Friday, June 20, 2014

Sequel to Canada's Good Banks or Terminator 2: Judgement day

Julian Assange of Wikileaks fame, has just released the draft text of a secret, fifty country deal, to deregulate the banking industry. Dubbed the Trade in Services Agreement or TISA, the scheme would also allow the global sharing of our personal financial information.

It is said to be a push back against regulations imposed after the 2008 financial meltdown, when the public was forced to bail out the banks. If allowed to go through, it would set us up for a repeat performance.

Apparently Canada is one of the signatories.

This is not surprising.

Stephen Harper has always supported bank deregulation and often chided the Liberal government for being too cautious. We now know that it's a good thing they were. As Trish Hennessey says in her piece: The Quiet Erosion of Canada’s Regulation System:
Canada’s economy was shel­tered from the worst of the 2008 global economic meltdown because our bank regulations are tougher than they are in competing jurisdictions like the U.S. Fol­lowing our own high standards paid off, and protected Canadians from the eco­nomic devastation that brought entire nations such as Iceland and the U.S. to the brink of ruin.

Yet our federal government continues to quietly deregulate Canada. Our own Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, is warn­ing against strong regulatory practices. In a speech to the G20 in January 2010, Harper warned other nations against ‘ex­cessive’ financial regulations — a coun­terintuitive message, given strong regulations saved Canadians from the economic devastation our American counterparts are experiencing today.
And while there was a belief that made headlines, not only here but around the world, that Canada's banks did not require a bailout, many of us knew differently.

Finally, CBC revealed four years after the fact, that the Canadian public bailed out our banks for at least 114 billion dollars. This should have been a 2011 election issue, but few Canadians knew of it, primarily because our media has allowed the Harper government to write their own narrative.

Lending credence to Wikileaks report, as early as 2008, Ellen Gould revealed that the Harper government was pushing deregulation, not only in Canada, but everywhere.
On the international stage, Canada is a major proponent of financial liberalization.

At the WTO, Canada heads a group of delegations pressing developing countries to open their economies to the supposedly superior services of foreign financial institutions. The world's major financial conglomerates are claimed to have sophisticated risk management capabilities that can stabilize economies. You might think these days such a claim would not pass the laugh test, but that did not stop financial liberalization from being pushed at the WTO ministerial meeting held in July 2008.

The enormity of what's at stake in the WTO financial sector negotiations is revealed in a February 2006 bargaining request sent from Canada's Department of Finance to developing countries. Canada asked that foreign financial institutions be guaranteed rights to "establish new and acquire existing companies" in all financial sectors. This would mean among other things that countries would have to allow 100 per cent foreign ownership of their banks and insurance companies

... While successive Canadian governments have been strong advocates of financial liberalization, the unfolding financial crisis might have suggested now is the time to show a little caution and back off these WTO negotiating demands. Yet a WTO submission from Canada dated Dec. 5, 2007, berates other WTO members for their lack of "ambition" in the financial services negotiations. On behalf of the co-sponsors of the submission, Canada claimed: "further liberalization of financial services will help promote economic growth and improved standards of living for all WTO Members…"

It makes one wonder. just how bad would things have to get before the Harper government realizes further liberalizing the world's financial markets is not such a great idea?
Whether a great idea or not, it makes the existence of TISA not only possible, but probable.

This is something we should all be concerned about.

I mentioned before that I attended a luncheon where Canada's former Parliamentary Budget Officer, Keven Page, was the speaker.

Something he said still haunts me. When asked about Canada's economic outlook, he quipped that "from an airplane 40,000 feet above, our books look good."

It would appear that Harper is ready to throw us all out of that plane without a parachute.


  1. It's not very well known but in addition to our own government bailing out our banks they were also bailed out by the federal reserve.

    Our banks are not more stable than other banks around the world, and never have been. They operate on exactly the same system of derivatives and fractional reserve banking.

    -- Richard ( )

  2. I had actually blogged on that before. Even Fox News reported the "foreign" bailouts that included Canada, blaming Obama of course. Apparently our banks, or at least one, bought up the assets of AIG