This election, let’s really talk about the economy

The word ‘austerity’ is finally in the mix, but all parties stuck in the right-wing’s frame

Austerity is on the agenda of the Canadian election, as the word was finally uttered — by Justin Trudeau. Bizarrely, this came the same day as the Liberal leader rolled out his economic agenda flanked by Paul Martin, the former finance minister and prime minister who engineered deep austerity measures in the 1990s.

The way austerity has finally made it into the discussion highlights the absurdly limited nature of the economic debate so far. It’s time for a grown-up conversation about the economy in this campaign.

Right-wing frame

Politicians have been falling over each other to make economic promises they cannot keep, all the while firmly stuck in the muck of a right-wing frame. The debate has mostly been limited to whether there will be a deficit and how big, rather than the real questions of who the economy works for and why. (more…)

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Slides on Piketty’s Capital

I spoke at an event dedicated to Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century last night in Vancouver. It was great to have a conversation about inequality, economics and politics with an overflowing, diverse crowd. There is a palatable hunger for an understanding of what is going on today and what kind of political action can generate broad-based mobilization.

I’m posting my slides from that discussion here. They focus on the theory in Piketty’s work and are partly expository as one of the aims of the event was to introduce the arguments of the book. However, I have tried to raise some substantive points about how the book and its myriad empirical observations open the door to future avenues of exploration — especially exploration that takes politics seriously and wants to deepen the tradition of political economy.

One of the fruitful things about the book is door it opens out of the stuffy rooms of neoclassical economics back towards political economy. All the more important, however, to remember the task of carrying out a “Critique of Political Economy” (the subtitle of that other Capital): a serious engagement that is at once a serious critique.

Slides in PDF ]

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In and out of crisis with Sam Gindin

Today’s podcast is a feature interview with fellow political economist Sam Gindin. I interrogate Sam about the political economy of the present: the exit from the 2007 crisis, the role of states, austerity, the place of finance and the possibilities of resistance.

Sam Gindin is a left political economist with a long career. He was the longtime Research Director of the CAW and later held the Packer Visiting Chair in Social Justice at York University. Most recently, Sam authored The Making of Global Capitalism with Leo Panitch, a book that has gone on to win prestigious awards and spark important debates.

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