Alberta and Saskatchewan have budget problems. And they’ve had them for decades.
Easy money from resource revenues provided roughly one-quarter of all provincial revenue only a few short years ago. The collapse in oil prices, which aren’t expected to rise any time soon, revealed each province’s shaky budget foundations for all to see.
Though they face similar challenges, their responses are anything but.
In Alberta, budget debates are highly polarized. Spending restraint is unacceptable slash-and-burn to some, while to others tax increases are nefarious socialist plots (we exaggerate; but only a little). Neither position is particularly sensible. Alberta has one of the highest levels of spending, per person, yet the...
You have probably heard of bitcoin. You might have even heard about its underlying technology, the blockchain. What you may not have realized is that it is not bitcoin that will change our lives, but other applications of blockchain technology in areas such as payments, contracts and the provision of government services.
Blockchain technology in its simplest form allows transactions to occur between individuals and institutions without the need for a third party. This would entail a big change for financial services firms. Since the Renaissance period, they have relied on a double-entry bookkeeping system whereby each transaction requires a debit on the asset side and a credit on the liability side. This form of record-keeping has...
No one likes the word deficit. In government finance it means you spend more than what you raise in revenue. And in trade it means you import more than you export. U.S. President Donald Trump has repeatedly pointed to widening trade deficits with countries such as China and Mexico as proof positive that his predecessors have made bad trade deals.
But it is misleading to think of trade deficits in that way. At the very least, the reality is far more nuanced.
First, imports have a beneficial impact. More countries selling to the U.S., or Canada, means more affordable goods for consumers, which has helped boost what’s called the “C” variable — consumer spending. In the U.S., in fact, if we remove food and energy from the equation,...
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