A window into Canadian history through the lens of commodity booms – by Colby Cosh (National Post – October 12, 2017)


To the layman it’s not the most inspiring title: “A Long-run Version of the Bank of Canada Commodity Price Index, 1870 to 2015.” But the name of this Statistics Canada research paper, published Wednesday, will warm the hearts of Canadian economists like a beloved old melody.

In Canada, we are a little used to being beggared by StatCan, which, it must be said, is obviously a treasure. We do not have access to the cornucopia of very long economic time series that Americans enjoy, and our national statistics agency is fussy about occasionally re-engineering the data series it creates, which then have to be knit together by anyone wanting a historical perspective.

Being a relatively small country also makes regional and local breakdowns of aggregate data more difficult. Cells in a table that contain counts of people or things can end up too small to be of much use, and may even have to be suppressed to protect personal anonymity.

So the reaction to the new Long-Run Commodity Price Index is likely to be that it is the Lord’s work indeed. Since we are so dependent upon resource exports, it is just about the closest one can get to putting the entire economic history of the Dominion in one graph.

For once, Statcan is creating a very long time series that no one had access to before, as opposed to smashing one before it threatens to become of some use.

For the rest of this article: http://nationalpost.com/opinion/colby-cosh-all-of-canadian-history-in-one-convenient-graph