I AM A SONIC BOOMER, NOT A SENIOR... In this blog, I am writing to and for those who believe that the Boomers will change what the word Senior means. I also believe that Boomers will change what retirement means in our society. The blog is also for those who are interested in what life after retirement may look like for them. In this blog I highlight and write about issues that I believe to be important both for Seniors and working Boomers.
Saturday, April 13, 2013
A Cyprus-style financial meltdown in Canada is in the works
The following was written by:Thomas Walkom of the Toronto Star and ,Published on Thu Apr 04 2013 and I thought it showed be shared around the world.
If you are a foreign investor in Canada, you need to take note that you could lose your money. If you are a Canadian who is invested in Mutual Funds controlled by your bank you could lose your money. Harper is not a good fiscal manager and is taking Canada down the wrong path. If you want to keep your money consider this story very seriously.
Be prepared. If you hold the wrong kind of bank accounts, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty may have your savings in his cross-hairs.
That’s the message from the finance department, which has been set the unwelcome task of having to explain the government’s latest attempt to prevent a Cyprus-style financial meltdown in Canada.
Two weeks ago, Flaherty quietly served notice in his budget that Ottawa is preparing a new set of what it called bail-in rules that it could impose should one of the country’s big banks face collapse.
The new rules would allow federal regulators to seize unspecified bank liabilities — including, perhaps, the savings of uninsured depositors — and use them to prop up a faltering institution.
Which, as it turns out, is exactly what Cyprus’ government did to deal with its banking crisis.
In the Cypriot case, the liabilities the government seized were the uninsured bank accounts of those with more than 100,000 euros on deposit.
So is Flaherty taking aim at Canadian savings in the event of a crisis hitting one of this country’s big banks?
That question has been swirling around the edge of financial circles since the budget. And it hasn’t yet been answered.
On Tuesday, Flaherty’s spokesperson told one newspaper that insured deposits — eligible savings up to $100,000 — would be safe from any crisis-induced confiscation scheme.
On Wednesday, I asked another spokesperson if uninsured deposits — including savings over $100,000 and ineligible savings such as mutual funds — would be equally safe.
The answer eventually came back that it would be “premature” to respond to that question until Ottawa has a chance to consult with the banks and others.
That is, there was no answer.
The budget says only that its proposed bail-in regime would allow the “rapid conversion of certain bank liabilities into regulatory capital” in the event of a crisis.
In bank-speak, a liability is money the bank owes to bondholders, creditors, other banks and depositors. A bank’s “regulatory capital” is composed mainly of common stock held by owners.
So a bail-in would, at the stroke of a pen, transform some creditors into owners of a bank, which at that point no one might want to own.
Which creditors? The budget says Flaherty will follow the recommendations set out in a 2011 report by the Financial Stability Board, a new international body headed by Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney.
And those recommendations are blunt. Insured deposits would be protected. But uninsured deposits, including savings over the $100,000 limit and mutual funds, would be fair game.
At issue is the question of who pays to bail out a bank so big that its failure would trigger panic. In the 2008 meltdown, governments — particularly in Europe and the U.S. — ponied up the cash.
The new rules are designed to put the burden of any bank bailout on not just its stockholders but on those who choose to lend money to that institution without demanding security in return, including uninsured depositors.
Toronto-Dominion Bank chief economist Craig Alexander says that some of the problems can be solved by letting banks issue so-called contingent capital bonds — bonds that, at the point of crisis, would be automatically transformed into riskier share equity.
But as the International Monetary Fund has noted, contingent capital and bail-in capital are difference beasts. Those who buy contingent capital bonds know the risks up front.
A bail-in, however, catches the unwary. Here government uses its legal hammer to make those unwise enough to think their money was safe with a dodgy bank pay handsomely for their foolishness.
The good news is that the Canadian banking system is nowhere near as shaky as that of Cyprus. At their height, Cypriot banks held liabilities worth eight times the island nation’s entire economy.
The bad news is that the Cypriots thought their banks were safe, too.