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Economy Lab roundup: Mobile throwing a wrench in Statscan’s data

The debate continues to swirl about the adequacy of the economic statistics we are getting in Canada. Just last week, the federal Auditor-General dedicated a chapter in his spring report to the quality of data produced by Statistics Canada, concluding that while it does a good job of maintaining its quality standards, "improvements are needed to better meet user needs."

The statistical agency itself recently raised an interesting issue about how the evolution of mobile communications has complicated its efforts to assure quality and accuracy for survey-based measures, including the closely watched Labour Force Survey. In a post on Statscan's own blog, talking with chief of the quality secretariat Laurie Reedman, it noted that "the younger generation has exchanged land lines for cellphones and is much harder to reach." As a result, it said, Statscan "must find new ways to collect data and make full use of it."

Raise the minimum wage – for Mom

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In honour of Mother's Day, the Economic Policy Institute, a left-leaning Washington, D.C., think tank, has a gift idea for working moms: A higher minimum wage. Researchers Elise Gould and David Cooper said that if the U.S. minimum wage were raised to $10.10 (U.S.) an hour from the current $7.75 (as has been proposed by Democratic lawmakers in Washington), about 4.7 million working mothers in the United States would get a raise. That's roughly one-fifth of all working moms. About 2.6 million working dads, or nearly 12 per cent of the total, would also get a raise, they said.

I'm going with Threecoinsinafountaincoin

So you want to launch the next bitcoin? Get in line. Beyond this famous and controversial currency alternative there are more than 200 other "cryptocurrencies" out there, according to a report from The Boston Globe this week, and up to 20 new ones are surfacing every week. The key in such a competitive market, writes Britt Peterson, is to come up with a catchy name – but, apparently, one that makes everyone more or less think of bitcoin, which has established the gold standard (excuse the term) for both cryptocurrencies and catchy names thereof. There's Litecoin, Zeitcoin, Anoncoin, even Catcoin (presumably for trading in online videos of adorable felines). Coinye, a clever play on the "coin" theme, was shut down by legal battles with its apparent pop-culture name reference, Kanye West.

King gets new crown from Roubini

A shout out to Canadian economist and Economy Lab regular Sheryl King, who this week was named senior director of research at Roubini Global Economics in New York. The independent economic research firm was founded a decade ago by famed U.S. economist Nouriel Roubini, whose relentlessly bearish economic views earned him the nickname "Dr. Doom." It isn't the first time Ms. King has worked with a notorious market bear: In a previous stint in New York, with Merrill Lynch, her boss was David Rosenberg.

To quote: Roubini's latest bubble sighting

"All the risky things that were happening back in '06 and '07 are back again to the same level, if not more … So we are in the beginning of a credit bubble, but just the beginning." – Nouriel Roubini, in an interview on Fox News this week.

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About the Author
Economics Reporter

David Parkinson has been covering business and financial markets since 1990, and has been with The Globe and Mail since 2000. A Calgary native, he received a Southam Fellowship from the University of Toronto in 1999-2000, studying international political economics. More

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