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

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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

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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

Two data points on personal debt
24/08/2012, 09:28
Filed under: Economics, Policy, Politics, Thought

Pretty much by the definition of the universe, risk is something that affects all of us. Still, not all risk is the same.

Most notably, there is individual risk and there is systematic risk. Risk that effects the individual is risk that impacts each of us differently. Systematic risk effects our community or society as a whole, and so each of us in the same way.

A lot of people get worked up about various systematic risks. This includes things like climate change, nuclear holocaust and genetically modified foods.

While these systematic risks are important, practically speaking, we should also concern ourselves with individual risk, at least because they are tractable.  Continue reading

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More Albertans need to save (or vote NDP?)
14/08/2012, 14:06
Filed under: Economics, Policy, Politics, Statistics

In theory, a booming economy that supports higher incomes can increase lifetime well-being, but only if people are smart. In my work comparing poverty outcomes among the provinces, Alberta and Quebec stand out as having a couple of the healthiest poverty profiles. However, for very different reasons.

While Quebec has a fairly robust social security system (the kind that many Canadians think they have, and used to have, but don’t really anymore), Alberta does not.

Alberta, however, has a booming economy and a small population. The result is a labour market that favours sellers—i.e. one that provides a job and high wages for just about every able body.

This state of affairs is good news for most Albertans. In fact, Albertans are much wealthier than Quebecers today. But, what will happen if the Alberta economy tanks?  Continue reading

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Support FSL Education
12/08/2012, 17:54
Filed under: Myself, Policy, Sociology

Marie-Hélène Lussier’s recent report is probably the first report that begins to tell a dastardly story about a growing underclass of anglophone Quebecers.

When I first arrived in Montreal some years ago, I initially worked as a nighttime grocery clerk at a Super C grocery store in Montreal’s NDG neighbourhood. A handful of my fellow workers from that period still stand out in my mind—a man that had taught himself fluent English by watching the Simpsons; a shift manager with little income but, due to his extraordinary abilities in financial management, owned his house and car, and was already putting college money away for his young chidlren; a man from the Congo who’s facial expression when I asked him about it told me that I should never ask about it again.

One day, another fellow, a young man from Barabados, told me that he planned to stick with Super C for a long time. He was pretty excited that he could eventually make up to 11 or 12 dollars an hour with them. I was a bit horrified by this—I’d been making 16 dollars an hour working in construction just before moving out East. 11 or 12 dollars was a couple dollars more than minimum wage at the time, but it was still a pittance. How could someone look forward to this, expect no more than this, plan for this?  Continue reading

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Market failure and Yo Mama
27/06/2012, 13:03
Filed under: Economics, Policy, Sociology

Yesterday I wrote a post summarizing Anne-Marie Slaughter‘s latest article in The Atlantic, “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All.” Today I’d like to return to an issue raised by the article and which I think is worth highlighting: while there are lots of good ethical/moral reasons to support a healthy work-life/family balance, it isn’t at all clear that this needs to be done at the expense of instrumental reasons like innovation, profit and growth.

In fact, when it comes to a healthy work-life balance and economic growth, we might be able to have our cake and eat it too.

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