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Worthwhile Canadian Initiative

The Worthwhile Canadian Initiative blog is a self proclaimed “mainly Canadian economics blog”. Written by a group of intelligent economists, this blog is filled with top quality posts ranging from health, finance and inequality.

Do the self-employed opt out of the Canada Pension Plan?

In 2017, anyone with earnings was required to pay $4.95 in Canada Pension Plan contributions for every $100 of earnings (up to a maximum earnings threshold of $51,800 - rates here). For the employed, their $4.95 CPP/QPP contribution was matched by an equal contribution by their employer. However self-employed individuals are required to pay the entire employer+employee contribution themselves, amounting to $9.90 for every $100 of earnings. Now the self-employed have an out. They can...

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If you wanna run hot you gotta run steady

Canadian economist Richard Lipsey would always insist that the Phillips Curve is a curve, and not a straight line. Maybe because wages and prices are stickier down than up. Or maybe because unemployment can't go below 0%. Or both. Here's why that matters for macroeconomic policy: Suppose the central bank wants 2% inflation on average, over the longer term. One way to get that result would be to flip a coin, every year, or every decade, or whatever. If it's heads, the central bank "runs...

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The Economics of Increasing Immigration During an Economic Crisis

The following is a guest post by Mikal Skuterud of University of Waterloo On February 14, the Federal Government issued 27,332 invitations for permanent residency to Canadian Experience Class (CEC) applicants in the Express Entry pool. To issue this unprecedented level of invitations, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) reached deep into the pool, providing invitations to applicants with record-low Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) scores.   The CRS is a points system...

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Rapid Vaccinations Can Help Avoid the `Third Wave’ in Ontario

The following is a guest post by Miguel Casares (Universidad Publica de Navarra, Spain), Paul Gomme (Concordia University), and Hashmat Khan (Carleton University) Of utmost importance is improving our understanding of the complex interactions between: (a) the epidemiology that describes the evolution of the coronavirus/COVID-19; and (b) the social and economic choices of individuals.  Towards this end, we have developed a model that captures some salient elements of this interaction. The...

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100 million is a really big number: a review of Doug Saunders’ Maximum Canada

The following is a guest post by Mikal Skuterud, professor of economics at University of Waterloo  Despite my interest in Canadian immigration policy, I’ve been hesitant to read Doug Saunders’ latest book Maximum Canada: Toward a Country of 100 Million. The idea that the solution to Canada’s economic challenges is more people, and a lot more people, seems naïve. In hindsight, I waited too long. Saunders’ account of Canada's immigration history is intriguing and his writing, as always,...

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Loanable Funds Redux

Stop talking about "saving". Talk instead about "demand for assets". You will be happier, and your head will be clearer. Your students too will be happier, and their heads will be clearer. Demand for assets is a thing; saving is a non-thing (a residual). Things are clearer than non-things. Saving is the part of your income you do not spend on consumption. OK, so what do you do with your income, if you don't spend it on consumption? You buy/accumulate assets. Assets are things too. Like...

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Presidents: do you get what you pay for?

In 1915, Woodrow Wilson earned $75,000 per year, or $1.9 million in 2018 dollars, for serving as President of the United States. The current incumbent of that office receives only a fraction of that amount: $400,000 annually. Congress has increased the presidential salary three times in the past 100 years: raising it to $100,000 in 1949, to $200,000 in 1979, and to $400,000 in 2001. These rises appear as sharp spikes in the graph below. After each one of these increases, the real value of...

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Can the Great Barrington proposal save the economy?

The Great Barrington Declaration argues against universal lock-downs: Those who are not vulnerable should immediately be allowed to resume life as normal. Simple hygiene measures, such as hand washing and staying home when sick should be practiced by everyone to reduce the herd immunity threshold. Schools and universities should be open for in-person teaching. Extracurricular activities, such as sports, should be resumed. Young low-risk adults should work normally, rather than from home....

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Two Price-setting Monopolists Meet in the Street

Two price-setting monopolists meet in the street. One says to the other: "I will buy 10 more of your overpriced bananas, but only if you buy 10 more of my overpriced apples in return. Deal?" The second monopolist accepts the deal. They meet in the street again the following day. One says to the other: "Instead of me buying those 10 more overpriced bananas today, could I just lend you those 10 more overpriced apples, at the central bank's newly announced overpriced rate of interest, and...

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Pain, brioche, and the language of taxation

Ireland's Supreme Court recently ruled that the buns Subway uses in its sandwiches contain too much sugar to be considered "bread", and are thus subject to Value Added Tax (VAT). The decision lead to headlines and discussion along the lines of "Irish High Court Rules Subway’s Sandwich Bread Is Not Legally Bread" or "Ireland declares that Subway’s bread is basically cake". The emphasis was on how "confused" and "bizarre" the entire debate was, and the cost and arbitrary nature of...

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