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Bellan, Ruben.

Toronto, McClelland and Stewart, c1986. 173pp, cloth, $22.95, ISBN 0-7710-1153-9. CIP

Grades 12 and up
Reviewed by Thomas F. Chambers

Volume 15 Number 3
1987 May

This is economics as it should be, clearly stated, easy to read, and full of common sense. Ruben Bellan, professor of economics at the University of Manitoba, is to be commended for writing a most timely and enjoyable book.

As the title indicates, Bellan's main concern in this book is Canada's high unemployment. This can easily be reduced, he feels, by increasing government spending. Unlike the leaders of the business community, he does not believe reducing the federal deficit is necessary. Larger deficits will not produce the ruin that the chambers of commerce keep telling us is just around the corner.

To prove his point, Bellan compares the 1980ís with the depression years of the dirty thirties, and the war years of the early forties. Unemployment in 1933 was twenty-two per cent. Conventional economic wisdom recommended that the government do nothing. To finance the war a few years later, Ottawa went heavily into debt. Military spending from 1942-1945 amounted to thirty per cent of the GNP. In 1945, the national debt was equal to 155 per cent of the GNP. While this was happening, Ottawa reduced unemployment to nearly zero by 1944.

Bellan is not, of course, in favour of another war. He suggests instead that Ottawa increase its spending on public works. This will create jobs and improve the quality of life in Canada. In the process, unemployment insurance payments will decrease, and income tax will rise. The deficit is money owed to Canadians. It is not a burden to society.

There is a lot of good basic economics in this book. Bellan explains, for example, the principles of both Keynesian economics and monetarism. He also outlines the tools of monetary policy applied by the Bank of Canada to influence interest rates. This is done clearly, so those unfamiliar with the topics will have no trouble understanding them.

Thomas F. Chambers, Canadore C.C., North Bay, Ont.
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