Friday, October 16, 2020

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Chris Giles reports that even the IMF is warning governments not to engage in avoidable austerity. And Richard Kozul-Wright and Nelson Barbosa write that governments face a choice between investing in a recovery now, or facing years of stagnation and uncertainty - which is particularly worth noting as a deficit hyena demands to be kept in power in Saskatchewan due precisely to his refusal to invest in people:

[I]nflationary hawks and deficit hyenas are once again warning of dire consequences if fiscal consolidation – “austerity” to the general public – is unduly delayed.

This was the policy advice followed after the 2009 crisis with damaging consequences – not only in terms of growth and incomes but also public finances, as governments took on more debt to compensate stagnant or falling tax revenues.

Recovering better this time will need to follow a different path, with an emphasis on jobs, wages and public investment. But an accompanying increase in public-debt ratios should not be a reason for panic or doomsday scenarios, provided that the purchasing power created by the government is put to good use. In the long run, the additional public debt incurred to finance a better recovery will be paid for by the increase in the potential output of the economy.


With these conditions in place, policymakers can get down to the real business of shaping their spending plans to build back better. There is no shortage of challenges to be met: repairing the environment degraded biosystems with massive reforestation and heavy investments in recycling and waste management systems; regional renewal and transformation, especially through better and greener transportation links and improving local housing, water and sanitation conditions; decarbonization of power generation and increased energy efficiency; and expansion and improvement in public health and education.

In UNCTAD’s recently released Trade and Development Report 2020, we showed that a strong public spending package combined with wage rises tied to productivity growth and a progressive reworking of tax structures will not only boost incomes and jobs over the coming decade compared with a turn to austerity – it will also guarantee a fairer distribution and leave government finances in better shape.

- Meanwhile, Lachlan Carey points out that investing in a just transition today will help reduce the environmental and fiscal challenges we're already facing down the road. And Mitchell Anderson points out that we can fund some of the steps required to meet people's basic needs by cracking down on tax avoidance.

- Brandon Doucet writes about the need for national and universal public dental care. And Dave McGinn reports that instead of being funded as part of a recovery plan, child care is becoming increasingly difficult to sustain.

- Linda Nazareth warns that one of the effects of an increase in remote work will be to allow employers to try to attack wages and working conditions under the threat of moving jobs offshore.

- Finally, Kate Kelland writes about the devastating effects of "long COVID" at a point when much of Canada is facing alarming outbreaks. And Emily Pasiuk reports on the mental health impact of coronavirus-related restrictions on people alone in long-term care.

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