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Sunday, May. 01, 2016 6:18PM EDT
Ottawa will scrutinize Canada’s jobs report on Friday to see whether Edmonton and southern Saskatchewan will qualify for additional employment insurance benefits.
The federal Liberal government has been under pressure to help those two areas after deciding to expand EI for unemployed people in 12 regions that have suffered from the commodities slump.More »
Sunday, May. 01, 2016 4:47PM EDT
As he wrapped up a recent speech about slumping global trade, Stephen Poloz made a startling observation: Sales generated by foreign subsidiaries of Canadian companies now exceed the value of everything this country exports to the world.
“These foreign affiliates are almost like another Canadian economy out there,” the central bank Governor explained.More »
Friday, Apr. 29, 2016 6:17PM EDT
The gossip among real estate agents across Canada this weekend is likely to be all about the fallout from the Competition Tribunal’s move to undo the industry’s virtual monopoly over key home sales data.
Out of earshot of their clients, that is.
The fear among brokers is that liberating this information will lead to the inevitable Uberization of the residential real estate business, and all that entails.More »
Friday, Apr. 29, 2016 10:55AM EDT
BRIAN LEE CROWLEY
Long is the history of words, originally intended as terms of abuse by their opponents, that are eventually adopted by their original targets. A Tory, for example, comes from a term denoting an Irish highwayman, whereas a Whig was originally a Scottish sheep thief. So too is it with “deliverology.”
The always irreverent British press coined this ugly neologism as a way to send up the earnest professorial efforts of Michael Barber, brought in by then Labour prime minister Tony Blair to help figure out why it was proving so hard to improve the quality and productivity of British public services. Mr. Blair was spending billions on health, education, policing and other public services, but the quality of the results, as experienced by the users of those services, remained stubbornly disappointing. Mr. Blair’s solution was to try and do an end run around the allegedly recalcitrant civil service by creating a command-and-control system centred in the Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit, under Mr. Barber’s leadership. Now that Sir Michael is advising the Trudeau government on the dark arts of deliverology, it is a good time to think about whether it works.More »
Thursday, Apr. 28, 2016 5:00AM EDT
The Liberal election platform promised to “make the Parliamentary Budget Officer [PBO] truly independent” of the government and to make sure that the office is properly funded. The platform also promised to make government accounting “consistent and clear.”
It was, then, a bit surprising that the PBO had to make a formal request for information normally provided in the federal budget, and was forced to provide its own estimates for the missing numbers in its report to Parliament on April 6. The Department of Finance finally released the requested information only on April 8, more than two weeks after the budget was delivered in the House of Commons (on March 22.)More »
Wednesday, Apr. 27, 2016 6:32PM EDT
In a matter of months, the U.S. Federal Reserve has gone from revving up its rate-hiking machine to what now looks like an extended idle.
The shift presents some untimely complications for Canada’s own economic recovery – unless the U.S. job market can ride to the rescue.
The Fed’s latest rate decision, issued on Wednesday afternoon, was, frankly, about as dull as such things get.More »
Wednesday, Apr. 27, 2016 11:58AM EDT
As an economist, diplomat and Secretary-General of the OECD, you might expect Angel Gurria to offer a dry, academic assessment of global issues. Not when it comes to Britain leaving the European Union.
On Wednesday, Mr. Gurria used colourful flourishes, unusual examples and blunt language to argue that there was absolutely no benefit to Britain leaving the EU. “We see no economic upside for the U.K. whatsoever,” Mr. Gurria told a packed auditorium at the London School of Economics. “The only question is where, on the spectrum of possible losses, the outcome winds up.”More »
Sunday, Apr. 24, 2016 5:41PM EDT
Energy investors are looking past the financial carnage left by oil’s collapse to tentative signs of recovery in the sector.
First-quarter results start rolling out this week and the numbers are expected to be grim, marred by hefty losses and heightened concern over debt levels as banks trim credit lines and industry-wide cash flow remains anemic.More »
Friday, Apr. 22, 2016 6:42PM EDT
Friday’s double whammy of key economic data from Statistics Canada – retail sales and inflation – raises an interesting prospect for the Bank of Canada: Its rate policy may become a victim of its own success.
Statscan reported that February retail sales climbed a solid 0.4 per cent from January, despite a slump in the cost of gasoline that sapped overall retail prices. On a volume basis, sales were up a strong 1.5 per cent.More »
Friday, Apr. 22, 2016 4:55PM EDT
In the final frames of the movie The Big Short, the narrator laments that no one on Wall Street ever went to jail for fraud in connection with the 2008 financial meltdown.
Canada’s Sino-Forest scandal is headed for a similar denouement.
More than four years after Canada’s largest publicly traded forest products company collapsed under the weight of fraud allegations, top Sino-Forest executives are about to face the music.More »
Friday, Apr. 22, 2016 5:00AM EDT
Those who have never spent much time in either Edmonton or Calgary could be forgiven if they think the two cities have identical characters. After all, on the surface they are much the same: young cities of just more than one million, fuelled by oil, rodeos, hockey and pickup trucks. (Although don’t get stuck in stereotypes. Both are also home to superb universities, arts and culture, and culinary excellence.)More »
Friday, Apr. 22, 2016 5:00AM EDT
Let’s be frank, trade is a bit nerdy. It’s a topic that excites people with obsessions: tariffs on textiles, phytosanitary arrangements, banana quotas. Talk for too long about this stuff and you will find yourself drinking on your own. How then do we explain why trade has become political dynamite – a trigger for explosive arguments about jobs in the U.S. presidential election.More »
Thursday, Apr. 21, 2016 5:00AM EDT
GLEN HODGSON AND DANIEL MUZYKA
Canada’s tax system is highly complex, cluttered and opaque to the average citizen. The system at the federal level is complex enough – even before adding an array of provincial tax systems to the mix, with remarkably little alignment among the provinces in how they tax. Forthcoming Conference Board research will provide a detailed comparative analysis of provincial taxation and the surprising lack of consistency. Such a balkanized system is not good enough for Canada’s economy in what is a period of weak growth.More »
Wednesday, Apr. 20, 2016 6:01PM EDT
The Liberal government’s decision to restore Canada’s Old Age Security eligibility to age 65 may be shrewd politics. It may even be fiscally manageable. But it’s lousy economic policy.
Perhaps I should elaborate. It’s lousy, short-sighted, dim-witted economic policy. It ignores everything we know about the aging demographics in this country, and the things policy makers should be doing to address the economic fallout from them. It’s a remarkable step in the wrong direction.More »
Tuesday, Apr. 19, 2016 4:13PM EDT
Time was, an Alberta finance minister could trumpet to a Calgary business audience that, under his watch, the province will stay sales-tax-free, and he could count on a raucous standing ovation.
Joe Ceci pulled out that chestnut during a speech to the Calgary Chamber of Commerce this week and garnered only a smattering of applause.More »
Sunday, Apr. 17, 2016 6:25PM EDT
BRIAN LEE CROWLEY
One of the dominant themes of the U.S. presidential primaries has been “the good jobs that nasty foreigners stole.” Candidates ranging from Donald Trump on the right (America doesn’t make anything any more) to Bernie Sanders on the left (Flint, Mich.’s problems are due to ruinous free-trade deals), the political myth-making machine is in high gear. Americans have been had by a traitorous political class that inexplicably and unnecessarily gave away the store in trade negotiations.More »
Sunday, Apr. 17, 2016 5:28PM EDT
It’s one of the paradoxes of a slow-growth world: Unemployment is falling in most developed countries.
To understand why, we have to look at potential output growth, roughly defined as an economy’s cruising speed. It’s a state of equilibrium where factories are humming and there’s full employment. Workers, technology and natural resources are all being put to use.More »
Friday, Apr. 15, 2016 5:21PM EDT
The Leap Manifesto – subtitled “A call for a Canada based on caring for the earth and one another” – offers a utopian vision of the country many of us wish it was.
Canada would be free from inequality, poverty, racism and fossil fuels, according to the document’s drafters, the husband-and-wife team of author Naomi Klein and documentary filmmaker Avi Lewis. The economy would be entirely powered by renewable energy, public transit would link even the remotest places and we would all work less and earn more. Oil workers would be retrained as windmill makers.More »
Friday, Apr. 15, 2016 5:00AM EDT
Alberta’s NDP government isn’t shutting down the oil roller coaster. It’s just giving it some upkeep and a coat of orange paint.
Much of the arithmetic that goes into Finance Minister Joe Ceci’s new budget is driven by an expectation that crude prices will take years to recover. Embedded in that is hope that they won’t. Either way, crude plays a huge role.More »
Thursday, Apr. 14, 2016 6:08PM EDT
If you are wondering what gasoline will cost when you load the kids and the dog into the car this summer for the long holiday haul, don’t look at the price at your local gas station. Don’t even look for clues in the New York crude oil futures market. The interesting gas price is to be found in Riyadh.More »
Wednesday, Apr. 13, 2016 6:43PM EDT
The Bank of Canada was able to fill a big hole in its economic forecasts Wednesday – namely, the contribution of the federal government’s stimulus spending to the equation. But there’s still another spending vacuum holding back its forecasts, and this one presents an even greater uncertainty for economic growth and the bank’s interest-rate policy.More »
Wednesday, Apr. 13, 2016 5:00AM EDT
As expected, the federal budget delivered on the Liberal promise to leave the age of eligibility for Old Age Security (OAS) and Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) retirement benefits at 65. The Harper government had previously decided to phase in an increase to 67.
Many pundits have argued that the eligibility age should rise in line with longer life expectancy. They say that a higher retirement age would reduce the growing cost of the OAS/GIS program, and will boost the economy by pushing seniors to work longer.More »
Tuesday, Apr. 12, 2016 4:36PM EDT
Rachel Notley has built up some much-needed political capital at home, and she did it the old-fashioned Alberta way – hitting back at those elites out east.
The New Democrat Premier scolded factions of her own party that would snuff out any hope for an economic recovery in the province by abandoning fossil fuels wholesale. This, after her government went big on tougher environmental standards and a carbon tax.More »
Sunday, Apr. 10, 2016 6:28PM EDT
Sunday, Apr. 10, 2016 5:00PM EDT
Having dug themselves into a deep hole on taxi regulation, Canadian cities are now scrambling to get out.
The catalyst, of course, is Uber, the renegade California-based car-for-hire service that has barged into the market, upending the industry.
This month, Toronto and Ottawa unveiled similar responses to the Uber issue. After years of smothering the taxi business in regulation, they’re now moving to unwind many of the strict rules, while creating a parallel regime to legalize Uber and other ride-hailing services.More »
Friday, Apr. 08, 2016 5:20PM EDT
The markets were certainly won over by Canada’s surprisingly strong employment report Friday. Statistical skeptics (myself included)? Not so much.
It’s not that the 41,000-job increase in Statistics Canada’s March Labour Force Survey, quadruple what most economists expected, is so unbelievable – though it takes a little mental gymnastics to make sense of it.More »
Friday, Apr. 08, 2016 5:00AM EDT
Economists love offering policy solutions. A tax cut here, an infrastructure program there – all well intended and mostly intelligent advice to politicians who are desperate to boost the real GDP. But it’s all built on a very shaky foundation. If citizens are excluded from meaningful involvement in their economic systems, none of it matters.More »
Wednesday, Apr. 06, 2016 5:58PM EDT
When the topic of carbon taxes comes up, the discussion often splits along two lines that resist intersection. Those on the progressive/liberal end of the political spectrum see it as a quest to save the planet. Those on the conservative side see it as a tax grab.
Why can’t it be both?
That’s kind of the point of Canada’s Ecofiscal Commission, the private group of highly respected Canadian economists and policy experts formed in late 2014 to help the country combine sound environmental policy with sound fiscal policy. The commission released a report on Wednesday that focuses on a very practical aspect of the growing desire among many Canadian provinces to introduce carbon taxes: What should they do with all the money they will make?More »
Streetwise & Executive Insight