Op-Eds

Facebook has teamed up with some heavyweights in the payments industry such as Visa and Mastercard and other online platforms to usher in a new era for payments services: an international, widely accepted digital currency called Libra. This should not come as a surprise. Online trading – often cross-border – cries out for such a payment instrument. And online networks reach full functionality only if they provide a medium of exchange that can be used to trade or transfer value seamlessly on the network. Privacy and regulatory concerns aside, Libra thus makes a lot of sense as a business model. But its true value may arise from somewhere else: being a credible threat to the international monetary order. Central banks will be forced...
On May 9, an expert panel on money laundering issued its report, Combatting Money Laundering in BC Real Estate, in which it estimated 2018 money laundering in Canada at $46.7 billion. In a recent C.D. Howe Institute report, titled Why We Fail to Catch Money Launderers 99.9% of the Time, I estimate money laundering in Canada at $100 billion to $130 billion. Who’s right? Actually, it doesn’t matter. Both estimates are massive. They sound an alarm for action, and we now turn to our federal and provincial leaders to implement a public registry of beneficial ownership, as recommended by both reports. Unfortunately, instead of action, some officials have attacked the panel report for its surprising allocation of money laundering among the...
For years, criminals from around the world have been secretly investing their proceeds of crime in Canadian real estate simply by registering the property in the name of a private corporation, partnership or trust. That will soon come to an end in British Columbia. Well, almost. The B.C. government recently introduced the Land Owner Transparency Act, which requires corporations, partnerships and trusts to disclose the names of the individuals who control or own them. Those names are then placed on a public registry for all the world to see. This far-reaching legislation applies 21st-century technology to combat the growing problem of money laundering. All Canadians should applaud the B.C. government for its leadership and resolve...
For much of the last decade, Canadians have been told their debt levels were unsustainable and that their day of reckoning was fast approaching. Data recently released by the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy (OSB) seem to indicate that day has arrived. According to the data, insolvencies by Canadian consumers were up 9.2 per cent in October 2018, compared to a year earlier. To say the least, these results appear alarming. But in light of what we know about homeownership and net worth, we are not so sure. The data show that Canadians’ net worth has never been higher. Moreover, the data do not distinguish between the more harmful economic effects from households in negative net asset positions, or balance sheet...
The momentum around initial coin offerings (ICOs) continues to build. Since 2016, when less than US$100-million in ICOs was issued, more than $20-billion in capital has been raised. By the end of 2017, ICO funding originating in Canada totalled $175-million, good for eighth worldwide. Naturally, skepticism of such a bonanza abounds. This is perhaps especially true when we talk about cryptocurrencies that, in and of themselves, have no value and seem ripe for fraud. However, despite these valid concerns, in a recent C.D. Howe Institute commentary, we argue that ICOs do indeed fill a market gap, under limited circumstances. What is critical for regulators and investors is determining these circumstances. ICOs are a form of...