Economy’s supposed slow recovery is really a ‘secular stagnation’

“The very weak recovery increasingly suggests that the problem is ‘secular stagnation’ rather than a temporary, cyclical phenomenon,” wrote Andrew Jackson, the Packer Professor of Social Justice at York University, in The Globe and Mail Nov. 4. “The reasons for a slow recovery in the advanced industrial countries are generally understood by economists to include the difficulty of reviving household demand when household debt is still very high; a still fragile financial system; and the turn of governments, especially in Europe, toward fiscal austerity after the expiry of the extraordinary stimulus programs enacted during the Great Recession.” Read full story.

Canadian rail safety plans are kept secret from public
As a growing number of train derailments raise public safety concerns, documents that contain a rail company’s safety plan – and play a key role in the regulation of the rail industry – are “locked up in a vault,” say some industry experts and safety advocates. Amid calls for increased transparency about rail companies and the products they carry, company-specific safety regimes – which detail practices, policies, employee training and more – are not available through Transport Canada. . . . And some rail carriers, including Canada’s two largest, say the plans are confidential. The secrecy leaves the public unable to scrutinize the practices of rail companies or hold them accountable to commitments. “If the public doesn’t have access to these documents, there’s no backstopping,” said York University Professor Mark Winfield in the Toronto Star Nov. 5. Read full story.

75-year-old soccer player has no plans to stop
At 75, John Ashwood still plays soccer once a week both winter (in a pick-up game at Glendon College) and summer (in an over-40s league), and strives to maintain his fitness to keep at it. . . . Joe Baker, a York University professor at the School of Kinesiology and Health Science, said Ashwood is probably among the minority of elder athletes. Despite the “explosion” in Masters-level sports, he said, boomers entering their graying years still tend to be couch potatoes. “Part of it is the negativity we see in media and commercials towards older people,” he said in the Toronto Star Nov. 5. “There’s a myth that they need to slow down.” Far from it, he said: “Use it or lose it.” Mobility – even just simply walking every day – is critical to long-term health outcomes, he said. Read full story.

BlackBerry Ltd.’s rescue close to a corporate coup d’état
On Monday, the day that Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd. was supposed to make good on its US$4.7-billion offer to take the troubled company out of the hands of its long-suffering shareholders, the Toronto-based re-insurance giant cancelled its conditional offer to acquire BlackBerry for $9 a share it floated six weeks ago – and yet still wound up with effective control. . . . More worrisome for governance experts is that the changes may not be in the best interests of BlackBerry’s shareholders, who will not have an opportunity to vote on the revisions until the next general meeting in July. “There’s a high concentration of power in the hands of one or two people,” explained York University Professor Richard LeBlanc in the Financial Post Nov. 4. Read full story.

Here’s how CBC should be funded
“The standard response from private broadcasting’s apologists is that without subsidies the private industry (Bell, Rogers, Shaw and a dwindling number of others) simply could not afford to produce Canadian content, even newscasts,” wrote York University communication studies Professor Wade Rowland in the Huffington Post Nov. 4. “I say, let’s give it a try, and see. Isn’t that what market capitalism’s all about? If it turns the apologists are right, then we’ll have cleared the dead wood from the market, and we’ll still have a public broadcaster, doing its job, fixing the market failures.” Read full story.

PM dismantling health care bit by bit
“While the Americans are raucously grappling with the introduction of a new national health-care system, the Canadians are silently witnessing the dismantling of our health-care system under Stephen Harper’s watch,” wrote York University history Professor William Gleberzon in the Toronto Star Nov. 4. “Canada’s national health-care system is one of our defining programs as a nation because of the good it does for all Canadians. But, bit-by-bit, Mr. Harper is eroding it.” Read full story.

Canadians are strange
“The Fraser Institute has just come out with a very disturbing study having to do with waste by our Canadian federal governments over the past 25 years,” wrote York Unviersity Professor Emerita Sally F. Zerker in the National Post Nov. 5. “Using the auditor-generals’ reports for these years, they discovered that $197 billion were wasted, and this represents only that portion of the reports which the investigators could prove. . . . Where are the journalists’ outrage in their reports of this disgrace?” Read full story.