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Found 48 results

  1. Desjardins financial grows outside Quebec The Gazette Published: 1 hour ago Desjardins Financial Security, the life and health insurance arm of the $152-billion Desjardins Group, said yesterday that business growth outside Quebec was strong in the second quarter. Premium income was up 6.1 per cent from a year earlier in Quebec, where it already has a large market presence, and rose 16.8 per cent in the rest of Canada. Desjardins Financial has been working hard to build market share outside Quebec, especially for group business. Desjardins Financial also sells group and individual retirement savings products, including mutual funds, and growth in this business came mainly from its new guaranteed investment contracts. "We continue to gain ground in an extremely competitive insurance market," chief operating officer Richard Fortier said. Second-quarter net income was $59.3 million vs. $68.4 million a year earlier.
  2. Quebec climbs to 6th spot in Fraser Institute's mining survey Peter Hadekel PETER HADEKEL, SPECIAL TO MONTREAL GAZETTE More from Peter Hadekel, Special to Montreal Gazette Published on: February 24, 2015Last Updated: February 24, 2015 6:31 AM EST A newly constructed bridge spans the Eastmain river in northern Quebec on Thursday October 03, 2013. The bridge leads to Stornaway Diamond's Renard mine and Camp Lagopede. They are located about 800 kms north of Montreal, on the shore of lake Kaakus Kaanipaahaapisk. Pierre Obendrauf / The Gazette SHARE ADJUST COMMENT PRINT After tumbling in the rankings in recent years, Quebec has re-established itself as one of the world’s most attractive mining jurisdictions, according to the Fraser Institute’s annual survey of the mining industry made public Tuesday. The province jumped to sixth spot in the 2014 rankings for investment attractiveness after finishing 18th the year before. The survey rated 122 jurisdictions around the world “based on their geological attractiveness and the extent to which government policies encourage exploration and investment.” Quebec sat on top of the international rankings from 2007 to 2010 but then dropped as industry perceptions of the province turned negative. Increased red tape, royalty hikes and uncertainty surrounding new environmental regulations all took their toll. But a change of government in Quebec seems to have helped turn those perceptions around. “The confidence mining executives now have in Quebec is due in part to the province’s proactive approach to mining policy and its Plan Nord strategy to encourage investment and mineral exploration in northern Quebec,” said Kenneth Green, the Fraser Institute’s senior director of energy and natural resources. The Liberal government under Philippe Couillard breathed new life into the Plan Nord after taking over from the previous Parti Québécois administration, which had been noticeably cool to the plan first proposed by former Liberal premier Jean Charest. While uncertainty surrounding mineral prices has held back new investment in Quebec, the Liberals have pledged to push the Plan Nord strategy by improving transportation infrastructure and making direct investments where needed. Reflecting the improved mood, an index measuring policy perception places Quebec 12th in the world, up from 21st in 2013. However, Quebec got a black eye in the mining community over its handling of the Strateco Resources Inc. uranium mine, which has been repeatedly delayed. A moratorium was imposed on all uranium exploration permits, which the industry saw as an arbitrary and unnecessary action that devastated junior explorers. As well, the Fraser Institute’s Green noted that in Ontario and British Columbia uncertainty surrounding First Nations consultations and disputed land claims should serve as “a stark lesson for Quebec. Above all, mining investment is attracted when a jurisdiction can provide a clear and transparent regulatory environment.” Finland finished first overall in this year’s survey of 485 mining executives from around the world. Exploration budgets reported by companies participating in the survey totalled US$2.7 billion, down from US$3.2 billion in 2013. Despite its strong performance, Quebec was edged out by two other Canadian provinces: Saskatchewan finished second and Manitoba fourth. A strong Canadian showing included eighth spot for Newfoundland and Labrador and ninth for Yukon. The mining industry has been hampered by a lack of financing for exploration as well as continued uncertainty over future demand and prices. The report found an overall deterioration in the investment climate around the world. There is “a stark difference between geographical regions; notably the divide between Canada, the United States and Australia and the rest of the world.” [email protected] sent via Tapatalk
  3. voici le lien (foreign direct investment) :http://www.fdiintelligence.com Le Québec en tete en amerique du nord (growth of capital investment of 321%) pour 2014
  4. Less Charter, more economy. MONTREAL — There was an initial sense among many observers that the Liberal election victory would be good for the economy, at least in the short run. It’s true that some measure of political stability will return to the province as the PQ’s divisive Charter of Quebec Values is thrown in the wastebasket and as the immediate risk of a referendum on sovereignty is removed. But the sobering truth is that Quebec could face years of mediocre economic growth unless it undertakes some major structural reforms. That warning came this week from Glen Hodgson, senior economist at the Conference Board of Canada, who said Quebec is heading for a prolonged period of economic underperformance unless decisive steps are taken by government and the private sector. “Quebecers could face the disagreeable prospect of deteriorating public services combined with a rise in income taxes” unless the province’s competitive position improves, he wrote in an opinion piece in La Presse. Interviewed Tuesday, Hodgson noted that over the past couple of years, during a period of economic recovery, Quebec has been unable to do better than a growth rate of around one per cent. That raises the question: What’s in store once the North American economic cycle shifts back to recession? The current underperformance has weakened the government’s fiscal position and made it less able to withstand the next economic downturn. Combined with a slowdown in private investment and little growth in the job market, this is playing havoc with government revenues. There are reports that the $2.5 billion deficit projected for 2013-14 may run as high as $3.3 billion once the Liberals get a full picture of public finances. Meanwhile, Quebec’s public debt is the highest in Canada, equalling about 50 per cent of its economic production. The Conference Board estimates growth of two per cent this year as the recovery in the United States picks up steam and extends into next year. “But the recovery will not last,” said Hodgson, “because the foundation for growth in Quebec is not solid.” The province’s long-term growth potential is around 1.5 per cent, he says, which will put it behind the eight ball. “You can’t grow at 1.5 per cent and be able to pay for health care when it’s growing at five per cent.” One doesn’t have to look far to find the reasons for Quebec’s troubles. “It’s really driven by demographics, private investment and productivity,” Hodgson said. Demographic forces are hitting Quebec harder than Ontario, which is also struggling with a weak economy. As active participation in the Quebec labour force declines, paying for expensive government programs like health care and education will get more difficult. The Conference Board projects growth in the labour force of just 0.5 per cent after 2015 as baby-boomer retirements kick in. Compensating for that reduction will require integrating more immigrants into the economy, providing more job training and boosting productivity. Former Liberal finance minister Raymond Bachand says he’s optimistic that some of those hurdles can be overcome. Bachand has agreed to head a new economic think tank called the Institut du Québec, which will be a joint venture between the Conference Board and the HEC business school in Montreal. The goal, he says, is to stimulate public debate with evidence-based research on the economy and public finances. Too many think tanks these days have a political bias, he believes. “We’re going to come up with a fiscal outlook in the next few weeks as our first piece of research,” Bachand said. “We know that we have a demographic challenge. We need the labour market to be healthy. “We have to get private investment back and we have to get our health costs under control. That’s the real goal of the Institut: to contribute to the debate from a fact-based point of view.” Between the Conference Board and HEC, the joint venture will have 400 researchers at its disposal to try to contribute to the debate. That should help the new finance minister and other government players get a better sense of the policy options available.
  5. Does anyone have any insight in the condo hotel market? Is it a good investment in Montreal? Toronto has so much offering (Thompson, King West, etc) and Montreal seems lagging (Crystal, Zero 1). I'm wondering if this is a profitable venture.
  6. [MAPS]https://maps.google.ca/maps?q=Pernambuco&hl=en&sll=45.495362,-73.568761&sspn=0.001608,0.004128&t=h&hnear=Pernambuco,+Brazil&z=7[/MAPS] Brazil’s north-east: The Pernambuco model Eduardo Campos is both modern manager and old-fashioned political boss. His success in developing his state may make him his country’s next president Oct 27th 2012 | RECIFE | from the print edition IN THE 1980s an American anthropologist, Nancy Scheper-Hughes, carried out fieldwork in Timbaúba, a town in the sugar belt of Pernambuco state, in Brazil’s north-east. She described a place seemingly resigned to absolute poverty. The back-breaking task of cutting sugar cane by machete provided ill-paid work for only a few months of the year. The deaths of young children from disease and hunger were accepted “without weeping”. Traces of that bitter world survive in Timbaúba. In Alto do Cruzeiro, a poor suburb on a hilltop overlooking the town, Severina da Silva, a maid who also runs a shop in her living room, says that some people still go hungry. She is 48 but looks 20 years older. A 31-year-old cane cutter nicknamed “Bill” has six children—a throwback to the days when people had big families instead of pensions. But Bill has a labour contract, with full rights; he gets a stipend and a small plot from the state government to see him through the idle months. That is part of a broader social safety net provided by democracy in Brazil. It includes non-contributory pensions for rural workers. Some 6,000 of the town’s poorest residents take part in Bolsa Família, a cash-transfer scheme started by Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Brazil’s president from 2003-10, who was born near Timbaúba. Thanks partly to this cash injection, the town now boasts car and motorbike dealers, new shops, a bank and restaurants. That is a ripple from a broader flood of investment that has made Pernambuco one of Brazil’s fastest-growing states. Once Europe’s most lucrative Atlantic colony, it languished for centuries. While sugar estates on the plains of São Paulo mechanised with world-beating efficiency, those in Pernambuco’s rolling hills struggled. Revival began with a new port at Suape, south of Recife. Its hinterland is now a sprawling industrial complex. Some 40,000 workers are building a vast oil refinery and petrochemical plants for Petrobras, the state-controlled oil company. A new shipyard and wind-power plants rise among the mangroves. Suape is a monument to federal money, industrial policy and an alliance between Lula and Eduardo Campos, Pernambuco’s ambitious governor. But the state’s boom goes wider. Rising incomes have helped Mr Campos attract private investment. Fiat is to start work on a car plant beside the main road north of Recife. A host of smaller food, textile and shoe factories are now setting up in the state’s poor interior, including Timbaúba. While the rest of Brazil worries about deindustrialisation, Pernambuco does not: since Mr Campos became governor in 2007, industry’s share of the state’s economy has risen from 20% to 25%, and will reach 30% by 2015, he says. This boom has brought nearly full employment—and created an acute skills shortage. The refinery is years behind schedule, as is the shipyard’s order book, partly because illiterate former cane-cutters make poor welders. To try to remedy that, Mr Campos has teamed up with the Institute for Co-Responsibility in Education (ICE), a private educational foundation, to reform the state’s middle schools. More than 200 of these now operate an eight-hour day, rather than the four-hour shifts common in Brazil. In return, the government has raised teachers’ salaries and added bonuses tied to results. It is also trying to chivvy mayors into improving primary schools through extra funds and other incentives. That is vital: on average, pupils arrive in middle schools aged 15 with a three-year learning deficit, says Marcos Magalhães, ICE’s founder. Pernambuco is rising up the rankings of state educational performance. Mr Campos’s critics say he should do more to tackle poverty. Alongside the opulent residential blocks towering over its palm-fringed beaches, Recife has 600 favelas (slums), and its lagoons are fetid with untreated sewage. He replies that his government is doing what it can to help the generation scarred by the poverty of cane-cutting, particularly in the drought-stricken semi-desert region farther inland. But his bold bet is that infrastructure, private investment and better education will eliminate the causes of his state’s misery. “We are turning off the flow of poverty while looking after the stock,” he says, using his trademark management-speak. So far that bet has paid off. Mr Campos won a second term in 2010, and his Brazilian Socialist Party did well in this month’s municipal elections, in Pernambuco and beyond. He is nominally an ally of Dilma Rousseff, Lula’s successor as president. But he is also a potential threat to her winning a second term at the 2014 election. Mr Campos was born into politics. Miguel Arraes, his grandfather, was an old-fashioned socialist and Pernambuco’s governor both before and after Brazil’s 1964- 85 military dictatorship. Mr Campos says Arraes taught him that politics is about “bringing people together, rather than dividing them.” Some in Recife complain that he has learned that lesson too well and become a modern version of a traditional north-eastern coronel (political boss), shrinking from challenging the old rural order, trading support for jobs and favours and freezing out dissenters. But his defenders say he gets things done. He was lucky that his less-heralded predecessor laid the foundations of Pernambuco’s renaissance. He has built on them by modernising the state. He faced down the trade unions over school reform and brought private managers to state hospitals. He has set hundreds of targets for his administration, and harries his aides to achieve them. One that he recognises he must meet—or pay a political price—is to finish a new football stadium in Recife in time for next year’s warm-up tournament for the 2014 World Cup. As both the main parties that have run Brazil since 1995 lack new faces, Mr Campos’s success in Pernambuco has turned him into the country’s most-watched politician. http://www.economist.com/news/americas/21565227-eduardo-campos-both-modern-manager-and-old-fashioned-political-boss-his-success
  7. C'est l'Abu Dhabi Investment Council qui met la main sur l'édifice de 77 étages qui a déjà été la plus haute tour du monde. Pour en lire plus...
  8. Investing in infrastructure A question of trust Chicago pioneers a new way of paying for infrastructure May 12th 2012 | CHICAGO AND WASHINGTON, DC | from the print edition FOR decades America has underinvested in infrastructure—even though poor roads, delayed flights, crumbling bridges and inefficient buildings are an expensive burden. Deficiencies in roads, bridges and transport systems alone cost households and businesses nearly $130 billion in 2010, mostly because of higher running costs and travel delays. The calculated underinvestment in transport infrastructure alone runs to about $94 billion a year. This filters through to all parts of the economy and increases costs at the point of use of many raw materials, and thereby reduces the productivity and competitiveness of American firms and their goods. Overall the American Society of Civil Engineers reckons that this underinvestment will end up costing each family in the country about $10,600 between 2010 and 2020. Yet though investment in infrastructure would bring clear gains in efficiency, there is little money around, and all levels of government are reluctant or unable to pile up more debt. Traditional sources of funding, such as the (flat) tax on petrol, have delivered a dwindling amount of revenue as soaring prices at the pump have persuaded people to drive less. The federal government has been unable to get Congress to agree on other ways to generate new sources of funding for transport, to the point where money for new highways has almost dried up. For years America has talked about a federal infrastructure bank, which would blend private and public finance and would yield returns over a long number of years. Various other countries have tried the idea, but it has never caught on in the United States. Barack Obama wants $10 billion in funding as initial capital for a national infrastructure bank as part of his jobs plan. So far the idea has gone nowhere in Congress. In March the mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel, announced that his city could not wait for such help from elsewhere and will go it alone. With the speedy approval of the city council he created a new breed of infrastructure finance known as the Chicago Infrastructure Trust (CIT). The trust is not so much an infrastructure bank with money to hand out, but a city effort to match public infrastructure needs to private investors on a case-by-case basis; something more like an exchange. The city will finance the running costs of the trust itself to the tune of $2.5m. Several financial institutions are already lined up to make investments totalling $1.7 billion, among them Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets, Ullico, Citibank and JPMorgan. The background to this is that Mr Emanuel wants to spend about $7 billion to rebuild the city of Chicago—on everything from streets, to parks, to the water system, schools, commuter rail and the main airport. Tom Alexander, a spokesman for the mayor, says the city cannot ignore the future as it deals with the present. But raising the money needed for new investment, while maintaining the current infrastructure, is a daunting task. The CIT allows Mr Emanuel to tap the private sector for money, rather than just raising taxes and borrowing. The private sector will invest money in projects and get it back in the shape of tolls, user fees, premium pricing or even tax breaks. The first project is an investment of $225m to make city buildings more energy-efficient. This is expected to reduce annual energy costs by $20m, and the savings will then be used to pay back the investors. The CIT will provide some capital, bond financing and grants. It will also offer tax-exempt debt to entice investors. Returns on investment could vary from 3% on tax-exempt bonds to 8% for equity partners. Private involvement should, in theory, improve the quality of projects that get undertaken. A politically-expedient but financially dubious project would be unlikely to generate enough money to interest private investors. Padding, short cuts or shoddy construction are less likely to be tolerated. And city leaders might in turn overcome their aversion to the efficient pricing of public resources such as parking and busy roads. At the moment, investor appetites are keen and the supply of potential projects looks ample. The project is causing some anxiety in Chicago, though. Although the new trust would leave all the resulting investment under public ownership, the city’s recent bitter experience with a bungled 75-year lease of its parking meters under a previous mayor has left residents fearful. And with reason. For example, experience with public-private partnerships shows that cost-benefit estimates can sometimes prove wildly optimistic. When projects go bad—leaving half-built roads and schools—they become a public problem. Private investment might well end up being recouped in higher user fees. Mr Emanuel is well aware that other cities are watching this experiment with interest. The mayor is a hugely ambitious man, who is undoubtedly keen to leave a lasting legacy, and who some believe may want to remain as mayor for a period of Daleyian proportions. He, of all people, will want to build something that other cities will want to copy, not avoid. http://www.economist.com/node/21554579
  9. Growth in mining sector reshaping Quebec economy BARRIE MCKENNA OTTAWA— Globe and Mail Blog Posted on Thursday, March 15, 2012 12:48PM EDT http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/economy/economy-lab/daily-mix/growth-in-mining-sector-reshaping-quebec-economy/article2370299/ Think of the Quebec economy, and the traditional drivers are energy, forestry and manufacturing. But there’s a new engine in Quebec – mining – and it’s reshaping the economy of both the province, and the country. Investment in the province’s mining industry is expected to reach $4.4-billion this year, up 62 per cent from 2011. That’s nearly equal to the capital that will be poured into manufacturing ($5-billion), a remarkable 27 per cent of all business investment in the province and represents half of all mining investment in the country, according to a National Bank of Canada analysis of recent Statistics Canada figures. “That’s never happened before,” National Bank of Canada chief economist Stéfane Marion said in an interview. “It’s a huge growth driver for the province this year, and in the future.” It’s not the only first. Quebec will lead the country in mining investment this year, outpacing Ontario, Mr. Marion said. Mining investment is expected to hit $3.7-billion in Ontario, $2.8-billion in B.C. and $500-million in Alberta. For Quebec, the money pouring into dozens of iron ore, gold, copper and other mining projects could add a full percentage to GDP this year and cause an unexpected boost in royalty revenue for the cash-strapped government. It will also have spinoff benefits for Montreal-area manufacturers, who will help supply mining-related equipment. But Mr. Marion said there are broader implications. The Quebec economy is starting to look a lot more like the booming resource-rich provinces of the West. “This is a material change in the industrial structure of Quebec,” Ms. Marion said. “It brings the interests of Western Canada and Quebec into line. It’s not just a pure Western Canada story now. It’s spreading to Eastern Canada.” Quebec is also positioning itself to capitalize on the growing resource appetite in China and other fast-growing emerging economies, he said. And the good news: The mining boom is just getting started as Quebec plots its 25-year “Plan Nord” strategy.
  10. Courtesy of Advisors.ca http://www.advisor.ca/news/industry-news/bmo-makes-buying-gold-simple-59141 Seems like BMO is following Scotia bank.
  11. Bronfman’s famous relatives fled the city long ago Macleans : Martin Patriquin There are a couple of reasons why Stephen Bronfman seems to be smiling more than usual these days. Having failed in his bid to purchase the Montreal Canadiens last year, the eldest child of billionaire Charles Bronfman got quite a consolation prize by luring the Habs’ former president Pierre Boivin to Claridge Inc., the private investment firm the 47-year-old has run for 15 years. Scoring Boivin, who will serve as Claridge’s president and CEO, is a coup for the small investment house: as one of Quebec’s most respected business minds, he was reportedly courted by some of the biggest companies in the province. Mostly, though, Stephen Bronfman is decidedly optimistic about the future of Montreal—which, coming from a Bronfman, is good news for the city. Though the family made their name and much of their fortune in Quebec through liquor behemoth Seagram’s, practically all of the members of the sprawling Bronfman family tree have left. The reason represents a familiar narrative in Quebec’s history: the province’s political upheaval, beginning with the election of the Parti Québécois in 1976, caused a monumental flight of capital, mostly to Toronto. This included Stephen’s cousins Peter and Edward, who departed shortly after selling off their ownership of les Canadiens in 1978. Stephen’s father Charles debarked for New York, while American cousin Edgar Jr.’s disastrous reign as head of Seagram’s is the stuff of dubious legend. Throughout it all, Stephen Bronfman has mostly stayed put in Montreal. “I guess I’m a bit more of a traditionalist, and very proud to be the last man standing, so to speak,” he says from his downtown office. “There’s a sense of history, tradition, pride of being third-generation Bronfman in Montreal.” Bronfman joined Claridge, the boutique investment firm started by his father, in 1991; four years later he negotiated a deal to buy Labatt’s broadcast assets; the ensuing company was sold to CTV in 1999, nearly doubling Claridge’s initial $45-million investment. That same year, Bronfman joined a group of investors attempting to keep the Expos in Montreal. One of Claridge’s recent successes was investing in SunOpta, an Ontario-based and publicly traded purveyor of organic foods. Claridge’s initial investment was $2 million in 2001; SunOpta’s sales have since grown sixfold to nearly $900 million in 2010. Canadian Business magazine deemed SunOpta stock to be the best cash-flow generator of 2010. Claridge has two new major construction projects in Montreal—Les Bassins du Nouveau Havre, a 2,000-unit housing development on 23 acres bordering the Lachine Canal, and Le Seville, a $120-million housing and retail development plunked down into what has been a decrepit void of western Ste. Catherine Street. The 450-unit development wasn’t without its hiccups: namely, a plan to bring organic grocer Whole Foods to the site fell through. “I think they got nervous about the climate, about doing business in a predominantly French market,” Bronfman says. These investments aren’t happenstance; as Bronfman notes, Montreal’s real estate market is doing quite well. Last year saw a nine per cent increase in housing sales volume, according to the Greater Montreal Real Estate Board. The city’s GDP, meanwhile, has increased by roughly 20 per cent since 2000—nothing flashy, but without the drastic dips faced by many North American cities recently. Bronfman’s decision to stay in Montreal through thick and thin has had a positive effect on the city’s anglophone community in particular, says McGill business professor Karl Moore. “The Bronfmans have a storied history here, and it’s encouraging to Anglo Montrealers that he’s stayed close to his roots here,” he says. “It’s good for the community, and suggests we should do the same.” As a smaller and private investment firm, Bronfman says Claridge is well-positioned to reap the benefits of Quebec’s peculiar business climate: the wariness to search out funding from big, out-of-province firms. “There’s always a bit of trepidation with local business people,” he says. “They’ve invested their life and their emotion into their business and they don’t want to have someone strip out their management just for the almighty dollar. We’ve won out a few deals where we’ve beaten multinationals by buying, say, a food business, maybe paid a little less, but the entrepreneur is much happier to do business with a local family office than a large corporation.” But what of Quebec’s old (but ever-present) political ghosts? After all, unpopular as it may be right now, the question of Quebec sovereignty remains a stubborn constant. Regardless, Bronfman is staying put. “That’s the nature of the beast,” he says of Montreal. “There’s always going to be ups and downs. It’s what makes Quebec an exciting place to live.”
  12. Wall Street, R.I.P.: The End of an Era, Even at Goldman Article Tools Sponsored By By JULIE CRESWELL and BEN WHITE Published: September 27, 2008 WALL STREET. Two simple words that — like Hollywood and Washington — conjure a world. Goldman Sachs’s headquarters in New York. The company, a golden child of the financial sector, faces a very different future and mission amid seismic changes wrought by the credit crisis. Lloyd C. Blankfein led Goldman’s securities division before becoming chief executive in 2006. A world of big egos. A world where people love to roll the dice with borrowed money. A world of tightwire trading, propelled by computers. In search of ever-higher returns — and larger yachts, faster cars and pricier art collections for their top executives — Wall Street firms bulked up their trading desks and hired pointy-headed quantum physicists to develop foolproof programs. Hedge funds placed markers on red (the Danish krone goes up) or black (the G.D.P. of Thailand falls). And private equity firms amassed giant funds and went on a shopping spree, snapping up companies as if they were second wives buying Jimmy Choo shoes on sale. That world is largely coming to an end. The huge bailout package being debated in Congress may succeed in stabilizing the financial markets. But it is too late to help firms like Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers, which have already disappeared. Merrill Lynch, whose trademark bull symbolized Wall Street to many Americans, is being folded into Bank of America, located hundreds of miles from New York, in Charlotte, N.C. For most of the financiers who remain, with the exception of a few superstars, the days of easy money and supersized bonuses are behind them. The credit boom that drove Wall Street’s explosive growth has dried up. Regulators who sat on the sidelines for too long are now eager to rein in Wall Street’s bad boys and the practices that proliferated in recent years. “The swashbuckling days of Wall Street firms’ trading, essentially turning themselves into giant hedge funds, are over. Turns out they weren’t that good,” said Andrew Kessler, a former hedge fund manager. “You’re no longer going to see middle-level folks pulling in seven- and multiple-seven-dollar figures that no one can figure out exactly what they did for that.” The beginning of the end is felt even in the halls of the white-shoe firm Goldman Sachs, which, among its Wall Street peers, epitomized and defined a high-risk, high-return culture. Goldman is the firm that other Wall Street firms love to hate. It houses some of the world’s biggest private equity and hedge funds. Its investment bankers are the smartest. Its traders, the best. They make the most money on Wall Street, earning the firm the nickname Goldmine Sachs. (Its 30,522 employees earned an average of $600,000 last year — an average that considers secretaries as well as traders.) Although executives at other firms secretly hoped that Goldman would once — just once — make a big mistake, at the same time, they tried their darnedest to emulate it. While Goldman remains top-notch in providing merger advice and underwriting public offerings, what it does better than any other firm on Wall Street is proprietary trading. That involves using its own funds, as well as a heap of borrowed money, to make big, smart global bets. Other firms tried to follow its lead, heaping risk on top of risk, all trying to capture just a touch of Goldman’s magic dust and its stellar quarter-after-quarter returns. Not one ever came close. While the credit crisis swamped Wall Street over the last year, causing Merrill, Citigroup and Lehman Brothers to sustain heavy losses on big bets in mortgage-related securities, Goldman sailed through with relatively minor bumps. In 2007, the same year that Citigroup and Merrill cast out their chief executives, Goldman booked record revenue and earnings and paid its chief, Lloyd C. Blankfein, $68.7 million — the most ever for a Wall Street C.E.O. Even Wall Street’s golden child, Goldman, however, could not withstand the turmoil that rocked the financial system in recent weeks. After Lehman and the American International Group were upended, and Merrill jumped into its hastily arranged engagement with Bank of America two weeks ago, Goldman’s stock hit a wall. The A.I.G. debacle was particularly troubling. Goldman was A.I.G.’s largest trading partner, according to several people close to A.I.G. who requested anonymity because of confidentiality agreements. Goldman assured investors that its exposure to A.I.G. was immaterial, but jittery investors and clients pulled out of the firm, nervous that stand-alone investment banks — even one as esteemed as Goldman — might not survive. “What happened confirmed my feeling that Goldman Sachs, no matter how good it was, was not impervious to the fortunes of fate,” said John H. Gutfreund, the former chief executive of Salomon Brothers. So, last weekend, with few choices left, Goldman Sachs swallowed a bitter pill and turned itself into, of all things, something rather plain and pedestrian: a deposit-taking bank. The move doesn’t mean that Goldman is going to give away free toasters for opening a checking account at a branch in Wichita anytime soon. But the shift is an assault on Goldman’s culture and the core of its astounding returns of recent years. Not everyone thinks that the Goldman money machine is going to be entirely constrained. Last week, the Oracle of Omaha, Warren E. Buffett, made a $5 billion investment in the firm, and Goldman raised another $5 billion in a separate stock offering. Still, many people say, with such sweeping changes before it, Goldman Sachs could well be losing what made it so special. But, then again, few things on Wall Street will be the same. GOLDMAN’S latest golden era can be traced to the rise of Mr. Blankfein, the Brooklyn-born trading genius who took the helm in June 2006, when Henry M. Paulson Jr., a veteran investment banker and adviser to many of the world’s biggest companies, left the bank to become the nation’s Treasury secretary. Mr. Blankfein’s ascent was a significant changing of the guard at Goldman, with the vaunted investment banking division giving way to traders who had become increasingly responsible for driving a run of eye-popping profits. Before taking over as chief executive, Mr. Blankfein led Goldman’s securities division, pushing a strategy that increasingly put the bank’s own capital on the line to make big trading bets and investments in businesses as varied as power plants and Japanese banks. The shift in Goldman’s revenue shows the transformation of the bank. From 1996 to 1998, investment banking generated up to 40 percent of the money Goldman brought in the door. In 2007, Goldman’s best year, that figure was less than 16 percent, while revenue from trading and principal investing was 68 percent. Goldman’s ability to sidestep the worst of the credit crisis came mainly because of its roots as a private partnership in which senior executives stood to lose their shirts if the bank faltered. Founded in 1869, Goldman officially went public in 1999 but never lost the flat structure that kept lines of communication open among different divisions. In late 2006, when losses began showing in one of Goldman’s mortgage trading accounts, the bank held a top-level meeting where executives including David Viniar, the chief financial officer, concluded that the housing market was headed for a significant downturn. Hedging strategies were put in place that essentially amounted to a bet that housing prices would fall. When they did, Goldman limited its losses while rivals posted ever-bigger write-downs on mortgages and complex securities tied to them. In 2007, Goldman generated $11.6 billion in profit, the most money an investment bank has ever made in a year, and avoided most of the big mortgage-related losses that began slamming other banks late in that year. Goldman’s share price soared to a record of $247.92 on Oct. 31. Goldman continued to outpace its rivals into this year, though profits declined significantly as the credit crisis worsened and trading conditions became treacherous. Still, even as Bear Stearns collapsed in March over bad mortgage bets and Lehman was battered, few thought that the untouchable Goldman could ever falter. Mr. Blankfein, an inveterate worrier, beefed up his books in part by stashing more than $100 billion in cash and short-term, highly liquid securities in an account at the Bank of New York. The Bony Box, as Mr. Blankfein calls it, was created to make sure that Goldman could keep doing business even in the face of market eruptions. That strong balance sheet, and Goldman’s ability to avoid losses during the crisis, appeared to leave the bank in a strong position to move through the industry upheaval with its trading-heavy business model intact, if temporarily dormant. Even as some analysts suggested that Goldman should consider buying a commercial bank to diversify, executives including Mr. Blankfein remained cool to the notion. Becoming a deposit-taking bank would just invite more regulation and lessen its ability to shift capital quickly in volatile markets, the thinking went. All of that changed two weeks ago when shares of Goldman and its chief rival, Morgan Stanley, went into free fall. A national panic over the mortgage crisis deepened and investors became increasingly convinced that no stand-alone investment bank would survive, even with the government’s plan to buy up toxic assets. Nervous hedge funds, some burned by losing big money when Lehman went bust, began moving some of their balances away from Goldman to bigger banks, like JPMorgan Chase and Deutsche Bank. By the weekend, it was clear that Goldman’s options were to either merge with another company or transform itself into a deposit-taking bank holding company. So Goldman did what it has always done in the face of rapidly changing events: it turned on a dime. “They change to fit their environment. When it was good to go public, they went public,” said Michael Mayo, banking analyst at Deutsche Bank. “When it was good to get big in fixed income, they got big in fixed income. When it was good to get into emerging markets, they got into emerging markets. Now that it’s good to be a bank, they became a bank.” The moment it changed its status, Goldman became the fourth-largest bank holding company in the United States, with $20 billion in customer deposits spread between a bank subsidiary it already owned in Utah and its European bank. Goldman said it would quickly move more assets, including its existing loan business, to give the bank $150 billion in deposits. Even as Goldman was preparing to radically alter its structure, it was also negotiating with Mr. Buffett, a longtime client, on the terms of his $5 billion cash infusion. Mr. Buffett, as he always does, drove a relentless bargain, securing a guaranteed annual dividend of $500 million and the right to buy $5 billion more in Goldman shares at a below-market price. While the price tag for his blessing was steep, the impact was priceless. “Buffett got a very good deal, which means the guy on the other side did not get as good a deal,” said Jonathan Vyorst, a portfolio manager at the Paradigm Value Fund. “But from Goldman’s perspective, it is reputational capital that is unparalleled.” EVEN if the bailout stabilizes the markets, Wall Street won’t go back to its freewheeling, profit-spinning ways of old. After years of lax regulation, Wall Street firms will face much stronger oversight by regulators who are looking to tighten the reins on many practices that allowed the Street to flourish. For Goldman and Morgan Stanley, which are converting themselves into bank holding companies, that means their primary regulators become the Federal Reserve and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, which oversee banking institutions. Rather than periodic audits by the Securities and Exchange Commission, Goldman will have regulators on site and looking over their shoulders all the time. The banking giant JPMorgan Chase, for instance, has 70 regulators from the Federal Reserve and the comptroller’s agency in its offices every day. Those regulators have open access to its books, trading floors and back-office operations. (That’s not to say stronger regulators would prevent losses. Citigroup, which on paper is highly regulated, suffered huge write-downs on risky mortgage securities bets.) As a bank, Goldman will also face tougher requirements about the size of the financial cushion it maintains. While Goldman and Morgan Stanley both meet current guidelines, many analysts argue that regulators, as part of the fallout from the credit crisis, may increase the amount of capital banks must have on hand. More important, a stiffer regulatory regime across Wall Street is likely to reduce the use and abuse of its favorite addictive drug: leverage. The low-interest-rate environment of the last decade offered buckets of cheap credit. Just as consumers maxed out their credit cards to live beyond their means, Wall Street firms bolstered their returns by pumping that cheap credit into their own trading operations and lending money to hedge funds and private equity firms so they could do the same. By using leverage, or borrowed funds, firms like Goldman Sachs easily increased the size of the bets they were making in their own trading portfolios. If they were right — and Goldman typically was — the returns were huge. When things went wrong, however, all of that debt turned into a nightmare. When Bear Stearns was on the verge of collapse, it had borrowed $33 for every $1 of equity it held. When trading partners that had lent Bear the money began demanding it back, the firm’s coffers ran dangerously low. Earlier this year, Goldman had borrowed about $28 for every $1 in equity. In the ensuing credit crisis, Wall Street firms have reined in their borrowing significantly and have lent less money to hedge funds and private equity firms. Today, Goldman’s borrowings stand at about $20 to $1, but even that is likely to come down. Banks like JPMorgan and Citigroup typically borrow about $10 to $1, analysts say. As leverage dries up across Wall Street, so will the outsize returns at many private equity firms and hedge funds. Returns at many hedge funds are expected to be awful this year because of a combination of bad bets and an inability to borrow. One result could be a landslide of hedge funds’ closing shop. At Goldman, the reduced use of borrowed money for its own trading operations means that its earnings will also decrease, analysts warn. Brad Hintz, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Company, predicts that Goldman’s return on equity, a common measure of how efficiently capital is invested, will fall to 13 percent this year, from 33 percent in 2007, and hover around 14 percent or 15 percent for the next few years. Goldman says its returns are primarily driven by economic growth, its market share and pricing power, not by leverage. It adds that it does not expect changes in its business strategies and expects a 20 percent return on equity in the future. IF Mr. Hintz is right, and Goldman’s legendary returns decline, so will its paychecks. Without those multimillion-dollar paydays, those top-notch investment bankers, elite traders and private-equity superstars may well stroll out the door and try their luck at starting small, boutique investment-banking firms or hedge funds — if they can. “Over time, the smart people will migrate out of the firm because commercial banks don’t pay out 50 percent of their revenues as compensation,” said Christopher Whalen, a managing partner at Institutional Risk Analytics. “Banks simply aren’t that profitable.” As the game of musical chairs continues on Wall Street, with banks like JPMorgan scooping up troubled competitors like Washington Mutual, some analysts are wondering what Goldman’s next move will be. Goldman is unlikely to join with a commercial bank with a broad retail network, because a plain-vanilla consumer business is costly to operate and is the polar opposite of Goldman’s rarefied culture. “If they go too far afield or get too large in terms of personnel, then they become Citigroup, with the corporate bureaucracy and slowness and the inability to make consensus-type decisions that come with that,” Mr. Hintz said. A better fit for Goldman would be a bank that caters to corporations and other institutions, like Northern Trust or State Street Bank, he said. “I don’t think they’re going to move too fast, no matter what the environment on Wall Street is,” Mr. Hintz said. “They’re going to take some time and consider what exactly the new Goldman Sachs is going to be.”
  13. A $45-million investment by Ivanhoe Cambridge - Place Vertu Gets a Makeover MONTREAL, Nov. 29 /CNW Telbec/ - Place Vertu, owned and managed by Ivanhoe Cambridge, is happy to announce a $45-million investment (including all related fees) in the shopping centre, located in the borough of Saint-Laurent in Montreal, to carry out a large-scale redevelopment project. Construction work for this much-anticipated undertaking, designed to revitalize the property and its retail mix, began in the summer of 2007 and will wrap up in the spring of 2009. "We are very enthusiastic about renovating Place Vertu. This project is in keeping with our strategy to continuously enhance our properties and strengthen their market position and share," said Jean Laramée, Senior Vice President, Eastern Region, Ivanhoe Cambridge. "This is excellent news for Place Vertu and its customers!" said Michael Bonetto, General Manager of Place Vertu. "The project will enable Place Vertu to take full advantage of its strategic location in the heart of Saint-Laurent, one of the fastest-growing communities on the Island of Montreal. Naturally, we will be doing everything we can to minimize any inconvenience to our tenants and ensure that our customers can continue to shop undisturbed." The main highlights of the project are as follows: << - Closing of The Bay, and relocation of Zellers into the vacated premises, with its brand-new Zellers + concept (120,000 square feet over two floors). Official opening scheduled for December 1, 2007. - Expansion, reconfiguration and renovation of the food court to make it more cosy and appealing. Expected completion: Spring 2008. - Expansion of several stores and arrival of new retailers. - Indoor and outdoor renovations and addition of decorative elements to complement the centre's overall design. Construction of new entrances and modernization of the façade along Côte-Vertu Boulevard. >> The project is already generating a great deal of interest among retailers, and talks are currently under way with a number of potential tenants. Leasing agreements were recently signed or scheduled to be signed very shortly with Winners, which will occupy some 25,000 square feet as of summer 2008, Browns Shoes Outlet, Lace Canada (a high-end women's fashion retailer), La Vie en Rose/Aqua, Urban Planet and a 25,000-square-foot specialized grocery store. About Place Vertu Located in the borough of Saint-Laurent in Montreal, a stone's throw away from one of Canada's largest industrial parks, Place Vertu opened for business in 1975. Today, it features four anchor tenants and some 155 stores and services. Its gross leasable area, including an office component, is nearly 924,000 square feet and it greets close to 6.5 million shoppers every year. Place Vertu is owned and managed by Ivanhoe Cambridge.
  14. Henry Michaels spent 25 years as an investment banker with New York-based firms such as Merrill Lynch & Co., Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. and Citigroup Inc. When the financial crisis deepened this year, he abandoned the struggling U.S. companies for a job at Royal Bank of Canada. A cyclist passes the Royal Bank of Canada headquarters in Toronto in this file photo. Photographer: Norm Betts “In this crisis, strength and stability matter,” said Michaels, 48, who resigned as co-head of Citigroup’s banks and diversified financials group in May to join RBC Capital Markets in New York. “RBC is in growth mode, and it’s nice to be playing offense.” Canadian banks, bolstered by their reputation as the world’s soundest, are adding investment bankers even after rivals slashed almost 316,000 jobs worldwide since the collapse of the U.S. subprime market in 2007, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Lenders including RBC, BMO Capital Markets and CIBC World Markets have hired more than 700 investment bankers, analysts and traders in the U.S. and Canada this year, including from rivals such as Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch and Citigroup. “The profile of the Canadian banks on the global scale has been heightened exponentially over the course of the last year,” said Rose Baker, a managing partner in Toronto with executive recruitment firm Heidrick & Struggles International Inc. “They look more powerful and are able to attract talent that was historically not available to them.” Soundest Banks Canadian lenders, based in Toronto’s financial district known as Bay Street, have remained profitable amid the crisis because of tighter restrictions on lending and higher capital requirements. As a result, Canada’s biggest banks posted about $20.4 billion in writedowns and credit losses since 2007, a fraction of the $1.62 trillion taken by global financial- services firms in the period, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The World Economic Forum last month named Canada as home to the world’s soundest banks for the second straight year. The resilience allowed the Canadian lenders to climb the ranks of global firms. Three Canadian banks now rank in the top 10 among North American lenders by market value. Three years ago, only Royal Bank made the list. Canadian banks are taking on experienced bankers as larger firms trim ranks. North American banks and brokerages cut 9.9 percent of their workforce in the past two years, according to Bloomberg data. Bank of America Corp. eliminated 46,150 jobs, while Citigroup cut 38,900 positions and Lehman fired 13,390 employees. Job Cuts By comparison, Canada’s five biggest banks pared 3,135 jobs, or about 1.1 percent of their staff, in areas such as consumer banking, according to company filings. RBC Capital Markets hired 325 investment bankers this year, including about 200 in its U.S. offices, said spokeswoman Katherine Gay. The hires included a Citigroup team of Michaels, Jerry Wiant and Sean Burke, who joined in July to expand RBC’s financial institutions group. Resumes are still coming in, said Doug Guzman, RBC’s head of global investment banking. “Five or six years ago we would have had to go hire headhunters for every single spot we wanted to hire because we didn’t have a network, our name wasn’t sufficiently known,” Guzman, 44, said from Toronto. RBC also recruited James Caldwell from Banc of America Securities in July to head up a new aerospace and defense group out of New York. In April, RBC expanded its U.S. real estate banking group by hiring John Case from UBS AG. “Our ability to build the business faster makes us a more attractive place to work,” Guzman said. ‘Different Careers’ Bank of Montreal’s investment bank attracted 30 people from non-Canadian firms this year as directors and managing directors at its U.S. and European offices. “We’ve been able to do an awful lot in a nine-month period because people are entertaining and receptive to considering new and different careers, or careers with different firms,” said Bill Butt, global head of investment and corporate banking at BMO Capital Markets in Toronto. BMO’s recruiting allowed it to expand investment-banking services for industries including health care, food and consumer, and energy. Hires included Peter Boukouzis, 41, who left Rothschild’s New York office after eight years to move to Houston with his wife and three kids in August. “I’ve had a number of folks from other firms ask me if BMO is still hiring in the U.S.,” said Boukouzis, who advises oil and gas companies on takeovers. Canadian firms “have not gone unnoticed, both for the expansion in the U.S. market and the stability.” European Expansion In May, BMO hired Greg Pearlman and two others from Bank of America in Chicago to expand services for food and consumer companies. The firm also added a seven-member equity products sales team from UBS for its London and Paris offices in August. Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, which sold its New York-based investment banking business in January 2008, has also recruited from international firms to bolster its ranks, mainly in Toronto. The bank hired 32 senior bankers from foreign firms in the past nine months, including former Merrill Lynch banker Susan Rimmer, who heads up part of CIBC’s debt capital markets business, and former Lehman takeover specialist Geoffrey Belsher. Bank of Nova Scotia’s investment bank hired five Wells Fargo & Co. bankers to expand its stock lending business in the U.S. last month. In March, Scotia Capital bought an energy trading business from UBS, adding about 60 employees in New York. Canadian banks had a “big advantage” in the past six months for attracting skilled bankers, Heidrick & Struggles’ Baker said. The challenge now is to keep them, she added. Retention “As some of the international banks like Bank of America and Citi get their house in order, they may lose some of that advantage,” Baker said. “As the market turns, it’s going to be all about how they retain them.” Bill Vlaad of Vlaad & Co., a Toronto-based recruiter specializing in the financial-services industry, says Canadian banks have “increased their weight class” during the slump, though they shouldn’t count the competition out. “One hundred and fifty years of global dominance in capital markets doesn’t just disappear overnight,” Vlaad said. “Some of these names that we’ve seen in the paper will shine again, and there’s something very rewarding about having those names on your resume.”
  15. Are Bay Street's golden days coming to an end? Eoin Callan, Financial Post Published: Wednesday, February 11, 2009 Some of Canada’s banks are already exploring ways to change their reward structure for investment bankers to avoid creating incentives for dealmakers to hastily arrange risky deals and walk away after collecting their bonuses.ReutersSome of Canada’s banks are already exploring ways to change their reward structure for investment bankers to avoid creating incentives for dealmakers to hastily arrange risky deals and walk away after ... When Ed Clark receives his multi-million-dollar bonus next week, the chief executive of TD Bank will face immediate pressure to return the money. Bay Street's best-paid chieftain is being singled out by shareholders after three of his peers handed back their bonuses at a time when bank bosses around the world are being publicly shamed for dragging the globe into the worst recession in decades. The pressure from investors comes amid growing signs that a deep shift is afoot in the way executives and investment bankers on Bay Street are paid that could have a lasting impact on the industry. Shareholders, regulators and politicians are beginning to push for far-reaching changes in incentives in a bid to mitigate risk and help avoid the catastrophic failures that have plunged the global banking industry into crisis. Some of Canada's banks are already exploring ways to change their reward structure for investment bankers to avoid creating incentives for dealmakers to hastily arrange risky deals and walk away after collecting their bonuses. BMO Financial is in the midst of a thorough overhaul of the way it compensates bankers. The review has not been publicly disclosed, but bankers have been told to expect significant changes after similar moves at international banks such as UBS, which has introduced delays and clawback provisions for bonuses. But other banks are likely to be caught flatfooted as Ottawa prepares to sign up to a set of international guidelines on pay for bankers that are being drawn up in advance of an upcoming summit of the Group of 20 nations in London. Canada's top banking regulator said Wednesday that a consensus was emerging at a special three-day meeting in Paris "to set out sound practice guidelines on compensation for the consideration of both the [Financial Stability Forum] and the G20." "There is [a] general agreement that supervisors have a role to play in assessing whether institutions meet and implement sound practices for compensation," Ms. Dickson added by e-mail from Paris. Reform of compensation practices at banks to mitigate risk is likely to be one of the handful of tangible reforms to emerge from the summit of world leaders, said John Kirton, director of the G20 Research Group at the University of Toronto "There are not many areas of consensus ... compensation is an easy one," said the professor. But policymakers stress that Canada is likely to stop well short of moves by Washington to cap pay or other more interventionist approaches that have accompanied part nationalizations in the U.K. Instead, the approach in this country is likely to involve the supervisor taking into account of compensation schemes when evaluating the level of risk at Bay Street banks and determining the amount of capital they must hold in reserve. This is seen as a more subtle way of pressuring banks to reform their compensation schemes. While a link between compensation and capital requirements would be unwelcome on Bay Street, several bank compensation experts said Wednesday it could create an opening for them to tackle huge wage bills, which are a major cost for financial institutions. But the awarding of hefty bonuses amid a recession induced by the financial system has also triggered a wider social debate about executive compensation, as oft-repeated arguments about retaining "talent" wear thin. While these "moral and ethical" views are not shared by many investors who are critical of executive compensation, they see an opportunity to make common cause. Michel Nadeau, director of the Institute of Governance of Private and Public Organizations, said he was shocked by the level of compensation Canadian bank boards had awarded to executives amid a bruising year for investors. "There is something wrong in that world," said the former executive at Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, the Quebec pension fund. Shareholders are also not shy about enlisting the muscle of securities regulators in pushing pay up the agenda. A shareholder group representing many of the country's largest investors cited executive compensation as its "number one" priority for 2009 during a private meeting this week with Ontario Securities Commission, according to documents obtained by the Financial Post. The group also drew the attention of enforcement officials to a probe launched by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, who said Wednesday he was investigating "secret" moves to pay bonuses early at Merrill Lynch. While the investors group did not make allegations of wrongdoing, a person familiar with the discussions said there were precedents for securities regulators investigating compensation matters. The Canadian Coalition for Good Governance, which represents investors with $1.4-trillion of assets under management, has also met with the chairmen of each of Canada's top banks. "Compensation is the big issue right now," said Stephen Jarislowsky, a major shareholder in Canadian banks who manages $52-billion. But his immediate focus is next week's bonus award to Mr. Clark, who was paid a $12.7-million bonus by TD last year, making him Bay Street's highest paid executive. "Ed is the worst offender," said Mr. Jarislowsky.
  16. Ontario in decline: From Canada's economic engine to clunker Can Dalton McGuinty see the light and reverse the decay with his forthcoming budget? By Paul Vieira, Financial Post March 23, 2009 A month before Dalton McGuinty, the Liberal Ontario Premier, hit the election trail in the fall of 2007 to seek a second mandate, an ominous warning sign of the province's crumbling economic stature emerged that should have provided fodder for the campaign. An analysis from leading Bay Street economist Dale Orr said Ontarians' standard of living had plummeted -- from a peak of 15% above the Canadian average in the mid-1980s to just more than 5%. Accompanying the analysis was a warning of further erosion by 2010. Alas, the eye-opening report hardly generated buzz during the election campaign. Instead, most of the talk was about a Conservative proposal to provide government funding for faith-based schooling. Ontarians didn't warm to the idea and re-elected Mr. McGuinty's Liberals with another majority. Reflecting today on that report, Mr. Orr said his nightmare scenario for Ontario has unfolded as envisaged. If anything, the situation in the province may be worse. As the McGuinty government prepares to table its sixth provincial budget on Thursday, it does so knowing the province that was once the country's economic engine is now the clunker of the confederation. While former have-nots such as Saskatchewan post surpluses this fiscal year, Ontario is bleeding red ink--a cumulative two-year deficit of $18-billion. Ontario's dramatic decline comes as no accident. It was decades in the making, based on a combination of mismanaged public finances and the ascent of emerging economies at the expense of high-cost manufacturing. Upon taking office in 2003, Mr. McGuinty moved to pour tens of billions of dollars into improving government services -- health care, education and social programs targeting the downtrodden -- while neglecting the changing economic landscape. To help finance this agenda, he raised corporate taxes and slapped a health-care levy on households. These moves, analysts say, helped cement Ontario as one of the least attractive places for companies to invest. Analysts wonder whether the economic crisis is finally going to force Mr. McGuinty and Dwight Duncan, his Minister of Finance, to make tough choices on spending and undertake the kind of tax reform -- as displayed this week by New Brunswick-- that will help the province attract investment to offset heavy job losses in Ontario. Derek Burleton, senior economist at Toronto-Dominion Bank, said Thursday's budget presents a possible turning point for the province. "There is no doubt we are undergoing a period of transformation as some of the industries that have driven healthy gains in living standards are on the decline," said Mr. Burleton, who co-authored a report with TD chief economist Don Drummond last fall that called on the province to embrace a "sweeping" new economic vision. "Given the sizeable deficit the province faces, that will put increasing pressure on the government to prioritize." One of those priorities is for Mr. McGuinty to cease his preferred manner of dealing with difficulties in the industrial heartland -- funneling tens of millions of dollars to the manufacturing sector, particularly automotive, through targeted tax relief or direct subsidies. "What the province should have been doing over the years was to make the province more flexible in attracting new businesses and not diverting resources into declining sectors," said Finn Poschmann, vice-president of research at the C. D. Howe Institute, a Toronto-based think-tank that has been critical of Ontario's tax breaks for struggling sectors such as autos and forest products. "Do you want to steer resources to the sectors where the outlook is positive and growing? Or do you want to divert resources from these stars, which are more likely to generate the long-term employment and wage growth that Ontario is accustomed to?" The manufacturing sector, and its high-paying jobs, used to be the province's crown jewel. But as a component of Ontario's GDP, it has dropped from a peak of 23% in 2000 to roughly 18% on factors such as a richer Canadian dollar, higher energy costs and offshore competition. It is expected to fall further once the dust settles from this crisis. The province was largely able to mask the decline in manufacturing through a combination of a booming housing market, a surge in public sector hiring and a robust financial services sector. The financial crisis, however, has exposed those flaws. For the period starting in 2003, only Quebec and Nova Scotia have produced weaker growth than Ontario. Forecasts suggest Ontario was the only province whose economy shrank last year, and economists say it will record either the worst, or second-worst performance, among provinces this year. Scotia Capital, for instance, has Ontario's economy contracting 2.9% in 2009, and posting meagre growth of 1.4% in 2010, below the expected national average. Of the roughly 295,000 jobs lost in Canada since October, nearly half have come from the province. The result? Unemployment in Ontario, at 8.7%, is now higher than it is the United States (8.1%) and above Quebec's 7.9% jobless rate-- the first time that has happened in three decades. The news is not expected to get any better any time soon. "We believe that the unemployment rate in Canada's largest province should hit 10% by 2010, even if the automobile sector's restructuring plan works," said Sebastian Lavoie, an economist at Laurentian Bank Securities. Further, Mr. Lavoie said wage growth in the province is destined to take a hit. In the past, companies were forced to offer comparable wages and benefits based on what the Canadian Auto Workers would negotiate with the Detroit car makers. But Mr. Lavoie said that will no longer be the case, with CAW accepting salary freezes and making concessions on perks such as cost-of-living-allowance. The financial crisis has just exacerbated a growing trend, said Mary Webb, senior economist at Scotia Capital. Ontario's receipts from foreign-bound exports last year represent an 11.7% drop from a peak of $185.1-billion recorded in 2000. For the same time period, Quebec's receipts fell by just 2.9%. For the rest of Canada, excluding Ontario and Quebec, receipts have surged a whopping 72%. Compounding Ontario's problem is the emergence of big deficit, fuelled in part by shrinking tax revenue and years of escalated program spending. Under Mr. McGuinty, program spending now stands at $23-billion per year more than when he took office in October, 2003, an increase of 36%. In fiscal year, 2007-08, program spending climbed more than 10% to $87.6-billion, compared with a 5.4% increase in tax revenue. Observers note Mr. McGuinty's ascent to power in 2003 can be attributed to a desire for change among Ontarians after years of the hard-nosed, right-leaning Conservative regime that earned scorned for cutting government services. Mr. McGuinty's two terms have been dominated by a push to restore spending on public goods such as education, health care, infrastructure and social services. Analysts say Mr. McGuinty was on the right track to bolster some key building blocks, such as post-secondary education. To help pay for this, Mr. McGuinty raised the corporate tax -- to 14% from 12% --in his first budget. "The balance of [McGuinty's] approach was not quite right," said Jack Mintz, public policy professor at the University of Calgary and renowned tax expert. "The problem was trying to [reinvest in public services] while at the same time trying to maintain a vibrant industrial sector." Mr. Mintz and other analysts say Ontario's tax regime, as currently structured, is suffocating the province's ability to attract investment and rebuild the economy. Last year, Jim Flaherty, the federal Finance Minister, suggested the tax system was making Ontario the "last place" businesses wanted to invest. Mr. Flaherty took lots of heat for that remark, but he was on to something. Mr. Mintz's research indicates the province's marginal effective tax rate on capital, which encompasses all levies slapped on investment in the province, stands at 35%, six points higher than the Canadian average, 29%. Further, the Ontario rate ranks as the ninth-highest in the world, tied with Japan. Despite moves to eliminate capital tax in 2010, and other business tax reductions from the federal government, Ontario's marginal rate is expected to drop only three points to 32% by 2012 -- still higher than all provinces and exceeding the national average. "Ontario will not be successful in retaining existing businesses and attracting new ones if its taxation system is not on sound competitive footing with other provinces and countries," said the TD report by Messrs. Burleton and Drummond. There are signs that Mr. McGuinty is acknowledging the need to change. Despite previous opposition, he said in January the province would take a "long, hard look" at harmonizing its provincial sales tax with the GST. As currently structured, Ontario's sales tax derives almost half of its revenue from taxing business inputs such as productivity-enhancingequipment. Harmonizing with the GST would shift the tax burden to households, but economists argue it would boost business investment and make Ontario more attractive. In a C. D. Howe research paper he released yesterday, Mr. Poschmann said putting an end to the "archaic" sales tax and harmonizing with the GST would move Ontario from a high-tax jurisdiction to a medium-tax jurisdiction by 2012, with the marginal rate on investment falling just over 10 percentage points. A signal toward sales tax harmonization could be contained in Thursday's budget, although observers are hedging their bets given the potential voter backlash. Any further moves on taxation, whether business or personal, may have to wait given the province's monster deficit and an unwillingness to give up further revenue to fund public service initiatives. "Ontario is going to be deeply challenged," Mr. Mintz said, "because it is going to be very hard for the government to do anything when you are so fiscally restrained-- unless it wants to make the deficit even bigger now." Glen Hodgson, senior vice-president and chief economist at the Conference Board of Canada, said the needed tax reductions would not see the light of day until Ontario decides what to do about health-care spending, which is growing at an annual clip of 8% to 10% and is the single biggest expense item in the budget. "This is a catalytic moment for the province," Mr. Hodgson said. "The light bulb has gone on, but it is not burning brightly yet. A lot of people would like to return to the Old World. But I think the Old World is gone -and that's the dilemma Ontario faces." --------- MANITOBA, N.B. SET EXAMPLE: As Ontario attempts to pull itself out of its economic quagmire, it can look to the provinces of Manitoba and New Brunswick for leadership. While the recession is expected to hit every province, Manitoba comes out near the top in most forecasts as one of the country's better performers in 2009. In its outlook, the Conference Board of Canada projects slight growth in the province of 1%, powered by infrastructure projects and tax cuts. Jack Mintz, public policy professor at the University of Calgary, said Manitoba was, along with Ontario, considered a high-tax jurisdiction for business investment. But the government has moved and Manitoba's marginal effective tax rate on investment dropped from 37% in 2007 to 33.8% last year. It is now scheduled to fall to 26.7% by 2012. "It is on the high side, but it will be closer to the national average" in 2012,Mr. Mintz said. "From the point of view of people who need to make investment decisions now, they know these changes are in place over the next several years. So Manitoba looks more appealing." Manitoba also benefits from having one of the most diversified economies in Canada. Roughly 30% of its economy is agriculture, which is more resilient to economic downturns. Further, Manitoba has a diversified manufacturing base with aerospace and buses playing key roles - and, unlike autos, demand for those products continues to be fairly solid. It also has abundant, cheap hydroelectricity. In contrast, questions abound over the reliability of Ontario's power grid, especially in light of the 2003 blackout that blanketed the province and much of the U.S. northeast. Meanwhile, analysts have applauded New Brunswick for taking aggressive steps on taxation this week in an effort to make the province more attractive for both investors and workers. The main change is the replacement of the existing four-bracket personal income tax structure to a simpler two-bracket structure by 2012. The lowest rate will be 9% for workers earning less than $37,893. Beyond that threshold, a flat tax of 12% will be applied. Perhaps more stunning, however, is that New Brunswick plans to lower its general corporate tax rate from 13% to 12%, effective this year, and all the way down to 8% by 2012 - the lowest in the country. "The New Brunswick government appears to be relatively more proactive compared to other jurisdictions, taking bolder steps to improve its economic and fiscal roadmap," said Carlos Leitao, chief economist at Laurentian Bank Securities, in his analysis of the province's budget. Source: Paul Vieira, Financial Post [email protected] ONE-TIME POWERHOUSE CAN'T KEEP UP WITH REST OF THE COUNTRY: Ont. Export Receipt Drop 11.7% Que. Export Receipt Drop 2.9% Receipt Rise Rest Of Canada 72% Ontario GDP Decline, 2009 2.9% RANKS OF WORKERS IN CANADA'S LARGEST PROVINCE TAKE IT ON THE CHIN: Ontario Unemployment 8.7% U.S. Unemployment 8.1% Quebec Unemployment 7.8% Ontario Unemployment, 2010 10% © Copyright © National Post
  17. Greece | Oil | Keystone XL | RRSPs | BoC | Apple | Target | Bombardier How the falling loonie and low rates could lure more foreign investors to Canadian housing Republish Reprint Garry Marr | February 26, 2015 | Last Updated: Feb 26 7:12 PM ET More from Garry Marr | @DustyWallet Twitter Google+ LinkedIn Email Typo? More Jason Payne/Postmedia News, file Jason Payne/Postmedia News, fileLennon Sweeting, a Toronto-based dealer with US Forex which trades in currencies, says the loonie is making housing more attractive to foreign buyers. Canada’s two priciest housing markets may not need the boost, but Toronto and Vancouver could be on the verge of a spike in foreign investment. Toronto's rental market reborn as housing prices surge out of reach for many ‘There’s a huge demand for rental… We are seeing for the first time in 40 years people are starting to build rental,’ says managing director of Timbercreek Asset Management With the loonie falling about 10% against the U.S. dollar in the last six months, foreigners who have their money parked in greenbacks or in currencies pegged to the American dollar are likely to ramp up their interest in the Canadian marketplace, say industry experts. Alberta, which is now facing a crunch of new listings and weak demand, is unlikely to see any benefit as investors run away from the province over oil price fears. “The reputation of the oilpatch here has been tarnished a bit,” says Dan Scarrow, the Shanghai-based managing director of Canadian Real Estate Investment Centre, which was set up just two months ago, and is run by Vancouver-based Macdonald Real Estate Group. He says the opposite is true in Vancouver and Toronto, where prices in January were up 7.5% and 6.1% respectively from a year ago, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association. “With the Chinese economy slowing down a bit and with the Canadian dollar depreciating 20% versus the RMB, it might change the calculus of some people of how much they want to leave in China and how much they want to bring to Canada.” To [foreign investors], the Canadian market has gone on sale Mr. Scarrow’s firm caused a stir last year with data it produced from its client base that showed 33.5% of all single-family homes sales in the Vancouver area could be traced to buyers from mainland China. Foreign buyers and their position in the marketplace have been a concern for some market watchers, who fear these investors are inflating housing prices. But there hasn’t been definitive data. Even the chief executive of Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., Evan Siddall, conceded there were data gaps. The Crown corporation finally produced data two months ago on the condominium market that showed as much as 2.4% of Toronto highrises were in foreign hands and 2.3% in Vancouver, with some people still disputing those findings. Mr. Scarrow says in terms of Chinese investors they are divided between people still living overseas and people already living in Canada but with money still parked in RMBs. With Chinese New Year over, he expects investment to pick up. Related Foreign buyers taking over — this time it's Canadians in Florida IMF says housing in Canada overvalued by as much as 20% “Decisions have been held off until this week,” he says. “There is a lag for these things in terms of stats and what we see on the ground.” Brian Johnston, chief operating officer of Toronto-based Mattamy Homes, has never been a believer of the idea that foreign investment was a huge factor in Canadian housing, but he says when you get can a 10% to 20% currency swing it has to be positive. “To [foreign investors], the Canadian market has gone on sale,” said Mr. Johnston, noting his company also develops property in the United States it tries to sell to Canadians. “The reverse is true for them. The price of U.S. real estate just went up by 10%.” Lennon Sweeting, a Toront0-based dealer with US Forex which trades in currencies, says the loonie is making housing more attractive to foreign buyers. “The Bank of Canada has tried to offset lower prices with a weaker currency making investing in Canada more attractive,” said Mr. Sweeting, adding most high net worth investors are likely holding U.S. dollars right now. “Absolutely it makes it easier to buy [Canadian real estate]. If you’re holding U.S. dollars you are looking at buying at a discount and there’s plenty of supply.” Low interest rates have also boosted demand, even though foreign investors tend to have to put up larger down payments when borrowing to buy property. Shaun Hildebrand, senior vice-president at condo research firm Urbanation Inc., noted new condo sales in the Greater Toronto Area in 2014 rose over 50% from a year ago but it’s hard to pinpoint how much is attributable to foreign investors. “I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see more foreign investment in 2015,” said Mr. Hildebrand, adding surveys of Urbanation clients peg the foreign component of Toronto’s condo market at just under 5%. sent via Tapatalk
  18. The truth will set you free... !!! It’s been a little more than a month since the Liberal government of Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard released its belt-tightening budget, and since then everyone from movie producers and doctors to teachers and mayors has griped about the cuts it promises. They shouldn’t be surprised. Couillard campaigned on a pledge to fix Quebec’s “economic fiasco.” But a new report from the C.D. Howe Institute offers a stark reminder of how difficult that task will be. The report, authored by Philip Cross, the former chief economist at Statistics Canada, shows the extent to which the economies of Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes now rely on public sector versus private sector investment for growth. Condensed version: a whole honking lot. Investment spending refers to money spent on structures, machinery and equipment, and since 2000, the report notes, public sector investment as a share of GDP has nearly doubled in Quebec to almost six per cent. At the same time, business investment—you know, by actual companies—has stagnated at seven per cent. That’s put Quebec near the bottom of the pack, alongside Ontario, and a notch above New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. “Business investment is the lifeblood of economic growth,” Cross wrote in an opinion piece. “It determines what the economy will look like years from now, and how competitive its workers will be.” Of course, to have business investment, you’ve got to have businesses. And that’s where Quebec faces serious problems that run far deeper than any single austerity budget can hope to tackle. In December, Statistics Canada released a largely overlooked research paper that examined the rates at which new businesses have been joining and leaving the marketplace in each province. The creation of new firms and the destruction of old ones, through consolidation or closure, is key to a vibrant economy, bringing in new ideas and innovations and forcing existing businesses to pick up their game. You can probably guess where Quebec ranked, but I’ll tell you anyway. From 2000 to 2009, no province had lower so-called “firm entry” than Quebec. In fact, in the manufacturing, retail, transportation and finance sectors, more companies went away than were created. No other province had that level of “destruction” without the customarily accompanying “creative.” Related: Maybe Harper has slain the separatists The charter may be gone, but Quebec’s identity crisis remains Why Justin Trudeau risks alienating Quebec It gets worse. Another report from a few months ago, the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, measured the levels of entrepreneurialism across Canada. It did so by looking at the percentage of working-age adults who are either engaged in setting up a business or who own a wage-paying business that’s existed for less than 42 months. On that front, too, Quebec came dead last, with an entrepreneurship rate of 9.6 per cent, compared to 11.9 per cent in Ontario and close to 19 per cent in Alberta. Quebec Source: Global Entrepreneurship Monitor Sylvain Carle, an entrepreneur in Montreal who’s started several companies, recently shared an anecdote with the Montreal Gazette that sums up Quebec’s sluggish start-up culture. While attending a conference at Stanford University, a speaker had asked how many people in the audience of 100 were starting their own companies, and 105 hands went up, since some were multi-preneurs. When Carle asked the same question to a similar-sized audience in Montreal a few weeks later, five hands went up. It doesn’t take an advanced degree in rocketry to know why all this is the case. For decades Quebec businesses have been plagued with repeated bouts of separation anxiety and the constant irritant of the province’s language police. The province punishes businesses with some of the highest taxes in North America, yet it has rung up a $2.4-billion deficit and a debt load equal to half its GDP, the highest in the country. When not arbitrarily overriding the rights of shareholders to protect underperforming Quebec companies, the government has flip-flopped on its attitude toward resource development. In short, it’s an economic environment layered with uncertainty, instability and state interference. For the longest time, the solution from the Quebec government to its stagnant business environment was more Quebec government, in the form of state-sponsored funds doling out cheques to those it deems to be worthy entrepreneurs. Just this past March, the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec pension fund, that bastion of economic nationalism, joined with Desjardins Group to create a fund to pump $230 million into small and medium-sized enterprises, having already distributed $190 million to 186 other companies through an earlier fund. And yet the level of business creation is stuck in neutral. This is what Couillard faces. He’s said all the right things about tackling Quebec’s fiscal crisis: “The time for cosmetic changes is gone,” he said in his throne speech in May. “We must act firmly and decisively. And we will.” His far bigger challenge remains to make Quebec a place where entrepreneurs would want to set up shop. The best way he can do that is to get his government out of the way.
  19. NATURE DU PROJET Construction d'un immeuble résidentiel au coeur du Quartier des spectacles INVESTISSEMENT PRÉVU $20 million Concepteurs Atelier Urban Face PROMOTEURS Aquilini Investment Group ÉTAT D'AVANCEMENT DU PROJET Réalisation
  20. Westin Montréal Architectes: Geiger Huot Architectes Fin de la construction:2008 Utilisation: Hôtel Emplacement: Quartier International, Montréal ? mètres - 20 étages Descriptions: - L'hôtel comprendra l'ancien immeuble de The Gazette. - L'hôtel comprendra 432 chambres. - Le projet coûtera 90 millions de dollars Autres renseignements: ±600,000 ft², as follows: 400 bedrooms and suites, 50 housing units, nearly 200,000 ft² of office space, businesses and meeting rooms www.westinmontreal.com a 3d flyby video of the project http://www.westinmontreal.com/video.htm The 400-room hotel complex in Old Montréal proposed by ATLIFIC Hotels and Resorts will generate $90 million in investment, create upwards of 300 permanent jobs, and produce more than $30 million in tax benefits for Montréal over ten years. Montréal, Tuesday, March 15, 2005 – The Board of Directors of the Société de développement de Montréal has chosen the proposal submitted by Atlific, a major hotel developer, builder and manager, following a public call for tenders for redeveloping the Gazette buildings in Old Montréal. Atlific Hotels and Resorts will acquire the buildings for $10 million net. The SDM had originally bought them for $7.5 million in November 2003, before conducting various studies to ensure the optimal development of the site and dismantling and cleaning up the industrial facilities. The proposal calls for the three vacant heritage buildings to be converted and a new building to be erected on a former adjacent parking lot. The hotel complex will be linked directly to the Palais des congrès de Montréal via an underground corridor built during work on the Quartier international de Montréal (QIM). Paul Saint-Jacques, President and CEO of the Palais des congrès de Montréal, welcomed the City of Montréal’s initiative and the SDM’s efforts to attract a new hotel complex to the Gazette site. As he noted, “This link will give conference organizers a new hotel near their meeting and exhibition facilities – a key selling point for the Palais des congrès in attracting national and international conventions. The new hotel will increase the number of rooms already directly linked to the Palais des congrès.” For Clément Demers, Director General of the Quartier international de Montréal, “This new property development project, strategically located facing Place Jean-Paul Riopelle, will fit in perfectly with the specific vocation of the area, in terms of the hotel and office space and the quality of the investment. It confirms the vision of the partners in the Quartier international de Montréal. The high-quality structural facilities provided by the QIM and its neighbours have already generated over $770 million in real-estate projects. Over the next two years, further investment of at least $200 million will be added, including the Atlific project.” The best proposal for the site, the district and Montréal as a whole The SDM Board of Directors chose the Atlific hotel complex proposal for a number of reasons: it increases hotel capacity in the immediate area of the Palais des congrès; it fits in with the specific vocation of the Quartier international de Montréal; it is sure to help consolidate development in Old Montréal by rehabilitating three vacant heritage buildings and a former parking lot; and the forecast spin-off in terms of investment, permanent jobs and tax revenue for Montréal are the most attractive of the eight proposals examined by the selection committee. Atlific Hotels and Resorts, a hotel developer, builder and manager founded in 1959, manages 30 multi-brand hotels in Canada. The firm is headquartered in Montréal, with offices in Toronto and Vancouver. It was acquired in 1997 by Ocean Properties Ltd., a family business based in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, which manages over 100 hotels in the United States. Together Atlific and Ocean Properties form the fifth-largest privately held hotel-management company in North America, managing 19,000 rooms in independent hotels, resorts and such well-known brands as Marriott, Marriot Courtyard and Residence Inn, Fairfield Inn, Crowne Plaza, Hilton, Sheraton, Holiday Inn and many others. Professional Atlific staff have begun the due diligence process. Once that step is completed, in at most 60 days, the transaction will be submitted for approval by the City of Montréal Executive Committee. Atlific expects the complex to be ready about 24 months after the sale is approved. The Société de développement de Montréal is a paramunicipal property management corporation that contributes to the city's development by managing its property holdings and also oversees the promotion and development of Old Montréal. now digging:
  21. (Courtesy of the Financial Post) :confused: Okay, I pay the bank like what $4 a month. That 0.13% for someone that has $50 million the bank, is going to lose like $65,000 per month ($780,000 per year). I have a feeling many people that deal with custodian banks, will look somewhere else. I guess the banks had to go after their largest customers.
  22. (Courtesy of Chrisd.ca) More info also at this link: http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/breakingnews/north-portage-gets-makeover-124695919.html Congrats to ALT expanding into another city