Monday, Dec. 02, 2013 2:35PM EST
Sometimes the Canadian debate about greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions generates more heat than light. Between climate change deniers and climate change hysterics, it is hard to get a fix on what is actually going on.
Recently, Environment Canada came to the rescue with the release of its 2013 Emissions Trends Report (ETR). Helpfully, the report tells us what emissions were in 2005, what they are now (at least in 2011, the latest year for which data are available), and how they are expected to change between now and 2020 – our target year for emissions reductions under the Copenhagen Accord. What we see is that some sectors of the economy and provinces such as Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia have done a lot, while others have done very little to contribute to meeting our 2020 target.More »
Monday, Dec. 02, 2013 5:00AM EST
Economists are famous for lifting concepts from scientific theory and applying them to issues in their field. In that spirit, I propose adding one more – “kludge” – because it goes a long way to explaining sluggish economic growth and poor business productivity, in Canada and beyond.
To “kludge” (rhymes with nudge), the Oxford English dictionary tells us, is “[to] improvise or put together from an ill-assorted collection of parts.” In essence, kludging is a quick fix that keeps a system running, rather than a long-term solution to an ongoing problem. It is a process used extensively in computer software coding and engineering. Anyone with a smartphone or tablet has encountered kludges, otherwise known as app updates to “fix bugs” in the code.More »
Friday, Nov. 29, 2013 12:38PM EST
George Washington’s cure for income inequality: Profit sharing
One of the big frustrations about income inequality is that when corporate profits grow, they aren’t shared equally – typical employee sees very little from it, while the people at the top, and big investors, reap most of the rewards. Executive compensation keeps growing way out of proportion to average salaries, and labour’s share of the economy’s total wealth is shrinking. One solution? Give average workers direct ownership in the company and its profits.More »
Thursday, Nov. 28, 2013 5:00AM EST
I view with a more than jaded eye every report that suggests that we have to, no matter what, provide something to kids in school. We have to have an hour a day of gym or some kind of movement, we have to have music education, we have to have field trips or longer nutrition breaks so kids can chew slower, or we have to have smaller classrooms or else it is too hard to learn.More »
Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013 2:31PM EST
The problem with poor people is they don’t have enough money, someone once said. With the recent attention on income inequality in The Globe and Mail and The Economist, it is important to shift the conversation from problems to solutions.
Some have focused on the 1 per cent at the top, so successfully highlighted by the Occupy movement. Proposals range from moderating extreme CEO pay packages, to taxing high incomes, to urging the rich toward robust philanthropy. Defenders of the rich in right-wing think tanks point out, accurately, that the results would be modest.More »
Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013 5:00AM EST
When trade ministers meet in Bali, Indonesia, next week, the elephant in the room will be whether the World Trade Organization (WTO) can function as a negotiating forum.
The agenda includes only a small set of issues to be harvested from the Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations, and the prognosis is grim, according to director-general Roberto Azevedo. Achieving an agreement on the border management issues known as “Trade Facilitation” would be especially valuable for the world economy. But what’s most important for the multilateral process is that the ministers simply secure a deal – any deal – that would finally get the stalled Doha Round moving forward again.More »
Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2013 2:00PM EST
A dwindling proportion of men are members of labour groups, a shift that’s driving declines in Canada’s unionization rate in recent decades as rates for women have held steady.
The country’s rate of unionization (the proportion of workers who are union members) was 30 per cent last year, down from 38 per cent in 1981. Most of that decline happened in the 1980s and 1990s, Statistics Canada analysis shows, with rates stabilizing in the past decade.More »
Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2013 12:13PM EST
ROBERT HOWSE, JOANNA LANGILLE AND KATIE SYKES
The World Trade Organization panel decision on the European Union seal products ban, released Monday, is a landmark vindication of the right to protect animal welfare under international trade law. The panel found flaws in the way the exceptions to the EU ban are administered or defined, but confirmed that the overall ban on seal products can be justified as a reflection of European ethical and moral concerns. No wonder the Canadian government (while declaring the panel’s ruling to be a victory for Canadian seal hunters) immediately announced its intention to appeal the decision. Canada has, in fact, suffered a resounding defeat.More »
Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2013 5:00AM EST
Economists see the world differently than business people and politicians. This is never more evident than in discussions about the benefits of freer trade.
Here’s a suggestion for an educational evening: Invite an economist, a businessman and a politician for dinner and ask them if Canada would benefit by unilaterally reducing its tariffs on imported cheese or automobiles or hundreds of other products. The businessman will likely say it is pointless unless it improves Canadian business prospects. The politician will say that Canada shouldn’t make such a “concession” without other countries doing the same.More »
Monday, Nov. 25, 2013 2:02PM EST
Brighter job prospects in Alberta and more challenging ones in the eastern side of the country are altering the country’s population flows.
Alberta saw another year of above-average population growth in 2012-13, driven by record levels of net international migration and interprovincial migration, Monday’s preliminary population estimate from Statistics Canada shows.More »
Monday, Nov. 25, 2013 5:00AM EST
My recent Globe and Mail commentary sought to address and dispel a common misconception about the financing side of proposals to expand the Canada Pension Plan: That higher CPP premiums would be a job-killing payroll tax. Apparently, the benefits side of such proposals is equally subject to misconceptions, as evidenced by William Robson’s subsequent Globe commentary.More »
Friday, Nov. 22, 2013 4:28PM EST
Baby you’re a rich man
The economic gap between women and men may be gradually closing in the world, but when it comes to being stinking rich, there’s still a huge chasm.
Spear’s, the British wealth magazine, reports that only 10 per cent of the world’s multimillionaires are female. Its worldwide survey, conducted along with high-net-worth research firm WealthInsight, also found that Canada is slightly behind the global norm: Just 9.2 per cent of Canadian multimillionaires are women.More »
Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013 5:40PM EST
If Canadians are increasingly skeptical about whether their consumer price index (CPI) actually measures current consumer inflation, they have good reason to be. It doesn’t, and wasn’t designed to.
“The CPI” is a bit of a misnomer. There are actually several CPI measures. Statistics Canada’s all-items CPI (the latest monthly update of which is being released Friday morning) and the Bank of Canada’s CPIX are the most widely used. Both refer to changes in the price of an average household basket composed of 12 broad categories of goods and services. The CPI basket weights are mostly based on Statscan’s Survey of Household Spending (SHS).More »
Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013 5:00AM EST
Remember back in November, 2008, when the U.S. Federal Reserve and a bunch of other central banks introduced quantitative easing (QE) as an emergency measure to kick-start the global economy? Well, five years and counting later, the programs are still pretty much in place and may be for a while as a way to keep the kick-start going. So it must be working – right?More »
Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013 5:55AM EST
Ben Bernanke, the Federal Reserve chairman and former Princeton University professor, took Wall Street back to school Tuesday evening, using a dinner speech in Washington to deliver a refresher course on the Fed’s modern approach to communication.
Mr. Bernanke, who is expected to return to Princeton when his time at the Fed ends in January, offered no definitive guidance on the question that most preoccupies market participants: when will the the U.S. central bank intends to trim its $85-billion-a-month bond-buying program?More »
Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013 5:00AM EST
When a Danish bulk carrier sailed through the Northwest Passage in September filled with B.C. coal, it was described as historic. The voyage, the first time a fully loaded cargo ship had successfully navigated the Northwest Passage, was perceived as the unofficial beginning of a dramatic increase in commercial transit in our Arctic waters.More »
Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2013 1:48PM EST
The headline from the federal Finance Minister’s update of economic and fiscal projections last week was that the federal budget will swing into surplus in 2015-16, a year earlier than previously projected. The federal government’s seven consecutive years of deficits will finally come to an end – right on time for the next general election.More »
Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2013 5:00AM EST
Two major recent studies – from Derek Burleton and his colleagues at Toronto-Dominion Bank, and from former senior federal government official Cliff Halliwell published by the Institute for Research on Public Policy – provide excellent overviews of recent developments in the Canadian job market, and an informed framework for thinking about our future skills needs.More »
Monday, Nov. 18, 2013 4:10PM EST
Distracted by the U.S. Federal Reserve’s oscillating taper plans, bond investors risk losing sight of the big picture. To those invested for the long haul, the precise contours of the road immediately ahead are barely relevant. What matters is the ultimate destination: A return to a normal level of bond yields, with the fatter coupons that come with it.More »
Monday, Nov. 18, 2013 2:01PM EST
Canada’s hodgepodge of federal and provincial tuition and education tax credits for postsecondary students are expensive, not well understood, loosely targeted, and in desperate need of change.
Federal tuition and education/textbook tax credits are the most costly postsecondary student aid program in Canada. They cost the federal government about $1.6-billion in 2012; meanwhile the Canada Student Loan Program cost less than $1-billion. The tax credits – when combined with their provincial counterparts – cut the cost of postsecondary education by just over $2,000 a year for the average Canadian university student, and a bit less for college students.More »
Monday, Nov. 18, 2013 5:00AM EST
Now that expectations have been beaten down to virtual nothingness, there’s plenty of room for some blowout Canadian GDP numbers ahead – and capital investment may well be the catalyst.
How times have changed. In the wake of the Great Recession, the Canadian economy was seen as a favourite child, one who is accomplished, smart, with lots of friends. A real go-getter. Over the past couple of years however, Canada has fallen out of favour and is now seen as a problem child who sits in the basement playing video games, watching reruns of Weeds into the wee hours while eating takeout pizza.More »
Friday, Nov. 15, 2013 12:00PM EST
Recently, I tabled a study in the Senate from the social affairs committee about social inclusion. We wanted to know how significant poverty, homelessness, a lack of affordable housing and income inequality in Canada have affected our cohesion as a society.
Inclusion and cohesion are vital to the national social fabric. They are vital to the everyday interactions among Canadians. They are vital to our interconnectedness and a shared experience of our nation.More »
Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013 3:09PM EST
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s updated economic and fiscal projections unveiled this week were remarkable: Despite a weaker economic outlook, the federal government now expects a larger budget surplus. This is possible because the government is adding more spending restraint and selling some assets in order to balance the budget.More »
Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013 5:00AM EST
It has been four years since the recession ended, and we keep hearing about how well Canada’s economy did compared with that of the United States. We were back to our pre-recession level of employment pretty quickly; they still are not. But before we all get a bit too smug (in a nice, Canadian sort of way), maybe we need to take a good look at the numbers. They show that Canada is creating jobs – but maybe not precisely where we would like them to be.More »
Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013 9:47AM EST
Imagine a day when virtual cash gives central banks a run for their money – literally.
Not so fast. A Bank of Canada working paper released this week says central banks are unlikely to cede their monopoly on issuing currency to a new generation of web industry giants, such as Facebook and Amazon.
That’s because virtual currencies are prisoners of their basic function: Getting consumers to buy more stuff.More »
Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013 8:36AM EST
The European Commission wants to know if Germany’s economic success is coming at the cost of its neighbours.
The EC, the executive arm of the European Union, has suspected for some time that Germany’s surging exports and current account surpluses are creating imbalances that are damaging the wider EU recovery. So has the U.S. Treasury Department.More »
Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013 5:00AM EST
JEAN-PIERRE LEHMANN AND HEIDI STREBEL
The term “airpocalypse” has been widely and fittingly applied to Beijing. Images of barely visible skylines, masked citizens and uncannily quiet streets, where pollution levels surge beyond dangerous to “off index,” have shown the pervasiveness and virulence of the problem.
In many respects, the tale of Beijing is a variation on industrialization themes that go back to the origins of the industrial revolution. A “green” industrial revolution has never occurred anywhere on Earth.More »
Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2013 11:05AM EST
The ugly truth about the European economic mess is there are no jobs for young people, not only because the wrinkly set is working longer as retirement ages are lifted to the point you can consider a new career at 65, but mostly because there is no growth to speak of. So what is today’s European jobs summit in Paris going to accomplish?More »
Monday, Nov. 11, 2013 1:55PM EST
As the federal political parties gear up for the 2015 election, platforms are developed that appeal to the political bases and distinguish the parties from each other. The NDP leadership is once again arguing the benefits of raising corporate income tax rates. Based on public comments, the current federal rate of 15 per cent would be raised to something like 20 per cent (or even higher?) if the New Democrats became the next government.More »
Monday, Nov. 11, 2013 10:57AM EST
A new currency war may be on the verge of breaking out, if one hasn’t already.
Last Thursday, European Central Bank boss Mario Draghi reduced the benchmark interest rate by a quarter point, taking it to a record low of 0.25 per cent (meaning he has only one cut left in his arsenal). He did so not to weaken the euro – he was more worried about fighting an alarming disinflation trend. But he and Europe’s struggling economies were pleased that the cut removed the currency’s forward momentum.More »
Monday, Nov. 11, 2013 5:00AM EST
SEAN SPEER AND CHARLES LAMMAM
“There’ll be no doubt that we’re balanced in 2015,” federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty told reporters after recently meeting with a group of private sector economists. This is among Mr. Flaherty’s most categorical statements to date on his plan to achieve a balanced budget in 2015-16. But in light of recent economic forecasts and potential threats to the government’s revenue projections, he would be well advised to focus on further spending restraint – something he can fully control – in order to deliver on his promise.More »
Friday, Nov. 08, 2013 2:30PM EST
Beer is good for the economy
The next time you stick around the pub for one more round even though you think maybe you shouldn’t, don’t consider it a failure of your will power. Think of it as your good deed to the Canadian economy. You’re not getting loaded, you’re helping create wealth and build schools.More »
Friday, Nov. 08, 2013 5:00AM EST
Most of us remember as children learning the Bible’s Golden Rule: “Do to others what you would have them do to you.” It’s too bad that so many of our politicians and trade negotiators seem to have forgotten this, especially around free trade and procurement.
The pitfall with trade liberalization is that governments want only the parts that work in their favour. They would love it if their domestic or provincial businesses were to have broader access to bid on contracts or sell product into other jurisdictions with no tariff barriers or obstacles. But when it comes to outside companies gaining access on their home turf, suddenly they believe the free-trade agreement needs some tweaking.More »
Thursday, Nov. 07, 2013 2:15PM EST
Dairy farmers claim that the proposed trade pact with Europe will do them great harm, yet some academics and journalists see our supply management system as an assault on consumers and an albatross around Canada’s neck in trade negotiations, sheltering one small industry at the expense of the entire trade sector’s greater future.More »
Thursday, Nov. 07, 2013 5:00AM EST
There are lots of things to take away from this just-released Brookings Institute report on trade between cities in Canada, the U.S. and Mexico, but here’s the one that stands out: It is about cities.
Cities are where things are happening economics-wise, and cities are where there is going to be a lot more happening. That the Brookings Institution (which sponsored the study by economists Joseph Parilla and Alan Berube) is starting to compile data on metro areas is an acknowledgment of that – and hopefully the start of a lot more city-focused economic information to come.More »
Wednesday, Nov. 06, 2013 2:58PM EST
The superior man understands what is right; the inferior man understands what will sell.
As I follow up on the various business meetings that I had in China this past month, I reflect on this quotation that has been attributed to Confucius, the famous Chinese philosopher (551-479 BC), with a certain degree of amusement.More »
Wednesday, Nov. 06, 2013 11:48AM EST
Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his cabinet are fanning out across the country, touting free trade with Europe as a $12-billion-a-year job-creating engine. Economists who have looked at the sparse details of the tentative deal reached between the two sides last month are decidedly less categorical.More »
Wednesday, Nov. 06, 2013 5:00AM EST
There is no crisis in the availability of workers in Canada, at least in 2013. The national unemployment rate is at 7 per cent, and there are more workers than jobs in some regions of Canada. Pressures on wages are muted in many occupations and regions, especially in Ontario.
The Canadian economy shed 430,000 jobs during the 2008-09 recession, and the labour market has yet to fully re-absorb all available workers displaced in the wake of the financial crisis. Youth employment, for example, is down by about 200,000 compared with pre-recession levels.More »
Sheryl is an independent macroeconomic strategist with over 20-years experience in the international financial industry and central banking.
Todd Hirsch is the Calgary-based chief economist of ATB Financial and author of The Boiling Frog Dilemma: Saving Canada from Economic Decline.
Clément Gignac is senior vice-president and chief economist at Industrial Alliance Inc., and chair of the World Economic Forum Council on Competitiveness and member of the Forum’s Sustainable Competitiveness Advisory Board.
Andrew Jackson is the Packer Professor of Social Justice at York University and Senior Policy Adviser to the Broadbent Institute.
Christopher Ragan teaches economics at McGill University; during 2009 and 2010 he was the Clifford Clark Visiting Economist at the federal Department of Finance in Ottawa.
Globe's Economics Team
Brian Milner is a senior economics writer and global markets columnist. In a long career at The Globe and Mail, he has covered diverse business beats, including international trade, the automotive industry, media, debt markets, banking and the business side of sports.