Posts Tagged ‘economics’

Neil Macdonald: Why a U.S.-style housing nightmare could hit Canada – World – CBC News.

An expatriate always thinks about going home. The longer the time abroad, the stranger the prospect of re-entry feels.

But if you’re a Canadian living abroad these days, the idea of returning home has become downright frightening. Stories are now routinely surfacing in the Canadian media suggesting collective madness when it comes to affordable living.

Our biggest real estate markets — Toronto and Vancouver — seem to have decided they’re really London and Manhattan. Several of our smaller cities are wildly optimistic, too, with year after year after year of six-, seven-, even 10-per-cent increases in property values.

Friends and colleagues who own homes in Canada are the very pictures of smug. They seem convinced the markets in which they happily reside will keep rising forever. Or at the very least, never drop.

And any discussion of the subject usually involves condescending lectures about how Americans, who are only beginning to recover from a six-year nightmare of foreclosures, could have used a dose of Canadian common sense and prudence.

CONDO CITYToronto’s booming condo market a high-rise panorama

Well, I watched America’s nightmare unfold, and it appears pretty evident to me that a sequel of some sort is coming to Canada.

So I ran that thesis past Robert Shiller, of Yale University, probably the foremost authority on real estate in America. He co-founded the Case-Shiller Home Price Index and predicted the American collapse in 2005, a year before it happened.

“I worry,” he told me, “that what is happening in Canada is kind of a slow-motion version of what happened in the U.S.”

 

Continue reading the remainder of the article… Neil Macdonald: Why a U.S.-style housing nightmare could hit Canada – World – CBC News.

The Economics of Happiness – Jeffrey D. Sachs – Project Syndicate.

NEW YORK – We live in a time of high anxiety. Despite the world’s unprecedented total wealth, there is vast insecurity, unrest, and dissatisfaction. In the United States, a large majority of Americans believe that the country is “on the wrong track.” Pessimism has soared. The same is true in many other places.

Against this backdrop, the time has come to reconsider the basic sources of happiness in our economic life. The relentless pursuit of higher income is leading to unprecedented inequality and anxiety, rather than to greater happiness and life satisfaction. Economic progress is important and can greatly improve the quality of life, but only if it is pursued in line with other goals.

In this respect, the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan has been leading the way. Forty years ago, Bhutan’s fourth king, young and newly installed, made a remarkable choice: Bhutan should pursue “gross national happiness” rather than gross national product. Since then, the country has been experimenting with an alternative, holistic approach to development that emphasizes not only economic growth, but also culture, mental health, compassion, and community.

Dozens of experts recently gathered in Bhutan’s capital, Thimphu, to take stock of the country’s record. I was co-host with Bhutan’s prime minister, Jigme Thinley, a leader in sustainable development and a great champion of the concept of “GNH.” We assembled in the wake of a declaration in July by the United Nations General Assembly calling on countries to examine how national policies can promote happiness in their societies.

All who gathered in Thimphu agreed on the importance of pursuing happiness rather than pursuing national income. The question we examined is how to achieve happiness in a world that is characterized by rapid urbanization, mass media, global capitalism, and environmental degradation. How can our economic life be re-ordered to recreate a sense of community, trust, and environmental sustainability?

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The Economics of Happiness – Jeffrey D. Sachs – Project Syndicate.

Why Free Trade Matters – Jagdish Bhagwati – Project Syndicate.

NEW YORK – Contrary to what skeptics often assert, the case for free trade is robust. It extends not just to overall prosperity (or “aggregate GNP”), but also to distributional outcomes, which makes the free-trade argument morally compelling as well.

The link between trade openness and economic prosperity is strong and suggestive. For example, Arvind Panagariya of Columbia University divided developing countries into two groups: “miracle” countries that had annual per capita GDP growth rates of 3% or higher, and “debacle” countries that had negative or zero growth rates. Panagariya found commensurate corresponding growth rates of trade for both groups in the period 1961-1999.

Of course, it could be argued that GDP growth causes trade growth, rather than vice versa – that is, until one examines the countries in depth. Nor can one argue that trade growth has little to do with trade policy: while lower transport costs have increased trade volumes, so has steady reduction of trade barriers.

More compelling is the dramatic upturn in GDP growth rates in India and China after they turned strongly towards dismantling trade barriers in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. In both countries, the decision to reverse protectionist policies was not the only reform undertaken, but it was an important component.

In the developed countries, too, trade liberalization, which started earlier in the postwar period, was accompanied by other forms of economic opening (for example, a return to currency convertibility), resulting in rapid GDP growth. Economic expansion was interrupted in the 1970’s and 1980’s, but the cause was the macroeconomic crises triggered by the success of the OPEC cartel and the ensuing deflationary policies pursued by then-Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker.

Moreover, the negative argument that historical experience supports the case for protectionism is flawed. The economic historian Douglas Irwin has challenged the argument that nineteenth-century protectionist policy aided the growth of infant industries in the United States. He has also shown that many of the nineteenth century’s successful high-tariff countries, such as Canada and Argentina, used tariffs as a revenue source, not as a means of sheltering domestic manufacturers.

Read the rest here… Why Free Trade Matters – Jagdish Bhagwati – Project Syndicate