OECD average. Yet corporate Canada is slipping in 2013 and apparently needs more tax cuts.
However, the C. D. Howe Institute’s own graph (Figure 1 on page 3) shows no improvement in Canadian business investment – either in absolute terms or relative to the OECD average – between 2000 and 2004, when the former Liberal government slashed the federal corporate tax rate from 29% to 22% (including (Read more…)
This is the text of remarks I made today to Vancouver city council on divestment. Earlier this year, Council requested that staff report back on how the city’s financial investments align with the city’s mission and values, and various ethical programs like the city’s purchasing policy and the greenest city initiative. So the meeting was essentially about the contents of the staff report.
The outcome of the meeting was a small victory for divestment. Council recommended:
THAT the City Clerk be instructed to notify the Municipal Pension Board inwriting of City Council’s position on responsible investing and encourage the Municipal (Read more…)
by Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives | Jan. 24, 2013: OTTAWA— Underinvestment in infrastructure is not a crisis but a chronic problem in Canada, says a new study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA). The study, by economist and CCPA Research Associate Hugh Mackenzie, reveals the extent of underinvestment in infrastructure over the READ MORE
Most Canadian kids don’t leave home without their mother telling them, “Don’t forget your jacket.” Always offering the reminder so her child doesn’t catch a cold. Canada may not have a mother looking out for us, at least on this continent, but Stephen Harper is a big boy and he should know better that in this cold global economic environment our country should be better insulated.
Protecting Canada from the worsening global economy would not mean staying home and reducing trade, it would mean the opposite, improving trade without being vulnerable to every cold breeze. In fact if Stephen
. . . → Read More: The Scott Ross: Cold Conservatism & Canada Without A Jacket
This is a little old, but it was brought to my attention late and it seems to be of durable relevance. Last month, the New York Times (NYT) published an article chronicling public giveaways to corporations in the United States. What is extraordinary is that the article is the result of ten months – 10 months! – of investigative journalism on the topic, during which time over a hundred of public and corporate officials were interviewed and over 150 000 awards by all levels of governments were analysed. The NYT even put together a searchable database of all these awards.
. . . → Read More: The Progressive Economics Forum: NYT study on public subsidies in the US
The Fall Economic Update was hosted this week by the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce. It seems Minister Flaherty wanted to be sure of friendly faces when he announced that the 2012-2013 budget deficit will likely be $5-$7 billion higher than forecast in March. The reason for the higher deficit is that nominal GDP will be [...] . . . → Read More: The Progressive Economics Forum: Stay the course
by Gus Van Harten| Troy Media There is a lot of spin about the Canada-China investment treaty (or FIPA). Canadians should not be fooled into the deal. They should insist on an independent review of the government’s claims, before the treaty is … . . . → Read More: Canadian ProgressiveCanadian Progressive: Don’t be fooled by the spin on the Canada-China FIPA treaty
Having read the investment treaty that Prime Minister Harper negotiated with China last September, my concerns about it have not been alleviated. (Honestly, I actually did read it!)
To begin with, I have problems with the process that created it. Negotiated in secret, it was then tabled in Parliament where it sat for 21 days while the government, as they have a right to do, denied debate. It can
Green Party leader Elizabeth May is spot on again! She’s demanding that CSIS should weigh in on the Canada-China treaty, due to be ratified by cabinet this week. The Harper Government wants Canadians to believe that the treaty will “address Canada’s trade imbalance with the Asian economic powerhouse.” The truth, as May argued on CTV’s Question Period earlier [...]
The goal is government. I’m interested in a party that wants into government. Anything else is a waste of time. It’s a waste of time to just complain and oppose, along with it being fundamentally unnatural and strange. I want a value-based and focused support of ideas. Bottom feeding and walking by the edge of the major [...]
We can perhaps amend an old Ethiopian saying to read “absolutes are for infants and kings”. It is catechism worth remembering when arguing with liberal economists. For theirs is not a just sport. In fact, one should never mix sport with justice. As Berlin said long ago (1958):
Everything is what it is: liberty is liberty, not equality or fairness or justice or culture, or human happiness or a quiet conscience.
Much of the mainstream of the profession has dedicated its intellectual muscular skeletal movements to verifying the proposition that, through one theoretical contortion or the
. . . → Read More: Bullshit in absolutes: or how ‘liberal’* economists argue with themselves
For novelty value if nothing else, Mark Carney’s appearance at the CAW convention last week was bound to spark lots of attention. After all, we could find no other historical example of a Bank of Canada Governor ever speaking to a union convention. That says something in and of itself, of course. Central bankers speak to audiences of financial leaders and business leaders all the time. (To be fair, Mr. Carney and his predecessors have met regularly with labour reps in private sessions.) Sitting next to Mr. Carney on the podium last week while he
. . . → Read More: The Progressive Economics Forum: Spinning Mr. Carney
Kudos to Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney for raising the profile of the over $500 billion Canadian corporations are holding in excess cash surpluses and not investing in the economy, which garnered front page coverage (and kudos to the CAW for inviting him to speak.)
It’s not the first time he’s raised this concern. Last year at the Empire Club he told assembled business leaders that their companies were in “rude health, have the means to act–and the incentives”, urging them to invest their surpluses. After cutting corporate tax rates, Finance Ministers Flaherty and Duncan have also
. . . → Read More: The Progressive Economics Forum: Dead Money
Ontario Conservative leader Tim Hudak claims that passage of an anti union “right to work” (RTW) law (making mandatory union dues illegal) would create jobs, especially in hard-hit manufacturing.
With companies like Caterpillar moving to get ever cheaper labour, it seems semi plausible that anti union laws might attract footloose new investment , albeit at the expense of workers. US studies show a significant negative impact of about $1500 per year on wages in RTW states.
But US experience, in fact, shows that trends in overall employment, including in manufacturing, vary widely among both RTW and non RTW states, and
. . . → Read More: The Progressive Economics Forum: “Right to Work” Laws and Jobs
Today the CCPA released a new big picture report by myself and student researcher Amanda Card calling for a Green Industrial Revolution. The report builds on work done for the BC-focused Climate Justice Project, bringing to bear a national analysis of green and not-so-green jobs. We take a close look at GHG emissions and employment by industry category, and show how few jobs – but how massive the emissions – are from our obsession with fossil fuel extraction and export. But we also outline how to overcome our carbon-intensive industrial policies and the prospects for new green investments that would
. . . → Read More: The Progressive Economics Forum: A Green Industrial Revolution
The Shen Young Performing Arts troupe recently had their Alberta 2013 performance dates thrown into question when the Alberta Government revoked an agreement to use the Jubilee Auditoriums in Edmonton and Calgary.
The troupe celebrates Chinese Culture in a spectacular show of music and dance. In their own words:
Based in New York, Shen Yun Performing Arts was established in 2006 with the
In my discussion of Chapter 3 of Ryan Meili’s A Healthy Society, I mused that social housing might be an area where public-sector purchasing power could be put to its best possible use in securing better value than individuals can afford in a purely market-based system. And in his discussion of housing and environmental factors in Chapter 4, Meili expands on that possibility while explaining why private-sector development doesn’t meet some of our most important housing needs: In Canada, despite reports from all levels of government on the need for comprehensive housing strategies, these same governments have been backing
. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: A Healthy Society – Chapter 4 Discussion
This past weekend (March 31st), Sino-Forest Corp. announced it was filing for bankruptcy protection. The Chinese-Canadian company, once the largest publicly-traded forestry firm on the TSX, collapsed under allegations it was nothing more than a sophisticated fraud and Ponzi scheme. Sino-Forest’s demise wiped out about $6-billion in shareholders’ value, making it a catastrophe on par with Bre-X Minerals back in the ’90s.
And yet the news of Sino-Forest’s bankruptcy was relegated to the inner pages of business sections, reflecting how the entire scandal is not being given its due, fading out of earshot. After the company was accused
. . . → Read More: The Progressive Economics Forum: Stock Market Swindles Galore
Ok just forget how crazy the questions sounds. The recent wrangling between Ontario and Alberta over the value of the Canadian dollar, oil output and the decline of manufacturing in Ontario (and other provinces east of Ontario) raises some reasonable … Continue reading →
Apparently Stephen Gordon is having a hard time figuring out where Andrew Jackson, the chief economist for the CLC, got the bizarre idea that: The argument for corporate income tax cuts has been that increased after-tax corporate profits would be … Continue reading →
Today’s release by the CLC of a study on corporate Canada’s balance sheets, shows not only a trend in declining real investment but also a rising involvement in financial markets. Non financial corporations are not only hoarding cash they are also using cash flow to buy up positions in financial assets. As a complementary note to the post on this study here are a few graphical updates on the continuing financialization of the Canadian economy, in particular Canada’s corporate sector. The data published by the CLC is based on an analysis of specific non-financial corporate balance sheets, here below is
. . . → Read More: The Progressive Economics Forum: Corporate canada’s financial investments: an aggregate view
Last week, Ontario’s Ministry of Finance released the Ontario Economic Accounts for the third quarter of 2011. As The Globe reported, business investment was less than impressive:
. . . investment in machinery and equipment fell slightly by 0.2 per cent between June and September, 2011, prompting Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan to fire a shot across the bow of corporations.
Mr. Duncan said Ontario has the most competitive tax system in North America thanks to reforms introduced by the governing Liberals that have eliminated capital taxes and reduced the corporate rate to 11.5 per cent from 14 per cent
. . . → Read More: The Progressive Economics Forum: Corporate Taxes and Investment in Ontario