Saturday, March 21, 2009

Canada in the catbird seat.


Excerpts taken from an article written by Fareed Zakaria. With a tip of the hat to Brian Elie, Garberville’s very own Canadian American, who sent me the article. I assume that he is not gloating…


(Start quote) ...Guess which country, alone in the industrialized world, has not faced a single bank failure, calls for bailouts or government intervention in the financial or mortgage sectors. Yup, it's Canada. In 2008, the World Economic Forum ranked Canada's banking system the healthiest in the world. America's ranked 40th, Britain's 44th.

Canada has done more than survive this financial crisis. The country is positively thriving in it. Canadian banks are well capitalized and poised to take advantage of opportunities that American and European banks cannot seize. The Toronto Dominion Bank, for example, was the 15th-largest bank in North America one year ago. Now it is the fifth-largest. It hasn't grown in size; the others have all shrunk.

So what accounts for the genius of the Canadians? Common sense. Over the past 15 years, as the United States and Europe loosened regulations on their financial industries, the Canadians refused to follow suit, seeing the old rules as useful shock absorbers. Canadian banks are typically leveraged at 18 to 1—compared with U.S. banks at 26 to 1 and European banks at a frightening 61 to 1. Partly this reflects Canada's more risk-averse business culture, but it is also a product of old-fashioned rules on banking.

Canada has also been shielded from the worst aspects of this crisis because its housing prices have not fluctuated as wildly as those in the United States. Home prices are down 25 percent in the United States, but only half as much in Canada. Why? Well, the Canadian tax code does not provide the massive incentive for overconsumption that the U.S. code does: interest on your mortgage isn't deductible up north. In addition, home loans in the United States are "non-recourse," which basically means that if you go belly up on a bad mortgage, it's mostly the bank's problem. In Canada, it's yours. Ah, but you've heard American politicians wax eloquent on the need for these expensive programs—interest deductibility alone costs the federal government $100 billion a year—because they allow the average Joe to fulfill the American Dream of owning a home. Sixty-eight percent of Americans own their own homes. And the rate of Canadian homeownership? It's 68.4 percent.

Canada has been remarkably responsible over the past decade or so. It has had 12 years of budget surpluses, and can now spend money to fuel a recovery from a strong position. The government has restructured the national pension system, placing it on a firm fiscal footing, unlike our own insolvent Social Security. Its health-care system is cheaper than America's by far (accounting for 9.7 percent of GDP, versus 15.2 percent here), and yet does better on all major indexes. Life expectancy in Canada is 81 years, versus 78 in the United States; "healthy life expectancy" is 72 years, versus 69. American car companies have moved so many jobs to Canada to take advantage of lower health-care costs that since 2004, Ontario and not Michigan has been North America's largest car-producing region.

I could go on. The U.S. currently has a brain-dead immigration system. We issue a small number of work visas and green cards, turning away from our shores thousands of talented students who want to stay and work here. Canada, by contrast, has no limit on the number of skilled migrants who can move to the country. They can apply on their own for a Canadian Skilled Worker Visa, which allows them to become perfectly legal "permanent residents" in Canada—no need for a sponsoring employer, or even a job. Visas are awarded based on education level, work experience, age and language abilities. If a prospective immigrant earns 67 points out of 100 total (holding a Ph.D. is worth 25 points, for instance), he or she can become a full-time, legal resident of Canada.

Companies are noticing. In 2007 Microsoft, frustrated by its inability to hire foreign graduate students in the United States, decided to open a research center in Vancouver. The company's announcement noted that it would staff the center with "highly skilled people affected by immigration issues in the U.S." So the brightest Chinese and Indian software engineers are attracted to the United States, trained by American universities, then thrown out of the country and picked up by Canada—where most of them will work, innovate and pay taxes for the rest of their lives.

If President Obama is looking for smart government, there is much he, and all of us, could learn from our quiet—OK, sometimes boring—neighbor to the north. Meanwhile, in the councils of the financial world, Canada is pushing for new rules for financial institutions that would reflect its approach. (End Quote)


If you are considering moving to Canada to get a job, you should probably make sure you have a job first, because they give Canadians first preference, what a novel idea. If you buy a house, apparently you will have to pay for it... Whaaaat???


Here are some more interesting links about jobs in Canada.


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14 comments:

Kym said...

Eh, what. The neighbors are doing well? Let's borrow some money!

Ernie Branscomb said...

"American car companies have moved so many jobs to Canada to take advantage of lower health-care costs that since 2004, Ontario and not Michigan has been North America's largest car-producing region."

Yeah, I think it's fun to compare, but that doesn't necessarily mean that they are better. Like for instance, who are they going to sell their cars to?

Rainey Daze said...

Thank you Ernie, that was informative.
It is good to know that not every country has bolluxed up their financial future so thoroughly.

Canada is the main healthy source of hempseed for the health food stores. A niche that could be filled locally.

And that doesn't begin to address the huge birdseed market, remember when birdsong was happier?
Can you see it? Organic, in the husk "Humboldt Happysong Birdseed"...
Maybe the community park could get that going.

Canada is a good example for us in many areas.

Anonymous said...

You best be careful with your birdseed...
Have you heard about the canarial disease going round?
Is is called chirpies, it is untweetable, and they get it from bad seed.

Ernie Branscomb said...

They have a new experimental cure for chirpes. It’s called “Chipetrol”. You can sign up for experimental tweetment. No need to pull your feathers out, the cost is mere birdseed, and you can put it on the bill.

Ranier Daze said...

Catbird seat (as it is usually written) usually appears in the fuller form in the catbird seat, meaning to be in an advantageous or prominent position, one of ease and favour. Its first appearance in print was in a famous short story of that title by James Thurber, published in the New Yorker on 14 November 1942:

In the halls, in the elevator, even in his own office, into which she romped now and then like a circus horse, she was constantly shouting these silly questions at him. “Are you lifting the oxcart out of the ditch? Are you tearing up the pea patch? Are you hollering down the rain barrel? Are you scraping around the bottom of the pickle barrel? Are you sitting in the catbird seat?” It was Joey Hart, one of Mr. Martin’s two assistants, who had explained what the gibberish meant. “She must be a Dodger fan,” he had said. “Red Barber announces the Dodger games over the radio and he uses those expressions — picked ’em up down South.” Joey had gone on to explain one or two. “Tearing up the pea patch” meant going on a rampage; “sitting in the catbird seat” means sitting pretty, like a batter with three balls and no strikes on him.
All the early examples are indeed associated with baseball...

The basis for the expression is actually quite simple, I'm told. The phrase is said to derive from the habit of the catbird of sitting on the highest point it can find to deliver its song, thus suggesting an effortless superiority. Subscriber Dan Lufkin confirmed this in an e-mail: “If you lived in catbird country, as I do, you would instantly recognize the catbird seat as the highest point in your yard, from which a catbird — or its cousin, a mockingbird — begins loudly staking its territorial claim at first light, typically about 4:45 a.m. in the nesting season.”"

Anonymous said...

tha whole thing was a quote...missed the first"

bubba t. briarhopper said...

So I read this and then went and took an online immigration qualification test just for fun.
I have a bachelors degree, solid work history in the sciences, a family, and $$ in the bank. I flunked! It appears that the Canadian govt. isn't actually throwing the doors open, as the questions about occupation were very pointed and it was obvious that they're looking for people to fill certain skill sets, i.e. engineers, college profs, etc.
For example, you need 68 points to pass and possessing a PhD gives you 25 points! Sheesh, what country doesn't want people like that (besides ours, that is).

samoasoftball said...

Interesting though provoking post. Whay has happened to us? Is the US setting a too low curb?

samoasoftball said...

Curve!!!! Guess I answered that one quickly!

Ernie Branscomb said...

The US has too many PHDs working at burger king. We have let most of our good jobs slip away, and the crummy jobs are being done by illegal immigrants.

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