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Economy Lab

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

Entry archive:

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The GMO scare: Fear and confusion in the grocery aisles


If consumers can be convinced they should be nervous or fearful of something, it’s an easy step to sell them things they don’t need. Sadly, this kind of marketing is plaguing the world of agriculture and food retailing.

Robert Saik, chief executive officer of Agri-Trend Group of Companies, is a professional agrologist and a long-time watcher of trends in agriculture. In his nifty little book, The Agriculture Manifesto: 10 Key Drivers That Will Shape Agriculture in the Next Decade, he takes on the fear mongering currently gripping the production of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). It’s a short but fascinating read that raises plenty of questions around the future of Canadian agriculture.

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Why Ottawa lacks a good grasp of the housing price surge


At the July, 2014, Monetary Policy Report (MPR) press conference, Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz announced that the bank would be keeping its policy rate in “neutral” for the foreseeable future. While introducing a new catchphrase – “serial disappointment” – the MPR report and the Governor’s comments gave short shrift to the overheated Canadian housing market, which continues to be fuelled by historically low interest rates. Despite conceding “particularly strong” price growth over the past year and “near record-high house prices and debt levels,” the bank insists that housing is in for a “soft landing.”

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European football’s unfairness a pointed lesson for pro sports


Summer is a time for lighter fare, but even then, economists can find an economic message in an unexpected topic such as European football (or soccer). And what we see in top-level European football is an unlevel playing field that is both unfair for fans and a useful lesson for North American pro sports leagues.

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Canada’s limited solutions to its slow-growth recovery


Canada is mired in a slow-growth recovery because the United States and Europe are still repairing their economies in the wake of enormous financial crises. As I argue in a recently released paper from the C.D. Howe Institute, as long as the global economy remains fragile, Canada will not return to growth rates anywhere near our pre-crisis standard of 3 per cent.

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The dismal state of Canadian manufacturing


It is hardly news, but the scale of the manufacturing crisis in Canada continues to astound.

Between 2002 and 2013, manufacturing employment fell by 557,000 jobs, meaning that one in four (24 per cent) of the jobs that existed in 2002 have disappeared. As a share of all jobs, manufacturing fell to 9.8 per cent from 15.0 per cent over this period.

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