12/12/2012, 14:11
Filed under: Culture, Economics, Ephemera

Speaking of “Toyotism” and industrial inertia in the US, I stumbled upon this commercial for the new Toyota Tundra. Riffing on Toyota’s rise at Ford et al.’s expense, it throws salt on the wound of declining American manufacturing. I saw it playing before a movie in Saskatoon; I wonder if it aired south of the 49th.

The commercial lists a bunch of things that “You,” all-American-man, used to think when you were growing up—you didn’t think math would prove useful, but you became and engineer; you thought all-American-girl across the road was annoying, but she became your loving wife; you thought babies were even more annoying, but they became one of your proudest accomplishment; and…

“You even used to think the most dependable truck had to come come from Detroit.”

“Good thing you kept an open mind.”

Comments Off on Ouch!

“Toyotism” vs. “Volvoism”
11/12/2012, 19:08
Filed under: Economics, Politics

I just learned Volvo is a Swedish company. No wonder the educated upper-bourgeoisie love them. Did I mention how much I adore Volvo?

But in all seriousness, I just finished reading and article from the early 90s, entitled, “The Economics of Job Protection and Emerging New Capital-Labour Relations.” In it, French economist Robert Boyer details the Fordist approach to job protection and capital-labour relations, questions the radical neoclassical call for complete flexibility, and proposes that we are faced with a choice: either “Toyotism” or “Volvoism.” Continue reading

Harper’s “New Vague”
08/12/2012, 19:34
Filed under: Economics, Politics

Harper’s approach to the foreign take-over of Nexen is incoherent at best, a recipe for corruption and patronage at worst.

Yesterday, Steven Harper announced that the government of Canada would allow the selling of Canadian privately owned Nexen to Chinese state-owned CNOOC. 15.4 billion dollars will exchange hands.

Harper is aware that the move will be unpopular, even among his base in Alberta. So, the Prime Minister took a reluctant tone.

But I’m not concerned by the politics of the decision. I’m concerned by how the decision was made, and, ultimately, the precedent it sets for how decisions will be made in the future. Continue reading

Comments Off on Harper’s “New Vague”

What is my PhD about?
27/11/2012, 15:51
Filed under: Economics, Myself, Sociology, Thought

Yesterday the Huffington Post published an article by CCPA Senior Economist David Macdonald on whether Generation Y is more hard done by than the generations that came before it. According to Macdonald, while some things have changed for better or worse, one shift has overwhelmed all of them: Millennials will confront greater risks over their life times than any living generation before them.

And yet, what is risk? Macdonald lists a handful of instances—unemployment insurance is less likely to cover you; students have to go into more debt; pensions are more vulnerable to market fluctuations; housing markets are more volatile—but doesn’t take care to define a general concept.

While risk is an idea with intuitive appeal, if you ask most folks what exactly it means, most would have a hard time giving a concise answer. In fact, it wouldn’t be easy for me either, and I study risk everyday.  Continue reading

Comments Off on What is my PhD about?

Tax cuts do lead to greater inequality
17/09/2012, 14:35
Filed under: Economics, Policy

While there appears to be little to no evidence that tax cuts stimulate economic growth, they do seem to make rich people richer relative to everyone else (in The Atlantic).

Analysis of six decades of data found that top tax rates “have had little association with saving, investment, or productivity growth.” However, the study found that reductions of capital gains taxes and top marginal rate taxes have led to greater income inequality.

One of these days, I, or someone else, is going to have to get around to showing how inequality hurts economic growth.  Continue reading

Comments Off on Tax cuts do lead to greater inequality

Tax hikes can lead to economic growth
15/09/2012, 18:03
Filed under: Economics, Myself, Policy, Politics

I spend a lot of time studying economic indicators and reading what various analysts have to say about them. I’m a PhD student in economic sociology and a paid policy analyst. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to reference all these years upon years of study and reflection every time I open my mouth to make a point.

So it’s always nice when the New York Times assembles a pithy infograph that communicates something that I and everyone else that spends all their time thinking and reading about this stuff takes for granted.  Continue reading

Comments Off on Tax hikes can lead to economic growth

Saturday night rent night
08/09/2012, 23:14
Filed under: Economics, Policy, Thought

This evening, I’m skimming theories of rent. For fun.

Rent is a bad thing. It’s econospeak for “undeserved profit.” Rent is a fun concept because it slips power back into neoclassical economics. Rents do not exist in perfect markets. They only exist where institutional contexts favour one group or individual at the expense of others.

While skimming the net, a few things stood out.  Continue reading