Op-Eds

Taxes are a necessary evil. Necessary, because we must fund government services. Evil, because they do damage beyond the cost to those who pay them – discouraging work and saving, misallocating where our scarce resources go, and encouraging underground activity. The federal government’s coming levies on banks and insurers – a corporate income surtax and the “Canada Recovery Dividend” – don’t even qualify as “necessary.”

These taxes were part of the Liberal campaign platform for last year’s federal election. The platform committed to raising the corporate income tax rate on bank and insurer profits above $1-billion from the 15 per cent other businesses pay to 18 per cent. It also proposed the Canada Recovery Dividend: a one-time…

In the debate over whether the Bank of Canada should issue a central bank digital currency, it is tempting to take a black-and-white perspective. But, the truth is subtler. There exists a spectrum of CBDC design possibilities and a proper evaluation of the different options is necessary.

As it turns out, a token-based CBDC – one that mimics cash quite closely – would respect privacy, create an environment for new forms of private money to grow and wouldn’t disrupt the functioning and stability of our financial system.

To understand why this option is optimal, it is first important to distinguish between public and private money. Public money consists of the physical notes and coins in circulation – the cash in your wallet…

With inflation on the rise, the Bank of Canada kicked its tightening cycle into high gear Wednesday by announcing a 50-basis-point increase in its target for the overnight rate — the first non-25-basis-point hike in over 20 years. It also modified its stance concerning its over-sized holdings of Government of Canada bonds, which swelled its balance sheet during so-called Quantitative Easing (QE). Those days are over: it will now initiate Quantitative Tightening, or QT, by not replacing bonds on its balance sheet as they mature, thus reducing its bond holdings over time.

Some might be disappointed the bank didn’t go further on QT by announcing it would actually start selling its holdings of government bonds. Not to worry.…

People have many happy expectations of cryptocurrencies as they look for ways to conduct their financial affairs outside the traditional financial system. They hope that, as crypto and its supporting blockchain technology mature, there will eventually be no delays in settling their transactions, cheaper cross-border transactions and no pesky fees on bank accounts, among other advantages.

Many also imagine that crypto assets can protect them from rising inflation. That, however, is one benefit crypto assets do not offer.

Crypto assets such as bitcoin and ethereum and their decentralized blockchain technology offer the promise that, at some point in the future, it may be possible to price goods and services and have one’s…

The budget that federal Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland will present shortly will reveal whether the government is serious about putting the national finances on to a sustainable track.

There is room for doubt. Since 2015, the government had been running deficits larger than it promised, and larger than a strong economy justified. Then it responded to the COVID-19 pandemic with debt-financed spending on an unprecedented scale.

To assuage concerns about soaring federal debt – concerns heightened by the government’s equally unprecedented failure to present a budget at all in 2020 – the Finance Minister introduced a new concept in the government’s fall economic statement that year: fiscal…