Lockouts Almost Derail GDP Growth

Statistics Canada reported today that economic growth dropped to a bare 0.1% in January. The New Year began with Rio Tinto locking out former Alcan employees at Alma, Quebec, and Caterpillar locking out former Electro Motive employees at London, Ontario. Closing these major facilities contributed to cutting growth in durable-goods…
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Ontario Budget Emulates Drummond

Perhaps the most striking feature of today’s Ontario budget is how close it comes to last month’s Drummond report. Drummond’s preferred scenario for 2017-18 was $134.7 billion of provincial revenue, $117.5 billion of program spending and $15.3 billion of interest payments. By comparison, today’s budget envisions $135.9 billion of revenue,…
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Inflation Central

Statistics Canada reported today that consumer prices edged up by 0.1% in February on a seasonally-adjusted basis, bringing the annual inflation rate to 2.6% and the core inflation rate to 2.3%. These rates are within the Bank of Canada’s target range and should allow it to keep interest rates low,…
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Below 40% of the Unemployed Get EI

Statistics Canada reported today that 12,400 more Canadians received Employment Insurance (EI) regular benefits in January. The increase in recipients reflected higher unemployment. Indeed, the proportion of jobless workers receiving benefits remained 39% (i.e. 561,060 beneficiaries out of 1,421,200 officially unemployed Canadians.) Only 28% of unemployed Ontarians received EI benefits…
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Labour Force Exodus

Statistics Canada reported this morning that 38,000 people gave up looking for work in February. The official unemployment rate fell because these Canadians were no longer counted as being unemployed. However, this huge withdrawal from the labour force is a sign of weakness in the job market. Nationally, 25,000 of…
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Tilting at Windmills: What to do about Dutch Disease

In response to Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty’s complaint about oil and the exchange rate, several (conservative) commentators argued that this “Dutch disease” is not what ails Ontario manufacturing. Andrew Coyne took a different tack yesterday, agreeing that petroleum development drives up the exchange rate to the detriment of manufacturing and…
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Debunking Drummond

The Drummond report claims that Ontario is headed for a $30-billion deficit. This figure has been widely and uncritically reported. For example, The Globe and Mail printed four articles featuring this number in its February 18 edition. The Ontario government projected a balanced budget with a $1-billion contingency reserve by…
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Drummond, Deconstructed

In the Commission report that bears his name, and in all of his media appearances since its release, Banker Don Drummond has ably played the disinterested expert, taking no pleasure in sharing the “gloomy message” he has for Ontario. From the way most TV hosts and journalists have rushed forward…
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Drummond Misdiagnoses Ontario’s Economy

The Harvard International Review has posted an interview with Don Drummond. I have posted the following response: It is good Drummond confesses that his free-market policy prescriptions failed to improve productivity, but old habits apparently die hard: “We have an Employment Insurance scheme that basically dissuades people from going where…
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