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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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Dissecting the false claims of ‘monopoly’

BRIAN LEE CROWLEY

Confucius once said that when words lose their meaning, people lose their liberty. George Orwell mined this rich idea in both Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four, showing how political authorities crave to redefine inconvenient words, making them tools of ideology rather than enemies of obfuscation.

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The depressing future of income inequality

ANDREW JACKSON

Best-selling author Thomas Piketty argues in his book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, that inequality is set to return to the extreme levels of the “Gilded Age” of the late nineteenth century when very large shares of income and wealth were concentrated in the hands of the super rich. And he is far from alone.

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Sinking loonie masking the dire state of Canada’s competitiveness

CLÉMENT GIGNAC

In the spring of 2013, when the Canadian dollar was trading at parity, we might have surprised some investors by claiming that Canada’s loss of competitiveness and fading sentiment on commodities would eventually catch up and start pressuring the loonie down.

This scenario came to fruition in the past year, in part a result of the change of tone from the Bank of Canada, which removed its tightening bias that indicated interest rates could rise sooner than expected and moved to a more dovish stance, signalling that interest rates could now be lowered if need be.

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Alberta economic diversification should be a present-day priority

TODD HIRSCH

It’s Alberta’s own Holy Grail. Since the Leduc No. 1 oil gusher transformed the province in 1947, economic diversification has always been just slightly out of our reach. We wish for it and dream of it, and some of us even worry about it. But strangely, few of us are compelled to act on it.

A new book by British writer George Marshall, titled Don’t Even Think About It: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Ignore Climate Change, explains why concrete action on global warming has proven so elusive. The reason is our neurology. According to Mr. Marshall, our brains have developed over the millennia to respond to present and tangible dangers – the sabre-tooth tiger about to lunge, the enemy’s arrow pointed at our head. We’re less capable of responding to abstract threats that loom somewhere in the ill-defined future.

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How to ease Ontario’s fiscal squeeze

GLEN HODGSON

Ontario is caught in a fiscal squeeze play. Pressed between slower economic growth on one side and aging demographics on the other, Canada’s largest province will be very hard-pressed to balance its books in 2018 under its current plan, even after having successfully reduced the deficit in 2013-14 below expectations.

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Voodoo economics: Busting some popular monetary myths

CHRISTOPHER RAGAN

Last week my friend sent me a link to a short video ranting about our monetary system. I immediately recognized it as another in a large collection of videos I have seen, many of which are sent to me by students pondering the validity of the central messages – which appear quite at odds with the things I say in class.

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