What can we Learn from Historical Economic and Financial Crises?

These notes form a short extract from the forthcoming monograph by John Crean and Frank Milne, The Anatomy of Systemic Risk, (2017a); and a shorter working paper, The Foundations of Systemic Risk (2017b).

By Frank Milne, Queen’s University

There are many historical financial crises that resemble the recent crisis of 2007-9. Crean and Milne provide a summary of various banking crises, discuss their similarities, provide a theory integrating their observations and examine the implications for Risk Management systems and financial regulation.

Here we will restrict our discussion to two major banking crises that should be of interest for Canadians. There are clear parallels with current Canadian banking and regulatory risks. We will draw some conclusions that are supported by the Crean-Milne framework.

The first example is the Australian Banking Crisis of the 1890s, and the second example is the Texas Banking Crisis of 1980-89.Read More »

Do longer license suspensions decrease impaired driving?

By Dayna Bartlett, Queen’s Economics M.A. student

In 2015, according to Statistics Canada, there were 72,039 police reported impaired driving incidents and 122 of those leading to death. Further, MADD Canada reports that on average, four people are killed daily by alcohol-related or drug-related traffic collisions. It is, therefore, no surprise that the concern regarding impaired driving is a subject that has continued to bring a range of heartaches and considerable debate. As it has been and remains one of the leading causes of death in Canada, there has been a great deal of research conducted, policies proposed, and laws implemented in the attempt to reduce the fatal collisions arising from impaired driving.

Under the Criminal Code of Canada, an individual is considered impaired and is subject to criminal charges if they drive while having consumed an amount of alcohol in which their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level exceeds the legal limit of 80 milligrams per 100 milliliters of blood. In addition to the per se legal limit set by the Criminal Code of Canada, different provinces have also implemented warn ranges, in which penalties and sanctions may be applied even if an individual is driving below the 0.08 legal limit. One of the more recent laws that has been adopted by most Canadian provinces aimed to deter drunk driving are longer license suspensions that offenders face if found driving with BAC levels between 0.05 and 0.08.  Specifically, license suspensions have recently increased for first-time offenders past the initial 24-hour period to a minimum of 3 days, and even longer in certain jurisdictions.Read More »

Economic historian Frank Lewis retires after 44 years at Queen’s

By Nora Ottenhof, JDI undergraduate research assistant

After 44 years at Queen’s University, economic historian Frank Lewis has retired. Prof. Lewis has contributed immeasurably to the Queen’s University community through both his groundbreaking research and passionate teaching style. His research legacy has provided countless insights into First Nations economies in Canada, the fur trade, slavery, and migration, among many other topics.

Throughout his career, Lewis has devoted a great deal of time to the study of trading between First Nations people and European colonizers. Lewis’s 2010 book Commerce by a Frozen Sea, written in partnership with Ann Carlos, delves deeply into the subject matter and is what Lewis considers his greatest professional accomplishment. As Lewis explains, the goal of this research was to understand the exact nature of this relationship. Such questions were posed as: Was the correspondence strictly commercial? Who had the bargaining power and by what degree? How did both the Europeans and First Nations people respond to changes in the market given their limited access to information?Read More »

Canadian Public Economic Group to meet at Queen’s

By Nora Ottenhof, JDI undergraduate research assistant

The 2017 Canadian Public Economic Group Meeting (CPEG2017) will take place on the Queen’s University campus in Kingston on November 2 – 4. This year’s meetings are being hosted by the John Deutsch Institute (JDI) and the Department of Economics. “We are very excited for the conference, which will feature presentations by some of the leading public economists in Canada,” said Dr. Christopher Cotton, the conference organizer and the Director of the JDI.

For more information on the conference, see the CPEG website.

Here, I review a handful of the papers that will be presented and discussed during this year’s conference.Read More »

How financial illiteracy affects mortgage rates, and how we can help

Queen’s PhD candidate and JDI Student Fellow, Jenny Watt, discusses research presented at the Joint Bank of Canada-John Deutsch Institute Workshop on Financial Intermediation and Regulation. 

By Jenny Watt, JDI Fellow

Andrea Pozzi of the Einaudi Institute for Economics and Finance recently presented research on the consequences of financial illiteracy on mortgage rates. Using data containing 90% of Italian mortgages, he and his co-authors show that not only do consumers who are susceptible to bad advice from banks pay higher rates—their presence in the market causes higher rates for all consumers.Read More »

Medical marijuana in Canada: Some data and a pricing equation

By Allan W. Gregory, Queen’s University

Licensed medical cannabis use in Canada has grown considerably in the last two years. From Health Canada’s website, we can measure the size of this market over a period of more than two years (Q1 2015 – Q1 2017). Figure 1 shows the growth in both the dried and oil cannabis.

Figure 1AG1


Not only are sales of dry marijuana growing (just under 6000 kgs in Q1 2017) but the inventories are increasing at an even faster rate (currently over 18,000 kgs). Oil cannabis has had a steady increase as well over the period it has been recorded (starting in Q4 2015).Read More »

How we decided on 2% fiscal stimulus during the Great Recession


Stephen Snudden

JDI Student Fellow Stephen Snudden offers his insights into the internationally coordinated effort to combat the Great Recession following the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008. At the time he was a Research Assistant at the Bank of Canada and has also served as a Project Officer for the International Monetary Fund.  He is currently a PhD Candidate and in the Department of Economics at Queen’s University. 


By Stephen Snudden, Queen’s University

A 2% fiscal stimuli to combat the Great Recession

It was October 7th 2008. Lehman Brothers had just collapsed in mid-September and seemingly taken the global economy with it. Markets were in hysteria. We needed to figure out what to do quickly.Read More »

Hartwick’s Rule continues to influence sustainable development after 40 years

This year, the John Deutsch Institute and the Economics Department at Queen’s University are hosting a conference to mark the 40th anniversary of John Hartwick’s famous rule, which was published in the American Economic Review in 1977. The conference, “Investing Resource Rents: A look at resource economics after 40 years of Hartwick’s Rule,” will take place at Queen’s University, October 20 and 21, 2017. Click on the link for more information. This article provides an introduction to the rule. 

By Nora Ottenhof, econ major, Queen’s University

Prof. John Hartwick

Arguably one of the greatest accomplishments to come out of the Queen’s University Economics Department has been John M. Hartwick’s 1977 publication, “Intergenerational Equity and Investing Rents from Exhaustible Resources,” known today as the Hartwick Rule. Since its conception nearly forty years ago, the Hartwick Rule has gone on to become a pillar of sustainability economics, forever changing the way we think about the concept of sustainability. The Hartwick Rule has influenced everything from environmental sciences to public policy, and will undoubtedly continue to have a profound impact moving forward.Read More »

How far out of whack are house prices? A ranking of Canadian cities

By Allen Head & Huw Lloyd-Ellis, Queen’s University

Building on the research behind a recent article in the Canadian Journal of Economics (Head and Lloyd-Ellis, 2016), we develop an economic model of housing markets and use it to rank Canadian cities based on the percentage difference between predictions and real world prices. This gives us the following excess valuations by year.

Table: Excess Valuations (% deviation from 1984-1998 average)

  2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
1. Vancouver, BC 39 33 32 32 39 48
2. Oshawa, ON 1 11 8 12 23 39
3. St. John’s, NL 52 63 60 57 44 37
4. Toronto, ON 4 12 10 12 18 32
5. St Catharines-Niagara, ON 4 9 6 6 12 25
6. Sherbrooke, QB 24 30 29 19 29 18
7. Hamilton, ON 4 17 13 13 13 16
8. Regina, SK 20 27 22 11 13 15
9. Victoria, BC 19 17 10 7 7 13
10. Calgary, AB 18 15 9 3 2 10
11. Halifax, NS 22 27 20 14 12 9
12. Winnipeg, MB 20 26 18 13 11 9
13. Windsor, ON -3 0 0 0 0 8
14. Gatineau, QB 8 14 11 7 7 6
15. Thunder Bay, ON -6 1 6 9 8 6
16. Montreal, QB 6 15 9 7 5 5
17. Saskatoon, SK 9 13 7 2 8 5
18. Ottawa, ON 10 14 10 8 5 3
19. Quebec, QB 9 16 13 6 4 2
20. Kitchener-Waterloo, ON -2 2 -4 -5 -4 1
21. Saguenay, QB 9 20 15 6 0 -2
22. Edmonton, AB 5 6 -4 -9 -8 -4
23. Greater Sudbury, ON 2 7 5 2 -5 -4
24. Kingston, ON -5 -2 -8 -11 -10 -10
25. Trois-Rivieres, QB 0 2 -1 -3 -8 -10
26. London, ON -12 -10 -12 -13 -12 -12
27. Saint John, NB 0 0 -1 -9 -13 -13
Average 10 14 10 7 7 9

Read More »

What the “Terminator” Tells Us about Blockchain and Privacy

By Thorsten Koeppl, Department of Economics

The Blockchain revolution is here. And, in many ways, it is like the Internet was when it started 20 years ago. We did not know how we would be affected, but we all had a feeling that this is going to be big. After watching a movie classic — the “Terminator” — I realized that three questions stand out when gauging the potential of Blockchain and Distributed Ledger Technology more broadly.

  1. How big are the cost savings?
  2. Is there a need for privacy?
  3. Can we rely on independent, safe and smart communication between IT systems?

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