Friday, July 31, 2015

Something To Think About

For the next seventy-seven days, we're going to hear the message that Stephen Harper is the best person to guide the Canadian economy. Jim Stanford has been crunching the numbers; and it turns out that -- like so much of what Mr. Harper says -- there is a cavernous gap between his rhetoric and reality. Stanford writes:

However, this gap between triumphalist rhetoric and grim reality did not suddenly appear. In fact, the evidence has been piling up for years -- long before the current slowdown -- that Canada's economic performance under the Harper Conservatives has been uniquely poor.

I have worked with my Unifor colleague Jordan Brennan to compile an exhaustive empirical comparison of Canada's economic record under the Harper government, and compared that record to previous post-war prime ministers. The full 64-page study was released today, and is available here.

Here's what we did: The performance of the economy under each prime minister was described on the basis of 16 conventional and commonly used indicators of economic progress and well-being. These 16 indicators fall into three broad categories, summarized as follows:

  • Work: Job creation, employment rate, unemployment rate, labour force participation, youth employment, and job quality.
  • Production: Real GDP growth (absolute and per capita), business investment, exports and productivity growth.
  • Distribution and Debt: Real personal incomes, inequality, federal public services, personal debt, and government debt.

Taken all together, the picture that emerges is grim:

Considering the overall average ranking of each prime minister (across all 16 indicators), the Harper government receives an average ranking of 8.05 out of a worst-possible 9.0. That is dead last among the nine post-war governments, and by a wide margin -- falling well behind the second-worst government, which was the Mulroney Conservative regime of 1984-93.

The very poor economic record of the Harper government cannot be blamed on the fact that Canada experienced a recession in 2008-09. In fact, Canada experienced a total of 10 recessions during the 1946-2014 period. Most governments had to grapple with recession at some point during their tenures -- and some prime ministers had to deal with more than one. Instead, statistical evidence shows that the recovery from the 2008-09 recession has been the weakest (by far) of any Canadian recovery since the Depression. A uniquely weak recovery, not the fact that Canada experienced a recession at all, helps explains the Harper government's poor economic rating.

This statistical review confirms that it is far-fetched to suggest that Canada's economy has been well-managed during the Harper government's time in office. To the contrary, there is no other time in Canada's post-war economic history in which Canada's economy has performed worse than it did under the Harper government.

The man who claims to be an economist -- but who has never earned his living as an economist -- is a dismal failure when it comes to the dismal science.

Something to think about each time you're told that Stephen Harper knows what he's doing.


Toby said...

When I see reports like this I often wonder about the flip side. To us it looks like Harper is a colossal failure. Would the Bilderbergers think Harper is a failure? Would Canada's top oil execs? Bankers? The Koch Brothers? What is success to them?

Harper probably has a cheering crowd of like minded sociopaths who think he's a golden boy. They wouldn't care one whit about what you and I think.

Owen Gray said...

That's a pretty accurate assumption, Toby. When the economy isn't working for most of us, it's working for a few.

Rural said...

This and the full report from where the synopsis is based upon needs to be kept front and center in the coming weeks, Owen. I will be featuring it in a future article although its not my usual fodder....after all is not lieing to the electorate about the economy just before an election yet another anti-democratic action by this regime?

Owen Gray said...

As with climate change, Rural, Harper will deny the report's statistics. Remember -- we're dealing with a man who makes his own reality. For Harper, saying makes it so.

zoombats said...

At sixty two, unemployed with two daughters in University,( we're spending their inheritance on them)I don't need a report on the failings of Stephen Joseph Harper to tell me the status of our economy or his abilities. You really just have to wake up and smell the coffee. This country is going to hell in a hand basket and is akin to a runaway train. Had enough! I can only begin to hope that they hit hard in October!

Owen Gray said...

The spin is that people our age will vote for Harper in droves, zoombats. I'm a little older than you -- I'll be sixty-eight in a month. But I'm sure there are a lot more people our age who see that Harper is not the steady hand on the tiller he claims to be.

Anonymous said...

Ha, ha. I had often mocked Harper for taking almost twice as long as an average student to gain his two academic degrees.

I had also opined that the time he took seemed long even for someone only doing the degrees part time.

Seems with this study, Jim had demonstrated that Harper is a bust too in his economic performance when measured against his PM peers.

But look upon it from another perspective .... he is FIRST if we start from the bottom.

Owen Gray said...

I'm sure Harper would like to spin it that way, Anon.

Anonymous said...

Harper is "Greeceing us" just ask Joe Stiglitz.

Owen Gray said...

Perhaps you'll remember, Anon, that after the G20 summit in Toronto, Harper made a special trip to Greece to advise George Papandreou to apply more austerity to the Greek economy. We know how that worked out.