Op-Eds

Two years ago, in another op-ed, I made an unpopular prediction. I guessed that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)’s plan to scrap network neutrality rules in the United States would not break the internet. In fact, contrary to the dire forecasts of pro-regulation groups, I thought the measure wouldn’t amount to much of anything: that “net neutrality” legislation was pretty pointless — and so removing it would be uneventful, and certainly not bad for U.S. broadband. My view was received with a fair amount of hostility. One reader memorably proposed on Twitter that I have intimate relations with my own eyeball. “You are clearly flexible enough and already blind,” he wrote. I promised to check back in, in two years, to...
Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s decision last fall to put the retailing of cannabis in the hands of the private sector was a good one. The province recently held a lottery to determine who would operate as a cannabis retailer. The use of a lottery, as opposed to an auction or a “preferred suppliers” rule, to allocate retail outlets can be defended on two grounds. One is that the government did not wish to give excessive retail power to existing cannabis interests with deep pockets, or to other retailers such as Walmart or a pharmacy chain. An auction would likely have resulted in a concentration of retail power akin to the concentration of production power that exists at present. That concentration of production power already places the...
On Oct. 17, Canada will be the second country in the world to have fully legalized production and retail distribution of recreational marijuana. There will be considerable international interest in the Canadian experiment, in order to understand what works and what does not. One of the prime objectives of legalization was to stamp out the black market. However, it is now clear that this is extremely unlikely. Both federal and different provincial governments should accept responsibility for this. Black markets exist if there is insufficient legal supply or if they can offer comparable goods at lower cost. Based on available data on the number of licensed producers and medical-marijuana production and inventory levels, we estimate that...
It’s been a decade since the collapse of Lehman Brothers sparked the 2008-09 global financial crisis and recession. The global economy is finally performing at a robust level, with solid output and employment growth in many regions and interest rates generally on the rise toward more normal levels. The acute pain felt during the financial crisis, and the protracted period of recovery, should have encouraged policy-makers and their voters to take meaningful steps to avoid a repeat performance. But have lessons been learned? One positive outcome was the innovative application of monetary policy. Central banks were the reliable backbone of the policy response to the financial crisis; exceptional and prolonged monetary stimulus and...
Ontario Premier Doug Ford should be congratulated for improving Ontario’s marijuana market structure last week. He decided to privatize the retailing of marijuana in the province. That decision represents a reversal of the previous government’s choice to place retailing in the hands of a high-cost government monopoly. This is good news. However, he also decided to leave a government agency front and centre in the wholesaling of cannabis. Having gone some way to free up entrepreneurial energies and create an expansive marketplace, he balked at the idea that this market could function well without a monopsony, or a single buyer, at its core. For the benefit of Ontarians, the government should go further, and, in particular, look at...