On Tuesday, May 11, the Queen’s Economics Department (QED) hosted the 12th Frontiers of Macroeconomics workshop (hereafter Frontiers). This conference brings together a diverse collection of contemporary research, exemplifying the frontier of modern macroeconomics. This article summarizes the objectives and findings of some of the conference’s presented work, and provides some commentary on the direction of both theory and methodology in macroeconomics.
What are the Determinants of Worker Job Matches?
Ilse Lindenlaub’s “Multi-Dimensional Sorting of Workers and Jobs in the Data” (with Fabien Postel-Vinay) explores the mobility of workers and asks which worker skills are relevant in the sorting process. By sorting, economists mean how workers move from job to job, each time finding a “better” match, and ultimately finding one that is stable, in the sense that neither the worker nor the job (the firm) expects to prefer another working arrangement. The key methodological contribution is to develop a relatively simple test of how skills drive sorting behaviour, accounting for the considerable heterogeneity of skills. In doing so, the authors break from a standard simplification found in much economic theory: that worker ability (for instance) is one-dimensional. Of course, in the real world, we can group workers according to a near-infinity of skills, such as interpersonal, cognitive, non-cognitive, routine, manual, or creative. Read More »
On May 8th, 2018, the Queen’s Economics Department hosted the second annual workshop on Financial Intermediation and Regulation, jointly hosted by the Bank of Canada and the John Deutsch Institute. The conference brought together some of the world’s leading experts in finance and industrial organization to present and discuss their latest research. The conference covered interesting topics relating to finance and regulations including the impact of shadow banking on monetary policy , the strategic use of trade credit in retail supply chains , the dealers’ and investors’ bidding behaviour in Canadian treasury bills auctions , and how the current selection process of arbitrators in the US favours the repeat selection of industry-friendly arbitrators.  A key feature of this conference is the emphasis put on the policy implications of academic research. In particular, the rise of the shadow banking sector in the last few decades have attracted the attention of academic researchers, central bankers and policymakers worldwide, making Kairong Xiao’s paper titled “Monetary Transmission through Shadow Banks” a very timely inclusion to the conference. To illustrate the importance of the shadow banking system, note that in the United States just prior to the onset of the great recession, the total shadow banking liabilities exceeded $20 trillion USD compare to $10 trillion USD liabilities in the traditional banking system.  Read More »
By Peter Shannon, M.A. Economics, Queen’s University
Ontario’s 2018 budget was released March 28, projecting an unanticipated deficit of $6.7 billion for the 2018-19 fiscal year. The 2017 budget projected that Ontario was on track for consecutive balanced budgets and indeed, Ontario ended a 10 year string of deficits with a $642 million surplus in 2016-17.  Given the province’s rapid growth and low unemployment in recent years, tighter fiscal policy seemed imminent. However, pre-election promises of free childcare, expanded prescription drug coverage and increased health care spending will push Ontario back into red ink this year. 
The political motivations of Ontario’s 2018 budget are clear: with the June 7 election looming, Premier Wynne’s Liberals are attempting to replicate the success of their federal counterparts. Like Justin Trudeau in 2015, the Ontario Liberals are promising to run a series of deficits to expand social programs, with an emphasis on families with young children, seniors, and mental health.  Both governments display a shift in focus from net debt levels to debt-to-GDP ratios as a measure of sustainability.
Ontario is home to about a fifth of Canada’s Indigenous peoples aged 0-24, nearly 85% of whom live off reserve. In total, this means that Indigenous peoples make up about 3.4% of the off-reserve population aged 0-24 in Ontario. While the federal government has jurisdiction over the provision of education on reserves, it is the responsibility of the provincial governments to provide education to both Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples living off reserve. The incoming government should seek to implement policies that reduce the gap in schooling outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples living off reserves.
By Eliane Hamel Barker and Ardyn Nordstrom, Queen’s University
On March 14th, 2018, Frank Lewis passed away peacefully at home. Frank had been an Emeritus Professor for the Department of Economics at Queen’s University, where he spent 44 years of his career before retiring last year. He received his doctorate in Economics from Rochester University after graduating from Westmount High and McGill University.
Frank was devoted to teaching and mentoring students for many generations, and was an active researcher with a focus on Canadian economic history. His teaching legacy was recognized in 2016 when he received the Jonathan Hughes Prize for excellence in teaching from the Economic History Association. Even after retiring, Frank continued to contribute by publishing two academic papers and providing expert assistance to the Indigenous and Crown parties in a significant case involving 1850 treaties. The Queen’s Economics Department will always remember Frank Lewis for his years of contribution and for sharing his passion for economic history. You can read more about Frank’s illustrious career here.
A memorial service in Frank’s memory will be held on Thursday, May 3rd, 2018 in Grant Hall, Queen’s University. The ceremony will start at 2:30pm and will be followed by a reception at Ban Righ Hall in the Eliza S. Gordon Dining Room.
Frank’s full obituary is available here, where you will also find a space to pass along your condolences. Should you wish to donate to the Queen’s Economics Department in memory of Frank Lewis, you can do so here.