Stephen Poloz acknowledges “We are in uncharted territory”

“Faced with the recent failure of many of its economic models, the Bank of Canada says it is now relying more on anecdotal evidence, including ‘conversations with real Canadians’ and regular meetings with chief executives.
‘We are in uncharted territory,’ Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz acknowledged in a message contained in the central bank’s 2013 annual report, released Friday.” Barrie Mckenna wrote for the Globe and Mail. Mckenna continued, “‘The world has clearly changed since the global financial crisis.’ Mr. Poloz said bank economists have been struggling to adapt to a ‘new reality’ since the crisis, making it much tougher to predict where the economy is headed. He acknowledged that the economy has ‘fallen short of our expectations.’ Mr. Poloz and other top bank officials have acknowledged in recent speeches and statements that the economy has not picked up as rapidly as initially expected, with exports weak and inflation well below its 2-per-cent target. Earlier this month, deputy Governor John Murray admitted that the economy hasn’t been behaving as the bank’s models suggested it should. Inflation is stubbornly low, exports aren’t bouncing back with global demand and businesses have cash, but aren’t investing. Meanwhile, the housing market seems to defy gravity, even as all the usual warnings signs – including record-high debt levels and prices – are flashing red. ‘The macroeconomy has not been unfolding exactly as we had expected,’ Mr. Murray said bluntly.” Read the full article here. | Raymond Matt, CFP, CLU, TEP, CHS  

Hwy.93 to be renamed Sarah Burke Memorial Highway

“Highway 93 will be known as the Sarah Burke Memorial Highway. The road runs for 24 kilometres through Simcoe County, the region where Burke was born and raised. ‘That’s a great idea,’ said Chloe Dufour-Lapointe, Canada’s silver medalist in freestyle moguls at the Sochi Olympics. ‘She was such a great skier, everything that you heard about her was only positive, a girl who smiles.’ ‘A perfect inspiration for young girls’, added Chloe’s sister Justine, who won moguls gold in Sochi.” As stated in an article written by the Canadian Press and posted on on March 26, 2014. Article continues with, “The 29-year-old Burke, who was born in Barrie, Ont., and grew up in Midland, died after a training accident in Utah in January 2012. Burke was a four-time X-Games champion and a driving force behind the inclusion of half pipe and slopestyle in the Olympics. The events made their Olympic debut last month in Sochi.” Read the full article here. | Raymond Matt, CFP, CLU, TEP, CHS      

Bank of Canada taking steps to rein in Cdor

“Until recently the Canadian version of Libor was just an obscure acronym known only to a handful of traders, but it is ‘probably the most important benchmark’ in the country and the Bank of Canada is taking steps to rein it in, one of the central bank’s leaders said Monday. Cdor, short for the Canadian Dealer Offered Rate, is used to price an enormous amount of financial products, everything from plain vanilla consumer loans to complex interest rate swaps. This means it underpins a huge portion of the Canadian economy, over $10-trillion in total, Timothy Lane, Deputy Governor of the Bank of Canada said. It was the first time an official from the Bank of Canada or any other regulator in this country has produced such an estimate.” John Greenwood wrote for Financial Post. Greenwood continued “‘We will examine how these posted rates are currently used by market participants to see how any possible changes could affect market functioning,’ Mr. Lane said in a speech on Monday at York University’s Schulich School of Business. ‘Given Cdor’s importance, making sure it is robust is essential to the whole Canadian financial system’. Since 2012, a string of international lenders such as Barclays Plc, Citigroup, JPMorgan and the Royal bank of Scotland have paid more than US$6-billion in settlements and fines over allegations they manipulated Libor. Now investors have begun launching civil suits and experts predict that by the time the dust settles, the total amount paid will be close to US$35-billion. Like Libor the Canadian rate is calculated by a group of banks with scant regulatory oversight. After Libor was exposed, policymakers around the world started working together to shore up confidence on major financial benchmarks that are viewed as lynchpins of the financial system. Still, concern is starting to spread to other benchmarks including foreign exchange and gold.” Read the full article here. | Raymond Matt, CFP, CLU, TEP, CHS  

Jim Flaherty resigns as federal finance minister

“Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has resigned from cabinet to prepare for work in the private sector, he announced in a news release Tuesday. ‘Yesterday, I informed the prime minister that I am resigning from cabinet. This was a decision I made with my family earlier this year, as I will be returning to the private sector,’ Flaherty said in a statement. Conservative sources told CBC News that Flaherty spoke to his family at Christmas and made the decision then. He started calling close friends at 4 p.m. ET Tuesday, after the markets closed, to let them know of his decision. Flaherty isn’t immediately going to a job in the private sector. ‘As I reflect on my almost two decades in politics, I am proud of the accomplishments of the governments I was part of, provincial and federal…. Now, I will focus on life beyond politics as I return to the private sector. I believe that I have served my country, province and constituents of Whitby-Oshawa to the best of my abilities and thank them for their continued trust and support for almost two decades,’ Flaherty said in the statement. Flaherty is staying on as an MP for the time being, his spokesman told CBC News.” Laura Payton wrote for CBC news. Payton continued “Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in a statement that he accepted Flaherty’s resignation reluctantly. Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver will be named Flaherty’s replacement on Wednesday. ‘In a political career of almost 20 years, Minister Flaherty has exemplified the best qualities of those who enter public life: a true commitment to service, and a sincere desire to leave the country in better shape than it was when he entered politics,’ Harper said. ‘Since 2006, he has been a steady hand, ably guiding Canada through the most challenging economic times since the Great Depression and gaining the country a solid global reputation for economic management.’ Flaherty was Harper’s only finance minister. He was an MP who carried a great deal of influence in the Conservative caucus. He differed from Harper last month over a 2011 campaign promise to offer income splitting to couples with children. Kenney said he wants the party to stick with the promise, despite Flaherty’s opposition.” Read the full article here. | Raymond Matt, CFP, CLU, TEP, CHS  

Canada’s growing wealth under siege by rising debt

“We may never agree on music, but Canada’s Baby Boomers and Millennials have more in common than we might think. Recent data from Statistics Canada shows we’re riding a wave of unprecedented fortune, with the median net worth of Canadian families up 44.5 per cent from 2005 to $243,800 in 2012. That’s an 80 per cent jump over the 1999 median of $137,000, adjusted for inflation. Much of the increase is due to our frothy housing market as principal residences were found to be the largest asset among Canadians in 2012, followed by private pension assets, which include Registered Retirement Saving Plans (RRSPs) and company pensions.” Darah Hansen writes in an article for Yahoo Finance. Hansen continues, ” Hold the celebration, though, because we’re also spending like never before. Between sky-rocketing mortgages, car loans, lines of credit and credit cards, Canadians, young and old, managed to rack up $1.3 trillion in debt in 2012, putting our collective wealth under siege by growing debt. Kim Thompson, senior vice president of advisory services with the national wealth-management firm Credential Financial, has been following this trend closely and believes the statistics tell an interesting story about who we are and what we think about money. Notably, the data suggests a shift in our comfort levels towards debt from one generation to the next, driven, in part, by low interest rates that ‘trick’ us into thinking we can afford to consume more than we actually can or should.” Read the full article here. | Raymond Matt, CFP, CLU, TEP, CHS  

Just how stretched are middle-class Canadians?

“It’s enough to make middle-class Canadians go dizzy. One set of numbers suggests their wages are stagnating and they’re mired in debt. Then another set comes along suggesting the net worth of those same Canadians has been rising quite healthily. Politicians are hoping to spin those numbers to court voters, but trying to assess the true economic state of the middle class is not as simple as they might like Canadians to think. ‘Two political parties are focusing very much on this,’ says Charles Beach, a retired economics professor from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont.” according to March 17th, 2013 article. “‘You can see how the Liberal Party is focusing more on [how] incomes particularly in the labour market have just not been keeping up, whereas Conservatives are focusing more on ‘Hey, look, net worth is going up.’ ‘They’re both pointing to evidence which is true. It’s out there, but it’s selective.’ Everyone can agree on what the basic evidence is, says Beach. It’s provided by Statistics Canada, which offers up reams of data on incomes and how they’ve changed over the years, along with other information such as the net worth of Canadians. Some people will opt for a rosier picture that real incomes are going up, but others will say if they are going up, it’s only slowly ‘and it’s because we’re working harder to get it, so we’re stretched to maintain the standard of living, to say nothing of getting ahead,’ Beach says.” Read the full article here. | Raymond Matt, CFP, CLU, TEP, CHS

7 things you need to know about charitable tax credits

“For anyone who has thought about donating to a charity but hasn’t yet found the time or will to do so, this might be the year to finally commit. As of March 20, 2013, first-time donors can claim an additional 25 per cent ‘super credit’ on the first $1,000 they donate. The new temporary credit supplements the usual charitable donation tax credit — which, federally, is 15 per cent for donations of less than $200 and 29 per cent for those over $200 — and can be claimed once in the tax years 2013 to 2017. But regardless of whether you’re a first-time donor or a veteran philanthropist, there are a number of things to keep in mind when it comes to charity and taxes.” writes Ian Munroe in an article for CBC News. Munroe explains, “You are eligible to claim tax credits for donations up to 75 per cent of your net income for the year — and up to 100 per cent in the year of death. Charitable donations are eligible for both federal and provincial tax credits. The federal credit is the same across the board, but the provincial credit varies depending on where in the country you file your tax return. In B.C., for example, those who make donations of less than $200, get a provincial credit equal to 5.06 per cent of the donation amount. In Quebec, it’s 20 per cent. The rates go up once your donation exceeds $200 — to anywhere from 11.16 per cent in Ontario to 24 per cent in Quebec. Credits are deducted from the amount of tax you owe and can be delayed and claimed in any of the five years following the one in which you donated.” Read the full article here. | Raymond Matt, CFP, CLU, TEP, CHS      

Is Canada’s economy paying the price for Mark Carney’s poor decisions?

“High-profile central banker Mark Carney is taking it on the chin these days with blows landing from both sides of the Atlantic. The former Bank of Canada governor, who made international news last year by jumping ship to head the storied Bank of England, has been undergoing a serious grilling in London over the bank’s tame response to manipulation of foreign exchange rates. And in Canada, CIBC chief economist Avery Shenfeld has written a note suggesting Carney may have left his successor, Stephen Poloz, with an economy more damaged than it needed to be.” According to a Financial Post article by Julian Beltrame. Beltrame continues, “In Shenfeld’s view, Poloz’s puzzle about why Canadian exporters have not been able to take advantage of the expanding U.S. economy can be traced to decisions Carney made in 2009 and 2010 when Canada was coming out of recession. To boost growth, the Bank of Canada slashed interest rates that stimulated consumer spending and housing, and it worked. Canada’s economy came out of the slump quicker and stronger than any other country in the G7. But Shenfeld said Carney failed to check the appreciation of the Canadian dollar as foreign central banks dumped the U.S. currency and bought up loonies, at that time regarded as a safe haven.” Read the full article here. | Raymond Matt, CFP, CLU, TEP, CHS  

Entrepreneurship – we should be teaching it at an early age

“Even as they await the coming of spring, the students at Middle River Consolidated School on Cape Breton Island, N.S., are already looking forward to autumn. That’s when they plan to set up a market on school grounds and sell the produce from their vegetable garden. ‘We’ve sold our produce before, at the market in town and to a local restaurant that bought three-quarters of our harvest last year,’says Donna Anton-Mulley, a teacher at Middle River, which has 24 students aged five to 12 years who are in mixed-grade classes. ‘This year our plan is have a market at our school in October after we harvest and have the public come to us.’ While Ms. Anton-Mulley oversees the school’s garden program, she says it was the students who hatched the plan for this year’s market.” Wrote Marjo Johne for a special to the Globe and Mail. Johne continued, “They’ll be running the show, doing everything from making flyers to counting the cash at the end of the sale. To help, the school has been giving them lessons on such topics as how to start and run a business, manage money, and work as a team. ‘We’ve brought in guest speakers who talked to the kids about what’s involved in running a business,’ says Ms. Anton-Mulley. ‘And we let the kids just run the market business by themselves – they work together, they decide who’s doing which job, and they decide what to do with the money.’ It’s a long way from the lemonade stand that has given many generations their first taste of entrepreneurship. But for today’s young Canadians, the fundamental lesson is the same whether they’re selling citrus beverages in front of their house or kale at a farmer’s market: entrepreneurship is essential.” Read the full article here. | Raymond Matt, CFP, CLU, TEP, CHS  

Tax agency targeting middle-income tax cheats – looking for unclaimed income

“Though it’s often said the only certainties in life are death and taxes, some people were, until recently, pretty good at avoiding the latter. It wasn’t hard. All it took was a source of income that wasn’t entirely on the radar of the Canada Revenue Agency — tips earned from waiting tables, for instance, or selling used cars on Craigslist. Maybe they did day labour on construction sites, or flipped houses, or drove trucks or, ahem, wrote a few freelance articles.Whatever the case, all that unreported income has contributed to Canada’s underground economy — which, according to Statistics Canada, was worth about $35 billion in 2008, the most recent year for which numbers were available. In recent years, however, the Canada Revenue Agency has decided to try to rein in some of that undocumented economic activity.” Sean Davidson wrote for the CBC News. Davidson continued, “The taxman put in a lot of overtime — in the wilds of B.C., on the construction sites of the Prairies and in the restaurants of southern Ontario — searching for unaccounted-for cash in sectors where the bookkeeping is less than precise In Winnipeg, Regina and Saskatoon, the CRA found $339,000 in unpaid taxes among sub-contractors who did home renovation work in association with big retail stores.” Read the full article here. | Raymond Matt, CFP, CLU, TEP, CHS  

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