Act 288

Follow the news

I hear so many people say that they don’t watch the news because it’s too depressing. While that can be true, it’s still important to keep up to date on what’s going on.

Take today for example. New Parliamentary session in Canada, new deal in the US. Big big day. All of which will have lasting impacts on us as individuals. We need to keep informed and seek a better understanding of the decisions that affect us.

Those of us in debt know that burying our head in the sand won’t do much good. In fact, it does more harm in the end. It’s important to keep your eyes and ears open – wether it’s national news or local happenings, the more connected we are to the world in which we live, the better. And it’s not all depressing. And despite what they say, what you don’t know can hurt you. Best be informed. At least the news is real reality (or more real than the staged reality shows of late). Just think of it as the real housewives of real life, or top chef of the political kind. It’s all how you look at a thing. Drama, yes but important too.


Act 141

If Team Debt has no captain, how can we beat this all star line up?

I read the remarks made by Superintendent Julie Dickson of the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions Canada (OSFI) to the 2013 Bloomberg Canada Economic Summit on May 21. True enough, it doesn’t say much for my social life, but nevertheless, it made for an interesting read.

Interesting because I searched a few words to get the gist of her comments. Not surprisingly, the winner was – you guessed it – bank (33), followed by interest (15), financial (14), rates (13), market (10), mortgage (8), risk and real estate (4) with insurance (2) and profit (1) rounding out my random count.

What dismayed me was that other than the word household (2), which I guess is what us ordinary people are called in those circles, there was zero (0) mention of the words family or families, Canadians, people, home or even money – never mind health or well-being of any of the above.

Maybe we need a Superintendent of Working Canadian Families, someone to present our case and our cause at summits to business leaders in the financial sector who rely on our debt to earn their living. Just maybe.

Canada has a well-funded Bank of Canada, a well-funded Canadian Bankers Association, a well-funded Canadian Real Estate Association, a well-funded well, you get the idea… Macleans reports  the top 10 lobby groups on Parliament Hill here. You won’t find the words ordinary, working or family in that list either.

Towards the end of Ms. Dickson’s remarks, she states: “Low growth affects employment rates and the standard of living. The crisis demonstrated the importance of the safety and soundness of banks…”

I might argue that those sentences should be revised to read instead, “the importance of the safety and soundness of banks is of greater concern than the employment rates and standard of living among ordinary Canadians – hence, there is no growth – and that is the crisis.”

It’s all in how you say a thing it seems, and nobody’s saying anything on our behalf, at least not officially anyway.

If anyone out there is brave enough to make the speech, I’ll help to write it because we’ve got alot of make-up games on the schedule ahead.

Play ball!

Act 36

Ask questions.

And keep asking them. Every time I hear about record bank profits, my spider sense starts to tingle. And every time I hear about record personal debt levels for Canadians, I have to wonder why we aren’t drawing a cause and effect relationship between the two.

I thought this was an interesting perspective about money supply, income distribution, the real economy and the financial sector.

I also read what the people at Canadian Community Reinvestment Coalition have to offer

Specifically, their question 3 of 10 questions to ask about bank profits “Do Canada’s big banks serve people and businesses trying to create jobs well?” 

We do know that of the banks’ total lending to business of about $600 billion, only 3% is small business lending (loans under $100,000), while 77% goes to big business in loans over $5 million. The small and medium-sized business sector has created 90% of the jobs in Canada since 1983, and employs half of all working Canadians. If banks do not meet small businesses’ demand for capital, they prevent jobs from being created.

And, I would add, keep those Canadians in debt, helping banks earn bigger profits. 

Everyone wants in on the debate. Recently TD released a report stating that the income inequality gap is not growing which has been valiantly debunked by Armine Yalnizyan in a letter to the National Post. Not to be outdone, the Canadian Banking Association is happy to share that profitable banks are good for Canadians.Question is, which ones.

I’ll keep asking.