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Photo: Sharon Drummond/flickr
| March 17, 2014
Columnists

Fiscal 'crisis' in context: Two indicators

Net government financial debt

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With all the predictions of doom and gloom coming from the austerity camp, one would think that Canada was already about to hit the famed (but never seen) "debt wall." Before we get too carried away, however, with the scary debt stuff, consider these two indicators of the fundamental fiscal fragility/stability of Canadian governments.

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Screenshot from Steven Keen's talk "Canada's Debt Bubble"
| July 5, 2012
Columnists

Shooting baby hippos for the sake of austerity

Baby hippo at Werribee Zoo. Photo: Dan Gordon/Flickr

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In the early 1990s, CTV broadcaster Eric Malling told Canadians the sad tale of a baby hippo shot by authorities at a New Zealand zoo.

Sad, but apparently necessary, Malling suggested in a special broadcast from down under. After all, New Zealand had big deficits, so there was no money to expand the hippo pen. What was a country to do but blow the newborn hippo away?

Malling's cautionary tale, which helped pitch an austerity agenda to Canadians 20 years ago, wouldn't seem out of place today, as we're once again being urged to hunker down for lean, mean times.

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| January 31, 2012
| December 31, 2011
Columnists

Spending according to 'kitchen table economics'

For someone paid to be optimistic, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty was remarkably sombre in last week's speech to the Canadian Club in Toronto, warning about the impact of financial uncertainty on an already shaky recovery. He concluded with a tried-and-true conservative analogy, suggesting that, in turbulent times, government should imitate households and live within their means.

During a crisis, the manager of a household's finances must "make difficult choices to put your family's finances on a structurally stronger footing," Mr. Flaherty said, suggesting that finance ministers do the same. "You figure out a way to restrain your spending and ... reduce your debt."

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| August 9, 2011
| August 4, 2011
Columnists

Tories wield the deficit truncheon

If only the unemployed weren't so reckless with our money.

In predicting a $50 billion deficit last week, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty was quick to centre-stage the role of the unemployed and his other favourite whipping boy -- the autoworkers -- in soaking up government funds and pushing us deeper into debt.

Flaherty seemed keen to deflect public wrath onto these ill-fated workers, clearly victims of the global economic meltdown triggered by Wall Street. Most of them have probably never even been to Wall Street, let alone flipped asset-backed securities inside hedge fund portfolios.

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