Canada : As triple A as we think?,

J’ai l’impression quelques fois, certains journalistes ou économistes voient le Canada avec des lunettes roses.

Voici, un excellent article qui a les pieds sur terre, contrairement à certains journalistes ou économistes qui sont loin d’être neutres, en fonction de leurs employeurs.


Extrait de: As triple A as we think?, William Watson, Financial Post, Sep 8, 2011

Canada actually spends far more on debt servicing

Canada General Goverment debt

As I usually do, I thought I would start off this year’s undergraduate course in public economics at McGill University, where I teach, with a review of some basic data on the size of government, the composition of public spending, and so on. To that end, the OECD now publishes a nice document called Government at a Glance (GataG), which you can download by Googling that title. “At a Glance” is a bit of a misnomer since the document is 268 pages long and includes at least 58 charts, some of which come in several parts. More like Government at 200 Glances.

In any case, the fact that GataG contains lots and lots of comparative data, looking across the 34 OECD member countries, would give me a chance, I thought, to tell the story we’ve heard so often since the Crash, about how Canada very virtuously got its fiscal house in order in the 1990s and is now an example to the world of how to run public balance sheets. You may have noticed Christine Lagarde, the new IMF director-general, saying the other day that the world economy needed more stimulus and that despite having spent a lot, most countries still have a little left on the fiscal side. “Harrumph!” a Canadian reader would have thought: We have tons of room left, if we decide running up our debt will help.

But then I started working through the various tables. Take, for instance, “13.1 General government gross debt as a percentage of nominal GDP.” Japan is the big sinner here, with debt at 200% of GDP. Then come Greece, Italy, Iceland, Portugal and Ireland, the so-called PIG countries, all with debt ratios over 100%. But what’s this? We’re not actually that far behind these countries ourselves, with a ratio a little over 80%.

Canada General Goverment debt - 2

For the record, the six countries following the PIGs are, in order, Belgium, France, the United States, Germany, Hungary and us. The United States in 2010, the year for which the debts were calculated, was at 93.6% of GDP, which is nine points ahead of us but surely not so far gone by comparison as to justify what the rest of the world must by now consider our insufferable moral superiority on fiscal matters.

What gives here? Well, a first point is that these data are for “general government,” which includes all levels of government, not just central government, which in our and the Americans’ cases is the federal government. Unlike Washington, our federal government has done a relatively good job of managing the store, and, despite supposed Canadian modesty, has not been shy in telling everyone about it, but we have to remember that the provinces have been out there borrowing, too. Washington is in deep fiscal do-do, but many states’ constitutions simply forbid them from borrowing. Still, much as we might like to forget it sometimes, the provinces are Canadian, too, and their debts affect the world’s perception of our fiscal management.

Il a tout à fait raison, maintes fois je l’ai mentionné les États américains ne peuvent faire des déficits dus à des dépenses d'opération (autres que le Vermont), comparativement aux provinces canadiennes.

Le Québec possède une dette brute de 170 milliards, mais plus de 110 milliards sont des dettes d'épiceries (autres que les projets d'immobilisations).

Donc, le Québec a joui de privilèges et de services sur le dos des futures générations, ce qui est tout à fait immoral et foncièrement illégitime.

À titre d'exemple, au Québec, s’il y a un déficit de 4 milliards, mais on dépense plus de 4 milliards par année pour satisfaire des retraites dorées insolvables, ce déficit sera non constitutionnel pour un État américain, cette dépense doit être payer à même les revenus courants, sans cela, on doit réduire les dépenses ou augmenter les taxes en proportion pour ce type de dépense. Ce qui explique, les affrontements constants entre les États américains et leurs syndicats, pour maintenir un équilibre budgétaire.

Malheureusement, nos provinces canadiennes n'ont pas ce sens de la moralité, il transporte le problème sur le dos des futures générations qui n'ont même pas encore le droit de vote, (sans commentaire …).

A second complication is that the data cited are for gross borrowing and don’t net out financial assets owned by governments. Most governments are big lenders and some, if only some, of the people and firms they lend money to do eventually pay it back. Still, a subsequent GataG chart looking at the net financial position of OECD member countries’ general governments doesn’t alter the debt situation all that much.

Canada dette par habitant

How about gross government debt per capita? Japan is tops at US$67,423 per person and the United States is second ($44,616), but we’re right in there at $33,208 per (figure 13.2). If you want fiscal virtue on this score, don’t come to North America, go to places like Korea, Australia and Estonia, where debts are minuscule. (Granted, translating across currencies isn’t easy. The OECD uses purchasing-power-parity exchange rates to put everything into U.S. dollars.)

Une des meilleures méthodes pour déterminer le niveau d’endettement d’un pays est la dette par habitant, qui représente la charge réelle sur les contribuables.

On constate, si on élimine les pays parmi les plus irresponsables, genre PIIGS, Japon, Islande et la Belgique, on se retrouve en 8e position, ce qui est très loin d’une brillante performance, d’autant plus que 53 % de la population ne paie pas d’impôts.

En poussant, le raisonnement un peu plus loin, juste au Québec, on constate que seulement le 1/3 de la population travaille dans le privé et paie des impôts (qui sont les vrais générateurs de richesse), conséquence, une charge fiscale extrêmement lourde, ce qui justifie le niveau d’endettement et la difficulté de rejoindre les deux bouts.

Canada interest per GDP

The main fiscal consequence of high indebtedness is that you devote a large part of your budget to interest payments (figure 13.3). On this score, the OECD has us at No. 5 overall, spending 3.8% of GDP on debt service. By contrast, the United States is No. 13, just above the OECD average of 2.4%. At least at the federal level, we’ve currently got a better-behaved legislature than they do. But if we’re spending more than a point more of GDP on interest, do we really deserve triple-A while they don’t?

Question, tout à fait pertinente ?

Of course, the Americans are digging their debt hole deeper at a faster rate than we are. Their deficit-to-GDP ratio (figure 12.2) is 10.6%, while ours is only 5.5%. Part of the deficit is cyclical and will go away when the economy recovers. Even so, the OECD calculates we have a structural deficit of 3.7% of GDP, i.e., a deficit that would still be there even if we were at full employment.

The usual view among the Canadian intelligentsia is that the United States will have to cut its deficit not by cutting spending, as the low-IQ Tea Party wants to, but by raising revenues. Is that true? If you look at how much U.S. governments spend per person (figure 4.2), the total is $19,266. How much do our governments spend on each of us? $16,655. Less! The Tea Party could hack away $10,000 of spending per American family of four and U.S. governments would still be spending more per person than governments are here.

Should they raise U.S. taxes instead? The average American is already spending $14,154 in taxes, which is only $415 less than the average Canadian (figure 1.2). If we’re over-taxed, maybe they’re over-taxed, too.

Speaking of taxes, another interesting GataG number is (figure 58.1) that in Canada tax administration costs $1.31 for every dollar of revenue raised, versus only 52¢ in the United States. Maybe we need at least a small TEA party here.

Évidemment, aussi longtemps que nous avons des politiciens carriéristes, qui se préoccupent plus de se faire réélire, que de gérer efficacement l’État. On aura cette situation absurde d’avoir des employés d’État n’ayant aucune imputabilité sur la performance et l’efficacité en maintenant la sécurité d’emploi, la permanence et l’ancienneté comme critère de sélection.

Vous pouvez constater que les pays scandinaves (la Suède, la Norvège, le Danemark et la Finlande), possèdent un coût nettement inférieur aux coûts d'administration par habitant et de qualité supérieure.

Le modèle scandinave

 

La fonction publique est largement décentralisée et gérée comme des entreprises du privé : comptabilités équilibrées, mises en concurrences, contrats temporaires, primes de résultats, salaires individuels, évaluations permanentes et en cas de non-satisfaction, licenciement immédiat. Une culture de résultat, aucun privilège particulier entre les employés du secteur public ou du privé tous sont logés sur la même enseigne, pour que l’État soit efficace, tout le monde est imputables.

Au Québec, nous avons créé trois classes

1.      La royauté : les politiciens qui pigent allègrement sur la carte de crédit du peuple, ce qu’il en reste !

2.      La noblesse : représente la fonction publique, imputable de rien et totalement inefficace, en ayant acquis des privilèges insolvables, sur le dos des futures générations, qui est tout à fait immoral et illégitime.

3.      Et le peuple, qui s'apprauvit chaque jour en se demandant, s'il va être capable de circonscrire les fins de mois, pour la retraite, peut-être 65 et +

Belle démocratie, une belle fumisterie d’iniquité de distribution de richesse ayant une saveur de copinage, de collusion et de corruption.

Soyez assurés, chers peuple l’État-providence tire à sa fin !