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Archive for 'banks'

Canada Post: A Billion-Dollar Boondoggle?

One of the most frequently repeated claims in coverage of yesterday’s Canada Post announcement is that the Crown corporation is on track to lose a billion dollars annually by the decade’s end. This apprehended threat to taxpayers supposedly justifies the complete elimination of door-to-door mail delivery. The Conference Board made this billion-dollar projection earlier this […]

How Offshore Tax Havens Destroy Governments

Last fall, Greek magazine editor Kostas Vaxevanis published in his magazine Hot Doc a list of 2,000 wealthy Greeks who were hiding taxable savings in the Geneva branch of HSBC. The list had been furnished years earlier by the then French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde to the Greek government, who did nothing in regards to chasing after […]

The Senate and Bank Mergers

L. Ian MacDonald wrote a defence of the Senate in today’s Montreal Gazette. He makes the familiar argument that it provides useful study of policy issues. However, his first example is the 2002 Senate report supporting bank mergers. In the wake of the global financial crisis, we should be glad that opposition MPs like Lorne Nystrom […]

Glass-House Mortgages

A letter appears in today’s Globe and Mail in response to recent direction given by Minister Flaherty to private mortgage lenders over mortgage rates.  The letter was written by Steve Pomeroy, one of Canada’s leading housing policy experts. Here is the full text of the letter: – Glass-house mortgages Twice in recent weeks, the Minister […]

Canada: Land of Mines and Banks

Just in time for Canada Day, the Globe and Mail’s Report on Business issued its annual Top 1000 rankings of the thousand largest publicly traded companies (by assets) in Canada (ranked by profit).  I blogged about this last year as well.  It’s such an interesting snapshot of Canadian business it’s worth perusing. Once again, this listing […]

US family net worth crushed by financial crisis

The US Federal Reserve today released its triennial examination of incomes and net worth of American households in the Survey of Consumer Finances.  It shows the crushing effects on net worth of a housing and financial bust unparalleled since the great depression. The shocking results of this study overviewed in the New York Times are […]

Complete details of 2008-09 Bank Support

Readers of this blog will have hopefully read my report “The big banks big secret” which examines the $114 billion that Canada’s banks received during the 2008-09 financial crisis.  Its major finding was that at some point three of Canada’s five big banks had received support worth more than their market capitalization, or the value of all […]

The Big Banks’ Big Secret

The CCPA today released my report: “The Big Banks Big Secret” which provides the first public estimates of the emergency funds taken by Canadian banks.  The report bases its estimates on publicly available data from CMHC, the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions, US Federal Reserve, the Bank of Canada, as well as quarterly […]

A Bank for the Taxpayer’s Buck?

Hi all, I interrupt your regular blog viewing to bring you one of my infrequent posts, this time by a guest contributor — Alan Milner — who for reasons of job security, must remain anonymous.  With no further ado: ******************************************************************* A  Bank for the Taxpayer’s Buck? The Canadian tax system provides a variety of incentives […]

BMO Professor vs. Bank Regulation

Last week, the C. D. Howe Institute was out with an op-ed contending that Canadian household debt is not worth worrying too much about: “There does not seem to be a strong case for restrictive regulation of consumer credit products, such as tight caps on interest rates.” The C. D. Howe Institute arguing for looser […]

McGuinty’s Business Tax Breaks

An interesting nugget in last week’s Drummond report is Table 11.1, an updated version of Table 2 from “Ontario’s Tax Plan for Jobs and Growth” (2009). It provides a sectoral breakdown of the McGuinty government’s recent business tax breaks: HST input tax credits, cutting the corporate income tax, and eliminating the corporate capital tax. The […]

Were the Canadian Banks Bailed Out?

The conventional line has been, no. Our banks were strong. Unlike the US and Europe, no bailout was needed to deal with the global financial crisis of 2008. This line, of course, always conveniently neglected the Extraordinary Financing Framework, or dismissed it as trivial. Now Finance Minister Flaherty – seeking new powers to turn down […]

Of Bailouts and Liquidity Shakedowns

Here is an amazing multimedia article published by Bloomberg Markets Magazine in the U.S., that lists all of the individual banks which received financial assistance from the U.S. Federal Reserve during the 2008-09 crisis.  It shows each bank’s peak borrowing from the Fed, the number of days they held the funds, and the timeline for […]

What Do Banks Actually DO? Teach-In With Occupy Toronto

What do banks actually DO?  Create credit out of thin air. Were Canadian banks bailed-out?  Absolutely, to the tune of $200 billion.  And they are still protected and subsidized more than any other sector of the economy. What must be done with these banks?  Tax them, control them, and ultimately take them back. Those are […]

Occupation, democracy and coops

I hung out a while yesterday at the Vancouver Occupation, and was impressed with their efforts at radical democracy. Many in the mainstream press have been quick to pile on for how time-consuming decision-making can be under this model, but perhaps they have not spent enough time in legislatures and committee meetings and public consultations. […]

Canada’s Caribbean Bank Tax Holiday

There’s a disturbing trend buried in this morning’s report by Statscan on Canada’s foreign direct investment (FDI) abroad.  Not only is an increasing share of Canadian direct investment abroad going through finance and insurance industries, but a growing share is also being funnelled into tax havens. The finance and insurance now accounts for over 52% of all […]

PEF Conference 2011

The Progressive Economics Forum has the following line-up of sessions for this year’s Canadian Economics Association conference on June 3-5 at the University of Ottawa. Thanks very much to Nick Falvo for coordinating our conference activities and putting this schedule together. We are also hosting a summer school the day before and announcing our essay […]

TFSA: Just The Facts Ma’am

Here are the most important facts about the Tax Free Savings Account. Will blog further on this tomorrow. Introduction of the Tax Free Savings Account: January 1, 2009, right at the height of the economic meltdown What’s new: Stephen Harper promises to double the contribution limits to the Tax Free Savings Account, from $5,000 a […]

Banking on Corporate Tax Breaks

Michael Lewis has a great article in today’s Toronto Star about the windfall that banks are reaping from corporate tax cuts. He quotes three of our favourite bloggers: Toby Sanger, Armine Yalnizyan and Jim Stanford. He also cites a BMO Capital Markets report that I shared with him. Since BMO appears to have removed this […]

The Bank Act Review is Coming… No Hard Questions, Please

One nice thing about Canada’s financial regulatory architecture is the provision that the bank act must be reviewed every 5 years.  This gives us all a time to take stock of the direction that bank regulation is heading.   This is the year we are due for the Bank Act review. After a couple of years of […]

The Lumpenization of the Global Economy

Gabriella Moldonado looked like someone who was thoroughly whipped by life. This past October I was standing on the front stoop of her sagging home in Laredo, Texas, interviewing the middle-aged, portly woman for a television documentary about Mexico’s drug cartel wars. Laredo is a city of 230,000 that lies on the Rio Grande river […]

From Wall Street to the White House

Sometimes the crudest forms of Marxist analysis of the relationship between class and politics make the most sense. Read this  scorching commentary by Simon Johnson – the former IMF Chief Economist turned ubercritic of the power of the big banks –  on the appointment of  a senior Wall Street figure, Bill Daley from Morgan Stanley, […]

What to do about Household Debt?

It’s a funny old economy we live in. The release of today’s national balance sheet accounts has aroused great concern about the rise of the ratio of household debt to personal disposable income to a new record of 148%. Mark Carney and our banks want – quite rightly – to discourage further borrowing to prevent […]

Lessons from the Eurocrisis: If the fire marshal is saying that you shoulda had a fire detector, it might already be too late.

In the current battle against an all-out conflagration in Euroland, markets are twitchy about European (and other) banks in the event that the firefighters don’t get ahead of the blaze.  If markets lose confidence in those large banks exposed to the problems in Europe (or anywhere else, for that matter), the next chapter in the […]

Revenge of the Debt Zombies — or — “What are Banks for Anyway?”

What are banks for?  Typically, banks are described as intermediaries that take deposits and lend them out, earning what is called net interest margin on the gap between what is paid on the savings and what is earned on loans.  From where I stand, this description is wrong on three counts. First, it suggests that […]

Rejoice! Dividend Increases Await

An open letter to the world at large: “Bank shareholders rejoice.  Pension funds rebound.  Hark, the Globe and Mail comes bearing good news my brothers and sisters.   Yes, the drums beat steady.  The heart skips irregularly.  The palms sweat profusely.  Because soon, soon, the big banks will engage in our society’s number one passtime.  Well […]

G20: Hard Right Turn to Austerity and Finance as Usual on Road to Toronto

In line with a major shift in thinking at the OECD and the IMF on the most appropriate timing for “exit strategies” from fiscal stimulus, the G20 finance ministers dropped the usual call for continued stimulus through 2010 from their June 5 communique, and highlighted the need for more or less immediate fiscal consolidation. God […]

The Banks and Supplementary Public Pensions

The Canadian Bankers Association are deeply opposed to meddling with a pension system which they say is working just fine.  Which is understandable, albeit self-serving, given their dominance of the high fee mutual fund industry and the significant profits earned on spreads between low interest GICs and bank lending. The banks do just fine out […]

Financial Transactions aka “Robin Hood” tax campaign

This morning Oxfam launched their “Robin Hood”  (financial transactions) tax campaign in Canada with a press conference in Ottawa and the launch of their website.   Together with Oxfam officials, I spoke in favour of the tax from an economics perspective and Dale Marshall from the David Suzuki Foundation talked about how revenue raised from it […]

Mercurial Productivity

Here is some of what Terry Corcoran wrote in today’s Financial Post about Bank of Canada Governor Mark “Carney’s suggestion that Canadian business has so far ‘disappointed’ because it has failed to revive Canada’s lagging productivity”: Central bankers appear to know many things, and have big fancy computer systems and economic models to tell them […]