The comforting world of Constantinople

I really enjoy the writings of UNB economist Constantine Passaris.  The dismal science in New Brunswick seems to be heavy laden with left wing economists and I find Passaris to be a breath of fresh air.    Specifically, he doesn’t seem to be hostile to investment, exports, the importance of large companies, etc.  

Passaris seems to understand our need to grow our economic pie (through investment, trade, immigration) while so many economists are obsessed with trying to carve up the existing pie in a more equitable fashion.

7 thoughts on “The comforting world of Constantinople

  1. > the dismal science in New Brunswick seems to be heavy laden with left wing economists

    > so many economists are obsessed with trying to carve up the existing pie in a more equitable fashion.

    Examples? of actual writing, I mean, not just hand-waves in their general direction.

  2. I have to echo Mr Downes here, David. Who are you talking about? Perhaps there are economists of a leftish bent in NB, but one does not hear from them very often (at least not in the press).

    But perhaps you are using an American definition of ‘left’ – i.e. anyone to the left of Rethuglican cranks.

    Frankly I have always found Passaris’ opeds to be unfocussed and unhelpful; it’s as if he wants to be everyone’s pal and not cause offense. NB actually needs some tough offensive language right now.

  3. Dr Passaris has been the voice of sanity on a number of issues, from poulation growth (or the need for population growth) to retooling the NB economy. The key point that he is making, and one that should be pondered by decision-makers, is that NB is stronger than the current media discourse would lead us to believe. And, further, that we need to move forward with confidence rather than to succumb to hysteria or panic.

  4. ” NB is stronger than the current media discourse would lead us to believe.”

    Not sure you mean by that. That NB has resources that will in the medium term become much more valuable than they are today? Certainly, we can expect wood prices and perhaps other resource prices to rebound somewhat. However, I don’t think that we can expect the same growth rates in our major markets that we saw in the last 2 decades. Demand won’t be as strong for years to come and that means only moderate increases in prices.

    On the other hand, the NB economy has been in poor shape for decades, vis a vis the rest of the country outside of Atlantic Canada. We have one of the lowest median incomes and a miserable record in creation of high-paid jobs. I’d say that NB is actually weaker than the media discourse suggests – after all, media tend to echo the govt press releases and view things thru rose-colored glasses.

    I think that if Passaris had something really useful or insightful to add, then he should say it in a forthright manner. All signs indicate that the current govt does not really have a clue as to how to get NB headed in the right direction. They are intellectually adrift (Higgs, let alone Alward, is in way over his head) and more likely to do the wrong thing than the right set of things.

  5. Have to echo Richard here. You can read my first fairly unhelpful comment at the site, I wrote a second one so I wouldn’t fall into the same trap as Mr. Passarris and basically say a whole bunch of stuff that amounts to nothing. He vaguely alludes to David’s usual theme, so I can see why he’d like that, but there is really so little of substance here that its a wonder that UNB doesn’t employ David in its Economics faculty. And if this guy is the HEAD of the Economics department, well, there are two scenarios-either he’s pretty bad, or else he thinks the reading public of the Irving rags are idiots.

    And I also agree that we have Davids blog as an online account that the media simply parrots government presses. David has stopped badmouthing the press and become part of it, but its still pretty apparant that journalism in NB is in fairly bad shape. Ironically, of late I’ve been more impressed with the Irving rags than with the CBC-unless of course the story is about Irving.

    I have been looking for some online studies from economics profs in NB. As usual its pretty hard to find. I know Andrew Secord does a lot of left leaning studies, but in todays age that simply means they are GOOD. His INTERESTS are in social justice, so thats what he researches, but his results are typically far more valid than anything you’d find from Fraser. I”d far rather read a certified Marxist write about New Brunswick’s economy than the kind of pablum that this article showed. My criticism may be partially spurred by anger-this is a guy who gets paid to be an economics professor, and he’s writing stuff that any high school economics teacher would give a student an F on. And Richard says it point blank-show some stones dude! Tell us what you REALLY think, IF you’ve thought about it at all. I suspect like many economics profs, he may think the NB economy is simply too dull to think much about.

  6. You bring up the term “equitable” and all that comes to mind when I hear that is democracy as it begins with the premise that all are created “equal.” However, capitalism begins with the concept or premise that competition will inevitably create “inequality” based on differences of talent, industriousness and good fortune. Based on the two when I think of New Brunswick, it’s unfortunate that so much power and wealth are concentrated in the hands of a few as monopolies tend to create such a toxic environment. One which over time erodes democracy and results in fewer people participating.

  7. A snippet from a working paper…

    “Canadian workers have approximately half the amount of information and communications technologies of their American counterparts (Carney, 2010). Studies also show a strong correlation between ICT investment and productivity, and recent productivity research suggests that ICT investment shows considerable lag in affecting macroeconomic indicators (Brynjolfsson & Saunders, 2010). This suggests the investment made in ICT today may take years to manifest any positive results in national productivity. The challenge for Government policy makers will be to cut through the rhetoric of many lobbyists and determine the optimal framework of incentives to close the investment gap, and encourage increased investment in the most productive areas. Research into the effects of IT investment on productivity of “traditional” resource industries will provide an important input and consideration to this process.”

    PS, The paper is focused on NB. I hope to do articulate the effects in terms of an economic model and “sanity” check things with an econometric study… but alas, the time and the need to put food on the table)

    PSS, The “raising” of the ICT investment flag has become almost nauseating, and arguably frequently rooted in self interest rather than collective interest. Like many famous last words though… “this will be different”, lol

Comments are closed.