Stephen Tapp is a Research Director at the IRPP, where he's currently managing a multi-year research initiative titled Redesigning Canadian Trade Policies for New Global Realities. He previously worked at the Parliamentary Budget Office and the Bank of Canada, among other positions. Steve has a PhD in economics from Queen's University. Follow him on Twitter @stephen_tapp.

Articles by this author

4 ways to enhance the credibility of fiscal policy

The Liberals' election platform calls for a fiscal planning approach that is “realistic, sustainable, prudent, and transparent.” In Budget 2016, I suspect the new government (much like previous governments) will want to show that its approach …

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A more inclusive, multilateral approach to trade

Canada stands at a critical crossroads. Our economic prosperity depends on international trade and investment, but new global realities are calling into question long-standing policy goals and approaches in these vital areas. An existential threat …

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Back to the drawing board for the Economist Party

Last month, I mused about the entirely fictitious #EconomistParty of Canada's election platform. This generated some thoughtful reactions (thanks Mike Moffatt), but to the best of my knowledge, none of those 17 recommendations have since been …

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Buying votes

Canadian governments tend to raise spending in elections years. True story: In 1980-something I ran for office, campaigning for class president in the 5th grade. The competition was tough. My opponents had big ideas like less homework …

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Bypassing the trade-rule maze through the TPP

Free trade agreements (FTAs) offer better tariff treatment for goods produced in participating countries. That sounds simple in theory, but in practice it’s a complex exercise for companies and customs authorities to figure out where …

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Canada's changing links to the global economy

The IRPP recently-released the first two chapters in an ambitious new research volume on Canadian trade. Those papers examined changing international business practices and the policy implications of ”global value chains” (or GVCs, see Van …

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Canadian economy and policy surprises from 2015

With 2015 coming to a close, here’s a year-end listicle: some surprising (but not-entirely-unrelated) developments in the Canadian economy and public policy that I didn’t expect to happen this year.   7. The mandatory long-form census was …

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Canadian trade policy in a G-Zero world

In recent months, there’s been much talk in the United States about ripping up or renegotiating trade deals and in Britain about exiting the European Union and creating new trade deals with the world. In …

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Competing for talent

Canadian cities need talented workforces, but for many, attracting and retaining good workers is a tough task. Consider this article on my home town of London Ontario – which is currently working on a development plan …

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Deficit mania: Stuck in the 1990s again

Last week’s federal budget showed deficits with no promised date to eliminate them. In response, several analysts warned that we might be headed down a dangerous path that could eventually spiral into a fiscal crisis …

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Depending on data

Many people want better data in Canada. They think it can improve the quality of decision-making ”” and most importantly ”” outcomes. This group includes Don Drummond who recently wrote this report on how to improve …

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Designing policies for the sharing economy

Governments need to put on their thinking caps and develop better policy approaches to grapple with rapid technological changes. Various technological advances --- the Internet, smart phones, ubiquitous wifi connections, satellite navigation systems (GPS), rapid search …

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Does it matter who teaches our undergrads?

The end of summer and the start of the school year can make people who (like me) aren't going back to school nostalgic. I remember being a younger, twenty-something grad student who taught undergrads. And that the …

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Gaming EI premiums: What would you do for $2,600?

Ottawa's recent announcement that it will effectively lower Employment Insurance (EI) premium rates featured an important wrinkle: the lower rate applies only to business premiums ”” not workers' premiums ”” and only to the smallest businesses …

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Gearing up for Budget 2016

In the slow recovery from the financial crisis, growth in Canada and abroad has been disappointing. The fall in commodity prices since 2014 has been a major shock for Canada, primarily felt through weaker terms of …

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How business can help free trade

With the G20 Summit underway in Turkey, the IRPP has just pre-released a commentary, written by Perrin Beatty and Cam Vidler of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. The Canadian Chamber is the founding chair of …

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How Canada can improve regulatory cooperation

The gains from international regulatory cooperation are large, but to realize them we need new policy approaches, such as “supply chain councils”. Two developments in recent decades have made regulation a prominent trade policy concern. First, average …

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How to speedread the federal budget

After much speculation and delay, Budget 2017 is expected March 22. When it finally lands, hundreds of people in Ottawa and beyond will analyze a long and complicated document — and be expected to do …

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How to tame Canada's tax tangle

Capping an individual's overall tax preferences may be a simpler ”” perhaps even a politically-feasible ”” way to address the growing web of micro-targeted tax policy. Canada's tax system is increasingly being used, not simply to raise …

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How trade changes when firms matter

Businesses, like people, differ in many important ways. Some are quite productive; some aren't. Some businesses thrive after trade liberalization, while others fail. These ideas are almost self-evident, but it turns out that rigorously analyzing them …

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Le budget 2017 pour les nuls

Après plusieurs reports et bien des spéculations, le budget de 2017 sera déposé le mercredi 22 mars à Ottawa. À ce moment, nous serons des centaines à devoir analyser avec précision ce long et complexe …

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Let the great UCCB experiment begin

Today the government gives billions of dollars to Canadian families with kids. What will that do to our economy? Some people will be pleasantly surprised today to find more money in their bank accounts thanks to …

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On the "impossible" task of comparing election platforms

Finally, as the political parties start releasing “fully-costed” election platforms, policy nerds have some numbers to analyze! Quantifying election promises is important work. In theory, it should illuminate, but in practice it mostly frustrates. That’s because …

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On the proposed federal balanced budget law

The federal government announced that it will introduce balanced budget legislation as part of its upcoming 2015 Budget. Here is the key text: If a Finance Minister posts a deficit outside of extraordinary circumstances, an automatic …

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Ottawa's new activism

The 2013 federal budget was viewed by most analysts as a ”stay the course” fiscal plan, with few significant spending or tax surprises. With minor fiscal adjustments on net and verbs like extending, confirming and …

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Removing the barriers to women traders

The latest commentary in the IRPP’s trade volume, by Arancha González (executive director of the International Trade Centre, or ITC), examines the gender dimensions of international trade and proposes policy reforms to connect more women-owned …

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So you’re starting your MA in economics

Over the years, I’ve read several “advice” posts for economics grad students. Most are written by professors and focus on how to get into, or finish, grad school.[1] In this post, I offer some perspectives …

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The Bank of Canada we need in 2016 and beyond

Every five years, the Bank of Canada reviews and renews its inflation-control agreement with the Government. To prepare for the upcoming 2016 agreement, the Bank recently hosted a conference with presentations and discussion largely focused …

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The Bank of Canada's new neutral

The Bank of Canada's policy decisions influence interest rates throughout the Canadian economy for businesses and consumers, lenders and borrowers. Yesterday, the Bank released a discussion paper by Rhys Mendes, written for Canadian monetary policy …

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The blanks in the Fall Economic Statement

Government policies influence the size of the economic pie and how it’s divided. In its first year, the Liberal government sought to divide the pie more equally, by targeting policies more to middle- and lower-income Canadians. …

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The Canadian economy and policy in 2014

Here are 10 developments that mattered for the Canadian economy and economic policy in 2014. 1. Falling oil prices As the year ended, lower global oil prices became a dominant preoccupation. The associated fall in Canada's …

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Thoughts on 'Think Like a Freak'

The first two books in the Freakonomics series by Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt told entertaining stories to illustrate broader economics principles. The third installment ”” Think Like a Freak ”” follows the same tradition, …

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Two economic policy "must reads" this week

The first "must read" is a blog by Jeremy Shapiro (Brookings) that provides an interesting and entertaining look inside Washington policy-making through the ritual of confidential roundtables. Shapiro argues that the true purpose of these …

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What I'm looking for in Budget 2016

Mike Moffatt has a Budget 2016 watch list. As a budget enthusiast I like this game, so I’ll play too. While hundreds of analysts bring their own lists to the “lock-up”, no two lists are exactly …

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What LeBron James reveals about inequality

My last post considered the competition for talent among cities and some limits of policy interventions. This one addresses competition for talent, with a focus on what it reveals about inequality. Relative rankings and perceptions of fairness …

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What we should ignore in Budget 2016

My last post on Policy Options Perspectives described what I’ll be looking for in Budget 2016, including things like budget transparency, prudence, clear fiscal policy targets and a better sense of key policy priorities. This article …

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What's the "Economist Party's" platform?

Economists are not shy about considering highly unlikely hypotheticals (HUH). Here's one: imagine that an upstart "Economist Party of Canada" comes from nowhere to win the next election. What policies might be in its platform? This HUH …

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