The Hot Air Prime Minister

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What would happen to a hot air balloon if you poked it with a sharp object? It would deflate and fall to the ground. Well that’s like anti-American Prime Minister (PM) Paul Martin. Paul Martin came into office vowing to improve Canadian/American relations that were strained by former PM Jean Chretien. Chretien was anti-American. Chretien would rather support America’s enemies then to stand with Canada’s long time friend.

Martin is the mini-Chretien. He hasn’t improved relations between the two countries. Martin has faced scandals in his own leadership and has come under investigation. So how does a Canadian politician try to regain support? The politician criticizes the U.S. and challenges her on every level. The Canadian public eats this up and then thinks you’re the Messiah.

This Canadian PM has has no backbone. He’s like a hot air balloon that is ready to deflate. Martin was a good finance minister but doesn’t have the leadership skills to lead Canada. Martin is more liberal on social policy then Senator Ed Kennedy.

It’s unfortunate that Canadians define their identity this way as being anti-American. What a wonderful way to identify yourself.
I’m able to comment about this because I’m Canadian. I grew up in a country that defined itself by the hatred it had for America.

Canadians view America as a murderous nation (their murder rate) with no family values or morals. I don’t know how Canada has come to be viewed as a country with moral values. Its rampant liberalism is almost unparalleled.

If you live in Canada and you are a conservative you are ridiculed and shamed. You are even called a Nazi. Yeah, a proud conservative Jew like me is really a Nazi. What has Paul Martin done to counter this behavior? He’s done nothing. Martin actually fuels this hatred.

Martin continually attacks America. He isn’t living up to his pledge to to improve Canadian/American relations. If he was serious, he would defend America from the bogus claims and assertions that many Canadians have about this great country.

So Paul Martin is full of hot air. He can’t be taken seriously. Instead of improving relations with America, he has attacked her to try and improve his popularity. If I were the President I wouldn’t trust Martin. I wouldn’t even deal with him

So why is Martin so upset with America? He claims that America is violating NAFTA by imposing tariffs on soft lumber. What’s he talking about? Canada does things to protect it’s culture from America and has implemented laws about how much Canadian content must be shown by Canadian media.

Canada has also attempted to implement laws prohibiting Canadian advertisers from buying advertising in Canadian editions of American publications. This was attempted in Bill C-55 in 1999. When it was first introduced, Clinton warned that it could spark a trade war. This was the latest of similar laws dating back to 1965 (Miami Herald).

After negotiation the Bill was amended slightly.

So now Paul Martin is crying foul. It was Martin’s Liberal government who was the sponsor of the bill. Now they must reap what they sewed. They had no vision and couldn’t see how their anti-American ways would have a negative impact.

For many years Americans admired Canadians and would even take their criticism. In recent years as Canada’s anti-American attitude has worsened, Americans are starting to resent their neighbor.
Many Americans now believe that Canadians hate America and would rather support her enemies.

Until Paul Martin leads Canada in a different direction, Canada/American relations will be strained. It’s up to Martin to live up to his words and start improving relations with America.

UK Finance Minister Outlines Thinking on Bonuses

The British Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling has been intimately involved in the creation of the modern British regulatory landscape, but all this may be about to change with a General Election due within 10 months. He also succeeds arguably one of the most successful Chancellor’s in the 21st Century – the current Prime Minister, Gordon Brown – just as Tony Blair has been a tough act to follow, Darling has had to step into Brown’s shoes at The Treasury. Darling has remained silent all week since the announcement of the opposition Tory party’s proposals for the abolition of the FSA; handing prudential financial oversight to the Bank of England, a general carve up of the FSA and probable delay on RDR commitment. Today, that changed with an interview published in a leading, left-wing publication, The Tribune.

Darling on Bonuses

Bonuses are going to be a sticky issue for regulators, politicians and employers – “Bonuses are Back!” may be the cry on the Square Mile, after all, if it’s being earned they’re going to be paid or risk losing competitiveness. Darling’s response is that many bank and financial sector employees only have a job today because of the taxpayer monies used to bail out the sector and shore up the banks. For banks now owned by the UK Government, there will be no bonuses this year;

First, we do have restrictions on the banks we own in terms of bonuses; they can’t get cash bonuses this year, it’s got to be deferred, it’s got to be capable of being clawed back, the people who failed can’t get rewards and they always have to be linked to long-term success.

The interim Walker report on working practices and pay structures including bonuses, published a couple of weeks ago, seems to simply state bankers should worry about doing the job they are already being paid to do. Darling disagrees in that Walker is going further; bankers did not do their jobs to begin with which is why we ended up in the global economic mess culminating in the near-miss, banking collapse. As Darling states,

One of the causes of the trouble is that they were not doing what they were supposed do be doing. Too many of them patently didn’t even understand what was going on in their own banks.

When pressed on disclosure of who actually is paid a bonus, Darling rightly concedes that naming the recipient poses issues outside of transparency and financial regulation; after all, I certainly would not like my name published anywhere with a big number printed after it – there is a dividing line between personal security and public disclosure, though directors at the Co-Operative Bank have been making personal identity disclosure without issue. With the FSA under political fire from the Conservatives, who announced they would dismantle the regulator if elected, Darling’s responses give some insight into why Labour wants the FSA to remain and enjoy enhanced power. For instance,

A lot of these people have got to realise they just would not be working today if they did not have the insurance policy provided by the British and American taxpayers and others. That’s why it is right that the Financial Standards Authority now has the power to say to a bank that they don’t like the pay structure of a bank, it’s too risky, you can’t do it.

Also when questioned on Walker’s proposal for a voluntary rather than statutory regime, Darling’s response was,

We have gone beyond that with the FSA and its new power to say we don’t like your pay structure, it’s too risky. That’s not voluntary, because ultimately the FSA can put you off the road.

This fundamentally underlines the difference between Labour and Conservative thinking on who will regulate the banks and financial sector – Labour clearly envisages an FSA with a very wide-ranging remit and the power to assert itself in virtually any aspect it sees fit. The Conservative focus beyond dismantling the FSA is yet to become clear, but it is reasonable to assume at this stage that they see a return of the Bank of England as the banking regulator and not as an “academic” body as Labour Minister Lord Myners recently put it. The Tribune article focused on pay structure and especially bonus payments, it’s to be expected from a socialist paper, but Darling fielded answers which did take the position that pay and bonuses are actually one commercial factor to be taken into account when dealing with banks who received bail-out monies. As he went on to say,

I think, in relation to telling the banks what to do, there is a broader question.

The interviewer’s observation of Darling when the question regarding a National Maximum wage is as telling as the Chancellor’s response:

What about a national maximum wage? Darling’s jaw drops discernibly amid a slight shudder: “People who call for these things are the same people who argued against a national pay maximum in the 1970s. I don’t think pay restraint or arbitrary controls work.”

This article was commissioned by ComplianceAsia, the leading APACS region provider of outsourced compliance support for leading banking and financial institutions operating in the region.

Canadian’s Personal Finances Fiscal Cliff: Are We There Yet?

Today we hear much talk about the USA’s economy approaching the so-called “fiscal cliff.” What about your personal financial affairs? Are you at the fiscal cliff as we inch toward 2013? Canadians are swamped in debt. Monthly, we read about the rising debt-to-disposable income ratio that stands now at around the precarious 164% level.

Although the world and many at home commend our government for its brilliant fiscal management, few warn about the unsustainable personal debt levels. Indeed, our central bank chief, Mark Carney, accepted an appointment to a similar role at the prestigious Bank of England. Will his legacy here be that of hero or villain? Will history show that he held interest rates low for too long, encouraging many folks to take on debt they cannot afford?

To his credit, he, our finance minister, and prime minister have been warning Canadians about these dangerously high personal debt levels. However, Carney could curtail the rise by raising interest rates. Sure, higher rates will dampen current slow economic growth. Even so, I think short-term pain is better than the likely personal finances’ crash that might happen if debt remains at present levels, or grows.

What can Canadians do to avoid their fiscal cliff? Let us examine three vital steps.

Accept you are dangerously leveraged.
Set a mechanism in place to live with declining debt
Develop a new vocabulary to guide your behavior

Accept You Are Dangerously Leveraged

You can’t solve a problem unless you recognize it. Do you think you are carrying too much debt? Your banker might tell you no; however, you alone can answer this. Take a helicopter view. What are you and your family’s emotional responses to your debt? Are you worried? Can’t sleep? If yes, you have too much debt. Certainly, look at ratios, but this is the key barometer.

The emotional cost of debt is the first and the most significant cost. If debt is 10% of income, and is causing problems for you or at least one in your family, it is too much. Still, you must accept reality and decide to live with it, take on no more, and start a debt free lifestyle.

If you are a Christian, give this emotional stress to Jesus (Matthew 11:28).

Set A Mechanism In Place To Live With Declining Debt

People are impatient. We live in a now society. Sadly, probably you got into debt over a long period, and it is likely you will get out over an extended time. Accept this fact and learn to live with it.

Develop a strategy to live in your debt. Look at how you got there; draft principles to prevent a recurrence; and then write a financial plan – alone or with help. The plan should show concisely how, by following your principles, you might be debt free in a specific time.

If you got into debt by impulsive spending, you might develop a principle never to buy without a list and a budget. As well, when you feel you need to spend, you might want to wait 24-48 hours during which time you would talk with your spouse or accountability partner.

You will have to find what might work for you, decide if you need help, and try to get it.

Prepare a debt-meter and place on your fridge. Monthly, as you repay debt, adjust the debt-meter.

Develop a new vocabulary to guide your behavior

This sounds easy, is simple, and when you get it, will be your most effective debt control “tool.” What you believe will decide how you behave. If you believe emergencies happen and cause you to spend erratically, you won’t change your behavior. However, if you believe that apart from the timing, most “budget emergencies” can be planned and should be planned by setting aside funds regularly to meet them, you will plan accordingly.

Your car will need repairs. It will need new tires. Your furnace will go, and so on. The issue here is timing. You don’t know when these potential budget busters will happen. Even so, you know they will occur, so create a capital fund, a rainy-day fund, emergency fund, or some other means to save for these predictable events. If you accept this fact about emergencies, and understand that to get there you must sacrifice today’s consumption, this is the start of your major victory over debt.

Another key vocabulary change is to accept that you can’t mange money, you can manage only your behavior – change from money management to lifestyle management.


As we enter 2013, look at your finances. You will know if you are at the fiscal cliff. Rest assured, you do not need more money to get you through, first, you need to accept where you are. Next, set a mechanism to live where you are as you work off your debt. Then examine your vocabulary, your beliefs, and adjust them to reality.

I pray you will turn away from easy seductive credit and start moving away from debt.