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Found 38 results

  1. (Courtesy of the Financial Post) Congrats to the National Bank of Canada. Singapore supposedly like the new Switzerland.
  2. Vacancy rates keep rising in third quarter for Canada's commercial real estate sector, report shows (CP) – 44 minutes ago TORONTO — The amount of empty office space across Canada continued to rise in the third quarter due to higher unemployment in white-collar industries and excess inventory in some cities, a new report shows. Vacancy rates for commercial real estate are expected to keep rising "well into 2010" as the country works through the impact of the recent recession, CB Richard Ellis Ltd. said in report released Monday. Vacancy rates rose for the third straight quarter to an average of 9.4 per cent, up from 6.3 per cent for the same time last year, said the real estate services firm. "Limited new job creation in Canada's 'white-collar' industries and the addition of new inventory in two of Canada's three largest office markets are cited as reasons for the increase," according to the National Office and Industrial Trends Third Quarter Report. Commercial vacancy rates rose most noticeably Calgary, Toronto and Vancouver, the report shows. Calgary's third quarter vacancy rate jumped to 13.1 per cent, from 4.7 per cent last year, due to the impacts of a slowdown in the oil and gas industry. "The city's oil and gas industry and commercial market remained inexorably linked, as players both large and small continue to recognize that even Calgary has not been immune to the country's new economic reality," the report states. In Toronto, the commercial vacancy rate rose to 9.1 per cent from 6.6 per cent last year. The vacancy rate in downtown Toronto is expected to climb further in the coming quarter as space becomes available in newly constructed office towers. In Vancouver, vacancy rates climbed to 8.9 per cent from 5.4 per cent for the same time last year. The report said Vancouver is one of the more stable markets in the country thanks to limited new development. Montreal's vacancy rate rose to 10.3 per cent from 8.3 per cent last year, while Halifax's rose to 10.2 per cent from 8.4 per cent. Vacancy rates also rose in the country's smaller office markets, specifically in suburban areas, but at a lesser rate, the report shows. It said cities with government office space also saw more stability in their commercial real estate markets. Ottawa had the lowest overall third quarter vacancy rate in the country of 5.8 per cent compared to five per cent for the same time last year, while Winnipeg's rate came in at 7.5 per cent up from 4.8 per cent last year. The overall vacancy rate in the Waterloo Region, home to such technology firms as Research in Motion (TSX:RIM), edged up slightly to 6.7 per cent from 6.4 per cent last year. The report predicts vacancy rates to keep rising in the fourth quarter and into 2010, "as Canada continues to grind its way out of the recession."
  3. China's Arithmetic When It Comes to the Dollar “It will be helpful if Geithner can show us some arithmetic” -Yu Yongding From the lens of a global risk manager, this morning has to be one of the more fascinating that I have ever woken up to. At the same time as the US Government is setting themselves up to announce one of the largest bankruptcies in US corporate history, we have a squirrel hunting US Treasury Secretary telling the Chinese to “trust us” and America’s currency. That a boy! Providing leadership to the world’s increasingly interconnected economy is by no means an easy task, and maybe that’s why the world is voting against America holding the world’s reserve Currency Conch any longer. Timmy Geithner’s effectiveness with the Chinese translators overseas this morning is borderline laughable. There was a time when the Wizards of Wall Street’s Oz could fly overseas and make a comment like “we are committed to a strong dollar” and it would actually matter. Rather than getting on a plane and shaking hands with The Client (China) himself, President Obama opted to send the same guy that called the holder of $768B in US Debt “manipulators"... Nice! When it comes to financial market sophistication, other countries aren’t as gullible as they used to be. An internet connection and You Tube screen have effectively changed all that. On the heels of Timmy’s “reassuring” comments, the US Dollar is getting spanked again, trading down another -0.73% to lower-lows at $78.63. Rather than fading Geithner from my soapbox, now the world is – it’s sad. I understand that this is all doesn’t matter yet because someone on CNBC is hopped-up about where the US futures ramped into Friday’s close and look here on today’s open. That manic behavior really helps America’s reputation. At the end of the day, the US stock market could go up another 6% to 9% today, and it would still be amongst one of the worst performing stock markets in the world. The Dollar moving into crisis mode matters. First, all of the reflation trades pay themselves out in full. Second, all of the global political capital associated with the almighty Petro-Dollar gets redistributed. And Third, well… rather than analyzing this as the said Great Depression Part Deux… how about another Third Quarter of 2008 in US Equities? Nah, that’s crazy right? Like they say in the Canadian Junior Hockey Leagues, “crazy is as crazy does”! There are loads of unintended consequences associated with a US Dollar crashing – the only other sustainable break we’ve seen in the US Dollar Index below the $80 level since 1971 (when Nixon abandoned the gold standard), was that one that led us to that 2008 Third Quarter… After locking in another +5.3% month for May, the S&P500 is up a whopping +1.8% for the YTD. Unlike most global equity markets that are charging to higher-highs this morning, the S&P500 is still trading below its January 6th high of 934. On the heels of another strong, albeit not herculean PMI manufacturing report last night (it decelerated slightly month over month), China’s stock market charged to higher-highs, closing up another +3.4%. The Shanghai Composite Index is now +49.5% YTD, and we, as our British philosophy competitor likes to say remain “long of it.” From Hong Kong to Russia, stock markets are up +4 to +6% this morning. Why? Because, much like the only other time we saw the US Dollar break down to these levels, everything that China needs reflates. Oil prices and the promises of a potentially empowering Chinese handshake have the Russian Trading System Index (RTSI) up +83% for 2009 to-date. Now that and the price of oil trading up +19% in less than 2-weeks is getting someone paid - and it isn’t the American Consumer! As she trashes her currency, America will continue to lose political capital both domestically and abroad. After all, a -12% three-month swan dive in the US Dollar has hacked over $90 Billion of value from the Chinese position in US Treasuries. Creditors and citizenry hush yourselves! All the while, 17 out of 23 Chinese economists polled are calling holding those Treasuries a “great risk” this morning. I know, I know… an economist or a billion US Dollars ain't what it used to be… At some point, China’s interpretation of the arithmetic is going to really matter.
  4. Best deals in real estate by Don Sutton, MoneySense Wednesday, June 16, 2010 It’s a crazy time for real estate in Canada. Prices are sky-high, people are feeling pressured into selling into a hot market and buyers fear purchasing an overpriced home only to see the bubble burst. But MoneySense magazine has come to the rescue and crunched the numbers to identify the best real estate deals in the best cities. Using hard data on 35 major housing markets, the magazine has awarded a letter grade based on how reasonable the house prices are, whether home prices are likely to rise and how prosperous the local economy is. Surprisingly, none of the winning cities are Canada’s largest, but instead reflect medium-sized cities with affordable house prices that have the ability to grow strongly with local economic conditions. The best deals in real estate in Canada are to be found in Moncton and Regina, both of whom received an A-, while Fredericton, St. John’s, Ottawa, Gatineau, Winnipeg, Guelph and Saint John all received a B+. The criteria for the study was strict and comprehensive. MoneySense compared average rents to average home prices, which gives a great indicator of how valuable a home is. Next it compared local wages as to average home prices to see how long it would take for a family to purchase a home. The magazine also evaluated how quickly homes sold and prices increased over the years. Last, the economic environment of the city was also analyzed. The magazine looked at how fast a community grew, what the unemployment rate was and what kind of discretionary income the citizens had. This method avoided identifying cheap real estate in communities where prices were unlikely to increase due to a poor local economy or widespread unemployment. The analysis gives a comprehensive overview of where to get the best real estate deals in Canada. The study is also useful for identifying which real estate markets to avoid. For example, Abbotsford and Montreal both only rated Cs. MoneySense’s study also identified overpriced markets. For instance, Kelowna, B.C., scored well in the category of growth potential and has a great local economy. But the average house price makes it hard for the typical family to buy into the market. With this aspect in mind, Kelowna rated a D+ in the value category and a C+ overall. Windsor, Ont., where house prices are among the best values in Canada, is in the opposite situation. It rated an A for affordability, but since the city is slowly recovering from deep layoffs in the car industry, it only rates a C in the momentum category and a C+ for local economy, giving it a B+ overall. In concrete terms, what the best cities for real estate like Regina and Moncton have going for them is big-city growth and opportunities without big-city prices. While the affordability and growth value of a home are not always the prime reasons to buy in a particular location, knowing that your home is a sound investment in an economically vibrant city offers great peace of mind. Top 5 cities: 1. Moncton A- 2. Regina A- 3. Fredericton B+ 4. St. John's B+ 5. Ottawa B+ http://ca.finance.yahoo.com/personal-finance/article/moneysense/1662/best-deals-in-real-estate
  5. H&R REIT hits a roadblock with The Bow LORI MCLEOD November 14, 2008 When H&R Real Estate Investment Trust signed on as the owner and developer of EnCana Corp.'s new head office in Calgary last year, the deal marked a milestone. At the peak of the real estate boom in February, 2007, the handshake between the natural gas producer and the real estate developer set in motion the creation of a unique, crescent-shaped skyscraper which is set to become the tallest office tower west of Toronto. At the time it was announced the project known as The Bow, became a symbol of Calgary's coming of age as a Canadian financial powerhouse in the midst of the commodities boom. Almost two years later, times have changed and the development that was to become H&R's crown jewel has hit a funding wall. "At present there are no financing arrangements in place on any of the REIT's development projects, and the current difficult economic conditions have impacted H&R's financing strategy," the trust said late yesterday in a release of its third-quarter financial results. The trust said it is considering selling assets, including The Bow, to address its funding challenges. So far, attempts to find an investor for the project have failed and are unlikely to succeed until H&R moves further along with its financing and construction efforts, said Neil Downey, analyst at RBC Dominion Securities Inc. H&R's biggest problem has been the seizure of the credit markets, which happened swiftly, unexpectedly, and before it secured a construction loan for The Bow, said Dennis Mitchell, portfolio manager at Sentry Select Capital. Labour and materials costs are rising, and the cost of the project has risen from $1.1-billion to $1.4-billion. Adding to the pain is the downturn in the financial and commodities markets, which is sending office vacancy rates up and real estate values down. While the large scale of The Bow was a bit concerning, in "heady" times it was an exciting project, Mr. Mitchell said. "In February of 2007 you were essentially in the peak of the market. You were talking about [real estate firm] Equity Office Properties being purchased in a bidding war. You had people talking about a wall of capital coming into the markets. It was a pretty heady time," said Mr. Mitchell, whose firm recently sold nearly all of the 55 million H&R shares it owned. His view in February, 2007, was that H&R would be able to sell a 50-per-cent stake in the project at a gain in about six months. As the project proceeds, over budget and in need of $1.1-billion in funding, H&R is facing some tough choices, Mr. Downey said. While it was not mentioned as an option by H&R, Mr. Downey has raised the possibility of a distribution cut of up to 50 per cent, starting in 2009 and continuing until the project is completed in 2011, he said. "This would be a Draconian move by REIT standards," he added. However, it would provide H&R with an additional $300-million in capital, which should be enough to make up the financial shortfall if it can secure a $500-million construction loan, he said.
  6. From what I heard from my father, I can only have 40% of my portfolio in other markets. So what companies should I look for here in Canada? Only one I can think of is Bank of Montreal. I would put some in Bombardier but it will never go up, plus I am iffy on Bell and Rogers.
  7. TSX Group looks to U.S. for next CEO Talks with ex-CBOT chief; risks backlash by overlooking former head of Montreal Exchange BOYD ERMAN From Wednesday's Globe and Mail May 28, 2008 at 4:10 AM EDT TSX Group Inc. [X-T] is close to hiring a U.S. executive to run the company now that the merger with Montreal Exchange Inc. is complete, passing over former MX head Luc Bertrand in a decision that's sure to be controversial in Quebec. Sources said TSX is in talks with Bernard Dan, former president and chief executive officer of the derivatives-focused Chicago Board of Trade, though a contract has yet to be signed. Mr. Dan lost his post at CBOT after the company's 2007 acquisition by Chicago Mercantile Exchange Holdings Inc. (CME). Mr. Bertrand, who built the Montreal Exchange into a force in derivatives, had been long viewed as the likely successor to Richard Nesbitt at the helm of TSX Group. Under the merger agreement, Mr. Bertrand was slated to be deputy CEO with Mr. Nesbitt in the top job, but those plans were thrown into flux when Mr. Nesbitt unexpectedly announced his resignation in January to become CEO at CIBC World Markets. A dark-horse candidate was Rik Parkhill, the head of the markets division at the TSX and one of the company's interim co-CEOs after Mr. Nesbitt's departure. Bernard Dan Both Mr. Parkhill and Mr. Bertrand were among the final candidates, but sources said the TSX board deadlocked over whether the CEO should come from TSX or MX and that contributed to the decision to go with an outside candidate. Passing over Mr. Bertrand may rekindle a controversy that arose last year even before the merger, when Quebec's Finance Minister said an early round of talks about a TSX-MX combination broke down because some on the TSX board weren't happy with the idea that a Montrealer might run the company. "Even though there were no guarantees that Luc would get the job, it's going to be perceived as a slap in the face," said Dundee Securities analyst John Aiken. That may lead to a backlash from Quebec investors, he said. Still, going with Mr. Dan may have some advantages, Mr. Aiken said. Whoever takes over TSX will have to know derivatives, because buying the MX gives the combined company dominating positions in that business as well as stock trading. Also, the TSX is facing a surge of new competition from alternative trading systems (ATS) for shares, a trend long established in the United States. "Canada with all the ATS's is going to more a U.S.-style exchange environment, and nobody domestically has seen that yet," Mr. Aiken said. "The question is how quickly will this individual adapt to the peculiarities of the Canadian market." TSX spokesman Steve Kee would not comment on the names of any candidates, and declined to confirm the talks with Mr. Dan. "The board process is not complete," Mr. Kee said. "We don't have a deal with any candidate." Mr. Kee said TSX plans to have the new CEO in place in time for the June 11 annual meeting. Previously, the company had a May 30 target. As head of CBOT from 2002 to 2007, Mr. Dan oversaw one of the biggest U.S. markets for agricultural and financial derivatives - contracts tied to price movements on everything from bonds to beef. He also won plaudits for CBOT's expertise with electronic trading, which helped to fuel the company's growth. Electronic trading is a focus at the TSX as the company rolls out its new system, known as Quantum, and tries to integrate the MX's Sola system. TSX GROUP (X) Close: $43.01, down 92¢ http://www.reportonbusiness.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20080528.wrtsxceo28/BNStory/SpecialEvents2/home
  8. Don’t tell anyone, but it’s a myth that millennials hate the suburbs It might not be as cool as living downtown, but a new survey suggests millennials might not hate suburbia all that much. Altus Group, citing its 2015 fall FIRM survey, says 35 per cent of those 35 and under disagree with the statement that they prefer to live in a smaller home in a central area than a larger home in the suburbs. The same survey found 40 per cent do agree with the statement, with everybody else neither agreeing or disagreeing. “We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again — it’s a myth that all so-called millennials are homogeneous in their desires, attitudes and behaviour,” says the report from Toronto-based Altus Group. “While there may be some tendencies that are more pronounced among today’s younger generation, when it comes to the housing sector, segmentation analysis is critical.” The survey, which only considered respondents in centres with populations of more than one million or more, found in almost every age group there was a willingness to trade off the bigger house in the suburbs for a smaller home in a central area. Among those 35-49, like millennials, 40 per cent said they would make the trade-off. <iframe name="fsk_frame_splitbox" id="fsk_frame_splitbox" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="" webkitallowfullscreen="" mozallowfullscreen="" style="padding: 0px; margin: 0px; width: 620px; height: 0px; border-style: none; border-width: initial;"></iframe> Broken into sub categories, 19 per cent of millennials agree completely they are willing to live in that smaller home in a central area versus the larger one in the suburbs. Another 21 per cent somewhat agree. Millennials actually ranked behind those 70 years or older when it comes to strong feelings on the matter. Among those seniors, 22 per cent agreed completely with going for the tinier downtown home. “There is a prevailing view that all millennials in larger markets want to live downtown — even if it means having to settle for a smaller residence to make the affordability equation work. Our research busts that myth,” said Altus Group. The same report finds all those downtown dwellers, many of whom will be settling in high-rise condominiums, are going to need parking sports because they are not ready to ditch their cars. The FIRM survey found that in the country’s six largest markets, defined as Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto, Ottawa-Gatineau and Montreal, only about one in 10 owner occupants of condominiums built in the last six years does not have a vehicle. That’s close to the average of all households, but condo dwellers are far less likely to have two vehicles. twitter.com/dustywallet [email protected] http://business.financialpost.com/personal-finance/mortgages-real-estate/dont-tell-anyone-but-its-a-myth-that-millennials-hate-the-suburbs Contrepoids à la discussion: http://mtlurb.com/forums/showthread.php/23922-Bye-bye-banlieue%21
  9. From the Economist ( I was reading it on my vacations, what a great read to kick start my vacations...) Charlemagne Among the dinosaurs France’s Socialists have yet to come to terms with the modern world Aug 27th 2011 | from the print edition BLISS is it in a financial crisis to be a socialist. Or so it ought to be. In speculators and ratings agencies, Europe’s left has a ready cast of villains and rogues. In simmering social discontent, it has an energising force. A recent issue of Paris-Match inadvertently captured the mood: page after full-colour page on Britain’s rioting underclass were followed by gory visual detail of the bling yachts crowding into the bay near Saint-Tropez. Time, surely, to put social inclusion before defiant decadence. The oddity is that almost everywhere the European left is in decline. Among the large countries, Socialist parties rule only in Spain, where they look likely to lose November’s election. The only big place where the left has a good chance of returning to power is France, at next spring’s presidential election. Yet France’s Socialist Party also stands out as Europe’s most unreconstructed. Hence the contorted spectacle of a party preparing for power at a time when the markets are challenging its every orthodoxy. For a hint of French Socialist thinking, consider recent comments from some of the candidates who will contest a primary vote in October. Ségolène Royal, who lost the 2007 presidential election to Nicolas Sarkozy, argued this week that stock options and speculation on sovereign debt should be banned. Denouncing “anarchic globalisation”, she called for human values to be imposed on financial ones, as a means of “carrying on the torch of a great country, France, which gave the world revolutionary principles about the emancipation of the people.” Ms Royal, believe it or not, is considered a moderate. To her left, Arnaud Montebourg, a younger, outwardly sensible sort, argues for “deglobalisation”. He wants to forbid banks from “speculating with clients’ deposits”, and to abolish ratings agencies. Financial markets want “to turn us into their poodle”, he lamented at a weekend fete in a bucolic village, celebrating the joys of la France profonde with copious bottles of burgundy. No one seems to have told him that there is a simple way to avoid the wrath of bond markets: balance your books and don’t borrow. Next to such patent nonsense, promises by the two front-running candidates, Martine Aubry and François Hollande, seem merely frozen in time, circa 1981. They want to return to retirement at the age of 60 (it has just been raised to 62), and to invent 300,000 public-sector youth jobs. Each supports Mr Sarkozy’s deficit-reduction targets, but refuses to approve his plan to write a deficit rule into the constitution. More taxes, not less spending, is their underlying creed. The party is not out of tune with public opinion. The French are almost uniquely hostile to the capitalist system that has made them one of the world’s richest people. Fully 57% say France should single-handedly erect higher customs barriers. The same share judge that freer trade with India and China, whose consumers snap up French silk scarves and finely stitched leather handbags, has been “bad” for France. The right has held the presidency since 1995 partly by pandering to such sentiments. The causes of French left-wingery are various, but a potent one is the lingering hold of Marxist thinking. Post-war politics on the left was for decades dominated by the Communist Party, which regularly scooped up a quarter of the votes. In the 1950s many intellectuals, including Jean-Paul Sartre, clung to pro-Soviet idealism even after the evils of Stalinism emerged. Others toyed with Trotskyism well into the 1970s. François Mitterrand, who mentored Ms Royal, Ms Aubry and Mr Hollande, was swept to the presidency in 1981 by offering a socialist Utopia as a third way between “the capitalist society which enslaves people” and the “communist society which stifles them”. Given such a tradition, it is possible that today’s Socialist leaders believe what they say. At any rate, there is a debate to be had about the right amount of market regulation and fiscal consolidation. Yet the problem with their promises is this: for every bit of conviction, there is a shameful share of pure posturing. In truth, France’s Socialists have often had to be pragmatic in power. As prime minister between 1997 and 2002 Lionel Jospin, himself an ex-Trotskyist, privatised more assets than any of his right-wing predecessors. Even Mitterrand was forced to abandon nationalisation and embrace austerity. Should the Socialists win in 2012, it would take them “about a month, or maybe a week” to confess that they “have no choice but to keep the deficit under control”, says one well-placed party figure. Retirement at 60? Nice idea but, quel dommage, we can’t afford it. Please allow us a moment of madness All this requires heroic faith among centrists considering voting Socialist that reason will triumph over fiscal folly. Moreover, experience suggests that the Socialists, if elected, may feel compelled to introduce some signature policy as a sop to their disappointed base. Under Mitterrand, it was the wealth tax. Under Mr Jospin, it was Ms Aubry’s 35-hour working week. With France’s recovery fragile, the prospect of more such lunacy is chilling. A further danger touches Europe, where France traditionally generates many ideas for integration. At a time when leaders are inching towards more economic co-ordination, with oversight of budgets and even tax harmonisation, a Socialist victory would put the shaping of such a project into uncertain hands. With Dominique Strauss-Kahn out of the running there is just one French Socialist primary candidate who understands all this. Manuel Valls, a deputy and mayor with a refreshingly modern view of the left, says Socialists are not being straight by promising retirement at 60. He dares utter such truths as “we need to tell the French that the [budgetary] effort…will be as great as that achieved after Liberation”. Alas, the 49-year-old Mr Valls is considered too young to be a serious contender. The day the paleo-Socialists of the Mitterrand generation allow such figures to emerge would be the dawn of a real revolution. http://www.economist.com/node/21526894
  10. China’s Stock Market Passes US as Leading Indicator Published: Wednesday, 4 Aug 2010 | 12:43 PM ET By: John Melloy Executive Producer, Fast Money China may be the second biggest economy in the world behind the US, but it is No. 1 in terms of influence over global stock markets, analysts said. “The Chinese equity market has shown signs of ‘leading’ global equity markets at turning points over the past three years,” wrote Geoffrey Dennis, Citigroup’s emerging markets strategist. “As a result, the 13 percent rally in the Shanghai Composite since early-July has been a major support for improved overall global sentiment over the past month.” It’s only natural China’s stock market would take a leading role following structural changes such as a jump in listings and the allowance of short sales. After all, the economic influence speaks for itself. Among other things, China is the biggest consumer of energy products, accounts for 70 percent of iron ore demand, and in 2009, became the No. 1 auto market, according to analysts’ reports. The Shanghai Composite Index has led the US market back from its 2010 low. It’s no coincidence that the leading US stocks during this comeback have come from the stocks in the industrial and raw material industries such as Caterpillar [CAT 71.56 -0.40 (-0.56%) ] and Freeport-McMoRan [FCX 74.61 0.54 (+0.73%) ]. Ford [F 13.04 0.06 (+0.46%) ] shares are up 30 percent in one month. “China’s rapid growth in auto sales is merely a reflection of the rise of middle class consumption patterns,” wrote Marshall Adkins, Raymond James energy analyst. “Add in increasing Chinese trucking, petrochemical and aviation consumption, and total Chinese oil demand growth in 2011 should be well north of 500,000 barrels per day and could drive over half of the global oil demand growth next year.” It’s no coincidence then that oil topped $80 this week before retreating today. The iShares FTSE/Xinhua China 25 Index [FXI 41.95 -0.08 (-0.19%) ], an ETF traded here on the NYSE, is supposed to be a direct play on the Chinese market, but it has underperformed China’s local market over the past month. The ETF contains only the large Chinese stocks that are listed as ADRs on US exchanges. What this data shows is that you may be better off buying a US index fund, industrial stocks or a broader emerging market ETF if you believe China is going higher. Citigroup sees the Chinese stock market rising five to 15 percent higher by the end of the year as fears of an economic slowdown are priced in. "Based on a 'no double-dip' scenario, solid growth in emerging markets, low interest rates 'for longer' and attractive valuations, we remain bullish on emerging market for the long-term, including Chinese equities," wrote Citi's Dennis. The closing bell of the New York Stock Exchange used to ripple through the rest of the world, dictating trading in Australia, Asia and Europe that followed it. No longer. The US traders’ day may be decided before he or she even wakes up. http://www.cnbc.com/id/38558580
  11. Cities Collapsing throughout the USA The Coming Depression April 7, 2009“With enough abandoned lots to fill the city of San Francisco, Motown is 138 square miles divided between expanses of decay and emptiness and tracts of still-functioning communities and commercial areas. Close to six barren acres of an estimated 17,000 have already been turned into 500 “mini- farms,” demonstrating the lengths to which planners will go to make land productive. The city, like the automakers, has to shrink to match what’s left, said June Thomas, a professor of urban and regional planning at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. “The issue is how,” she said. “There’s no vision.” “People are moving out of the city, trying to find work,” said David Martin of Wayne State University’s Urban Safety Program. Those who stay “can’t afford to move out.” “Property abandonment is getting so bad in Flint that some in government are talking about an extreme measure that was once unthinkable — shutting down portions of the city, officially abandoning them and cutting off police and fire service. … [Mayor] Brown said that as more people abandon homes, eating away at the city’s tax base and creating more blight, the city might need to examine “shutting down quadrants of the city where we (wouldn’t) provide services.” He did not define what that could mean — bulldozing abandoned areas, simply leaving the vacant homes to rot or some other idea entirely.” “Cul-de-sac neighborhoods once filled with the sound of backyard barbecues and playing children are falling silent. Communities like Elk Grove, Calif., and Windy Ridge, N.C., are slowly turning into ghost towns with overgrown lawns, vacant strip malls and squatters camping in empty homes.” “In its depth and suddenness, the U.S. economic and financial crisis is shockingly reminiscent of moments we have recently seen in emerging markets (and only in emerging markets): South Korea (1997), Malaysia (1998), Russia and Argentina (time and again). … But there’s a deeper and more disturbing similarity: elite business interests—financiers, in the case of the U.S.—played a central role in creating the crisis, making ever-larger gambles, with the implicit backing of the government, until the inevitable collapse. More alarming, they are now using their influence to prevent precisely the sorts of reforms that are needed, and fast, to pull the economy out of its nosedive. The government seems helpless, or unwilling, to act against them.”
  12. NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Real estate values around the nation have collapsed, and sales of foreclosed and "underwater" homes now dominate many housing markets, according to a report released Tuesday. The report, from Zillow.com, a real estate Web site, revealed that with foreclosures soaring, nearly 20% of the nation's home sales in 2008 were of bank-repossessed properties. Another 11% were short sales, in which homeowners owed more in mortgage debt than their homes were worth. Madera, Calif., had the highest percentage of these distressed sales: 54.6% of all transactions there were foreclosed homes, and another 3.4% were short sales. In Merced, Calif., 53.4% of sales were foreclosures and 4.8% were short sales. In nearby Stockton, 51.1% were foreclosures and 5.4% were short sales. "As more markets turn down and markets that were already down go deeper, the pace at which value is being erased from the U.S. housing stock is rapidly increasing," said Stan Humphries, Zillow's vice president in charge of data and analytics. "More value [was] wiped out in the fourth quarter of 2008 than was eliminated in all of 2007," Humphries said. About $3.3 trillion in home equity was erased in 2008, with $1.4 trillion of that wipeout coming in the fourth quarter alone, according to Humphries. More than $6 trillion in value has been lost since the market peaked in 2005. Those equity losses have put many homeowners underwater, where they're extremely vulnerable to foreclosure. These owners can't tap home equity for the cash they need to pay bills when they run into rough financial patches, and they often find it impossible to refinance - lenders will not loan more than the property is worth. In the United States, 17.6% of all homes are now underwater, according to Zillow, as are 41.2% of all mortgages for homes bought in the past five years. The worst-hit cities are in the once-booming Sun Belt. In Las Vegas, 61.4% of all homes are underwater. Because so many homes are worth less than their mortgage balances, an increasing number have to be sold short. But short sale transactions can take a long time to complete, because lenders have been having trouble keeping up with the flood of requests. "The speed of short sales is a function of the resources being allocated to them by lenders, and those resources are being stretched to the limit," Humphries said. That means lenders may not act on approving short sales for months. The deals cannot go forward without their approval, because the banks must agree to forgive the difference between what they're owed and what the sale brings in. As the time it takes to arrange short sales lengthens, they become harder to complete. Time and money wasted One example of how price declines can doom a short sale occurred recently in Phoenix. Curtis Johnson, a real estate broker there, worked with a health care worker whose hours were being cut and who could no longer afford her mortgage. She fell behind and decided to sell. Johnson was able to find a buyer willing to pay $183,000, and got an approval form the lender. The owner confidently moved out, got a new place and started a new life. But the lender folded and the mortgage went to a new servicer, who took six weeks to approve the deal. "Unfortunately, the buyers who were approved were no longer interested because the real estate market had dropped significantly," Johnson said. "They wrote a new offer, considerably lower then the first, and it was time to start over." Two more offers eventually fell through before a new buyer was found and the owner's bank approved the price, this time at $163,000. On the day of that closing, however, the parties discovered that the buyer's lender had run out of funds and dropped out of the deal. The home went to foreclosure auction before another sale could be arranged. The house is now on the market for $139,900. "[The house is] listed for less than what would have been received had the bank been willing to work with us, and still has not yet sold," Johnson said. Distressed sales like that depress the market for all homeowners. Regular sellers in cities dominated by foreclosures have to adjust their prices downward to compete. The percentage of homes sold for less than what their owners originally paid has leaped up in the past couple of years. In the United States as a whole, 34.6% of the sales made in 2008 were done at a loss. In Merced, 71.6% of all sales last year were for less than the seller paid. Stockton, Modesto and Las Vegas all had in excess of 68% of all homes being sold at a loss. Foreclosures beget more foreclosures by adding inventory to the market, which depresses prices, which increases foreclosures, according to Humphries.
  13. Ottawa boosts mortgage buyout by $50B Eoin Callan, Canwest News Service Published: Wednesday, November 12 TORONTO - After a sustained lobbying campaign by Bay Street executives that culminated in a breakfast meeting with senior government officials in Toronto Wednesday, Ottawa agreed to the most pressing demands of Canadian banks squeezed by the credit crisis. "We had asked for four things and we got all four," Don Drummond, a senior vice-president at TD Bank Financial Group, said after Ottawa unveiled co-ordinated measures to buy up to $75-billion worth of mortgages, facilitate access to capital markets, provide extra liquidity and loosen reserve requirements. Jim Flaherty, the Finance Minister, said the moves meant Canada was making good on a pledge he made during talks with his international counterparts to collectively bolster the banking system ahead of a summit on the financial crisis this weekend in Washington. The actions were a sign of the "commitment" of Ottawa to ensure the country's financial system remained strong, said Gerry McCaughey, chief executive of Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, which, along with TD, is thought to be among the main beneficiaries of new looser rules on minimum capital requirements. But executives who participated in the process cautioned state interventions to ease the credit crisis had proven to be more art than science, as the United States Wednesday ditched an earlier plan to buy up toxic assets at the same time Ottawa was expanding its own scheme to buy mortgage-backed securities by $50 billion. Executives said it remains to be seen if the interventions finalized at Wednesday morning's meeting would succeed in lowering the premium banks pay for medium-term financing, which is about five times higher than before the credit crisis. In a bid to ease funding pressures, executives persuaded the Conservatives to reduce to 1.1 per cent from 1.6 per cent the fee to be charged if banks invoke a special new government guarantee when they borrow money in international capital markets. Banks argued the previous higher rate had actually encouraged lenders to nudge up the premium they were charging banks at a time when other countries were offering more generous terms. The Finance Minister said he would resist new global initiatives that might put Canadian institutions at a competitive disadvantage during the weekend summit in Washington. But he said Ottawa's ability to influence the outcome was being undermined by the absence of a federal securities regulator in Canada, which is alone among major industrialized nations in not having national oversight of financial markets. "It is difficult for us to go abroad and say governments should get their house in order when there is a glaring omission at home," he said. Flaherty said a key objective of the moves announced Wednesday was addressing "concerns about the availability of credit" for business borrowers, adding that "the government stands ready to take whatever further actions are necessary to keep Canada's financial system strong among external risks." The Bank of Canada also said it would boost the availability of affordable credit in the banking system by $8 billion, using new rules that mean institutions can bid for cash using almost any form of collateral. Banks also welcomed a move late Tuesday by the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions to allow them to top up their capital reserves with securities that are a hybrid of debt and equity. The regulator clarified Wednesday that a related measure on treatment of money lent by banks to other financial institutions under the government guarantee of interbank lending "would have the effect" of "increasing their regulatory capital ratios, all else being equal", but would "not count as regulatory capital." Bank analysts said the interventions were positive for Canadian banks, but warned they would be squeezed further in the coming months as the global economic slowdown hit home and losses on bad loans mount. Ian de Verteuil, an analyst at BMO Capital Markets, cited as an example how falling demand for coal could by next year jeopardize more than $10 billion in bank loans made to finance the acquisition by Teck Cominco of Fording Canadian Coal Trust. Royal Bank of Canada, Bank of Montreal and CIBC each have about $1 billion in exposures, while TD and Scotiabank each have $400 million of exposures to the deal, which the companies expect will be viable. But bank executives remained bullish Wednesday, with TD chief executive Ed Clark saying he was still on the hunt for U.S. acquisitions.
  14. Canada's housing market cools Home prices are still rising but much more slowly.Tyler Anderson/National PostHome prices are still rising but much more slowly. Resale price growth lowest in seven years Garry Marr, Financial Post Published: Friday, June 13, 2008 More On This Story TORONTO -- The Canadian real estate market is being flooded with homes, causing prices to start falling in some key markets, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association. The average price of a home sold last month in the country's top 25 markets was $337,071, an all-time record. But that record price was only up 1.1% from May, 2007 -- the smallest year-over-year increase in seven years. "The record number of new listings means more opportunities for buyers," said Gregory Klump. chief economist with CREA. "The resale housing market has evolved in just a few short months." CREA said there were 67,628 new units on the market in May, a 7% jump from last year. It was the second straight month that a record number of houses has gone on sale. The impact on prices is being felt most keenly in Alberta. The average price of a home sold in Calgary last month was $418,881, a 2.4% drop from a year ago. Edmonton sale prices averaged out at $340,499, down 4.8% from a year ago. Unit sales in both Alberta cities are also plummeting. Calgary homes sales were off 34.2% from a year ago while Edmonton sales were down 34.8% during the same period. The home sales are dropping across the country. CREA said on a national basis sales were off 16.9% in May from a year earlier.
  15. 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.”
  16. (Courtesy of Bloomberg) After I read this, I was thinking what if... Southwest (US) [535 planes] Jetblue (US) [141+ planes] Westjet (CAN) [75+ planes] Zoom (CAN) [5 planes] Air Transat (CAN) [17 planes] Air Berlin (DEU) [126+ planes] This would be an interesting alliance seeing Air Berlin and Zoom fly from Canada to certain spots in Europe. Plus all these small airlines, with low-fares might be something N.A needs, but I could be wrong, seeing I am no economist.
  17. Canada's housing boom is over, bank says VIRGINIA GALT Globe and Mail Update June 26, 2008 at 10:44 AM EDT After a long run of rapidly-rising prices, the Canadian housing market has cooled to the point that it is no longer a sellers' market, Toronto-Dominion Bank said Thursday. “The long-awaited end of the Canadian housing boom has occurred, reflecting more moderate demand and increased supply of properties for sale,” TD economists Craig Alexander and Pascal Gauthier said in a report. “The year-over-year price growth for existing homes in Canada's major markets fell to only 1.1 per cent in May, down from 8.6 per cent just four months earlier,” the TD economists wrote. “The trend has been broadly based, but is has been particularly sharp in some of the markets that had experienced the most dramatic price growth. Calgary and Edmonton home prices in April and May fell to below year-earlier levels.” The TD economists said they had expected the slowdown to occur before now, but “housing remained stronger for longer than we had anticipated, largely due to increased affordability through new financing options, such as no money down or extended amortization.” Regional economic strength related to the commodity boom also helped to fuel “unsustainably elevated home price growth in the west,” they wrote. Last month, the Canadian Real Estate Association reported that resale home listings across Canada rose by 17.7 per cent in April from a year earlier – pushing the number of home listings to the highest level on record. At the time, Bank of Montreal economist Douglas Porter noted: “For the first time in a long time, sellers are not in the drivers' seat any more. I'm not necessarily saying that buyers are in the drivers' seat either, but what we've seen truly is a return to a balanced market.” The TD economists concurred in their report Thursday. “Most of Canada's major housing markets have moved out of sellers' territory to more balanced markets.” Mr. Alexander and Mr. Gauthier forecast modest national average price growth of 2 per cent this year and 3.5 per cent in 2009, “down substantially from the 10 per cent annual pace of the last six years.” However, the Canadian housing market remains fundamentally strong, unlike the U.S. market, where the National Association of Realtors reported Thursday that median home prices continued to fall. The median price of an existing U.S. home sold in May was $208,600 (U.S), down 6.3 per cent from a year earlier – fallout from the subprime mortgage crisis. In Canada, the TD economists forecast an average existing home price of $313,300 (Canadian) in 2008, up 2 per cent from last year's average. Canadians, the TD economists said, are “cashing in, not foreclosing. “... It should be stressed that the rise in listings does not reflect homeowners of principal dwellings desperate to sell, and this is the dominant difference between the Canadian and U.S. experience,” they wrote in their report, Canada's Housing Boom Comes to an End. “Indeed, the U.S. has been characterized by an abnormal rise in delinquencies and foreclosures or large negative equity positions. In Canada, speculators may be quickly dumping properties on the market to get out while the times are good, but individuals that have a principal dwelling are not under financial duress. “Canadian consumers are nowhere nearly as leveraged through their home equity as American consumers are.” Throughout the rest of this year and 2009, most regional housing markets in Canada “will see low to mid single-digit gains, but Saskatchewan and Manitoba will continue to post double-digit gains in the near term, followed by a significant cooling in 2009 – with the risk of a mild price correction in the major cities that have recently experienced extraordinary price growth,” the TD economists said. “Alberta will have further weakness in the near term, as Calgary and Edmonton will likely see prices continue to fall for another three or four quarters, dropping 8 per cent to 10 per cent from their peak, after which prices should stabilize and start rising at a low single-digit pace.” http://www.reportonbusiness.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20080626.whousing0626/BNStory/Business/home
  18. (Courtesy of KDVR Fox 31) The previous topic was written by a woman from here but was published from the Globe and Mail. I found that out when I did some research on the writer.
  19. Prepare for home prices to drop Most Canadian housing markets overpriced, UBC study finds With Metro Vancouver past the peak of its current real-estate market cycle, more discussion is emerging about what the cycle's downside will look like. The latest discussion points lean towards a price correction in the double digits, with one study showing current Vancouver house prices overvalued by 11 per cent on a particular measure and an economist observing that prices are falling at a rate of 10 per cent or more this year. University of B.C. real-estate economist Tsur Somerville was lead author of a study that evaluated the cost to rent a detached, mid-market home in nine Canadian cities versus the cost to own, in order to find a balanced price. The study's conclusion was that in the second-quarter of this year, Metro Vancouver's house price, of $754,500, was 11 per cent higher than the balance point. However, that is less out of balance than Regina, Winnipeg, Ottawa and Montreal, which are 25 per cent out of equilibrium, considering prices and rents in those markets. Halifax house prices are 20 per cent out of balance. Titled Are Canadian Housing Markets Overpriced? the study observes that housing affordability is a severe problem in some Canadian cities, limiting the ability of markets to continue to rise. Calgary prices showed as being seven per cent higher than balance. Only Toronto showed prices in balance with rents, and Edmonton, which has already seen price declines, would need to see prices climb again by eight per cent to be in balance. "I was surprised the Vancouver number is as low as it was," Somerville, director of the centre for urban economics and real estate at the Sauder School of Business at UBC, said in an interview. He added that the rent-versus-own measure is a narrow observation that treats homes like a financial asset and does not take other measures of affordability or valuation into account. And what eventually happens in the Vancouver market, Somerville said, will depend on a host of variables ranging from changes in mortgage rates to changes in the long-term average appreciation of housing prices and economic conditions. "What you can identify is where the pressures are," Somerville added. "How the market plays out is very different." Prices do not have to fall for the market to correct, Somerville said. Prices can simply stagnate over a period of time, like Vancouver experienced through the mid-1990s until 2001. However, Somerville added that Vancouver has built new homes at a much higher rate than household formation in the city during the up-cycle, and the inventory of unsold homes in the market has ballooned rapidly, which make Vancouver more susceptible to price declines. "Those are two big warning signs," he said. Somerville said another unknown in the declining market is what the buyers of pre-sale condominiums that are now under construction will do once the units are complete. If a significant number of investor-buyers of those condominiums decide to sell them right away, that would put more downward pressure on prices. However, at this point there is little evidence of "calamity in the housing market," said Helmut Pastrick, chief economist for Central 1 Credit Union, formerly known as Credit Union Central B.C. Pastrick said the reversal in the housing market was caused because of affordability. Too many first-time buyers were squeezed out of the market for prices to rise higher. However, "it would take nastier economic conditions," such as a recession or sudden spike in mortgage rates to cause a more serious decline in Vancouver's markets, he said. Pastrick said Vancouver's housing price index has declined four per cent since its peak in February, and in his latest weekly economic briefing, he noted that prices are on pace to drop 10 to 15 per cent this year. "I think [the decline] will be closer to 10 per cent by the end of the year," Pastrick added in an interview. "And the [decline] will be at least 10 per cent from top to bottom [of the cycle]." The inventory of unsold homes, which had grown dramatically over the summer, dropped a bit in August and Pastrick expected that trend to continue over the next several months. At some point in 2009, he believes, the real estate market will find a new balance "and we could see housing prices tread water." "I'm not suggesting [prices will be] flat," he said. "There's going to be some movement, but it could be a period of time where prices don't make large moves up or down - perhaps plus or minus five per cent a year." Pastrick said significant numbers of first-time buyers will have to be able to afford to buy homes before the market swings back up. Recent declines in prices help that affordability factor, he said, but low interest rates and solid income growth will also be needed to put the market into its next upswing. "After going through this adjustment period, which I think will run its course next year," Pastrick said, "we could be in a period of a flat market" that could last through 2010 to 2012. http://www.canada.com/vancouversun/n...7-1a4e7666c4b2
  20. Europe Works to Contain Crisis Article Tools Sponsored By NYC Times By CARTER DOUGHERTY, NELSON SCHWARTZ and FLOYD NORRIS Published: October 6, 2008 European nations scrambled further Monday to prevent a growing credit crisis from bringing down major banks and alarming savers as Sweden followed Germany, Austria and Denmark in offering new protections for bank deposits. As troubles in financial markets spread around the world, some governments are eager to act to avoid the mistakes of the 1930s when authorities sat on their hands during the Wall Street crash and its aftermath, Julian Chillingworth, chief investment officer at Rathbone Unit Trust Management in London, said. Sweden became the latest European country to offer protection for bank deposits, after the German government offered blanket guarantees Sunday to all private savings accounts. Austria and Denmark also did the same. Britain’s government on Monday scrambled to find ways to help the country’s ailing banking sector and even considered a partial nationalization of the industry. The chancellor of the Exchequer, Alistair Darling, continued to consult with advisers on Monday on ways to stabilize the banking sector, which may include a recapitalization financed by taxpayers, said a person at the Treasury who declined to be identified because the discussions were private. Stocks fell sharply on Monday in London, Paris and Frankfurt. New bailouts were arranged late Sunday for two European companies, Hypo Real Estate, a large German mortgage lender, and Fortis, a large banking and insurance company based in Belgium but active across much of the Continent. Under the agreement, BNP Paribas will acquire the Belgium and Luxembourg banking operations of Fortis for about $20 billion. The spreading worries came days after the United States Congress approved a $700 billion bailout package that officials had hoped would calm financial markets globally. The crisis in Europe appears to be the most serious one to face the Continent since a common currency, the euro, was created in 1999. Jean Pisani-Ferry, director of the Bruegel research group in Brussels, said Europe confronted “our first real financial crisis, and it’s not just any crisis. It’s a big one.” Britain is coming under increasing pressure to act. Some investors criticized the government for failing to set up an American-style rescue fund and for its piecemeal approach to deal with each problem. “The government needs to get on their front foot and get control of their own destiny,” Mr. Chillingworth said. “We could well be in a period where we see a quasi-nationalization in the banking sector, where taxpayers are taking equity stakes.” Britain partly nationalized Bradford & Bingley last week after the mortgage lender struggled to get financing and brokered a takeover of HBOS by Lloyds TSB after its shares lost most of its value. From Tuesday, the government will also increase the amount of retail deposits it guarantees to £50,000, or $88,600, from £35,000. Some analysts said guaranteeing deposits might reinstate client confidence but would fall short of bringing back the trust among banks that is desperately needed to encourage them to lend to each other. British banks remain burdened by their exposure to worthless mortgage assets, but the larger problem remains their unwillingness to lend to one another — even after an injection of £40 billion by the Bank of England. “Liquidity is drying up,” said Richard Portes, a professor of economics at the London Business School. “The authorities have to deal with this paralysis in the money markets.” The European Central Bank has aggressively lent money to banks as the crisis has grown. It had resisted lowering interest rates, but signaled on Thursday that it might cut rates soon. The extra money, aimed at ensuring that banks have adequate access to cash, has not reassured savers or investors, and European stock markets have performed even worse than the American markets. In Iceland, government officials and banking chiefs were discussing a possible rescue plan for the country’s commercial banks. In Berlin, Chancellor Angela Merkel and her finance minister, Peer Steinbrück, appeared on television Sunday to promise that all bank deposits would be protected, although it was not clear whether legislation would be needed to make that promise good. Mindful of the rising public anger at the use of public money to buttress the business of high-earning bankers, Ms. Merkel promised a day of reckoning for them as well. “We are also saying that those who engaged in irresponsible behavior will be held responsible,” she said. The events in Berlin and Brussels underscored the failure of Europe’s case-by-case approach to restoring confidence in the Continent’s increasingly jittery banking sector. A meeting of European heads of state in Paris on Saturday did little to calm worries, though officials there pledged to work together to ensure market stability. President Nicolas Sarkozy of France and his counterparts from Germany, Britain and Italy vowed to prevent a Lehman Brothers-like bankruptcy in Europe but they did not offer a sweeping American-style bailout package. The growing crisis has underlined the difficulty of taking concerted action in Europe because its economies are far more integrated than its governing structures. “We are not a political federation,” Jean-Claude Trichet, the president of the European Central Bank, said after the meeting. “We do not have a federal budget.” Last week, Ireland moved to guarantee both deposits and other liabilities at six major banks. There was grumbling in London and Berlin about the move giving those banks an unfair advantage. But Germany proposed its deposit guarantee Sunday after Britain raised its guarantee. The German officials emphasized that the guarantee applied only to private depositors, not to the banks themselves. But on Monday, Mr. Steinbrück said the government was considering an “umbrella” to protect the banking sector. Unlike in the United States, where deposits are now fully guaranteed up to a limit of $250,000 — a figure that was raised from $100,000 last week — deposits in most European countries have been only partly guaranteed, sometimes by groups of banks rather than governments. In Germany, the first 90 percent of deposits up to 20,000 euros, or about $27,000, was guaranteed. Even before the Paris meeting began it was becoming clear that two bailouts announced the week before had not succeeded and that UniCredit, a major Italian bank, might be in trouble. UniCredit announced plans on Sunday to raise as much as 6.6 billion euros. Fortis, which only a week ago received 11.2 billion euros from the governments of the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg, was unable to continue its operations. On Friday, the Dutch government seized its operations in that country, and late Sunday night the Belgian government helped to arrange for BNP Paribas, the French bank, to take control of the company for 14.5 billion euros, or about $20 billion. In Berlin, the government arranged a week ago for major banks to lend 35 billion euros to Hypo Real Estate, but that fell apart when the banks concluded that far more money would be needed. Late Sunday night the government said a package of 50 billion euros had been arranged, with both the government and other banks taking part. The credit crisis began in the United States, a fact that has led European politicians to assert superiority for their countries’ financial systems, in contrast to what Silvio Berlusconi, the prime minister of Italy, called the “speculative capitalism” of the United States. On Saturday, Gordon Brown, the British prime minister, said the crisis “has come from America,” and Mr. Berlusconi bemoaned the lack of business ethics that had been exposed by the crisis. Many of the European banks’ problems have stemmed from bad loans in Europe, and Fortis got into trouble in part by borrowing money to make a major acquisition. But activities in the United States have played a role. Bankers said Sunday that the need for additional money at Hypo came from newly discovered guarantees it had issued to back American municipal bonds that it had sold to investors. The credit market worries came on top of heightening concerns about economic growth in Europe and the United States. “Unless there is a material easing of credit conditions,” said Bob Elliott of Bridgewater Associates, an American money management firm, after retail sales figures were announced, “it is unlikely that demand will turn around soon.” Henry M. Paulson Jr., the United States Treasury secretary, hoped that approval of the American bailout, which involved buying securities from banks at more than their current market value, would free up credit by making cash available for banks to lend and by reassuring participants in the credit markets. But that did not happen last week. Instead, credit grew more expensive and harder to get as investors became more skittish about buying commercial paper, essentially short-term loans to companies. Rates on such loans rose so fast that some feared the market could essentially close, leaving it to already-stressed banks to provide short-term corporate loans. Europe’s need to scramble is in part the legacy of a decision to establish the euro, which 15 countries now use, but not follow up with a parallel system of cross-border regulation and oversight of private banks. “First we had economic integration, then we had monetary integration,” said Sylvester Eijffinger, a member of the monetary expert panel advising the European Parliament. “But we never developed the parallel political and regulatory integration that would allow us to face a crisis like the one we are facing today.” In Brussels, Daniel Gros, director of the Center for European Policy Studies, agreed. “Maybe they will be shocked into thinking more strategically instead of running behind events,” he said. “The later you come, the higher the bill.” While the European Central Bank has power over interest rates and broader monetary policy, it was never granted parallel oversight of private banks, leaving that task to dozens of regulators across the Continent. This patchwork system includes national central banks in each of the euro zone’s 15 members and they still retain broad powers within their own borders, further complicating any regional approach to problem-solving. “The European banking landscape was transformed fairly recently,” Mr. Pisani-Ferry said. “When the euro was first introduced, the question of cross-border regulation didn’t really arise.” Optimists say one potential long-term benefit from the current turmoil is that it often takes a crisis to propel European integration forward. “Progress in Europe is usually the result of a crisis,” Mr. Eijffinger said. “This could be one of those rare moments in E.U. history.”