A great and smart idea that needs better marketing. This simple concept of Best Rate Around is unique in concept and may be a cute play on words; but it really means business, big business, big enough that the big banks make a tidy some off each and every year. Now something new Tax-Free Savings Accounts another way to get your money.
Most Canadian financial institutions including banks, trust companies, insurance companies and other financial organizations including small business corporations. What are they? how do they work? who sells them? what is eligible? and how can I create a self-directed Tax-Free Savings Account and invest in alternative vehicles and methods.
Lets take a good, smart and hard look at the product, the plans and the services along with the usual suspects before we determine (Tax-Free Savings Accounts) are good and underlying investments and strategies may be suspect.
Over time the hype will settle and it may be benefits under-marketed and less used. Tax-Free Savings Accounts are a good, smart way to save money tax-free by investing in any number of ways. Paying less tax and investing for the future in this manner create an excellent long term strategy to save and invest. Learning that usual line-up of complex investment components are available from the most likely merchants makes it slightly less interesting.
What is new, exciting and still to come is the concept of self-directed Tax-Free Savings Account and a day where small business and big business collide as some small Canadian corporations take advantage for all the right reasons. Small Business – Crowd Funding – and Self-Funding are just some of the new ways of investing in these newest of registered plans.
Best Rate Around dedicates itself to finding the lowest mortgage rates and high deposit rates; without chasing companies, businesses and institution realize the online investment marketplace and good products, great service and tremendous saving becomes evident to consumers and product manufacturers.
A tax avoidance strategy has been growing in popularity in recent years. Although CRA has been aware of the strategy for over ten years, its increase in popularity and the Federal government’s current focus on reforming the taxation of insurance means that the life of the strategy may be coming to an end.
There are several good reasons for life insurance to be owned corporately rather than personally. A business owner is typically a key person of the business, and any buy-sell agreements or business interruption applications may require that the policy be owned corporately. Corporate ownership also allows for the payment of premiums with corporate dollars, which for small businesses generally have a lower tax rate than if the policy is owned personally.
There are of course also downsides. The loss of creditor protection, a potential impact to the capital gains exemption, additional complexity and accounting requirements, and the potential taxation of the death benefit are among the impacts to consider. Properly planned, these issues can be minimized, making corporate ownership an attractive option.
The corporately owned policy can be a newly issued policy, or could be a personally owned policy that is sold to the corporation. The latter may be the only option if health concerns make it costly, or even impossible, to obtain a new policy.
The sale of a policy from personal ownership to corporate ownership introduces a little used, until recently, tax savings opportunity. In exchange for the policy the corporation pays the individual the fair market value of the policy. The gain reportable to the individual is based on the cash surrender value of the policy rather than the fair market value, the two of which may differ substantially.
In many cases the taxable gain to the individual is zero, effectively resulting in a tax free disbursal of earnings from the corporation.
Overview of the transfer
A shareholder transferring a policy to his or her corporation is making a non-arm’s length transfer and therefore subject to Section 148(7) of the Income Tax Act. In exchange for the policy the company pays the shareholder the fair market value of the policy. The tax consequences consist of four parts:
Deemed Disposition – The shareholder who owns the policy is deemed to have disposed of the policy for the cash surrender value (CSV). The taxable income to the shareholder will be the CSV minus the Adjusted Cost Basis (ACB).
New Adjusted Cost Basis – Section 148(7) also deems the new ACB after the transfer to be equal to the CSV. The corporation has acquired an interest in the policy at the new ACB.
Payment for the fair market value – The corporation pays or provides a note to the shareholder for the fair market value of the insurance policy. There is no tax to the shareholder and the company has a reduction in retained earnings.
Payment of the Death Benefit – Upon the death of the life insured, the death benefit is paid into the Capital Dividend Account (CDA) to the extent that the benefit exceeds the ACB. The ACB will typically have enough time to decrease to $0, so the entire death benefit is paid into the CDA, which can then be distributed tax free.
Best Policies to Value
An actuary specializing in fair market valuation can provide advice on the potential value of a policy. The best policies to transfer will result in little or no taxable income upon disposition, and have fair market value that is greater than the cash value. There are several factors which contribute to a policy having a fair market value that is greater than the cash surrender value.
Deterioration in health – Any health problems that reduce life expectancy will increase the value of a life insurance policy.
Policies with guaranteed costs – Policies with guaranteed level premiums build up value over time, as the initial premiums exceed the cost of insurance in order to keep the premiums lower at higher ages when the cost of insurance exceeds the premiums. The reduction in interest rates has further increased the value of such policies, as they premiums were set assuming higher interest rates, and the premiums are guaranteed. Examples of these policies are Universal Life with level cost of insurance, term to 100, and whole life non-participating policies.
Although the CRA has stated that they agree with the tax treatment described above, they also feel it is an anomaly and referred the matter to the department of Finance. This position has been confirmed several times in the past ten years. While Finance has yet to take any action, the issue does now appear to be on their radar. The next budget may very well put an end to this opportunity.
Definition: A fixed mental attitude or disposition that predetermines a person’s responses to and interpretations of situations.
What is your mindset around money?
Here are five quick questions, answer them truthfully. Then ask yourself is my debt a result of circumstances or poor decision making.
Are you honest with yourself and/or your spouse about your financial purchases?
Are you hiding on-line shopping purchases?
Do you have a secret account?
Are you justifying purchases that are really not necessary?
Are you using shopping as an outlet to make yourself feel better?
The emotions that are tied to money can be very overwhelming. Before you tackle your financial situation, take a deeper look at why you are in the financial position you are. I am a firm believer that most debt occurs for one of two reasons: 1. Circumstances; or 2. poor decision making.
Sometimes, really bad stuff happens to really good people and it does not matter how financial savvy you are, or how great the communication is between spouses, or how fantastic you are at managing your finances you can still end up in financial trouble. The people who are in financial trouble due to an unforeseen circumstance (for example the loss of an income because of an ill child) just need some clear, helpful support, an advocate and a plan and they will be back on their feet financially in a short period of time.
Poor decision making however is repeated over and over until you learn new habits and change your mind set when it comes to finances. The current financial trend is to adopt an attitude of:
“Debt is the new norm”
“I will pay off my student loans later, for now check out my new i-phone !”
Having a credit limit is not your money, having a student loan is not your money, a credit card is not your money. Until the mindset changes, whether it is coming from, I deserve, or I will always be in debt, it is very difficult to change one’s spending habits.
Look at Money Differently
If you truly want to be put yourself on the path to financial freedom then treat the money you have earned from your paycheque as your income, that’s it. Treat all other forms of credit as the banks’ money, which you will HAVE to pay back with interest, and interest, and more interest, until you are very old, leave the country, or file for bankruptcy, (right student loans are not including in bankruptcy). OR you can start right from the beginning with a success mindset and do not carry this debt to begin with.
Yes with a little discipline, the right mind set, and a clear picture of what you want you can set the tone for a life of financial success. Take my client “John.” I started working with him when he was only 19. He was attending university and had two large student loans. He had a clear (albeit ambitious) financial goal: no debt when he graduated from university. We worked together to develop a plan to give him the best chance to achieve his goal: we divided up his student loan into needs, books/rent/travel, expense to and from school, food etc… The plan included $40 spending money per week for all other events/activities and the remainder was never used. After three year of university he took one year off and work his #@# off, following the same plan, $40 per week for entertainment and following the budget for food etc…. Four years later after implementing the plan he had graduated and he continued to follow the same plan while working in his field. Only six months after graduating we celebrated that he was debt free, all student loans paid for. What a success story! He has an amazing well-paying job in his field, and no debt. Why did he succeed? He had the right mindset and a clear goal!
Money is such a personal issue and we all carry our history when it comes to financial successes and failures. You cannot change your past but with the right mindset around money your future can be a financial success. Always wanting more, and never feeling that you have enough has everything to do with changing your mindset not your finances. Having a grateful heart and being thankful can change your outlook on your finances and your future. Take control of your money, don’t let money control you!
It’s not a newsflash to understand that marketing and advertising are important and meaningful facts of life. There are many economic indicators that we judge are standard of living by including, new home sales and automobiles by example. Advertising is another key indicator of how things may go in general. People both in and out of the financial world often say “How are the markets?”. We want to say in reply How goes your marketing? Everyone somewhere is doing better than some one else at any time in the same very same field or market. Differentiation is the new norm and specializing companies will yield greater value and market share.
Advertising is important and Financial Advertising even more so. It will be the first indicator that shows the pre-season is warming up to the idea it is time to keep up with the Dows and the Jones, surpass them, succumb to them or wind down.
It is the Season for Financial Advertising and this year looks to be a grand one in deed. Canadian Financial Services is doing well, starting off with the Canadian economy, stable banking system and positive outlook.
More and more financial companies are getting the idea slowly that advertising and marketing is not what their grandfather’s generation did. It’s all new and exciting with a whole new generation both online and mobile and totally social.
Less than 5 years ago most executives had no idea about social media and may have caught up to websites and email just now. This next generation has heard that video killed the radio star and now expects nothing less. The “tell me in 1 minute or less” generation is here and the convergence of these multi-media lead to one thing a younger and more sophisticated, savvy customer.
“The message is the media”. And to that extent we agree as Canadians. MONEY will go one step further and deliver it to those who want, warrant and need it most and in the manner, time and method they best prefer.
The Great One – Wayne Gretzky said: “Go to where the puck will be”.
People will be drawn to MONEY in many ways and the BRAND is a natural and beyond compare. Learn more about MONEY Financial Services Advertising and Marketing, learn more about attracting and retaining your exact target market.
The MONEY Vertical is a multi-directional financial campaign that makes sense and pays dividends it is affectionately known as The 5 Pronged Marketing Attack.
As a financial planner clients come and see me for a variety of reasons from investment advice to debt consolidations. On a good day clients can bring me a big lump sum of money to invest and on a bad day clients can be in my office with tears in their eyes because they can no longer provide for their families due to the fact that they have accumulated thousands of dollars in debt that they can’t afford to pay off.
A second mortgage gives you access to cash
There are many reasons why people accumulate debt from over spending and poor budgeting to experiencing a job loss or making a bad investment. When clients are experiencing financial difficulties or need a large amount of money they often turn to their home as a way to free up some extra money because their home is most likely their most valuable asset.
A second mortgage is a new loan in second position on your property title. In simple terms it means that you will have two mortgage loans on one property. If you can no longer afford to make your monthly mortgage payments, the second lender will be paid in second priority if your home is forced into default and needs to be sold at auction. Second mortgages are offered by trust and finance companies, they are not offered by big banks.
The first position bank would be (i.e. your original mortgage loan) would be paid first and if there is money left over after your home is sold your second position lender (i.e. your second mortgage loan) would be paid afterwards. Depending on how much money is leftover from the sale of the home, the second mortgage lender may not be repaid in full. Therefore in exchange for their added risk trust and finance companies charge higher interest rates on second mortgages than first position banks charge on first position mortgage loans.
Consider your options with a second mortgage
According to Cait Flanders of RateHub.ca, a mortgage rate comparison website that aims to help Canadians access the best mortgage rates in the country, second mortgages are most often used as a solution to help clients consolidate high interest debt; but she says that a second mortgage should be a second option for homeowners. “Most of the big banks (initially offer) homeowners a home equity line of credit (HELOC) for debt consolidation.” A HELOC is more advantageous than a second mortgage loan because the interest rates are usually lower and the product offers more flexibility, but if your credit is less than ideal a second mortgage may be your only option. Flanders confirms that “someone with a lower credit score may not be approved for a HELOC and could then consider a second mortgage loan.”
My best advice to clients considering a second mortgage is to make sure you fully understand the financial implications involved when taking out a second lien on your home because that’s exactly what a second mortgage is. It’s a completely different mortgage contract than the original loan, with a new mortgage term, a new interest rate and a new amortization. A second mortgage loan also means a second monthly mortgage payment.
Shop for the best interest rate on your second mortgage
How do you find the best interest rate available? By shopping around and comparing rates between trust and finance companies. Consumers should visit RateHub.ca to find a local mortgage broker in your area who can help compare second mortgage interest rates.
Rate comparison websites such as RateHub.ca exist – to provide Canadians with unbiased mortgage information and financial calculators so they can make informed decisions when it comes to their homes and financial lives. Flanders hopes that with the help of their website “more Canadians will feel comfortable with the decisions they make regarding their mortgages.”
NPA a bargaining chip with big banks that helps a great number of average Canadians in many ways.
By:Jaoquin Benitez – Learn more tips, tricks and techniques that make, save or preserve more of your money.
Perhaps you will be shocked to find out the banks’ worst kept secret, or perhaps it is something that you already knew, but never recognized as a valuable piece of information.
Lending institutions protect themselves by securing the loan with the property that they are financing. This gives the moneylender some assurance that the property owner will pay back the borrowed money on time as specified in the original mortgage agreement and as long as you keep making your mortgage payments, everybody lives happily ever after.
However, if the homeowner begins to fall behind on mortgage payments, the dream of owning a home could become your worst nightmare, not only for you but also for the lending institution.
What is the secret that the bank does not want you to know? The bank does not want to take away your home! I know it sounds absurd, but by the time you finish reading this article you will be persuaded that it is an accurate statement. Allow me to go a step further; the very last thing that the bank wants to do is foreclose on your property. It will become an extra expense that they don’t need to incur and it will cost them thousands of dollars to take a property through the foreclosure process. Now you may be asking yourself: If that’s true, why are they threatening me with foreclosing my property? What do they really want?
There is a simple answer: the bank collection agent wants to scare you into making up the late mortgage payments, and by doing so, ensure you will continue to make your payments on a regular basis until the end of the term as specified in the mortgage agreement. The threat of foreclosure is the only tool that the bank has at its disposal to persuade you to make the mortgage payments.
Furthermore, once the bank initiates the foreclosure process, the laws regulating the banking industry require them to report that property as a non-performing asset. Doing this will hinder the bank’s capacity to borrow more money and will affect its overall credit rating. The bank must try to avoid having to report a non-performing asset on its books at all cost. In many cases, banks intentionally delay initiating a foreclosure proceeding for up to six months, and sometimes even up to a full year, to avoid reporting the property as a non-performing asset.
The ‘non-performing asset’ problem or the NPA, as it is commonly known in the banking and financial industry, affects the banks in more ways than you and I may care to know. These three simple letters strike terror in the banking sector and business circles. The dreaded NPA rule simply states that: “When interest on a loan or any other monies is due to a bank and it remains unpaid for more than 90 days, the entire bank loan automatically becomes a non-performing asset.” They will go to great lengths to avoid having to report a property as a non-performing asset.
Why would three simple letters, “NPA,” cause such terror to a financial institution?
There are a number of problems that will arise from having too many NPAs on the bank’s books. The biggest problem is that the bank must have a certain amount of dollars in cash reserves. If their levels of non-performing assets become too high, they will have to put more cash into their reserve account to compensate for these non-performing assets. This means they now have less money to lend. In addition, they now have to deal with a house that they don’t want because it will become a money pit. Furthermore, they will not be able to make a profit on it because of the way mortgages are structured.
In their quest to maximize their profits, banks structure mortgages in a way that they are paid the majority of the interest up front or at the beginning of the loan term. This is called a front-loaded mortgage, and most mortgages are structured in the same way. This means that in the early years of your mortgage you have not built much equity in the house because the majority of your mortgage payment was slotted to pay for the interest on the loan.
Often banks find that their asset (your house) is worth less than what they lent out, and once the bank takes ownership of your property, they not only have an administrative and legal nightmare, but they are about to take a financial bath!
Even though I am not a bank advocate, I am certain that if you were in the bank’s situation, you would be forced to do the exact same thing. The bank does not have any other recourse. The only legal recourse available to them is foreclosure in order to try to minimize some of their losses. However, that is their very last option.
Can you see the predicament that lending institutions find themselves in? On the one hand, they are losing money by not receiving your mortgage payment and on the other hand, they can’t really afford to foreclose on you because of the negative consequences this will bring them.
While this is an admittedly simplified explanation of how financial institutions operate, the bottom line is that banks are in the “money buying and selling business.” To put it in clear and simple terms, the bank’s profit is generated by the spread created between the interest rate that they pay you on your money and the interest rates that they charge on the money that they lend out. The bank pockets the difference. For the bank to make any money, it must lend out the funds in its possession, or find some sort of investment vehicle that will guarantee a rate of return greater than its cost of borrowing.
Consider the main motivating factor for a bank to be in business. It is not to provide a service to the general public; they are in business to make money. In a foreclosure case, they will most likely lose money. As the old saying goes, “the best way to make money is to stop losing money.” Having the knowledge of how lending institutions operate is empowering. Since you now know that lenders don’t want to foreclose on your property — and you don’t want them to foreclose on you — you have common ground to work out an agreement that will stop the foreclosure process and satisfy both of your needs. Remember: The bank does not want to foreclose your property.
November is Financial Literacy Month here is your chance to learn more about mortgages and debt financing from a 40 year veteran that knows more, tells all and shows the dedicated few that want the facts, the proof and the truth about mortgages, financing, interest rates and contracts.
“The average Canadian pays too much interest”.
Charles S. Bell covers the basics and deals with the serious issues of debt reduction and mortgage elimination with tried and true methods that have proved to make, save and preserve millions of hard earned dollars for the average Canadian over the many years working with one client at a time.
Join “The Mortgage Killer” for a one night only in NOVEMBER pre-scheduled Mortgage Seminar at The Toronto Airport Marriott Hotel on Wednesday November 13, 2013 at 7:15 pm.
The small print is put into precise focus and the fuzzy math that most people don’t read or understand is carefully interpreted and explained for the benefit, privilege and advantage of the average Canadian.
There are so many variables and offerings that have can have many complex issues when it comes to money, credit and financial contracts and obligations. Finally it is the person and the circumstance with best case scenarios and forward moving plans that make for a more enjoyable home ownership and balanced life.
New Canadian money: beautiful, colorful and scarce until now. The Bank of Canada is in full phase launch mode. The latest series of new 5s and 10s join the line-up of the newest printed Canadian 20s, 50s and those wonderful “C” notes.
The new Canadian money is different, unique and distinct as its land, languages and people. “The smell of money” a common old saying brings new meaning to Canada and Canadians. OOOAAAW – the scent of money. Many Canadians and a few brave members of the media have reported the smell of maple syrup that wafts off the newest Canadian bills.
In order to best enjoy Canadian money one must know the rich history of its past. The English and French fought over our fledgling nation throughout the 100 year war. Two of the most powerful Imperial nations at the time mixed it up to own, control and rule these lands and peoples for many reasons. The “A History of the Canadian Dollar” by James Powell is the definitive history and a must read for any money aficionado, novice or patriotic Canadian. http://www.bankofcanada.ca/publications-research/books-and-monographs/history-canadian-dollar
From playing cards to coins and notes, Canada has a beautiful currency history and the story is fascinating and the odyssey continues today. The nostalgic penny will no more see the light of day whilst the demand of copper has increased the value of the remaining pennies – a hidden advantage to be recycled and live on. In the “Canada Economic Action Plan 2012”, the Federal Government announced it would phase out the penny from Canada’s coinage system. To help consumers, businesses, charities and financial institutions to plan for the change, a transition date of February 4, 2013 was set as the official date that the Royal Canadian Mint would no longer distribute pennies. Rounding up and down will take some time to get used to for retailers, consumers and Canadian businesses. http://www.budget.gc.ca/2012/themes/theme2-eng.html
Money in Canada is not without its own inherent problems; counterfeit currency has plagued the nation several times 5s, 10s and 20 dollar bills have all surfaced at different times. I have had the pleasure of personally receiving two fake 20s from a bank machine just in the last two years. Unknowingly, Canadians have used and passed on hundreds of thousands of dollars. The new Canadian money is many times more safe and secure than most currencies to date. See the latest safety features, information and equipment available to take in, authenticate and transact the new Canadian money. http://www.bankofcanada.ca/banknotes/bank-note-series/polymer/
The Canadian Dollar, commonly known as the Loonie, embarked on its metamorphosis in 1982 changing from paper money to minted coins. We have often learned in a painstaking manner from the last generation the true value of a dollar. It has been told to us, shown to us and demonstrated. It’s all this pent up energy we had in our childhood that enables us to cut loose if and when we can ever get money or it’s more dangerous relative, ‘credit’. This fact of knowing the value of a dollar has little or no effect on the currency and worth as it fluctuates on a daily basis and is based on complex systems, other than the value of other currencies together with fiscal and monetary policies as set by the Government of Canada and the Bank of Canada. The price of bread, milk, eggs, cars and homes have increased considerably, but accordingly, and in line with inflation.
The American Dollar: you cannot mention Canadian money without considering American dollars – our closest geographical neighbor and largest trading partner.
The Canadian Dollar holds its own compared with the United States but has had its ups and downs; in the early 70’s the Canadian dollar was worth more than the greenback. In the 80’s Canada had a policy of making it easier to trade with the U.S. by having a lower dollar that encouraged Americans to buy Canadian and do more business here. In recent times, as America tries to re-invent itself and regain the helm of as a leading economic nation, Canada will get a tremendous boost as America rebuilds and restores its once unchallenged place in world rankings. For now, our currency exchange is almost on par and our financial institutions are in good shape because of good and strong government policies.
“Old money is better than new” a statement that refers to extreme family wealth or inherited money. Newsflash! There are now more self-made Canadian millionaires today than ever before
yet the gap of the 99% and 1% grows exponentially.
New Canadian Money is here and we should enjoy it and embrace it, covet it, have it, hold it and learn to share it with those that have nothing, less or not enough. The color of money will not change and the meaning of money will not change; but change we must! With time, technology and circumstance, our young and growing world-class nation must change to grow.
Niall Ferguson (born April 18, 1964, in Glasgow, Scotland) is a British historian who specialises in financial and economic history as well as the history of empire. He is the Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History at Harvard University and the William Ziegler Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School. He was educated at the private Glasgow Academy in Scotland, and at Magdalen College, Oxford where he was a Demy and graduated with first class honours in 1985, where he did completed both his undergraduate degree and PhD. After two years as a Hanseatic Scholar in Hamburg and Berlin, he took up a Research Fellowship at Christ’s College, Cambridge, in 1989, subsequently moving to a Lectureship at Peterhouse. He returned to Oxford in 1992 to become Fellow and Tutor in Modern History at Jesus College, a post he held until 2000, when he was appointed Professor of Political and Financial History at Oxford. Mr. Ferguson taught at Jesus College Oxford for nearly a decade before he decided to cross the pond because the U.S. higher education system was doing things at his speed; a quicker more efficient way of doing things impressed him a lot. Niall was soon a professor at New York University in 2001-2002 and then 2 years later he accepted positions with Harvard University and Harvard Business School in 2004 he remarks Harvard took it’s time, but it’s one institution that attains the highest standards in higher education regularly and worth waiting for them do their homework. Dr. Ferguson is also a Senior Fellow of the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. Niall Ferguson is a regular contributing editor of the Financial Times and his latest book “The Ascent of Money” is on the New York Times Best Seller List.
He is now best known for telling the story of money and the history of money in all its lustre, lore and affect on humans since the beginning of commerce and trade. Outside of the academic world Ferguson is known for his revisionist type views that try to rehabilitate imperialism and colonialism. Within academia circles he is the champion of counterfactual history and is often times the subject of some considerable controversy.
I had the chance to sit down with Niall Ferguson for sometime and I let him know that I am personally a great fan of his work but at the same time I pointed out the fact that he has some critics out there that doubt some or a lot of your work as not more than sensationalism.
Ferguson goes on to respond ‘ I am only interested in one thing and that is historical truth only to understand the world better. Nobody gains if historians take liberties with the past so I use my best efforts to research widely as I possible can to make sure that I’ve read as much of the existing specialist literature as I can to try to use the archives but research in my own right. I am trying to draw conclusions that are as accurate as I am able to make them. Explaining the complexities of the past financial history is not easy because this is a technical subject and there is an enormous complexity to the international financial system. So for television particularly we try to make it simpler. I think simplification is essential for teaching, as long as you don’t simplify to the point of distortion and misrepresentation, then it seems to me that it is indeed perfectly legitimate and most desirable.
The Intellectual Process; Ferguson goes on to sum up how it all works: I think every serious historian wants to stimulate debate on a subject because the historical process is not like science, we don’t just sit around in laboratories re-running human history. We offer our interpretations on the basis of the facts that we’ve been able to establish and then we discuss them and debate them intelligently.
Ferguson on the critics, fools and the nay Sayers: Throughout the time I have been publishing I have encountered critics of my work and feel it is an integral part of the historical scholarship that one’s work should be subject to criticism. I think it’s often through criticism that we progress closer to a better understanding of the past. There is no doubt in my mind the next book I write will find it’s own set of critics. I look forward to any errors or mistakes in accuracy to clarify for future editions or paperback to be better. The other form of criticism is to say there is nothing wrong with the evidence presented here but you or others interpret it differently than me. So I have my critics, and I don’t doubt that each new book I publish will find it’s own set of new critics. I don’t mind that as long as the criticism is fair. The kind of criticism you can point out like a mistake or an inaccuracy and if somebody does that, I hasten to correct the error so that the information in the paperback version or in future editions is better. The other form of criticism is to say, “Well there’s nothing wrong with the evidence presented here but I interpret it differently from Ferguson on the difference of opinions.” Well that’s fine but if somebody chooses to offer a different interpretation from me, there’s no particular reason why I should accept it. It would simply be a difference of emphasis. So those are the ways that historical criticism works and I think I’ve had my share of fair, and unfair, criticism over the years. It comes with the territory. If you said something that everybody agreed with, it probably wouldn’t be worth saying. You’d simply be restating the conventional wisdom. My aim is always to challenge that received view of thinking.
Ferguson the passionate historian and author not a businessman: If one was interested in making money, one would have become an investment banker in 1985 when I graduated from Oxford and I never considered that for a moment. I dedicated my working life to understanding the way the world works, the modern world since around 1700. And the research I’ve done is a quest on my part to understand that better and then to explain it. And so if I run out of questions that I want to ask about the past then I’ll retire from history. But there are always new questions and so there are always new projects. Right now I’m just putting the very last touches to a biography of an eminent banker in many ways the most important figure in London after the Second World War—Siegmund Warburg.
I asked Mr. Ferguson if he knew much about the war of 1812, The Plains of Abraham and Canada in general.
Ferguson: Well of course! A historian of the British Empire would surely know and understand a lot of about what pivotal things happened in upper and lower Canada to shape the entire world.
I asked Ferguson what he thinks of Canada as a nation and are we on the global radar?
Certainly, I mean the work I did on the British Empire that produced the book, Empire, was in part homage to Canada. I have longstanding family ties to Toronto and, indeed, to Saskatchewan. I have traveled widely in Canada and for me the history of North America is just not the history of the United States, as it often seems to be.
For me the history of North America is the history of two, if not three, major experiments: the experiments, of course of the republican form of government, after 1776 and 13—and subsequently more—colonies. But the other experiment was the experiment with constitutional monarchy within the British Empire that endured right the way through into the 20th century. And still retains I think a real importance in Canadian life and then within Canada, of course, you have at least two different cultures co-existing.
Ferguson goes on about Canada and it’s Language Culture: Anglophone and the Francophone. It seems to be very, very interesting subjects for a historian of the modern period. I constantly try to remind my US-born students that if you compare the performance of Canada and the United States in economic terms, or in social terms, that it doesn’t seem as if the, the choice of new political institutions in 1776 in those 13 colonies had a huge amount of difference. It’s not like Canada’s a desperately impoverished backwater. On the contrary, by some measures today, Canada is quite a way ahead of the United States. So this is a tremendously interesting field for historical study. Comparative history of North America is something we need more of. Frankly too few North American historians do that. There are historians of Canada, and there are historians of the United States. They tend to talk past one another and this seems to me to miss the whole point. The really interesting thing is that, despite a massive divergence in political institutions, these two societies have evolved in many similar ways. They’ve certainly remained materially, economically, on a par. But they’ve also developed some really profound institutional differences. And we see that very clearly in the current crisis, whether you look at banking regulation or healthcare. Canada looks to be in a stronger position than the United States.
It’s a global economy now and not just domestic. The G8 will meet in Huntsville, Ontario next year; where does Canada rank and how do you think we will fair amongst other world economies?
Ferguson: Well I think Canada is in the strongest position it’s been in, perhaps, internationally and in all of its history because I think Canadians can legitimately say that they’ve conducted financial regulation in a better way than the U.S. Given Canada’s wealth in terms of resources, it doesn’t have the kind of fiscal problems that are going to attack nearly all the other members of the G8. Canada’s is the only public debt that isn’t soaring up towards 100% of GDP in the next ten years. So it’s a time when Canadians can perhaps legitimately put aside their historic inferiority complex and walk tall, because Canada’s institutions look like they’ve done quite well in the last ten years, better certainly than those of the United States. The problem of course is that the world is changing so rapidly that the G8 signifies less as an institution than the G20. And it’s striking that all the discussion in the American press is of the G20 in Pittsburgh rather than the G8.
Throughout history, time and the geography of the world we have been plagued by many wars. What is your opinion on war and in particular Afghanistan and Iraq?
Well I’ve written about American Empire and explored the question of the legitimacy of military action in a book called Colossus, which was published in 2004. I made it fairly clear that I don’t regard war as always an illegitimate evil. I’m not a pacifist in that sense. Sometimes war is necessary—necessary of course in the case of an act of aggression which must be resisted, but it can also be necessary where preemption or prevention is preferable to waiting to be attacked. The United States certainly had no alternative but to take military action in Afghanistan after 9/11. Where it had a choice, by contrast, in the case of Iraq. I think, with the benefit of hindsight, it might have made more sense to focus on Afghanistan and not to invade Iraq. The benefits of that invasion of Iraq seem at this point to be exceeded by the costs not only in terms of money but also in terms of human life.
On the other hand, it’s quite hard to see a very good future for Iraq or, indeed, that region if, if the status quo with Saddam in power had simply been left in place. So there wasn’t an easy, happy alternative. It was a choice between two evils. But I must say that I think at this point, knowing what we know, this is not, on balance, a good decision, not least because overthrowing Saddam Hussein greatly strengthened the relative power of Iran. And I think the Bush administration underestimated that consequence of their action. Afghanistan is the simpler case as I think I’ve already said. It would be of course completely insane to abandon the effort that’s currently being made in Afghanistan to create a stable government there. To allow the Taliban to come back into power in Afghanistan would be a complete disaster and anybody who thinks that that’s an option must be suffering from some kind of amnesia.
You often speak of “Chimerica” referring to America’s relationship with China please explain:
Well China’s doing better than almost any economy in the world in terms of output. Its economy is one of the few that’s growing strongly this year. China’s growth of course is still way down compared with the pre-crisis period. It’s almost been cut in half, so one shouldn’t exaggerate the achievement. This still a very dramatic slowdown in relative terms and China faces at least three major problems. Right here and now the first problem is that by powering an economic recovery with a very large-scale state infrastructure program and very loose credit conditions, the Chinese have created something of a bubble in their own stock market which is now deflating rapidly. The second problem is that they’ve, by pursuing a strategy of export-led growth, accumulated 2 trillion dollars’ worth of international reserves, a very large proportion of them denominated in US dollars, which doesn’t look like the greatest investment in history. And the third problem that they have is that their rapid growth over the past 20 years has created a certain mismatch between their political system (still a one-party state) and their social system, which is changing very rapidly with the emergence of the middle class and indeed a super-rich elite. Historically that’s a pretty difficult combination: political stagnation and rapid social change. So I think China’s economic miracle is something that conceals at least three serious structural problems. Over the long run, they need to develop their own consumer society. They need to become less reliant on exports. They need to make their own income distribution more equal. But these things can’t be done overnight. In the long run they also have major demographic problems because of the one-child policy. And so over a 20-year timeframe, China’s prospects aren’t actually quite so rosy.
Using some of his own verbiage I asked Ferguson to tell me about “Chindia”:
He laughs on goes on to say: Well in some ways India resembles the tortoise in the story of “The Tortoise and the Hare” because China would represent the hare that zooms ahead in the early part of the race, but the tortoise, which moves more slowly, ultimately wins that race. And I think because India has a democracy, and it has the rule of law, and in many ways it relies less on government and more on the market. Its long-run prospects look more appealing. If India could address its infrastructural problem the way the Chinese have addressed theirs, they would be I think, a huge payoff. But it’s hard to build a whole new system of highways, or high-speed rail links, if you have meaningful property rights. In China, you just tell the peasants, “Piss off, we’re building a new, new highway here.” You can’t really do that in India because the peasants say, “No, you piss off because this is our land.” So there’s a big difference there. I have a relatively optimistic long-run view of India’s trajectory. I think over a 50-year time horizon, things are looking good. Short-run, it’s not going to grow, as fast as China and from that point of view, we shouldn’t expect the kind of returns of investment that may be possible in China now.
In 2008, Allen Lane published his most recent book, The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World that he also presented as a PBS Special in the United States and on Channel 4 in Great Britain. Google has also chose to broadcast the video throughout the Internet making the author and the well-authored book ‘The Ascent of Money’ all that much more popular.
Niall believes that television and Internet will have a more vast reach, but books are important; after all it’s just one way I can make a living by selling some books but getting the reach is as important; after all I am still just a Scottish professor who is only asking questions and learning more to teach better and sharing the wealth of that knowledge is what I do best.
“When I stop asking questions to satisfy even my self than that will be the day I stop learning and also seize being an historian and human, I suppose”.
The Ascent of Money is a new comprehensive four-part series presents like thee epic film about money and the history of the global economic system. Niall Ferguson says, “I want to reveal financial history as the essential back-story behind all history. From ancient Mesopotamia, right down to the present the day, the ascent of money has been an indispensable part of the ascent of man.”
Leader in Ontario with 70,000+ registrations in continuing education
TORONTO, Sept. 18, 2013 /CNW/ – Seneca has reached its highest continuing education enrolment in its 46-year history with more than 70,000 part-time student registrations.
Seneca has long been the leader in providing flexible, high-quality programs for those who want to further their education and upgrade their skills, attracting significantly more part-time students than any other Ontario college.
“We are delighted that the demand for our continuing education programs continues to grow,” said David Agnew, Seneca President. “This is part of a broader trend of students seeking more flexible options for their education, and Seneca is responding with evening, weekend and online courses that are meeting labour market demands.”
Most part-time students at Seneca are working towards a professional designation or career-based credential, whether a degree, diploma or certificate. Part-time enrolment has grown by more than 10 per cent over the past five years and continues to grow this fall.
Seneca’s fall full-time enrolment has also increased by nearly five per cent over last year.
With campuses across the Greater Toronto Area, Seneca offers degrees, diplomas and certificates renowned for their quality and respected by employers. Combining the highest academic standards with practical, hands-on learning, expert teaching faculty and the latest technology ensures Seneca graduates are career-ready.