The economic downturn of 2008-09 has often been described as a financial-sector crisis, featuring failing banks. But it was much more than that. Many people with stagnant or dropping incomes, having borrowed to sustain their standard of living, found themselves deep in debt when the economy sagged and joblessness increased.
In turn, those economic problems created a political shift: Many debtors became attracted to populist politics, with consequences still reverberating around the world. Now, a study co-authored by an MIT professor connects some of these dots in detail. Examining Hungary, the research finds that the right-wing political party Jobbik benefitted significantly from the aftermath of the crisis, using the debt issue to engineer a realignment of many voters.
Specifically, by charting the pattern of political shift in relation to the prevalence of debt, the study suggests that about one-fifth of the total political shift rightward in Hungary at the time can be attributed to the presence of personal debt, especially foreign-currency denominated debt that was owed to foreign banks.
“This was very salient for many people, and it was a key aspect of the crisis that touched people every single month in their pocketbook,” says Emil Verner, an assistant professor of finance at the MIT Sloan School of Management and a co-author of a paper detailing the study’s results. While Jobbik once had a paramilitary wing and was often accused of anti-Semitism, he notes, the aftermath of the economic crisis allowed it to add voters who formerly shunned it: “The far right … [was] able to attract a number of voters, middle-class or even slightly higher than middle-class people, who had mortgages and otherwise probably wouldn’t have voted for the far right.”
The paper, “Financial Crisis, Creditor-Debtor Conflict, and Populism,” appears in advance online form in the Journal of Finance. The authors are Győző Gyöngyösi, a researcher at the Leibniz Institute for Financial Research SAFE, in Frankfurt, Germany; and Verner, who is the Class of 1957 Career Development Professor at MIT Sloan.
Local problems, foreign lending
Hungary’s lending boom started in 2000 and became oriented around loans in foreign currency: By 2008, the Swiss franc denominated over 60 percent of household debt. Between September 2008 — a key month for the global economic crisis — and Hungary’s April 2010 elections, Hungary’s national currency, the forint, depreciated by 23 percent. Household debt increased during this time by a whopping 4 percent of precrisis national GDP.
Meanwhile, the same time period also marked a shift in Hungary’s political landscape. The far right only received 2.6 percent of the vote in Hungary’s 2006 elections; that increased to 17 percent in 2010 and 20 percent in 2014.
To investigate the relationship between debt and politics, the scholars examined data at the zip code level across Hungary about the amount of debt and foreign debt held, as well as voting data. That allowed them to pinpoint variations within the overall political shift in Hungary and to see how much of it corresponded to debt troubles. This is an application of the “differences in differences” approach often used by social scientists.
Ultimately the data showed that between 2006 and 2010, as debt increased relative to income within Hungarian zipcodes, voting by those residents shifted toward the far right. Specifically, for a given 10-percentage-point increase of debt to income, the far-right vote share in that area increased from 1.6 to 3.0 percentage points. Overall, spikes in foreign-currency debt during this time account for a 3-percentage-point increase in the far-right vote share nationally, or 20 percent of the change in the vote. This shift has persists today.
One of the key facets of this political dynamic, the scholars note, is that many households were in debt in foreign currency, often to foreign lenders. Jobbik, at the time, had a highly nationalist platform; it was also the most aggressive party in terms of campaigning on relief measures from foreign-held debt, while Hungary’s mainstream parties were more vague about the issue.
“Populist parties like to exploit divisions or cleavages in society between the ‘good’ ordinary people, and the elites or foreigners or any kind of outside threat that they [populists] can create. Conflict between debtors and banks seems to have been a particularly fruitful way for them to do that,” Verner says. “I think that helps us understand why they’ve been successful, particularly after financial crises.”
To be sure, many things could influence regional and local shifts in political orientations. With that in mind, Verner and Gyöngyösi examined other potentially influential factors such as historically extremist attitudes, immigration patterns, local employment changes, financial literacy, and house-price shocks. Ultimately they found the relationship between debt holding and the rightward shift was robust even regardless of other factors.
“They [voters] were potentially open to something new,” Verner says. “And that something new was a much more radical party.”
More than a debt crisis
In Hungarian politics, the partially debt-driven rise of Jobbik comes with a twist. The party did not gain power. But its nationalist rhetoric and positions gained traction with enough voters to make them more salient in politics; over the last decade, Hungary’s current ruling party, Fidesz, has outflanked Jobbik on the right in many regards while drastically consolidating power. In this sense the mainstreaming of certain kinds of politics can be a profoundly important effect of an economic crisis.
“If you look at times of major financial distress, financial crises, they’re often associated with political upheaval,” Verner reflects, including “more political polarization, loss of [support for] the center establishment parties toward more fringe or nonestablishment parties, and a shift in support for far-right populist parties.”
That has happened in various forms throughout modern history, Verner observes. The new research suggests, he adds, that people should start to regard the effects of the 2008-09 crisis in the same way.
“One of the key legacies of the 2008 crisis was the rise of populism, and one of the places that was most pronounced was Hungary,” Verner says.
In this sense, what has often been described narrowly as a crisis of finance institutions was much broader, and has helped fuel political changes. Government officials and political observers everywhere should be aware, Verner thinks, that a debt crisis can become much more than a debt crisis.
“One of the implications is that how we design and regulate our financial system and the types of financial products we make available to consumers can have really far-reaching effects,” Verner says. “Not just for the economy but even for broader society and how we organize ourselves, our political systems, and what types of policies we put in place.”
Are Politics A Problem For The Markets? – Forbes
As an economist and market analyst, I try to shy away from politics and focus on the facts. Nonetheless, I often receive politically charged questions that are usually some variation of the following: “With X party in office, the country is doomed. How can you say otherwise?” I have heard this in every presidential election from George W. Bush to Joe Biden. But the truth of the matter is this: both the economy and the markets grew during all of those administrations. Of course, each one had its own challenges and problems, but as a country we continued to move forward. Companies found ways to grow and make money. Given this, are politics really a problem for the markets?
A Limited Effect
No matter which side, the administration actually has a very limited effect on the national economy and on the financial markets. In fact, if you look at a chart of the economy or of the markets, and cover up the dates, you really can’t pick out when your party was in charge. Similarly, when you look at economic and market performance under various permutations of which party is in charge, there are differences, but they are not consistent over time. For all of the headlines and the fearmongering, politics and governance don’t make a significant difference.
Who’s In Control?
How can that be? Simple. Every president and Congress would like to have control—but they don’t. States push back. The Supreme Court pushes back. Municipalities push back. It is rare that something significant actually gets through. And even when it does? The genius of the American system is that companies then set their collective minds on how to avoid it, if they don’t like it, and/or how to make money off it. For example, look at literally any tax bill ever passed.
Fundamentally, that is the strength of the American system. When you say that Washington will derail the economy or the markets, you are saying that it really controls all of the shoppers and the companies, which simply isn’t true. It is certainly in the interest of politicians to exaggerate their power (to motivate their supporters) and to exaggerate their opponents’ powers (again, to motivate their supporters). But the fact of the matter is that the U.S. economy is driven by millions of profit-motivated companies that will find ways to work around or profit from pretty much anything the politicians can do. Thank goodness for that.
Which doesn’t answer those who maintain that this time is different. That somehow today’s problems are worse than they have ever been before. There is always a constituency for panic. But if you really believe that, if you really believe that Washington—of one party or the other—can derail the country, then what you are saying is that Washington already has full control. That is not what I see when I look around.
This Too Will Pass
What I see is the same vivid debate on policy we have always had and the same back-and-forth that ultimately results in a reasonable solution. Perhaps it is louder now, but it is still the same process.
One of my favorite quotes, from Winston Churchill, notes that you can always count on Americans to do the right thing once they have tried all the alternatives. I would argue that is what is happening now and that despite the short-term damage, which can be real, ultimately we will move ahead again.
'We need a fresh approach': Harvey wants to do politics differently if she heads NDP – News Talk 980 CJME
Sitting on the patio of a Regina coffee shop, Kaitlyn Harvey was animated and passionate, talking about what she feels are the problems in Saskatchewan politics and how they should be fixed.
Harvey answered questions in a wide-ranging way, cramming in a TedTalk’s worth of information in a way that only people excited by their topic do.
When asked what she was reading or watching these days, Harvey didn’t name a book but instead began talking about research and reports she has been going through both as part of her political aspirations and her day job as a lawyer.
“I’ve got a lot of research that I’m doing, so I don’t really read a whole lot of fiction. Lots of non-fiction, lots of news but then also looking at reports — that’s what I read for fun,” she said, then started laughing. “I’m a bit of a nerd.”
Getting down to the brass tacks of her run to lead the Saskatchewan NDP, Harvey got more serious.
“What I’m offering is a different approach than what the NDP has offered in the past,” she said. “It still recognizes those values of community, those values of taking care of our most vulnerable … and so that’s why I am running for the NDP because of those values. But the way that I am proposing to do politics is different.”
Harvey said the old approach of politics as performance, of talking but not getting anything done, isn’t working.
“When I say we need to do things different, I mean we need to do things differently,” said Harvey.
Right now, Harvey believes that when young people watch the proceedings in the legislature — if they do — all they’re seeing is people shouting.
“(It’s) a bunch of people just standing there, yelling back and forth at each other and spitting things and not actually addressing these very real issues. And then people wonder why our youth don’t go out and vote,” said Harvey.
Harvey believes people are sick of the status quo and that things will look a lot different in the legislature come the next election in 2024.
“I don’t know what it’ll look like but I’m pretty confident that if I’m successful in this NDP race, there’ll be a lot more NDP seats,” said Harvey.
Harvey doesn’t like the idea of left or right in politics. What she wants is for people to come together to seriously tackle the issues.
The biggest issue for Harvey is climate change; it’s what spurred her into politics in the first place.
The reality hit home for Harvey 10 years ago when she was in a co-op program at Environment Canada and was working on a mapping project with climate data.
“The numbers that I was seeing (and) that I was coming across … (it) was just terrifying to see what our future is going to look like, and the range of possibilities ranging from scary to catastrophic,” said Harvey.
Harvey went into law to study policy and is now making the push into politics because she doesn’t see the action needed to deal with climate change.
“We are two decades, easily, behind other countries (and) other places in the world in terms of our acceptance of the very real risks to our people (and) to our society from climate change. We aren’t taking advantage of the opportunities that we have to be leaders. We’re wasting opportunities and potential,” said Harvey.
Harvey said climate change is a fact and shouldn’t be politicized, but it is in Saskatchewan and it’s tearing apart the province.
“When they tell us that we have no choice, that we have to settle for this conflict, that we are divided, that we are an oil and gas-only type of place, like, are you kidding me?” said Harvey.
However, Harvey said she’s not anti-oil and she’s not looking to kill industry and put people out on the street.
“When people use the term ‘just transition,’ that actually means something. It means that the people who are going to be asked to transition to local renewable, sustainable, good-paying jobs are given the supports that they need to make that transition,” said Harvey.
“It’s not a negative attack on anybody’s personal identity or I’m trying to blame them for climate change or something like that. It’s nothing personal, it’s just a fact that we need to start doing things differently.”
Harvey said there are a lot of other ways Saskatchewan could bring in money and other industries to expand into that won’t contribute to climate change, and she knows that’s something youth of this province want.
“We need a fresh approach and I think that will resonate with people and get more people to come out and support the party when they see that we’ve actually got some really good ideas and they’re backed up by science. They’re backed up with the numbers,” said Harvey.
Unlike her competitor, Carla Beck, Harvey hasn’t held provincial office before — she ran as an NDP candidate in the 2020 election but lost. However, she doesn’t see that as a problem.
Harvey points to her work as a lawyer, putting herself through law school as a single mother and the volunteer and community work she’s done, saying she’s good at handling a lot of things and learns quickly.
“When I see what our politicians are doing I think, ‘Oh boy, I could do that.’ It’s not that hard, it’s not rocket science … it’ll be new but I’m a pretty quick study,” said Harvey.
Harvey said she does have respect for everyone in the NDP caucus and the work they’re doing.
A win for Harvey in the leadership race would be historic on two fronts: She would be the first woman elected to the NDP leadership in Saskatchewan and the first Metis leader of a major party in the province.
“It would be just the greatest opportunity of my life to be able to serve and provide my skills, my energy, my experience, to the people of Saskatchewan,” said Harvey.
If she doesn’t win, the province won’t have heard the last of Harvey. She has announced her intention to seek the NDP nomination to run in the Saskatoon Meewasin byelection which will be held at some point soon.
Politics Briefing: U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade a 'devastating setback,' Trudeau says – The Globe and Mail
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Friday’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling on abortion is a “devastating setback” for those who have fought for reproductive rights.
The U.S. court, in a 6-3 ruling, has overturned the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade abortion ruling that recognized a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion and legalized it nationwide.
“Today, I think of those generations of women around the world and specifically in the United States who fought so hard to gain rights and continue to fight today to get more and more rights,” Mr. Trudeau said in Kigali, Rwanda, where he is attending a meeting of Commonwealth heads of government.
The Prime Minister said Canada will always defend women’s rights to choose and continue to work to expand access to a full range of reproductive health services.
Last month, Mr. Trudeau vowed to protect abortion rights in Canada, although the Liberals hadn’t acted on several commitments made in last year’s election, such as new rules on access to service or provided a timeline for their implementation. Story here.
Conservative Leader Candice Bergen said in a statement that access to abortion was not restricted under Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and the Conservative Party will not introduce legislation or reopen the abortion debate. “Canadians deserve better than the Liberals importing issues from the U.S. in an attempt to wedge and divide Canadians,” she said.
In a statement, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said that, with its ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court has “walked back women’s rights by making abortion effectively illegal in half the country.”
He added, “These dangerous policies that threaten women’s health and women’s lives must not be allowed to take root in Canada. There is so much more the government can do to ensure better access to health care services for women living in rural and remote communities.”
Candidates vying to lead the federal Conservative Party also reacted to the ruling.
Asked about the development, a spokesperson for the Pierre Poilievre campaign replied with the statement, “A Poilievre government will not introduce or pass any laws restricting abortion.”
Former Quebec premier Jean Charest wrote in a tweet that he is “disturbed” by Roe v. Wade being overturned. “While I recognize there are strongly held beliefs on this issue, reproductive rights in Canada are non-negotiable. I will remain focused on issues that unite Canadians, not divide us.”
Scott Aitchison wrote, “I will always defend a woman’s right to choose.”
Leslyn Lewis wrote on Twitter that “Canada is not the U.S. We can have adult conversations. I think coercive abortions and preferring baby boys over girls via sex selection are wrong, and that we can do better for expecting moms at home and abroad. That’s my platform. Let’s have the conversation.”
Patrick Brown said, in a tweet, that he was “disappointed” that Roe v. Wade was being overturned. “Canadians have strongly held beliefs on this issue, but reproductive rights in Canada will not be revisited by any government that I lead. I support a woman’s right to choose.”
The Globe and Mail podcast, The Decibel, recently looked into how getting an abortion in Canada differs from the United States, with registered nurse Martha Paynter speaking to the subject. That episode is here.
This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Ian Bailey. It is available exclusively to our digital subscribers. If you’re reading this on the web, subscribers can sign up for the Politics newsletter and more than 20 others on our newsletter sign-up page. Have any feedback? Let us know what you think.
NEW ONTARIO CABINET – Ontario Premier Doug Ford has announced a new cabinet that largely resembles his term going into the June 2 election, but names Sylvia Jones as his new Minister of Health and Deputy Premier. Mr. Ford has also appointed his nephew Michael Ford, a former Toronto city councillor, Minister of Citizenship and Multiculturalism. Story here. Toronto Life interviewed the younger Mr. Ford in 2015 here. Lisa MacLeod, who was left out of cabinet after previously serving as Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture, announced Friday that she is taking some time off to “address and improve” her health. Story here from Global News.
HEARING NEXT MONTH ON ALLEGATIONS AGAINST RCMP COMMISSIONER – MPs will hold a hearing next month into allegations RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki, at the request of the Liberal government, tried to put pressure on Mounties investigating the Nova Scotia mass shooting to help advance Ottawa’s gun-control agenda. Story here. Also, the inquiry investigating the Nova Scotia mass shooting wants to know why the federal Justice Department withheld notes written by a senior Mountie for several months – and if there are more revelations to come. Story here.
MILLIONS OF HOMES NEEDED TO CUT HOME COSTS: REPORT – Canada needs an additional 5.8 million homes by the end of the decade to help lower average home costs and ensure households are not spending more than 40 per cent of their disposable income on shelter, according to a new government report. Story here.
THOSE WHO AREN’T VACCINATED MUST ACCEPT CONSEQUENCES: PM – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in an interview with CBC Radio’s The House airing Saturday, says people who chose not to be vaccinated against COVID-19 must accept the consequences of those decisions. Story here from CBC.
HILLIER LAMETS WANING INTEREST IN UKRAINE WAR – Retired general Rick Hillier is lamenting what he sees as waning Canadian interest in the war in Ukraine as public and political attention turns increasingly toward the rising rate of inflation and other issues closer to home. Story here.
LEGAULT OPPOSES MULTICULTURALISM – Ahead of celebrations of Fête Nationale, Premier François Legault said he’s against the idea of multiculturalism, saying it threatens the French language and Quebec culture. Story here from the Montreal Gazette.
NATIONAL RECONCILIATION COUNCIL IN THE WORKS – Crown-Indigenous Relations Marc Miller has tabled a bill that would create a national council for reconciliation – a recommendation the Truth and Reconciliation Commission made in 2015 and the Liberal government included in the 2019 budget. Story here.
CONSERVATIVE LEADERSHIP RACE
CAMPAIGN TRAIL – Scott Aitchison is in Toronto. Patrick Brown is in Quebec City for Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day. Jean Charest is in Quebec. Leslyn Lewis is in her Ontario riding of Haldimand-Norfolk. Pierre Poilievre is in the Quebec City of Trois-Rivières. There is no word on the whereabouts of Roman Baber.
BROWN ON MP MEETING – Conservative leadership candidate Patrick Brown is expressing concern that Tory MPs met this week with a Canadian soldier facing military charges for speaking out against COVID-19 vaccine mandates while in uniform as well as a spokesman for the convoy that blockaded Ottawa in the winter. Story here.
CHAREST Q&A – Jean Charest talks the Emergencies Act, updating the Official Languages Act, Western populism and other issues in a wide-ranging interview with Policy Magazine available here.
WHO’S SUPPORTING WHO – The Hill Times has put together a helpful list of which MPs, former MPs, Senators and former Senators are, as of June. 22, supporting which candidate in the race to lead the Conservative Party. The list is here.
THIS AND THAT
The House of Commons is not sitting again until Sept. 19. The Senate is to resume sitting on Sept. 20
NO MASKS REQUIRED IN COMMONS – As of Friday, there is no need to wear masks in the House of Commons precinct, says Speaker Anthony Rota. In a statement, Mr. Rota said masks will, however, be available for those who want to wear them.
GG VISITS THE YUKON – Governor-General Mary Simon and her husband, Whit Fraser, will make an official visit to the Yukon from June 26 to June 28, with an itinerary that includes meetings with Angélique Bernard, the commissioner of the Yukon, Indigenous leaders from the territory and Premier Sandy Silver.
SNOWBIRDS GROUNDED – According to a statement from the Department of National Defence, the Canadian Forces Snowbirds will be unable to fly in planned air shows and flypasts, until the resolution of a technical issue that relates to a device that sets the timing for the deployment of the parachute during the ejection sequence. The issue arose during routine maintenance on the parachutes at 15 Wing Moose Jaw, Sask., on June 19. All aircraft are now being retested and repacked, as necessary, to ensure proper timing is set for their activation in the event of an emergency.
On Friday’s edition of The Globe and Mail podcast, Chelle Turingan – co-director of the documentary Small Town Pride – talks about the joys and challenges queer folks face in small Canadian towns and how, despite it all, they manage to organize Pride events. The Decibel is here.
PRIME MINISTER’S DAY
In Kigali, Rwanda for a meeting of Commonwealth heads of government, the Prime Minister held private meetings, attended an official welcome by Rwandan President Paul Kagame and participated in the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. The Prime Minister was also scheduled to participate in the official family photo of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, and to hold meetings with Ghana President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Moussa Faki Mahamat – the chairperson of the African Union Commission – as well as Zambia President Hakainde Hichilema. The Prime Minister was also scheduled to attend Her Majesty the Queen’s Dinner hosted by His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh was in Montreal, with MP Alexandre Boulerice celebrating la Fête Nationale at a pair of events.
No schedules available for other party leaders.
INFLATION POLL – Forty-five per cent of people surveyed in new research by the Angus Reid Institute say they are worse off now than they were at this time last year, the highest level in at least 12 years. Half of Canadians say it’s a challenge to afford their household grocery bill, up seven points since last October. Details here.
Andrew Coyne (The Globe and Mail) on the vacuum at the centre of Canadian politics: an incompetent, unethical government faces an intemperate, unhinged opposition: “At the federal level we would seem to be left with something of a vacuum, with neither main party displaying much interest in governing responsibly. This is sometimes described as “polarization,” as if the problem could be solved by everyone agreeing to meet in the centre. Not so: this country has big, challenging issues confronting it, some of which may require radical changes in policy. Radicalism is not the same as extremism. What’s needed is not centrism, if that is interpreted to mean blindly hugging the middle on every issue. Neither is pragmatism the answer, if that means governing without an ideological compass, but merely blowing this way and that according to the latest poll or interest group lobby. What’s needed – what is sorely lacking – is judgment: political, moral, intellectual. Judgment is the foundation of leadership, and leadership is the only way we’re going to get back to something resembling functional politics.”
Campbell Clark (The Globe and Mail) on the Liberals failing to act with urgency before a hot summer of inflation: “You’d think Justin Trudeau’s Liberals would be delighted to escape for summer break from Parliament, where they get pressed on an unusually long list of problems from passport backlogs and airport lines to allegations they asked the RCMP to release details of a mass-murder investigation to advance their gun-control agenda. But although Parliament has adjourned till September, escaping to a quiet summer is a mirage. This will be the summer of inflation. That’s a pot that will keep boiling, as Canadians fill up their tanks to go to the cottage or suffer sticker shock when they buy chicken for the barbecue. And seethe.”
Gary Mason (The Globe and Mail) on a junior hockey scandal that should sicken us all: “Hockey culture in Canada is poisoned and sick. Despite all the so-called educational programs that the Canadian Hockey League says players take part in, there is little evidence that the warped view of masculinity that is pervasive in far too many junior hockey dressing rooms has changed much over the years. There is little proof that an environment that condones the degradation and exploitation of young women is any better today than it was 40 years ago.”
Robyn Urback (The Globe and Mail) on how the Neville-Lake family never got justice: “Marco Muzzo is now responsible for the death of five people, even if the law only recognizes his culpability for four. Edward Lake, whose three children and father-in-law were killed when Mr. Muzzo drunkenly drove his Jeep through a stop sign at a Vaughan, Ont., intersection in 2015, died by suicide this past week. The children’s mother, Jennifer Neville-Lake, posted the news on social media, writing that Mr. Lake ‘has joined our kids so they can play together, forever.’”
Canada's Bianca Andreescu reaches Bad Homburg final after Simona Halep withdraws – CBC Sports
Ontario premier Ford vows to rebuild economy, unveils new Cabinet – Reuters.com
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