Saturday, 13 July 2013

Interesting take on debt

Dirk Bezemer, an economics professor, has an interesting take on debt and money. The first video basically summarizes the idea of endogenous money (money isn't just created externally or exogenously by central banks, but rather can be created - via the logic of double-entry bookkeeping & loans - by private banks). The key concepts, which run contrary to the way most economists look at money, is that money is debt and loans create deposits.

The second video is basically a summary of economist Hyman Minsky's "financial instability hypothesis". The idea is that rising asset prices are prone to unsustainable, speculative bubbles because as prices go up people buy more (rather than less, as is the typical price-demand relationship). To finance the purchase of increasingly costly assets, consumers will borrow more debt  which increases their purchasing power. With more purchasing power people continue to bid up the price and hence demand for the assets. This vicious cycle continues until people can no longer afford to service their debt, at which point the whole bubble collapses.

Real Housing Prices in Canada & the US.

Image Source: The Economist
(obtained via Krugman's blog)
A debt bubble like this lead to the collapse of the US housing market, which plunged the world into recession. Similar housing bubble bursts ravaged various European nations and has lead to tensions that are challenging the stability of the European Union.

Household debt and house prices in Canada, by the way, have gotten the attention of one Nobel Laurette in economics and an economist who predicted the US housing crash.

Cheerful thoughts, eh?

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Good Riddance

Vic Toews, Member of
Parliament for Provencher,

 resigned to focus on
"family, private sector".

Image Source: Wikipedia
Well, an extremely sad and embarrassing chapter in our great province's history is finally over. Harper CON Vic Toews is no longer the MP for the southeastern Manitoba riding of Provencher. He left on July 9 to allegedly focus on his family and the private sector.

I suspect the case will be him advising companies on federal policy and law, perhaps with an eye for getting through it's loopholes as well as maybe some outright corporate lobbying. Or maybe he's being rewarded for possible past legislative favours?

Just a reminder, former CON Premier Gary Filmon served on MTS Board of Directors after privatizing the company as Premier. It isn't reasonable to rule out the possibility of corporate power players rewarding those who pursue favourable policies with cushy jobs.

Regardless, don't let the revolving door hit you on the way out, Vic.

Toews has disgraced our fine province with enough of his wretched antics and so good riddance to him.

For starters, he had a hissy fit with all sorts of drivel spewing in every direction after his dirty deeds as a spouse were made public. Apparently, there's a long history of whacky electronic communications coming from the ex-MP for Provencher whenever someone gets under his thin skin.

He asks people to support draconian security bills or "stand with [...] the child pornographers". That's right, fellow Manitobans and Canadians, if you fear runaway surveillance statism - the horrors of which were revealed by Snowden in the US a year after Vic's announcement - then you're with the "child pornographers" under Toew's rhetoric.

Don't know about you, but I'd rather not have the government spying in on everything I do.

All in all, though, I have to thank him for resigning. I called for it a year ago and it's good to see that enough factors have come into play to make my wish a reality. Hopefully the next MP for Provencher will better embody the spirit and legacy of the father of Manitoba than ceiling Vic.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Harper CON applies for Official Opposition of Manitoba

Well, the scandal plagued Harper CONs are focusing their best efforts with communication. You may wonder what they're communicating (aside from using $100 Million plus Economic Action Plan ads to say the economy is a-okay despite youth joblessness). Are they trying to assure voters that everything is under control and that public funds are in good hands regardless of the fact that many view the CON-dominated Senate as a cesspool? It seems something far from their jurisdiction has caught at least one CON MP's eye.

Saint Boniface CON MP Shelly Glover seems to have had a bright idea about how to deal with the fallout from her party's misgovernment. Glover, the member of the party that hates worker representatives who worked in a job that enjoys the benefits of unions, has decided to join the Official Opposition of Manitoba. Governing, it seems, is just too hard for these CONs.

This message brought to you be
Shelly Glover.

Via Nicole Audette 

The PST hike was a bad idea and it would've made more sense for a purportedly progressive party to use progressive taxes to finance expenses - but the Harper CONs surely have enough problems of their own. Is launching a political campaign against the Manitoba NDP the most important thing to do now?

Though messing in Manitoba's affairs has sorta been a pastime of theirs. The Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) was one of the few good policies Manitoba Conservative Premier Gary Filmon brought in.

In a lightly populated province, whose harsh continental climate fails to draw new arrivals, the PNP served to bring in new residents, new workers, and new ideas. It gave Manitoba the policy space it needed to construct solutions and work with community groups to welcome newcomers and create dynamism. It would be no exaggeration to say that this program has played a part in increasing the vitality and desirability of the West End and downtown in the late 2000s.

So Stephen Harper and his anti-Annex-secularist-man-of-the-immigrant/thank-me-for-denying-refugees-much-needed-healthcare Immigration Minister Jason Kenney gutted the Manitoba success story. There goes a Made in Manitoba policy that served our needs and helped our community.

Rather than defending their last leader in government's greatest legacy, Manitoba CON MLAs blasted the Manitoba NDP and shilled for their federal counterparts anti-Manitoban move. Thank you, (then McFadyen) CONs, for being an accomplice to the screwing over of our province. I'm sure when Manitobans vote against the NDP by voting for you next election we'll be in a for an age of accountability and good policy ... or not.

The appearance of a tit-for-tat relationship you Manitoba CONs have with the Federal Party is pretty amusing, though. We shill for you, you (effectively) advertise for us is what it looks like.

That'd be a nice gig is all I'm saying.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Happy Canada Day!

Winnipeggers strive yet again for the largest
living flag in the country this Canada day.

Image Source: Ron Gillfillian/Downtown Winnipeg BIZ

As our city strives to hold the title of largest living flag in Canada, I wish you a happy Canada day. It's a great time to acknowledge all our country has to offer and the potential, through working together, that Canadians can achieve.

From coast to coast to coast, this is a great country but it has the potential to be a greater, fairer, and more just.

From far and wide,

Happy Canada Day