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Economy Lab

Delving into the forces that shape our living standards
Best Business Blog, EPPY awards, 2011 and 2012

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Economy Lab Roundup: ECB’s currency option for QE


A European Central Bank version of quantitative easing (QE) could look very different from the now-familiar model used by the U.S. Federal Reserve Board, economist Carl Weinberg says. To wit, the ECB’s asset purchases might not be in the form of government bonds at all – but rather, gold and currencies.

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Canada’s best-kept secret: Our entrepreneurial spirit


Canadians aren’t accustomed to overachieving in global comparisons. Our national personality type tends to direct our focus on those rankings in which Canada is the lowly, loveable underdog. When we placed a meagre 14th in the most recent ranking of business competitiveness, for example, we gave ourselves a collective “Oops, sorry.”

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Quebec’s post-election challenge: Rejuvenating an economy in decline


Quebec managed to get through an election campaign with only a peripheral discussion on its economic future. Too bad. The province is steadily drifting into a prolonged period of slower real economic growth, due to aging demographics and weak productivity gains.

Without deliberate action by government and business to counteract these forces, Quebeckers face an unappealing combination of deteriorating public services and higher taxes – and a stark future as an increasingly uncompetitive economic jurisdiction.

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Joe Oliver’s big challenge: Living with budget surpluses


Federal Finance Minister Joe Oliver expects to have 18 months in the position before his government faces an election. Thanks to the policy decisions made by his predecessor, the broad economic challenges he faces will likely be relatively modest. But Mr. Oliver will nonetheless face significant tests of his political abilities, particularly in how he deals with the government’s new problems: Budget surpluses and a declining debt ratio.

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Canadian health care: A failure of central planning, not funding


The health care establishment’s lamenting of the expiry this week of the health accord, negotiated 10 years ago between Ottawa and the provinces, contained lots of hand-wringing about alleged “underfunding” and lack of “federal leadership.” Neither of these things is at the root of health care’s malaise.

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How do you count jobs? Quebec leaders can’t agree


The ongoing election in Quebec is making a lot of noise at the national level for many reasons. As a former minister in Quebec’s Liberal government (from 2009 to 2012), I am choosing not to get involved in the political debate. However, as an economist, I feel like shedding some light on one controversial and material issue that has come up throughout the campaign that relates to the recent performance of Quebec’s labour market. Put simply: How many jobs were created in Quebec in 2013?

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