11 April 2014

Jim Flaherty, the man that saved the world

Jim Flaherty 2007

At first glance, the title appears to be somewhat over the top, but consider the reaction when Jim Flaherty's death was announced yesterday:
Now that is high praise.Although a social conservative, he was also a master of political economy. He helped Canada to avoid the massive aftershocks of 2008's Great Recession, raised consumer confidence, and brought about some compassion as well, by:
  • making massive investments in infrastructure, ,as well as shoring up GM's and Chrysler's Canadian operations (through huge bumps in deficit spending),
  • eliminating the hollowing-out of tax revenues through the abuse of income trusts,
  • implementing a two-point reduction in the GST,
  • tightening borrowing requirements for household mortgages,
  • selecting, in a brilliant move, Mark Carney to head the Bank of Canada (which later led to his being poached by the Bank of England),
  • giving investors greater flexibility through the introduction of Tax-Free Savings Accounts, and
  • introducing the Registered Disability Savings Plan for helping the more vulnerable members of society.
 As a result, Canada has weathered the last few years relatively better than most other countries, and Ottawa is one year away from returning to balanced budgets.

There are missed opportunities to note:
  • his initiative to introduce a national securities regulator was shot down for constitutional reasons, but he still kept working on setting up an alternative that would work (for which we should stayed tuned),
  • the recession resulted in a massive hollowing-out of Canada's manufacturing capacity and an over-dependence on resource industries, which is not a long-term recipe for economic stability (but that is a failure of corporate Canada, and not of government policy),
But I digress. He will be truly missed.

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