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Archive for 'financial markets'

Financial Risk and Alberta’s Tar Sands

When it comes to global warming, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change notes that what matters is the total volume of greenhouse gas emissions going forward. This amounts to about 30 years of emissions at current levels – a global carbon budget that would provide the world a 66% chance of staying below 2°C. There is some debate […]

Intellectual Dishonesty at the Ivey Business Journal

Under the headline “Canada Isn’t Rotten to the Core”, the new editor of the Ivey Business Journal, Thomas Watson, attacked my book “Thieves of Bay Street” in his inaugural editorial. Although the book hit bookstores almost two years ago, and has faded from view, I found this assault so distorted to what “Thieves” explores I […]

The Staple Theory @ 50: Alistair and Sheila Dow

Here is a very intriguing and creative entry in our continuing series of commentaries marking the 50th Anniversary of the publication of Mel Watkins’ classic article, “A Staple Theory of Economic Growth.”  We are delighted to have the participation of Alistair and Sheila Dow, two leading heterodox economists from the U.K.  They argue here, in […]

Global carbon budget is a harsh reality check for Canadian investors

The recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) should be a wake-up call for Canada. With a development model based on ever more fossil fuel extraction, Canada’s economy and financial markets are on a collision course with the urgent need for global climate action. The IPCC, for the first time, stated an […]

Are Canadian investors headed for a carbon cliff?

An oped based on my and Brock Ellis’ recent report, Canada’s Carbon Liabilities, was published in iPolitics (alas, behind a pay wall): Canada’s economic development model is on a collision course with the urgent need for global climate action. Worldwide, extreme weather events from drought to floods to powerful storms and record-breaking temperatures are making […]

Carbon bubbles and fossil fuel divestment

Divestment from fossil fuels is an idea whose time has come. Sparked by Bill McKibben’s Rolling Stone article last summer, “Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math”, divestment campaigns are now up and running on over 300 university campuses in the US, with 4 early victories already notched. Students in Canada have declared tomorrow (March 27) Fossil Fools Day, a national day […]

Household debt going from bad to worse

Canadians are now more indebted than either Americans or the Brits at the peak of their housing bubble.  Statistics Canada today revised the national accounts.  The result on the household debt front was that instead of Canadian households having a debt to disposable income ratio of 154, it has now been revised upwards to 166. […]

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 Stock Market and Canadian Economic Performance

Glancing idly at the numbers, I find to my slight surprise that the Canadian stock market (S&P/TSX) is now down about 25% from the May, 2008 peak, whereas the US stock market (S&P 500) is down by only about 10% from its peak in May, 2007. So, since the beginning of the crisis, owners of  […]

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 […]

Stock Market Swindles Galore

This past weekend (March 31st), Sino-Forest Corp. announced it was filing for bankruptcy protection. The Chinese-Canadian company, once the largest publicly-traded forestry firm on the TSX, collapsed under allegations it was nothing more than a sophisticated fraud and Ponzi scheme. Sino-Forest’s demise wiped out about $6-billion in shareholders’ value, making it a catastrophe on par […]

Why Not Lock In Low Interest Rates?

The federal government has failed to take up an historic opportunity to lock in ultra low interest rates on long term Government of Canada bonds. Normally – as outlined in annual debt management reports – the government follows a strategy which is intended to achieve two main goals –  low overall debt servicing costs, and […]

The financial wealth of Canada’s top 1%

Following up on my post on wealth and income of the top 1%, Eric Pineault wrote to add some data on financial wealth distribution for Canada. He had a research assistant comb through microdata from Statcan’s Survey of Financial Security from 2005, and notes: “the 1% richest (all households are classed according to net worth rather […]

Market Mayhem

The wild swings in the North American financial markets this week serve as yet another reminder of the weakness of  any linkage between levels and changes in financial asset values and levels and changes in real economic variables. This is apparent for both bonds and equities. In the case of the US and Canada, the rise […]

Canada’s Breadbasket and the Food Casino

There’s been no shortage of new content on our blog this week. But I write to highlight a couple of interesting reads from other blogs. On The Globe and Mail blog, Andrew Hepburn (formerly of Sprott Asset Management) has a very good op-ed about financial speculation in food commodities. On the CCPA’s Behind the Numbers […]

World Bank Joint Ventures With JP Morgan

(The following was sent by ITUC Washington representative Peter Bakvis and deserves wider distribution. While this action by the World Bank might reduce food prices at the margin, it would be far preferable for them to push for regulation of speculation in food instead of joining in a destructive game.)   In partnership with Wall […]

The TMX Merger/Takeover

One concern is that this deal may undermine our ability to regulate financial markets. If the Canadian exchanges become majority owned in the UK, and if the Canada – EU deal is ratified with a Chapter 11 like investment clause, then we leave ourselves open to sanctions if and when we impose regulations which result […]

Financial Illiteracy

The Report of the Task Force on Financial Literacy is all that one would have expected from one co chaired by the CEO of Sun Life Financial and the Chairman of  BMO Nesbitt Burns. There is hardly a whisper of criticism of financial institutions and the myriad fees, charges and interest rates they extract from […]

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 […]

ECB vs. the speculators

I’d get popcorn to watch ECB vs. the speculators, if the whole sorry story weren’t so sickening. The European Central Bank is meeting today to figure out what the bleep to do about this mess in Europe (the press conference is happening as I write). In the lead-up to the ECB announcement, non-core bonds (like […]

Eichengreen on Ireland

This is well worh a read http://www.irisheconomy.ie/index.php/2010/12/01/barry-eichengreen-on-the-irish-bailout/#more-8831

Worker Bargaining Power and the Crisis

Here is a keeper – an IMF study that argues that loss of working class bargaining power is an underlying cause of financial crises, and that retoration thereof is key to reducing debt. The abstract – “The paper studies how high leverage and crises can arise as a result of changes in the income distribution. […]

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 […]

Might the proposed new federal securities regulator weaken regulatory oversight?

The front page of today’s Globe and Mail reports the latest chapter in the federal attempt to create a national securities regulator. (Premiers push back against national securities regulator plan).   Part of the Harper government’s response to the financial crisis was to promise to remedy the patchwork of provincial securities regulators.  If securities regulators […]

What’s new pussycat (Celtic tiger edition)?

Back in May when Greece was in the process of getting its “bailout” I kept wondering why it had to be that Greece would accept such harsh conditions when it held an ace up its sleeve. The proposed package of austerity, which would make the economy worse, was only an issue as long as Greece […]

Ottawa Lends Vale a Billion

So, Export Development Canada (EDC) has agreed to lend Vale up to $1 billion US. This announcement comes on the heels of a bitter labour dispute at Vale’s Sudbury mines and in the midst of an ongoing strike at its Voisey’s Bay operations. The financial rationale is unclear. Although $1 billion is very large for […]

More on the Bond Market

Paul Krugman agrees with my view that the bond market is signaling  long term economic stagnation rather than experiencing a bubble – and he is, of course, far more influential and cogent than I. “But the argument has become even stranger recently, as it has become clear that investors aren’t worried about deficits; they’re worried […]

Is the Bond Market Saying that Capitalism Has No Future?

The short answer to that question is that I don’t know. I am not a believer in the infallibility of financial markets and perfect information and all that stuff. But the bond market is surely speaking loud and clear. As an aside, the media focus excessively on the ups and downs of the stock market. […]

A Geithner Put? – Kudlow Spins the Rally

Whenever the stock market falls, CNBC’s Larry Kudlow reliably blames the Obama administration’s allegedly anti-business policies. But when the market was rising on Obama’s watch, Kudlow generally did not talk about it. On tonight’s show, he took a different tack. He repeatedly asserted that the market has recently rallied not only on strong corporate profits, but also […]

John Loxley’s JKG Prize Lecture

At the end of May in Quebec City at the annual Canadian Economics Association conference, the PEF awarded the second John Kenneth Galbraith Prize in Economics to John Loxley. Below is the full text of John’s Galbraith Lecture (pdf version with proper footnotes and formatting here). Congrats again to John for a lifetime of amazing […]