John F. Helliwell

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December 2, 2005

From Flapper to Bluestocking: What Happened to the Young Woman of Wellington Street?

Helliwell traces the changes that have occurred at the Bank of Canada since the early 1960s, when he first began a long and extensive relationship with the institution and its staff. He begins with his work on the Royal Commission on Banking and Finance (the Porter Commission) and continues over the next 40 years, giving particular focus to the Bank's analytic and research activities. Although he is careful to note the benefits of alternative analytical and information-gathering techniques, such as the extensive mail and direct interview survey that he and his colleagues conducted as part of the Royal Commission, Helliwell devotes most of his attention to the Bank's econometric modelling efforts, starting with RDX1 and RDX2 in the late 1960s and early 1970s. He cites some of the internal, as well as external, obstacles that had to be overcome as the Bank's modelling efforts advanced, and how shifting trends in the economics profession have sometimes posed a challenge. Helliwell concludes that these developments helped the Bank to come of age and take its place in the front ranks of the world's evidence-based policy-research institutions.
April 22, 2005

Borders, Common Currencies, Trade, and Welfare: What Can We Learn from the Evidence?

Recent evidence indicates that the intensity of economic exchange within and across borders is significantly different: linkages are much tighter within, than among, nation-states. These findings, however, do not necessarily imply that borders and separate national currencies represent significant barriers to trade that should be removed, since the evidence is also consistent with the alternative hypothesis, that domestic exchange is more efficient because domestic producers are better able to satisfy the requirements of local consumers, owing to common tastes and institutions and the existence of local information and social networks. Focusing primarily on trade linkages within and between Canada and the United States, the authors review the evidence on the extent to which national borders lessen the intensity of international economic linkages, primarily trade in goods and services, and the effects on domestic welfare. They also examine the evidence on the impact of common currencies on trade and welfare. They determine that, since the empirical models employed to date in this research cannot distinguish between alternative explanations of the evidence, it is not yet possible to draw firm conclusions for policy-making.

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