Developments in the Canadian economy have forced an important re-thinking of the respective roles of monetary and fiscal policy in supporting stable growth and job creation. But mainstream thinking about monetary policy has evolved much further than that on fiscal policy.
Before the great recession of 2008, fiscal policy had fallen greatly out of favour as a tool for macro economic stabilization. The conventional wisdom was that central banks could adjust short term interest rates to keep the economy growing more less at potential with low inflation, and indeed there was no recession from the early 1990s until the financial crisis of 2008.
With a plunging Canadian dollar, collapsing oil prices, slumping stock markets and signs that the economy stalled in the last quarter of 2015, it is easy to think that we are on the cusp of economic disaster. But the state of the Canadian economy, while indeed dismal, does not justify alarmist pronouncements that threaten to make things even worse by undermining consumer and business confidence.
The recent federal election featured something of a debate on fiscal policy, with the Liberals promising to run modest deficits for three years in order to stimulate a sagging economy and finance needed long-term investments in infrastructure and social programs. This approach won wide support among both progressives and mainstream economists.
The so-called “middle class” tax cut promised by the newly elected Liberal government in the name of promoting greater fairness seems set to be quickly implemented for the 2016 tax year. Yet the distributional and revenue consequences of this measure are often misunderstood, and the proposed change merits reconsideration.
Currently there are four federal tax brackets: 15% on taxable incomes of less than $44,701; 22% on further income up to $89,401; 26% on further income up to $138,586; and 29% on income above that amount.
Economists have a strong predisposition towards trade liberalization, which is held to increase efficiency and boost productivity through greater specialization in those sectors in which we hold a comparative advantage.
But the new Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is likely to be damaging to our future prosperity by reinforcing our over reliance upon low value-added exports of raw and semi-processed resources, and by further increasing our chronic deficit in the trade of sophisticated manufactured goods and advanced services.
There has been a lot of talk during the federal election campaign about how to create more good, “middle-class” jobs. But there has been only limited recognition of the need for a much more active government role if we are to build the more innovative and sustainable economy we need to create such jobs.
When we talk about jobs during the current election campaign, we should be concerned about both the short term and the next few years. We badly need to create jobs now, and also need better labour market policies to avoid emerging skills shortages.
Posted by Broadbent Institute | Institut Broadbent · July 11, 2015 9:00 AM
Corporate tax cuts have been central to the Harper government's economic agenda. The result has been a huge loss of public revenues for negligible economic gain, suggesting that we need a major policy rethink.
Budget 2015 is, surprise, primarily a political document that extolls the government’s record and highlights tax cuts, but does almost nothing to deal with rising inequality or to shape the trajectory of the struggling economy.
As expected, annual contributions to Tax Free Savings Accounts are to be almost doubled to $10,000 per year, which will cost over $300 million in lost annual revenues within five years. The increase will eventually all but eliminate taxation of investment income, to the primary benefit of the very affluent earning more than $250,000 per year who collect almost half of all capital gains and dividends subject to tax.