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Articles by Jim Stanford

A Warning from Australia on Scheer’s Climate Non-Plan

September 30, 2019

Andrew Scheer argues carbon pricing is the wrong way to limit GHG emissions. He has pledged to eliminate the federal carbon pricing system, promising that scrapping it will bring down the cost of living and unleash more business investment.

Most economists disagree. And all of the other major parties
include carbon pricing of some form in their respective plans to meet Canada’s
Paris commitments. So Scheer’s approach is a clear outlier, both intellectually
and politically.

Scheer claims his plan to eliminate carbon pricing, eliminate energy efficiency standards, and provide subsidies to “green” corporate investments would still allow Canada to meet its Paris targets. Most climate policy experts scoff at this claim. On Friday September 27 – the same day almost a million

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The Economic Pay-Off from Public Education

June 19, 2019

On a trip back to Toronto this week I attended the launch of a new report commissioned by the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation, and written by Aimee McArthur-Gupta from the Conference Board of Canada. The report presents some estimates of the economic, fiscal and social benefits of public education programs.

The full report is here. It is a useful resource for all those campaigning against conservative cutbacks to school budgets (such as those in Ontario, Alberta, and Saskatchewan). It’s also an interesting example of economists attempting to put “numbers” on channels of causation which we all knew were important, but which are hard to measure.

The report has two major analytical sections. The first uses the Conference Board’s input-output model to simulate the

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NDP Math Error will Help the Party, Not Hurt It

May 23, 2018

The number-cruncher in me cringed in sympathy for the anonymous research nerds who made the now-famous math error in the Ontario NDP’s fiscal platform. They wrongly added a $700 million contingency reserve to net revenue, instead of to expenses.  The result is an underestimation of the planned deficit (if we include that reserve – more on that below) by $1.4 billion in each year.
Pompous voices predictably crowed that this error confirms the NDP’s supposed lack of fiscal credibility. In practice, though, this accounting tempest will turn out to be a non-event in this dramatic election campaign – and in fact, it may counterintuitively help the party’s surging campaign, rather than hurting it.First off, the budgeting error is clearly insignificant in the overall fiscal picture, no matter

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Update on Jimbo’s Minimum Wage Wager

October 14, 2017

It’s been over a week now since I challenged the authors of 5 business-friendly economic reports to a friendly wager over the future trajectory of employment in provinces that are raising their minimum wage to $15 per hour.  The challenge was issued in my Globe and Mail column of October 3.
I was responding to the several business groups and business-funded think tanks that had issued several reports predicting job losses from the higher minimum wage, in the run-up to the coming vote in the Ontario legislature on the policy.  I summarized some of the major flaws of the various studies: including their misreading and misapplication of recent economic research on the employment effects of minimum wages (which typically find very small, or even slightly positive, effects); their misleading

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The Laws of Free Trade are not Immutable After All

January 9, 2017

For years, we’ve been told the dictates of globalization, and the intrusive and prescriptive terms of free trade agreements in particular, are immutable, natural, and unquestionable.  When workers were displaced by the migration of multinational capital toward more profitable jurisdictions, we were told there’s nothing we can do about it except join the race to the bottom in a desperate attempt to hang onto our jobs.  When investment and employment were undermined by lopsided trade and capital flows, and employers and financiers utilized the leverage afforded them by unrestrained international mobility to ratchet the distributional structure of the economy ever-more-blatantly in their own favour, we were informed this was just the logic of markets.  And anyone who questioned that logic, or pointed out that it didn’t work in the real world like it is described in the economic textbooks, was labelled either economically illiterate or protectors of vested interests.
Now, suddenly, on the strength of a few tweets from a President who hasn’t even taken office yet, it seems that those rules are not so immutable, permanent, or natural after all.  Now, global corporations will move billions of dollars of investment, and thousands of good jobs, just because a President-elect wants them to.

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NAFTA: Suddenly, Everything’s on the Table

January 9, 2017

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Denying globalization’s downside won’t stop right-wing populism

October 20, 2016

From Jim Stanford
I was somewhat surprised to see Stephen Poloz recently urging economists to do more work identifying and disseminating research on the supposed benefits of free trade.  That’s slightly beyond his job description (perhaps more fitting with his last position as head of Export Development Canada).  But like economic leaders elsewhere in the world, Mr. Poloz is obviously concerned with the disintegration of popular support for neoliberal free trade deals.  That disintegration will have tectonic economic and political consequences.
True believers may think that merely educating citizens about how trade deals reallyare good for everyone (á la David Ricardo’s textiles and port parable) will save the day for globalization.  But I think there’s a much deeper problem.  The reality is that trade liberalization, as currently practiced (with an emphasis on corporate power and capital mobility, and absent effective demand-management and imbalance-correcting tools), has harmed many millions of people — in both developed and developing countries — and is now repressing growth, not stimulating it.  All the comparative advantage pontificating and CGE modeling in the world won’t magically convince people to deny their own lived reality: namely, that globalization is one reason (among others) why their economic prospects have visibly diminished over the last generation.

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