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Big banks and foreclosure fraud in the U.S.

The big banks that caused the collapse of the global finance market, and received tens of billions of dollars in taxpayer-funded bailouts, have likely been engaging in wholesale fraud against homeowners and the courts. But in a promising development this week, attorneys general from all 50 states announced a bipartisan joint investigation into foreclosure fraud.

Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, GMAC and other big mortgage lenders recently suspended most foreclosure proceedings, following revelations that thousands of their foreclosures were being conducted like "foreclosure mills," with tens of thousands of legal documents signed by low-level staffers with little or no knowledge of what they were signing.

The confidence men and the shadow recovery

The Fake Lake at the G20 in Toronto. Photo: John Maclennan.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper raised the "cataclysmic" spectre of the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the Financial Stability Board cancelled not one but two scheduled press conferences and the Dick Fuld/Vampire Squid/Go-for-the-jugular schools of hypocritical finance and unrepentant greed hid behind their taxpayer-funded life support systems last weekend. The legitimate concerns of civil society groups were also, once again, sidelined by a cynical, adversarial, provocative and non-inclusive process.


How the Social Forum combats cynicism

Early on at the U.S. Social Forum, I was struck by the disjuncture between the huge ambition of the assembly and the limitations of the conference's agenda and slate of decentralized workshops. In their planning statement for the social forum, organizers declared an intention to respond to "a state of national and global emergency" by defining "a direction for what will be the great project of our generation." Needless to say, that's a big task for any convention.


At the Table: Musings from inside the G20 Summit

As the storm gathers in the Gulf of Mexico and the washing machine effect begins to swell, we are still at least 30 to 45 days from a relief well being functional to cover the gaping hole left by the explosion of BP's Deepwater Horizon oil rig. Paradoxically, austere confidence appears to be on the political leaders' menus this Saturday night after the callous optics of lakeside diplomacy.

British Prime Minister David Cameron was the only leader of the G8 courageous enough to actually go for a Deerhurst dunk in the lake, while maternal health took a beating in the name of counter terrorism budgetary profligacy. In Toronto, black clad would-be fence climbers are mingling with torched police cars on Bay Street and the tourism industry shakes it's head in dismay.



Harper's bank tax rejection harms international relations

In the midst of a world financial crisis, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has mounted an international campaign to thwart the efforts of European leaders to force major banks to take out -- and pay for -- compulsory bad loan insurance. The insurance principle that lies behind the European proposal is that in bad times, banks less affected by crisis, should shoulder responsibility along with those in trouble. Harper has decided to use his position as host of June's G8/G20 meetings to oppose prudent measures to restore some order to out-of-control banking practices. The prime minister's campaign is designed to sabotage proposals made by conservative leaders from France and Germany.

Budget delivers cuts not jobs

The 2010 federal budget stuck predictably to the Conservative dogma that there is no need for a fundamental change of course. One we get past the temporary hiccup of global and national recession, we must return to a world of ever-smaller government to be achieved through continued tax reductions and deep spending cuts.

Despite the fact that unemployment is and will remain very high -- forecast in the budget itself to average 8.5 per cent this year and 7.9 per cent next year -- temporary extensions of EI benefits will expire in September of this year and some 500,000 unemployment claims filed during the Great Recession will be exhausted before claimants can find a new job.



Financial elite back in the saddle

The good news is that there are still some tickets left for the Fraser Institute's 35th anniversary gala dinner next Monday night in Vancouver. The bad news is that the tickets -- including tables for 10 at $7,000 -- will probably all eventually be sold.

And that means yet more money flowing into the amply filled coffers of an organization that for 3 1/2 decades has worked tirelessly to cut taxes for the rich, undermine public health care, destroy confidence in public education and prevent Canada from joining the global climate change battle.

Who owns the National Post?

Photo: flickr/Tom Magliery
Postmedia's largest shareholders are two foreign interests. If the National Post is owned by these does it still make them a Canadian newspaper? Hmm, let's follow the money.

Related story:

Photo: flickr/Tom Magliery
| April 17, 2014

How safe is your pension?

Many retirees have found out that the pension they earned over decades of contributions to plans turned out to be less secure than they had assumed. In cases of bankruptcy such as Nortel, this has been a harsh reality for some seniors. Those who had participated in defined contribution plans found their dreams undermined when the stock market tanked in 2008. Even those in large pension plans such as the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan and Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System (OMERS) have been faced not only with increased contribution rates but also stories of huge shortfalls in the pension fund.

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