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Canada Gets Into the Act: Injects $20bn Into Economy…

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There hasn’t been much news from Canada in light of the global financial crisis, or at least not much widely-reported news.

In fact, Canada’s banking sector is hardly immune to the global credit tightening and the sub-prime-triggered crisis.

Here, then, is an overview of recent events in Canada:

  • The TSX’s S&P Index is down over 10% in just four days.
  • Bloomberg reports RBC’s Asset Management clients have withdrawn $1.2bn in the past month.
  • Also from Bloomberg, TD saw $1.15bn redeemed in September.
  • The Bank of Canada has injected $20bn into money markets to ease liquidity concerns among Canada’s banks.
  • The Bank of Canada has also agreed to accept ABCPs – the Asset Backed Commercial Paper at the heart of the crisis – as collateral on a temporary basis.
  • The average price of a home in Toronto dropped 6% in September, while the number of sales are down 11%, according to a report in the National Post. The number of homes listed for sale is up 19%.
  • In Vancouver, meanwhile, the number of home sales declined a whopping 42.9% in September, versus a year ago, according to a report on CBC.
  • The number of new Vancouver listings rose 28.8%.
  • The “benchmark” price of a detached home has falled 5.8% since May in Vancouver, while the “benchmark” price of a condo fell 5.2%.
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List of House Members Who Voted for Bailout…

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Here’s the complete list of the members of Congress who voted in favor of the bailout bill:

Roll Call for Bailout Bill Vote

FINAL VOTE RESULTS FOR ROLL CALL 681

(Democrats in roman; Republicans in italic; Independents underlined)
H R 1424 YEA-AND-NAY      3-Oct-2008      1:22 PM
QUESTION: On Motion to Concur in Senate Amendments
BILL TITLE: Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008

Yeas Nays PRES NV
Democratic 172 63
Republican 91 108
Independent
TOTALS 263 171

—- YEAS    263 —

Abercrombie
Ackerman
Alexander
Allen
Andrews
Arcuri
Baca
Bachus
Baird
Baldwin
Barrett (SC)
Bean
Berkley
Berman
Berry
Biggert
Bishop (GA)
Bishop (NY)
Blunt
Boehner
Bonner
Bono Mack
Boozman
Boren
Boswell
Boucher
Boustany
Boyd (FL)
Brady (PA)
Brady (TX)
Braley (IA)
Brown (SC)
Brown, Corrine
Buchanan
Calvert
Camp (MI)
Campbell (CA)
Cannon
Cantor
Capps
Capuano
Cardoza
Carnahan
Carson
Castle
Clarke
Cleaver
Clyburn
Coble
Cohen
Cole (OK)
Conaway
Cooper
Costa
Cramer
Crenshaw
Crowley
Cubin
Cuellar
Cummings
Davis (AL)
Davis (CA)
Davis (IL)
Davis, Tom
DeGette
DeLauro
Dent
Dicks
Dingell
Donnelly
Doyle
Dreier
Edwards (MD)
Edwards (TX)
Ehlers
Ellison
Ellsworth
Emanuel
Emerson
Engel
Eshoo
Etheridge
Everett
Fallin
Farr
Fattah
Ferguson
Fossella
Foster
Frank (MA)
Frelinghuysen
Gerlach
Giffords
Gilchrest
Gonzalez
Gordon
Granger
Green, Al
Gutierrez
Hall (NY)
Hare
Harman
Hastings (FL)
Herger
Higgins
Hinojosa
Hirono
Hobson
Hoekstra
Holt
Honda
Hooley
Hoyer
Inglis (SC)
Israel
Jackson (IL)
Jackson-Lee (TX)
Johnson, E. B.
Kanjorski
Kennedy
Kildee
Kilpatrick
Kind
King (NY)
Kirk
Klein (FL)
Kline (MN)
Knollenberg
Kuhl (NY)
LaHood
Langevin
Larsen (WA)
Larson (CT)
Lee
Levin
Lewis (CA)
Lewis (GA)
Lewis (KY)
Loebsack
Lofgren, Zoe
Lowey
Lungren, Daniel E.
Mahoney (FL)
Maloney (NY)
Markey
Marshall
Matsui
McCarthy (NY)
McCollum (MN)
McCrery
McGovern
McHugh
McKeon
McNerney
McNulty
Meek (FL)
Meeks (NY)
Melancon
Miller (NC)
Miller, Gary
Miller, George
Mitchell
Mollohan
Moore (KS)
Moore (WI)
Moran (VA)
Murphy (CT)
Murphy, Patrick
Murtha
Myrick
Nadler
Neal (MA)
Oberstar
Obey
Olver
Ortiz
Pallone
Pascrell
Pastor
Pelosi
Perlmutter
Peterson (PA)
Pickering
Pomeroy
Porter
Price (NC)
Pryce (OH)
Putnam
Radanovich
Rahall
Ramstad
Rangel
Regula
Reyes
Reynolds
Richardson
Rogers (AL)
Rogers (KY)
Ros-Lehtinen
Ross
Ruppersberger
Rush
Ryan (OH)
Ryan (WI)
Sarbanes
Saxton
Schakowsky
Schiff
Schmidt
Schwartz
Scott (GA)
Sessions
Sestak
Shadegg
Shays
Shuster
Simpson
Sires
Skelton
Slaughter
Smith (TX)
Smith (WA)
Snyder
Solis
Souder
Space
Speier
Spratt
Sullivan
Sutton
Tancredo
Tanner
Tauscher
Terry
Thompson (CA)
Thornberry
Tiberi
Tierney
Towns
Tsongas
Upton
Van Hollen
Velázquez
Walden (OR)
Walsh (NY)
Wamp
Wasserman Schultz
Waters
Watson
Watt
Waxman
Weiner
Welch (VT)
Weldon (FL)
Weller
Wexler
Wilson (NM)
Wilson (OH)
Wilson (SC)
Wolf
Woolsey
Wu
Yarmuth

—- NAYS    171 —

Aderholt
Akin
Altmire
Bachmann
Barrow
Bartlett (MD)
Barton (TX)
Becerra
Bilbray
Bilirakis
Bishop (UT)
Blackburn
Blumenauer
Boyda (KS)
Broun (GA)
Brown-Waite, Ginny
Burgess
Burton (IN)
Butterfield
Buyer
Capito
Carney
Carter
Castor
Cazayoux
Chabot
Chandler
Childers
Clay
Conyers
Costello
Courtney
Culberson
Davis (KY)
Davis, David
Davis, Lincoln
Deal (GA)
DeFazio
Delahunt
Diaz-Balart, L.
Diaz-Balart, M.
Doggett
Doolittle
Drake
Duncan
English (PA)
Feeney
Filner
Flake
Forbes
Fortenberry
Foxx
Franks (AZ)
Gallegly
Garrett (NJ)
Gillibrand
Gingrey
Gohmert
Goode
Goodlatte
Graves
Green, Gene
Grijalva
Hall (TX)
Hastings (WA)
Hayes
Heller
Hensarling
Herseth Sandlin
Hill
Hinchey
Hodes
Holden
Hulshof
Hunter
Inslee
Issa
Jefferson
Johnson (GA)
Johnson (IL)
Johnson, Sam
Jones (NC)
Jordan
Kagen
Kaptur
Keller
King (IA)
Kingston
Kucinich
Lamborn
Lampson
Latham
LaTourette
Latta
Linder
Lipinski
LoBiondo
Lucas
Lynch
Mack
Manzullo
Marchant
Matheson
McCarthy (CA)
McCaul (TX)
McCotter
McDermott
McHenry
McIntyre
McMorris Rodgers
Mica
Michaud
Miller (FL)
Miller (MI)
Moran (KS)
Murphy, Tim
Musgrave
Napolitano
Neugebauer
Nunes
Paul
Payne
Pearce
Pence
Peterson (MN)
Petri
Pitts
Platts
Poe
Price (GA)
Rehberg
Reichert
Renzi
Rodriguez
Rogers (MI)
Rohrabacher
Roskam
Rothman
Roybal-Allard
Royce
Salazar
Sali
Sánchez, Linda T.
Sanchez, Loretta
Scalise
Scott (VA)
Sensenbrenner
Serrano
Shea-Porter
Sherman
Shimkus
Shuler
Smith (NE)
Smith (NJ)
Stark
Stearns
Stupak
Taylor
Thompson (MS)
Tiahrt
Turner
Udall (CO)
Udall (NM)
Visclosky
Walberg
Walz (MN)
Westmoreland
Whitfield (KY)
Wittman (VA)
Young (AK)
Young (FL)

What Really Led to the Credit Crisis?

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While the US government tries to put a $1 trillion (yes, you read that right: trillion) bailout package together, and Mr. Barack Obama and others in favour of governmental economic interventionism call for greater regulation (without any specifics), there is plenty of discussion as to what got the economy to this perilous state.

The answer is very simple: risk has been divorced from financial underwriting decisions.

At the very heart of the current crisis are the so-called “sub-prime” mortgages. The banks who offered these mortgages faced no downside in the event a mortgage defaults. That not only makes for imprudent lending decisions, it rewards them.

Here’s why: a customer comes into a bank and requests a mortgage, the payments for which he or she can’t really afford. If the bank bears the loss in the event of a default, logic dictates the banker will very carefully scrutinize the customer’s finances and ability to repay the mortgage. Doing otherwise puts the bank at risk, so the mortgage application is diligently underwritten.

But that’s not the way the process actually worked.

Instead, the banker approved the mortgage application and issued the loan. The mortgage, meanwhile, was immediately sold to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. Fannie or Freddie guaranteed the mortgage against default, bundled it with other mortgages, and sent it to Wall St., where the bundle of (now guaranteed) mortgages was sold to investors as Asset Backed Commercial Paper.

On the surface, you have a winning combination: investors get a chance to invest in a product backed by real assets and with a guarantee against default. Banks get paid up front for the sale of the mortgage. The original customer gets to buy a house he or she never thought possible to afford. No one loses. The bank doesn’t care if the borrower ultimately defaults: it has cleverly divorced itself from the consequences of poor underwriting decisions. The investor who bought the ABCP doesn’t care much either: his or her investment is guaranteed against default by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae who, it’s very widely believed, would never be allowed to collapse (which has since proven to be true). Even the borrower doesn’t care: the value of the house is sure to go up, building equity against which he or she can further borrow to buy that boat and big screen TV he or she has always wanted.

Except for one overlooked detail: the entire scheme is predicated upon housing prices never going down.

What might have prevented such a scheme from ever materializing? That’s easy: the linchpin of the whole dubious set up is Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. That’s the point at which underwriting became divorced from risk. Without Freddie and Fannie guaranteeing the mortgages against default, the investors buying the ABCPs would have been confronted with the actual downside potential. That, obviously, makes them far less attactive investments, and acts as a natural braking mechanism against an oversupply of credit. With less money flowing back to the banks, the motivation to put ever more risky mortgages on the books is removed: the riskier any particular mortgage is, the less valuable it is when the bank sells it.

Suddenly, that same customer applying for a mortgage on a home he or she cannot possibly afford is confronted with a banker shaking his head and suggesting a far more modest mortgage, the payments for which the customer can actually afford to service.

How did Freddie and Fannie get into a position of causing such a mess? President Roosevelt, as part of his “New Deal” economic interventionism, created Fannie in 1938 specifically to cause an increase in liquidity for mortgages. That liquidity, exactly 70 years later, led directly to the current crisis.

And where does that leave us today? With the US government proposing a taxpayer financed $1 trillion bailout for the purpose of increasing lending liquidity. And removing, again, financial underwriting decisions from the consequences of those same decisions.

Take a moment to have a chat with your grandchildren: tell them the economic sky is going to fall yet again within the next 70 years. Tell them we’re sorry for causing it, but it seemed like a great idea at the time…