Archive for the ‘History’ Category

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How Ottawa has frequently changed employment insurance

Thursday, September 12th, 2013

Employment insurance – or unemployment insurance, as it has been named for most of its life – is consistently one of the most controversial and challenging programs for federal governments of all stripes… Now the Conservative government is preparing to build on recent changes with a more sweeping reform of how EI helps train Canadians for new jobs… As Ottawa and the provinces prepare for more change, here’s a primer on how we got here.

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How Did Economists Get It So Wrong?

Sunday, January 13th, 2013

September 2, 2009
… economists will have to learn to live with messiness. That is, they will have to acknowledge the importance of irrational and often unpredictable behavior, face up to the often idiosyncratic imperfections of markets and accept that an elegant economic “theory of everything” is a long way off. In practical terms, this will translate into more cautious policy advice — and a reduced willingness to dismantle economic safeguards in the faith that markets will solve all problems.

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Did this historic trade deal help Canada? No

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

Oct. 06 2012
Let’s step back from the rhetoric and consider some concrete indicators of our North American trade performance, then and now… Quantity of Exports… Composition of Exports… U.S. Market… Productivity… In short, it’s hard to find any concrete economic evidence whatsoever that this historic deal actually helped Canada… In reality, last week’s back-patting was all about partisan politics, not economics.

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After 25 years, free-trade deal with U.S. has helped Canada grow up

Saturday, September 29th, 2012

Sep. 29 2012
Canada has not, as opponents predicted, become an economic appendage to the American giant, a 51st state in all but name… We are, if anything, a freer actor in the world than we were before the deal was signed, 25 years ago… But the benefits are also debatable… Despite rosy predictions, Canadian productivity continues to lag; too little gets researched here and not enough is developed… The real legacy, however, may be intangible.

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Harper and McGuinty should look to Sir John A. on debt

Saturday, April 14th, 2012

April 12, 2012
… the temptation when public finances are bad is to think small. Let’s cut a little here, trim back our vision there, and eventually things will be okay. But Confederation provides a stirring example of why thinking big is exactly what we need to do in the face of public debt… Now is not the time for a new National Policy, per se. .. But our current financial challenges should be viewed as an opportunity to think that big.

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How Canada let Caterpillar strip a plant clean

Sunday, February 5th, 2012

Feb 04 2012
… the union was locked out on New Year’s Day. There were no replacement workers to bust the union, because the union was merely invited to slit its own wrists — by halving most wages from $34 to $16.50 an hour. The U.S.-based owner, multinational giant Caterpillar Inc… started and ended this negotiation with a carefully choreographed plan to pack up, shut down and leave town… It won’t just relocate the heavy equipment on the factory floor, but harvest the technological know-how subsidized with government incentives and writeoffs. This wasn’t bullying, it was highway robbery — with our politicians watching from the sidelines.

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How Keynes made the world a better place

Sunday, December 4th, 2011

Dec. 3, 2011
At its heart, macroeconomics is all about identifying interdependencies in an economy: correctly identify the variables and their relationship to each other, and governments can use them as so many levers to lift people out of poverty and jump-start ailing economies… while Grand Pursuit is a story with many geniuses, there is one genius who towers over them all: Keynes… [However,] at a time when most economists are calling for more stimulus spending and regulation, we instead have governments, our own included, talking up belt-tightening and laissezfaire capitalism.

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Seeing modern economics as a ‘grand pursuit’

Sunday, September 18th, 2011

Sep 16 2011
… in her just-released Grand Pursuit: The Story of Economic Genius, Nasar surveys 200 years of economic thought… “I realized that modern economics was a grand pursuit to overcome scarcity, to take charge of destiny…” “The core of economic genius is an exercise of imagination, seeing that what seemed to be fixed and frozen could be altered. That humanity could escape the age-old sentence to nasty, short and brutish lives, that nations could make their own destinies.”

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Strikes losing historic leverage

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011

Jun 20 2011
Union membership has steadily declined over the past three decades, to a current 30.8 per cent of the non-agricultural workforce. The comparable figure for the U.S. is a mere 12.3 per cent. The sharp drop in union membership is cited as a leading cause of the flatlining of inflation-adjusted middle-class incomes in Canada and the U.S… A 17-month strike at Caterpillar Inc. in 1994 marked a turning point in North American labour relations… striking workers eventually returned to work without a contract. Employers have been playing hardball ever since.

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Call a spade a spade: capitalism

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010

Dec 21 2010
I am puzzled about the… identification of “corporate greed” as the cause of social and economic exploitation. It is merely the symptom of philosophical liberalism that fosters an economic practice that privileges self-regarding behaviour, which is expected to lead to public virtue…. by the mid-1970s… the Anglo-American liberal democracies had full confidence that they no longer needed the co-operation of organized labour… [and] went to work in attacking social programs and the right of workers to unionize their workplaces.

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