Monday, December 12, 2011

Why Is Canada Thriving During The Recession?

Morning Edition Sunday looks at Canada's stability during the Great Recession:
MANN: Canada has some of the strictest banking rules in the world. While hundreds of banks failed in the U.S. during the recession, this country hasn't seen a single major bank failure - not one. In fact, banks here are posting record profits. There's also no mortgage crisis in Canada. And while U.S. politicians feud over government spending, Mendelson says political parties on this side of the border have done the hard work of balancing budgets.
MENDELSON: The last decade has been one of Canada paying down debt, while it's been one of the United States ratcheting up debt. And so that creates much more flexibility for Canada to invest and make choices when a recession arises.
MANN: It's a huge turnabout for a country that in the 1990s was an economic basket case. In those days, the Canadian dollar was so weak that it was known as the northern peso. Now, Canada's dollar trades on par with American greenbacks and economic growth here is a third higher than in the U.S. Unemployment remained relatively low during the recession and people who do lose their jobs in Canada can expect to be out of work for half as long, compared with jobless workers in the U.S. Economists credit Canada's prosperity to a wide range of factors, including the rapid expansion of the country's oil industry and a very different approach to immigration.
I would attribute it mainly to resource extraction.  I've heard whispers of a housing bubble in Canada, but so far, the banking system has held up well.  If their loan quality is better than the U.S. because of better regulation, I would like to see this emphasized in the United States.  I guess I'm not ready to go out and say that Canada has everything right, because I think the Chinese basic material boom may be allowing some Canadian bankers to be swimming naked, as Warren Buffett says, and when the tide goes out, we might find out who they are.  Hopefully, I am wrong, and Canada would be an excellent model for reworking the U.S. regulatory system.

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