Saturday, November 05, 2016

Saturday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Neil Irwin examines one of the key ideas underlying the U.S. Democrats' economic plans, being that workers need to have meaningful choices rather than being trapped by a limited and slanted set of available employers and work structures:
Labor market monopsony is the idea that when there isn’t enough competition among businesses, it is bad news for workers. When an industry includes only a few big companies, they don’t have to compete with one another as hard to attract employees — and so end up paying their workers less than they would if there were true competition. It’s the flip side of how monopoly power lets companies charge higher prices to consumers.
The talk of monopsony is part of a shift in the policy tools that many left-of-center economic thinkers see as most promising for addressing the economic challenges of poor and middle-class Americans. Rather than focusing on policies that amount to redistribution — tax rates, the social welfare system — they are looking at how the rules of the economic game shape people’s outcomes.

Some use a term for this set of policies coined by the Yale political scientist Jacob Hacker: predistribution policy. This is policy that shapes how the market works in the first place, as opposed to redistribution policy, which assumes a free market will generate growth and then uses taxes and spending to give a lift to the economy’s losers.
Besides the monopsony research, the Obama White House has focused on evidence that inequality is fueled by a shift away from labor unions and by corporate consolidation within industries.

Elsewhere, the Roosevelt Institute, a think tank in New York, has explored the interplay between the outsize growth of the financial industry and pay for top corporate executives and the slow growth in the typical worker’s wages. And last week, the Washington Center for Equitable Growth issued recommended strategies for the next administration, which included ensuring that the minimum wage covers workers who depend on tips, and making sure that modern supply chains do not inhibit the creation of good jobs.
Many of the policies under discussion — a higher minimum wage, or tougher antitrust enforcement — have long been supported by liberal economists and politicians. What has changed is that they are being emphasized as a first-order set of priorities, and as part of a unified body of work.
- Emma Teitel discusses new research showing that the gap in opportunity between generations can't be explained by differences in work ethic - as in fact, millenials are more willing than their baby-boomer predecessors to put work first. And Angella MacEwen comments on a joint effort to propose a more fair system of employment leave for today's workers.

- Laurie Monsebraaten reports on the structure of the Ontario basic income pilot project proposed by Hugh Segal. And Roderick Benns highlights the indicators which will signal the success of the concept.

- Mainstreet Research finds that a strong majority of Saskatchewan respondents want to see major changes to the province's political financing rules. And the Canadian Press reports that the Saskatchewan NDP is working to make those changes a reality despite the foot-dragging of a Wall government determined to keep the out-of-province donation taps flowing.

- Finally, Brett Dolter examines how Brad Wall's white paper is anything but a credible climate change plan - as it relies on little but cherry-picked assumptions and bluster to paper over a commitment to fighting against progress. And Bruce Johnstone writes that there's no reason to take Wall's posturing toward the federal government seriously. 


  1. The Dolter piece very quietly drops a bombshell in the last graph--taking those prices as accurate, the simple and obvious strategy for Saskatchewan re: energy, with or without climate change or carbon taxes, is to build lots of wind because it's significantly the cheapest option. I'm unclear what units the numbers represent, but whatever they are wind costs a touch under 60 of 'em, and the next cheapest option, coal without carbon capture or carbon taxes (which has masses of other drawbacks and costs) clocks in at 70. Everything else isn't even close. No matter what the regulatory regime, those numbers say in Saskatchewan, build wind power.

    In particular, the cost for CCS on coal is so much higher than the cost of coal without CCS that you could clearly build new wind facilities for less than the cost of retrofitting existing coal plants with CCS--even if you took the unrealistic option of assuming the retrofit cost is no more than the difference between cost of coal without and cost of coal with. So, NEW (replacement) wind capacity is CHEAPER than adding CCS to existing coal. Significantly cheaper, like two thirds the cost max, probably less.

    1. Sorry, not the last graph, the second to last graph--levelized cost of electricity in Saskatchewan.