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Stephen Harper: The Economy-Killer

Articles & Blogs - Canadian Commentary

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Even in a world full of “posers”, Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper is in a league of his own. I was first introduced to Harper’s penchant for grandiose claims when he was briefly interviewed while sitting in the stands of a hockey game I was watching on television. In that interview he referred to himself as “a hockey historian”.

The next time I saw Stephen Harper interviewed (this time in a serious “news” interview) he described himself as an “economist”. Presumably, if he was ever interviewed while attending the Calgary Stampede he would have claimed to be “a champion bull-rider”. However, knowing a couple of things about economics myself, I’m most interested in Harper’s pretension of being an “economist”.

When Stephen Harper was first elected, he inherited an economy that was the envy of the entire industrialized world. Canada had a large budget surplus (one of the few nations on Earth to be running budget surpluses), a large trade surplus, a large current account surplus, and the economy was getting stronger every year.

Today, as of the latest measurements, Canada has one of the weakest economies out of all industrialized nations. It’s budget surplus is gone – replaced with record-setting deficits. It’s trade surplus is gone. It’s current account surplus is gone – and the current account deficit is growing each quarter.

It was just reported this morning that Canada’s economy shrank in the second quarter. Yes, now that Stephen Harper has a “majority government” (and full control over the Canadian economy) he’s managing to do an even worse job. With record-setting commodity prices, in a commodity-starved world, how can the economy of one of the world’s leading commodity-producers actually shrink? Simple. Just put Stephen “the economist” Harper in charge of it.

The comatose Canadian voters who have elected Harper three times now need to give their heads a shake (to clean out the cob-webs) as Harper’s litany of economic failures began immediately after he was first elected five years ago. Canadians might recall that back in 2006 Harper made it the centerpiece of his election platform that he would “never touch” the corporate “income trusts” which had become so popular with Canadians.

What was the first thing which Harper did after being elected? He abolished those income-trusts – costing Canadian (and foreign) investors $billions in losses. Thus from “Day 1” Harper has established himself as a two-faced “flip-flopper” who can be expected to do the exact opposite of what he says.

However, Harper’s gross economic incompetence didn’t really begin to become visible until the Crash of ’08. Those readers with decent memories will recall that while virtually every other government in the world had already committed itself to significant “stimulus” spending that Stephen Harper (the “economist”) did nothing.

Indeed, Harper was so totally clueless about the severity of global economic problems that as recently as October of 2008 (while campaigning for re-election) he literally scoffed at even the “possibility” that Canada could slip back into fiscal deficits. Three months later Harper flip-flopped, and announced a panic “stimulus package” which was so poorly thought out that he managed to create a record deficit – without any lasting benefit for Canadians.

Back in 2008 (when I was still writing an amateur blog), I detailed precisely what Canada’s government should have done for “stimulus spending”: it should have funneled the $10’s of billions which Harper flushed down the toilet into the accumulation of stockpiles of commodities.

Not only would this have been the best possible “stimulus” for Canada’s economy, but instead of wasting $10’s of billions of dollars, Canada could have “turned a profit” on its stimulus. Recall that Wall Street had manipulated commodity prices to a tiny fraction of their true worth. Any real “economist” could not have possibly failed to note that reality.

Investing $10’s of billions into commodities would not only have reaped countless billions in profits when those commodities were eventually sold, but it would have protected tens of thousands (hundreds of thousands?) of Canadian resource sector jobs – which were temporarily lost by the crash in commodities prices, and would have prevented the bankruptcy of dozens of smaller (and more vulnerable) Canadian resource companies.

Nowhere is Harper’s utter lack of economic “vision” more visible than when we examine Canada’s trade relationships. With a 4000-mile common border with the U.S., it’s unfortunately inevitable that our largest “trade partner” will be the (dying) U.S. economy. However, what is inexcusable as we begin the second decade of the 21st century is that Canada’s second largest “trading partner” is Europe.

This is utterly mind-boggling. Canada is effectively just as close to China as it is to Europe. It’s no secret that China has been engaged in the largest commodities buying-binge in the history of the world. Canada is one of the world’s largest commodity producers. As a matter of simple arithmetic it would have seemed inevitable for China to become our second-largest trade partner. Yet Harper has succeeded in ignoring China – and the developing economies of Asia and South America.

What is Stephen Harper waiting for? The same thing he has been waiting for since 2008: he’s waiting for the “U.S. economic recovery” to rescue Canada’s economy. It’s going to be a long “wait”.

As I have documented in numerous previous commentaries, there is no “U.S. economic recovery”. It has been nothing but a creation of fraudulent statistics and media-hype. Any competent economist could not have failed to figure this out. But not Stephen Harper.

As horrified and disgusted as I was on the night that the Harper government was “rewarded” for five years of failure with a majority government, there is one “silver lining” here. Harper will no longer be able to hide behind, and blame all of his own failures on a “minority government”.

Now, as Canada’s economy continues to crash-and-burn there will be only one person to point to: Stephen Harper the “economist”.

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Jeff Nielson
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written by Jeff Nielson, September 01, 2011
Lol, Samix!

So the same bankers who have shown themselves to be CLUELESS about our economies are spending all of their time learning "behavioral psychology" (to manipulate us better) rather than trying to learn how to do their jobs properly (and perhaps even HONESTLY?).
Jeff Nielson
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written by Jeff Nielson, September 01, 2011
OK, Hart, we can find some SMALL corner of agreement here: "no good choices" (at the moment) - especially since the one true "leader" on the Canadian political landscape just passed away.

However, it certainly sounds like you're allowing old grudges to influence you. I never really caught "Trudeaumania" myself (lol). But let's try to deal with more recent history. The last "good government" we had (like it or not) was Liberal.

Harper has MORE THAN "had his chance" to do a decent job, and he has been nothing but a total failure.

And Gbcanuck, DON'T get me started on that "North American Perimeter" agreement, where the U.S. Army can now march across OUR border (with automatic "permission") any time THEY decide there is an "emergency".

Because if you got me startd then I might blurt out the "Canadian political equation":

Conservative prime minister = U.S. lap-dog
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samix
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written by samix, September 01, 2011
This is hilarious...

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-08-31/wall-street-wants-to-train-your-brain.html

It is like thieves putting up a article in a news paper about the "door lock security syndrome" (I just made it up, heck why can't I if bloomberg can)

"The DLSS (door lock security syndrome) is a non medical psychological condition where the people within a household fear that unknown hooded strange men with daggers and guns may just barge into their homes and take away their valuable stuff, this leads to unnecessary costs incurred by these families in employing security staff, devices and tricks, indeed a big waste of money and resources"
gbcanuck
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written by gbcanuck, September 01, 2011
Woooohooo!! Its on now!! lol..

I completely agree with Jeff on the "Hypocrite" Harper. He is a globalist and a "wanna-be" leader, not to mention a pathological liar. His signing of the North American Perimeter agreement with the US is inexcusable to me. The one thing he is good at is turning up the heat ever-so-slowly on the pot of boiling water we are all in so that we don't notice the absolute hellish society he is creating for us.
Jeff Nielson
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written by Jeff Nielson, September 01, 2011
That's MUCH better!

Here's the problem: with limited space I have to choose how to convey a particular message. I think if you look through the archives of our commentaries you will see that I use a variety of approaches - with the "rhetoric-and-vitriol" approach being but one of them.

Your point is well-taken that any time I use this particular approach that I will "turn off" a certain percentage of readers. This is counter-balanced by two other considerations. First of all, (for better or worse) such inflammatory writing also DRAWS some readers to the site.

Beyond that, there sometimes isn't the space in a particular piece to enunciate WHY I have taken a particular position. So a crude "substitute" for such a discourse is to instead convey my "passion" with respect to that point of view.

In the case of Harper he is a career hypocrite. Here is the man who SUSPENDED PARLIAMENT with a procedural anachronism - because the three Opposition parties were about to VOTE him out of office and then while Parliament is ILLEGALLY suspended he floods the airwaves with ads accusing the OPPOSITION of being "un-democratic".

While apparently noone else noticed this blatant hypocrisy it didn't escape me - and I shall NEVER forget what Stephen Harper represents.
Hart
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written by Hart, September 01, 2011
Obviously we have a difference of opinion on what has transpired and that’s material for a different discussion. Feeble is a good word to use for what I posted as it was more than just a bit abbreviated for the sake of getting to the point I wanted to make about the article itself. I'll try once more to make my point. Spouting venom like a raging socialist does nothing to encourage a viewer to read the whole article nor does it present the author as someone who’s opinion is worth considering. If you want to present information it’s easily done without all the partisan drivel and attacks on everyone that voted for Harper “The comatose Canadian voters who have elected Harper three times now need to give their heads a shake (to clean out the cob-webs)”. Attacking voters in an article about Harper’s supposed short comings, really… How immature. Do you now understand the point I was trying to make?
Jeff Nielson
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written by Jeff Nielson, September 01, 2011
Hart, that's a pretty feeble attempt to "re-write history".

In fact the AMAZING fiscal turn-around engineered BY the Liberal Party (after the LAST Conservative prime minister nearly bankrupted the nation) is internationally recognized as one of the most impressive economic feats of the last half-century.

Conversely, Stephen Harper is very obviously the greatest "under-achiever" of any/every leader of a major Western economy. And he's well on his way to leaving an even BIGGER mess than Mulroney for the NEXT government to clean up...
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