Monday, October 08, 2012

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your Monday reading.

- Jim Stanford reviews the effect of NAFTA (and associated corporatist policy choices) on Canada's economy:
Quantity of exports: In the mid-1980s, before Brian Mulroney and Ronald Reagan inked their deal, Canada’s exports to the United States accounted for 19 per cent of Canadian GDP. Today, they account for 19 per cent of Canadian GDP. Any boost to exports from the deal was temporary, and has since been completely reversed.

Composition of exports: In the mid-1980s, most of Canada’s exports to the U.S. consisted of relatively sophisticated manufactured goods (including automobiles, electronics and machinery). Today, most of our southbound exports consist of unprocessed or barely processed primary and resource products.

U.S. market: In the mid-1980s, 19 per cent of all U.S. imports came from Canada. Today, our share of their imports is just 14 per cent. So much for “special access.” Yet, we still rely on the U.S. for 75 per cent of all our export sales – just as high as before the deal.

Productivity: In the mid-1980s, average productivity in Canadian businesses equalled 90 per cent of U.S. levels. Free-trade advocates predicted that continental integration would eliminate that gap – but we’ve gone backward, and fast. Today, our productivity is just 72 per cent of U.S. levels.

Incomes: Proponents also promised that productivity gains from free trade would translate into higher incomes. There’s been no productivity dividend, and no income growth, either. In fact, last year’s median family incomes, adjusted for inflation, were exactly the same as in 1980 – not a dollar of income growth over the whole period.

In short, it’s hard to find any concrete economic evidence whatsoever that this historic deal actually helped Canada.
- Meanwhile, Murray Dobbin wonders whether Justin Trudeau has any intention of recognizing any weaknesses in the Libs' policy choices while presenting himself as a candidate of change. And Marc Lavoie and Mario Seccareccia make abundantly clear that the Bank of Canada isn't interested in learning from false assumptions about the relationship between inflation rates and growth.

- It's a tough contest as to which story is most emblematic of the Cons' stay in government: a deliberate choice to neglect public infrastructure until it can be sold off, or reckless public service cuts followed by lies going all the way to Stephen Harper to try to insulate the Cons from their choices.

- Finally, Don Braid laments the lack of commitment to access to information from the Cons and other Canadian governments. And no, a federal pilot project limited to fee-for-service online request submissions doesn't offer any particular reason for reassurance.

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