Red Shoes

July 19, 2008


Janice called it a celebration of life and art. The job was the most seductive an artist-art educator could imagine. The building itself, the collection it houses, the people who worked there, the surrounding cafes, parks, shops, the views from the windows, the light, the Garden, our walks nearby, coffee breaks and lunches together, morning greetings, casual hellos, hugs through difficulties, laughter and storytelling, the magic of introducing the idea of art to the most reluctant visitor, familiar faces – embodied, painted in oils, interpreted in stone, bronze, marble and paint, familiar characters for whom we develop affections in spite of ourselves . . . The decision to leave was difficult and it took many months. Doors were opening. I always had my graduate studies.

Before I left I wanted to share work I had done on the interface between visual arts and the non-linearity of new technologies through grad studies etc with those at the gallery who were interested. I was able to get a lecture hall, audio and video equipment, and technicians to help with the overhead. I asked if I could use the empty space once occupied by a cafeteria which was rarely used to have some food and music afterwards. It was near the group entrance under the water court. It all came together somehow. Two friends one Inuk (Bill Ekomiak) and the other French Canadian, who were also musicians came with their fiddles and music. I rented silver trays which were filled with whatever foods friends and colleagues brought with them. I provided coffee urns with fresh coffee from a nearby coffee shop. I donated a painting to the Friends of the Gallery, the volunteer art educators (docents) with whom I worked over that decade. It was a small painting of a detail of the Great Hall overlooking the Parliamentary Library. The Library itself was represented in miniature as an upside down reflection in the water of a half-empty-half-full wine/water glass.

Creative energy comes with a price and artists are not easy to work with even in our most cooperative moments. We were an unusual group at an unusual time. Most of the time we enjoyed a collegial harmony. For awhile it seemed to be beneficial for the dozen contract art educators, the gallery and the public. Certainly the comments from gallery visitors confirmed that. We didn’t really know the details of each other’s agreements with the gallery but it is a safe bet that even those who received the most preferential treatment rarely if ever earned more than $25,000 a year. At least half of us were practicing studio artists. Some were art historians. Some had their MAs. Some were working on their PhDs. We were all competent researchers and educators. We enjoyed a heightened level of autonomy with minimal supervision.

To my surprise and at times consternation, there was astonishingly little exchange of information between contract art educators and art education officers who had offices in the administrative section. In the end this gave contract art educators greater freedom to delve into the abundant archives and library resources and to provide gallery visitors with in-depth knowledge combined with unique individual experience about countless works of art in the collection. The longer we were there, the more we learned and shared. We were valued as unique knowledge workers. We had the best of resources on hand and on site. Expert, experienced and generous librarians provided invaluable guidance to us with the same courtesy and concern they extend to curatorial staff. Curators themselves were often much more forthcoming with information about upcoming exhibits or the permanent collection than the Education Division. All talks from visiting scholars were open to us.

Those who offered to work on special exhibitions were provided with exhibition catalogues which gradually became personal favourites in my library. Special exhibitions were much more demanding to research since the catalogues were almost never available before the opening of the exhibition. So we often had to do our own research using many sources. Our first tours were at the vernissage. But for those of us willing to do the footwork, these special exhibitions were some of the highlights of the position of contract art educator. Thanks to the confidence placed in our world class curators, priceless works of art came to us! We could walk through these spaces alone for hours with these treasures, getting as close to them as security would allow (security device, security guards and our own automatic reflexes of self-regulation we came to adopt). Because we were contract workers whose paid hours were extremely limited each day, we all had in-between hours that we could chose to spend in any part of the gallery including collections, library, bookstore, etc. I really believe that because of the unique situation that I was able to spend more time with some individual works of art than most individuals ever would except perhaps for a handful of the most highly specialized curator, conservators, researcher and donors.

I kept in touch with some gallery friends and was warmly greeted there by friendly faces for many years. I still look forward with excitement to my visits to the NGC everytime I am in Ottawa.

But it was while visiting a close friend who had chosen to stay, sign the new contract, facilitate the sleepovers for children whose parents could afford to pay and wear the T-shirt that I had no regrets about leaving. As the wife of a professor who lived in various cultural centres in Europe, she had accumulated an invaluable wealth of knowledge and experience, as docent and as art lover, including at the Louvre – provided context for the National Gallery collection. During negotiations the NGC announced to us that they had been employing us illegally for over ten years. We were contract workers who were self-employed but we were not self-employed enough. We should have been permanent employees. But the permanent employees position they had in mind could be filled by BA students and paid accordingly. We were welcome to apply with all the other 20-year-old candidates but the position we had no longer existed. During our visit she confided that she was underwhelmed by the packaged-information she was asked to use. One of these themed visits included having young visitors counting objects in works of art based on various categories as a way to link math to art. It seemed to have been written by someone who knew nothing about mathematics, art, pedagogy or children. All they had to do was ask this talented intelligent woman to link works of art to mathematics geared to the student’s age group. She knows the collection inside out and all kinds of details about the works of art that might not be elaborated upon in other kinds of tours. She could have done it much more creatively and provided visitors with a unique tour.

When my sister sent me the link to the story of yet another contentious issue centred around Pierre Théberge I delved into my EndNote library and archives to put this latest fiasco into context. Perhaps I shouldn’t have. He is like a character from a Robertson Davies’s novel who roams the inner sanctum of the gallery as did eccentric art patron and collector Francis Cornish except he has a dog with him.

I started to fondly remember people who used to work at the gallery but who also voted with their feet. I pictured the colourful strike lines with Théberge depicted as Louis XIV and other protests like the red shoe event.

Monica had invited me to produce a pair of red shoes for the National Gallery Red Shoes event. By that time the act of painting and making the collage was cathartic. Papers related to those things at the gallery that were best forgotten were layered onto all surfaces of the shoes using acrylic medium. But I also added images of the Garden and paintings I had done over the years using the NGC as context. The shoes had been worn out on the gallery floors but I continued to wear them at home like a comfortable habit. By the time I layered them here they were coming apart at the seams. See Barton (2001)

poem from the reading by John BARTON:

INSTALLATION IN HOMAGE TO GATHIE FALK

on the picket line, National Gallery of Canada, May 2001

red shoes leading us forward, the porcelain-smooth leather dyed and the red not
dying, the efflorescence of sunset flushed through storm clouds glazed overhead

withholding the evaporated red rain of Belarus the wind blew west from Chernobyl
refugees for centuries walking westward in red shoes that looked black in the news

reels our parents watched after the whitest of nightly air raids during the darkest
of days brought to mind by red shoes lined up in single file down a public sidewalk

the shed shoes of Auschwitz or those removed before dance class, pairs of bound
feet called up to the bar, faces turned forward and looking en pointe into the blood

shot depths of the eye, red shoes leading past insomnia or hallucination to stare
down forethought and aftermath, power meant to be balanced and binary, hand

linked with hand rather than toe stepping on toe, the shoes we slip back into
forced to walk in circles in the public square outside the closed museum

where the shoes insist we belong, blood coursing in our interlocking veins, red
shoes leading us forward, umbrellas opening as one against the corrosive rain

Random notes

Like the shoes I am torn.

How easy it is to convince oneself of the potential catharsis in unleashing.

But if we live long enough truth reveals itself in many ways. Those who seem so untouchable develop cracks.

When we look at structural changes taking place all around us, those who once seem so powerful begin to resemble Punch and Judy puppets rather than strong independent agents.

Pierre Théberge came to the NGC at the same time as outdated top-down business models already under scrutiny in more progressive sectors of the private sector were being embraced by those in positions of governance in the public sector. He did not invent his top-down parachute-in management style.

The arms-length policies intended to protect Crown corporations like the National Gallery of Canada from unwarranted state intervention, are particularly vulnerable to abuse by upper management should certain types of management styles prevail.

She was young, blond, trim, athletic, focused and fierce. She was hired by Bell to fire hundreds of employees in the 1990s and that was her opening remark in her first meeting with us along with, “If you don’t like it you can leave.” The aftermath of her arrival could only be described as tense. Everyone was tense all the time. I was so relieved I was not there anymore. She wasn’t a high-noon face-off girl. She was more like an execution squad facing powerless blind-folded victims. Those who were fired lost all rights to tell their stories openly. And there are so many stories to be told. Even today the image of security escorting friends trembling with shock carrying cardboard boxes sends shivers . . .

But perhaps the greater sadness came as we watched valued and experienced curators and administrators leave of their own volition unable to accept a dictatorial management style that was so unlike the two predecessors. So many exhibitions canceled and with them years of research seemingly lost . . .

Pierre Théberge’s arrival at the NGC in 1997 coincided with the formation of the National Gallery of Canada Foundation and with it fund-raising at the gallery reached new levels.

Philanthropic foundations like the National Gallery of Canada Foundation created in 1997 are part of the golden age of philanthropy which is a global phenomenon. These new philanthropists are legal categorizations of nonprofit organizations that are highly specialized and concerned with measurable impact. Their work is strategic, market-conscious, knowledge-based, high-engagement and always involves maximizing leverage of the foundation’s assets.

Pierre Théberge’s arrival at the NGC in 1997 also coincided with changes in the capital-gains tax which led to a sharp increase in donations. “Until 1997, the full normal capital- gains tax was due; reducing the “inclusion rate” to 50 per cent in 1997 led to a sharp increase in such donations. The federal finance department told Angus’s committee each foregone dollar in tax revenue was linked to $13 in extra giving. (Angus 2005-01-30).”

Selected (subjective) timeline of events

1970s Pierre Théberge worked at the National Gallery rising to the position of curator of contemporary Canadian art.

1979 Pierre Théberge joined the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts as chief curator and later became director. He was nicknamed “Mr. Blockbuster” which can be considered as a derogatory term.

1987-1997 Shirley Thomson, C.C. 2008 Laureate was born and raised in St. Mary’s, Ontario, she left a teaching job for Montreal and, ultimately, Paris, where she worked as an editor for NATO. She returned to Canada to become assistant secretary-general of World University Service of Canada (WUSC), and later assistant secretary-general of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, working in the UN agency’s fields of education, science and culture. A decade later she was back in Montreal, enrolled at McGill as a Ph.D. student in art history, exploring the hunt theme in 18th-century palace decoration in France. Her McGill experience launched her career as a cultural administrator. As director of the McCord Museum (1982-1985), she turned a small university museum into a public research and teaching museum dedicated to the preservation, study and appreciation of Canadian history. After serving as secretary-general of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, she was appointed director of the National Gallery of Canada in 1987. Dr. Thomson and her professional team developed, over the decade of her tenure, a strong program that helped raise the Gallery’s profile. She served as director of the Canada Council for the Arts from 1998 to 2002, and as chair of the Canadian Cultural Property Export Review Board from 2003 to 2007.” www.citizenvoices.gg.ca/_pdf/ReportArtMattersVisualMediaArts2008.pdf

Colin Bailey was named as the National Gallery of Canada’s chief curator replacing Shirley Thomson.

1995 David Franklin won the 1995 Eric Mitchell Prize for Rosso in Italy: The Italian Career of Rosso Fiorentino (published by Yale University Press, 1994)

1995 David Franklin won the Governors’ Award for Yale University Press for best press book by an author under the age of forty.

1997 The exhibition Renoir’s Portraits: Impressions of an Age, organized by the National Gallery of Canada in 1997, set a Gallery attendance record of 340,000 visitors.

1997 The exhibition entitled Baroque to Neo-Classical: Sculpture in Quebec was held at the National Gallery of Canada from February through May, Vancouver Art Gallery from July to October and the Mendel Art Gallery in Saskatoon from October to January 1998. It was ten years in the making. Gallery director Shirley Thomson had charged Rene Villeneuve , Assistant Curator of Early Canadian Art with the task of mounting the exhibition in 1988 which was to cover Quebec sculpture from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. Villeneuve also wrote the research-intense 201 page exhibition catalogue by the same name. Twenty important works were restored for the exhibition. Charlie Hill provided Villeneuve with constant encouragement during the preparation of the exhibition which Thomson described as having “masterfully convey[ed] an important, rich, and indeed fundamental aspect of our culture, inherited from France (Thomson 1997:7).” With the arrival of Pierre Theberge, Villeneuve’s research and unique curatorial skills were no longer promoted with any enthusiasm.

1997 Pierre Théberge, risk-taker in charge at Gallery: Pierre Theberge succeeds Thomson (Gessell 1997). Dr. Shirley Thomson was a popular director who treated everyone in her employ with respect.

1997 Until 1997, the full normal capital- gains tax was due; reducing the “inclusion rate” to 50 per cent in 1997 led to a sharp increase in such donations. The federal finance department told Angus’s committee each foregone dollar in tax revenue was linked to $13 in extra giving. Angus believes the multiplier would be even greater if the capital-gains tax were dropped altogether (Angus 2005-01-30).”

“The tax treatment of donations of shares is more favourable in the US than in Canada, and it was argued that the remaining capital gains tax on gifted securities in Canada should be eliminated. Since the 50% reduction in the capital gains tax for such gifts was eliminated in 1997, there has been a dramatic increase in donations. Eliminating the remaining 50% would stimulate even more. A member of the Council for Business and the Arts in Canada stated that, “the single most important step which the government can take to assist our arts organizations and every charitable sector, including health care, education and social services, to raise additional money, is to eliminate the remaining capital gains tax on gifts of listed securities.” (NACF 2002:6)

1997 The NGC Foundation was created. Donald and Beth Sobey gave generously oftheir time and financial support through the Foundation.

1997 The Audain Foundation was established. Michael Audain, Chairman of the Vancouver-based Polygon Homes Ltd., and his wife, Yoshiko Karasawa, are active supporters of the arts since the 1980s. Michael Audain served on the Vancouver Art Gallery board for many years, including in the role of president. Michael is now Chair of their Foundation. In 2004, Business for the Arts honoured Michael with the Edmund C. Bovey Award for leadership in the arts. He was appointed to the National Gallery of Canada Board of Trustees in 2005 and to the Order of British Columbia in 2007.

1997-2009 Pierre Théberge served as director of the National Gallery of Canada, the second-longest term for a National Gallery director.

1998 David Franklin joined the National Gallery as Curator of Prints and Drawings.

NGC. 2000-04-03. “National Gallery of Canada Comes to Amicable Agreement with Educator Guides.” Press Release. NGC:Ottawa. http://www.national.gallery.ca/english/558_890.htm

2000 Kitty Scott began working at the NGC in contemporary art where she found that the NGC collection did not include many works by highly sought after artists from Western Canada who were working in a complex way across film, photography, video and installation. There were no works by Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller, or by the younger artists Brian Jungen, Geoffrey Farmer or Althea Thauberger at the time. She began to acquire more works by Jeff Wall and Rodney Graham as well as a film and a photographic series by Stan Douglas. http://www.canadianart.ca/art/features/2007/06/01/serpentine/

2001-02-21 Pierre Théberge National Gallery of Canada Director and Curator Appointed to the Order of Canada

2001-05-10 On May 10, 2001 200 technicians, installers and administrative staff at the National Gallery of Canada and the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography embarked went on the first general strike in the history of these institutions. It is noteworthy that David Franklin brought strikers doughnuts on the strike line (Geddes 2008-07-09). Relations between gallery staff and Pierre Theberge remained rocky ever since this strike.

The strike was timed to coincide with an $1.8 million exhibition of the works of Austrian artist Gustav Klimt which opened on June 15. Strikers won the support of the public as well as prominent Canadian artists such as Michael Snow. And the strike seems to have attracted visitors since there were 500 more visitors than the projection figure of 18,000 for June! One of the areas of concern was the need for a corporate anti-harassment policy. Gallery administration spent lavishly to hire lawyers and security officers instead of tabling a fair offer. The red shoes displayed on the Gallery plaza have become the symbol of their strike. Red shoes became a symbol of solidarity as strikers “placed hundreds of pairs of donated footwear — painted a brilliant, scarlet hue — outside the museum (on Rideau Street) and gallery (on Sussex Drive) every day. [...] The whimsical appearance of the red shoes inspired workers to create songs, poetry, T-shirts and posters, delighted passers-by, and garnered more frequent media attention than any conventional, non-violent protest action could ever have done (Bemben 2002).”

“Art can be a form of action, and our picket lines can be seen as a work of performance art. In order to reinforce that concept, we, as a group, will create a collective work of art. Walking on the picket line is a burden on our feet, and our shoes become part of our plight. We are literally wearing out our shoes! [...] By placing our old shoes next to us on the picket line, we are visually representing the many, many miles that we have walked, and the labour that goes into walking the line. We are labouring on behalf of labour. Our shoes also embody our individuality — they are personal artifacts. By painting our old shoes all the same shade of red, we are symbolizing our passion and solidarity as a group. [...] Lately, our feet have been taking us in a different direction, but we hope to soon have a fair contract and be walking back inside our beloved institutions (Strike posters cited by Bemben 2002).”

The NGC was forced to “postpone indefinitely an exhibition of work by Montreal photographer Pierre Boogaerts at the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography (part of the National Gallery). “Attendance to our permanent collections has been down,” admits Joanne Charette, the National Gallery’s public-affairs director. “We’ve had to cancel educational tours for students, which usually adds to our figures in May and June.” The strike was in full force when the museum’s Gustav Klimt exhibition opened on June 15. Charette says that attendance for the show, at 18,500 visitors in June, is actually above the projected figure of 18,000. The show cost Can. $1.8 million and required three years to organize. To compensate for the postponement of the Boogaerts show, the current exhibitions of work by Larry Towell and Diana Thorneycroft have been extended until September 3 (Jana 2001).”

2003 NGC. 2003-09-23. “Board of Trustess Supports National Gallery of Canada Director. Press Release. NGC: Ottawa. http://www.national.gallery.ca/english/552_1072.htm

2003 Attendance at the National Gallery of Canada 455,000, down 13 percent from 2002. http://www.national.gallery.ca/english/550_988.htm

2003 Donald Sobey, entrepreneur and collector of Canadian art from Stellarton, Nova Scotia, donated $1 million gift through the “Donald and Beth Sobey Chief Curator’s Research Endowment. Under the guidance of the Gallery’s Chief Curator, Dr. David Franklin, this fund gives the National Gallery the opportunity to conduct and publish scholarly research of national and international scope (NGC. 2007-01-11).”

2003-2004 “The Government increased the Gallery’s acquisitions budget in 2003-2004 to restore some of its lost purchasing power and allow it to continue building the national collection for future generations. The budget, supplemented by the generous support of the National Gallery of Canada Foundation, made possible several important purchases, including Quebec painter Ozias Leduc’s Portrait of Gertrude Leduc, Jacopo Pontormo’s Renaissance drawing Reclining Male Nude, and Douglas Gordon’s contemporary video work Play Dead: Real Time. The Gallery increased its holdings of First Nations and Inuit art with works including Norval Morisseau’s Observations of the Astral World and Brian Jungen’s whale skeleton sculpture Vienna.” http://www.national.gallery.ca/english/550_988.htm

2004 David Franklin’s book entitled Treasures of the National Gallery of Canada

2005-04-06 The appointment of Diana Nemiroff as the new Director of the Carleton University Art Gallery (CUAG) effective July 4 was announced. “Diana Nemiroff has garnered an international reputation in the contemporary art world. She has been a senior curator at the National Gallery of Canada since 1990 and has held assistant and associate curator positions with the Gallery since 1983 dealing mainly with contemporary and 20th-century art. She has organized many successful exhibitions including her favourite Crossings, a highly acclaimed 1998 exhibition of works in various media that examined the situation of people migrating from one country to another. The exhibition Land, Spirit, Power: First Nations at the National Gallery of Canada, which she organized with Charlotte Townsend-Gault and Robert Houle, broke new ground in the recognition of First Nations artists in Canada, and won the Janet Braide Memorial Award for its contributions to Canadian art history. Two of her exhibitions, 3 x 3: Flavin, Andre, Judd and Protean Picasso: Drawings and Prints from the Collection of the National Gallery of Canada [toured Canada in 2005]. She also planned and installed the collection of contemporary art for the opening of the National Gallery’s new building in 1988.” http://www.carleton.ca/duc/News/news04060501.html

“Diana Nemiroff has been the director of the Carleton University Art Gallery since 2005. Before joining the staff of Carleton University, she worked for over 20 years at the National Gallery of Canada, where she developed a national reputation as a curator of contemporary art. She has numerous exhibitions to her credit, including recent monographic displays by Damian Moppett (2006), Lyne Lapointe (2007) and Pascal Grandmaison (2008). As a curator at the National Gallery, she has been recognized for her work on group exhibitions such as The Canadian Biennial of Contemporary Art / La biennale d’art contemporain canadien (1989); Land, Spirit, Power: First Nations at the National Gallery of Canada / Terre, esprit, pouvoir: les premières nations au Musée des beaux-arts du Canada (1992); Crossings / Traversées (1998); and Elusive Paradise: The Millennium Prize / Paradis insaisissables : le prix du millénaire (2001). These shows surveyed the national and international contemporary art scene, identifying issues around the presentation of Aboriginal art, globalization, and the environment, and how it has affected the art world in recent years.
Diana Nemiroff was born in London, England, and was raised and educated in Montreal, where she studied at the École des beaux-arts, before earning both a bachelor’s degree in fine arts and a master’s degree at Concordia University. She is a board member of the Canadian Museums Association and is vice president of the University and College Art Galleries Association of Canada. In addition to her museum experience, she has a background as a critic and writer, and continues to write on contemporary and modern art for a variety of independent projects.” http://www.citizenvoices.gg.ca/_pdf/ReportArtMattersVisualMediaArts2008.pdf

2005-05-28. The National Gallery of Canada Foundation held its first national fundraising event, the Renaissance Ball which generated one million dollars. Thomas d’Aquino, Chairman of the Foundation’s Board of Directors thanked Marie Claire Morin, President and CEO of the Foundation and her team and she in turn thanked thanked Thomas d’Aquino, saying, “Through his leadership, vision and commitment, Thomas d’Aquino accomplished an incredible feat by bringing together such a prestigious group of art patrons and philanthropists. Without him, the Renaissance Ball would simply not have been possible.”(NGC. 2005-06-03).

2005 David Franklin’s “first big splash as chief curator was the exhibition Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and the Renaissance in Florence. It was the Florence show that caught the eye of curators at Los Angeles’s J. Paul Getty Museum, leading them to partner with the National Gallery on a Bernini sculpture show, slated to open in [July of 2008] at the prestigious Getty, before moving to Ottawa for a fall and winter run (Geddes 2008).”

2006 “Kitty Scott left her post as National Gallery curator of contemporary art [in 2006], in part, because of her frustration in getting gallery management to mount contemporary art exhibitions (Gessell 2008-06-10).” In a interview with Canadian Art she described changes that the NGC should consider, “In terms of contemporary art there needs to be more of it, both national and international. This means more exhibitions, acquisitions, publications, conferences and talks with artists, writers and theorists. The best institutions work closely with their curators, the experts, to bring these programs to fruition. And these programs must be seriously marketed—nationally and internationally—and use the Web in innovative ways. As well, I think the NGC would benefit from being more closely aligned with artists. Many museums have artists on their boards. I also believe that the NGC should play a more formative role in teaching students of museology, art history, conservation, museum management, design history, art and curating across Canada. I am sure universities would welcome this. And I think there could be stronger ties with the major collectors and dealers across the country. These people should be regarded as family and they should be made to feel more welcome. It would also be great if the National Gallery of Canada could develop relationships with other Canadian institutions so that the collection of contemporary art could be seen more widely. While the idea of summer exhibitions in Shawinigan is interesting, I wonder about it, practically speaking. Ottawa is already remote, as the number of people visiting the institution shows, so why explore even more remote territory? What is the logic? Why not open a small space in the heart of Montreal, or St. John’s for that matter?” http://www.canadianart.ca/art/features/2007/06/01/serpentine


2006
The National Gallery of Canada Foundation is extremely proud to announce an extraordinary gift of $2 million dollars for the creation of The Audain Endowment for Contemporary Canadian Art. The Audain Foundation, a British Columbia-based family trust, generously made this donation, the largest in the history of the National Gallery of Canada Foundation. “This fund will ensure that the National Gallery of Canada will have the ability to acquire Canadian contemporary art, and to focus on the unique talents of artists from Canada with an emphasis on British Columbia” says Pierre Théberge, Director of the National Gallery of Canada. “We wish to thank the Audain Foundation, and in particular Michael Audain and Yoshiko Karasawa, or their generous gift to the National Gallery and the visual arts commmunity.” “Canada from coast to coast has many important contemporary artists who deserve to be in the National Gallery’s collection, so our foundation is pleased to be able to give help in this regard,” said Michael Audain. “We are deeply grateful for this endowment, the single largest leadership gift to benefit living artists right across the country,” says Marie Claire Morin, President and CEO of the National Gallery of Canada Foundation. Established in 1997, The Audain Foundation has made grants to 25 organizations for projects related to the visual arts. Mr. Audain, Chairman of the Vancouver-based Polygon Homes Ltd., and his wife, Ms. Karasawa, have been active supporters of the arts for over 25 years. Serving on the Vancouver Art Gallery board from 1992 to 1998, including the role of president, Mr. Audain is now Chair of their Foundation. In 2004, the Council for Business and Arts honoured Mr. Audain with Canada’s Edmund C. Bovey Award for leadership in the arts. He was appointed to the National Gallery of Canada Board of Trustees in 2005. The National Gallery of Canada Foundation is dedicated to supporting the National Gallery and its affiliate, the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography, in fulfilling their mandates. By fostering strong partnerships, the Foundation provides the Gallery with the additional financial support required to lead Canada’s visual arts community locally, nationally and internationally. The blend of public support and private philanthropy enables the National Gallery of Canada to preserve and interpret Canada’s visual arts heritage.”

2007 “Publication National Gallery of Canada Review V gets the support of the renowned Donald and Beth Sobey Chief Curator’s Research Endowment.” Mr. Sobey was Chairman of the NGC’s Board of Trustees and a member of the NGC Foundation’s Board of Directors. Donald Sobey was Chairman of the Board of Trustees, National Gallery of Canada; Director, Board of Directors, National Gallery of Canada Foundation; Member of the Founding Partner’s Circle of the National Gallery of Canada Foundation; Chairman Emeritus, Empire Company Limited; Director: Sobey Inc., Alliance Atlantis Communications Inc., Atlantic Shopping Centres Limited, High Liner Foods Incorporated and President of the Sobey Art Foundation (NGC. 2007-01-11).

2007-12 Michael Audain, Chairman of the Vancouver-based Polygon Homes and his wife donated another $2 million to the NGC towards the creation of the Audain Curator of Indigenous Art Endowment. Combined gifts from the Audain Foundation have created a new threshold of $4 million for gifts by a single donor.

2008-05 Arts journalist noted in his blog that “Official advertisements seeking a replacement for the retiring Pierre Theberge have started appearing in newspapers. Far more emphasis is placed in the ad on management abilities than on knowledge of art. Maybe one of the government’s friends in the Calgary oil patch could take the job, assuming he or she was bilingual (Gessell 2008-05-21).”

2008-04-03 Pierre Theberge announced 10 job cuts, including five layoffs including highly regarded Anne Maheux, a senior paper conservator with more than 25 years of service. Among those laid off are three members of the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) and one member of the Professional Institute of Public Service of Canada (PIPSC).

2008-04-16 The The Canadian Association of Emerging Conservators (CAEC-ACRE) argued that the removal of [Anne Maheux who has been constantly active in the conservation field, supervising paper conservation interns on a regular basis and contributing to conservation associations, research and publications] is ill advised. “Furthermore, the remaining senior paper conservator at the NGC, who is due to retire in a short period of time, has not for many years maintained a practice of taking on curriculum interns. The CAEC is concerned that after this gap in practice, the remaining senior paper conservator may not be willing and/or fully able to take over Ms. Maheux’s role as supervisor to future students in the NGC paper laboratory. In addition, the elimination of this position also brings forward the issue of succession planning, or lack thereof, a question which is central to the CAEC’s activities. With this loss in mind, one has to wonder what the state of the paper conservation department at the NGC will be in a few years.” http://caecacre.wordpress.com/2008/04/16/special-announcement/

2008-04 “Dear Mr. Theberge, The membership of the Canadian Association for Conservation of Cultural Property wish to convey our shock and extreme disappointment over the National Gallery of Canada’s recent decision to eliminate a full time position in the Conservation/Restoration Laboratory. Works of art on paper are among the most fragile and unforgiving of the Gallery’s collections, and are readily subject to irreparable damage if handled inexpertly. The CAC finds it unthinkable that the Gallery would dismiss a Conservator as highly regarded nationally and internationally as Anne Maheux, and assure you that we believe that neither the Gallery’s impressive collections of works of art on paper nor its professional reputation will be well served by this short sighted decision. The letter of explanation delivered to Gallery staff notes that the aim of the cuts was a 5% reduction in the “least performing programs”. By what measure, we ask, is Ms. Maheux’s work considered to be “underperforming”? Ms. Maheux is widely regarded as one of the preeminent leaders in the field of conservation of works of art on paper worldwide. As well as a graduate of both Queens and Harvard Universities’ conservation programs, she is a fellow of the American Academy in Rome, an accredited member of the Canadian Association of Professional Conservators, a former President of this organization and member of our Board of Directors for many years. Her enormous commitment to her profession is self-evident. Among her many internationally significant accomplishments are her seminal research into the works of Degas, her contributions on development of mounting systems for oversized works, her work with contemporary works of art, and her efforts toward establishment of a federal Museums Policy. Colleagues with whom I have spoken are unanimous in describing her work as exemplary. The CAC urges you to reconsider the elimination of this position and the employment of Ms. Maheux personally. Not to do so will cause the Gallery’s reputation irreparable harm in the eyes of the Canadian conservation community. Sincerely, Dee A. Stubbs-Lee, President, CAC/ACCR CC: Mr. Donald R. Sobey – Chairperson of the Board of Trustees, National Gallery; Mr. David Franklin – Deputy Director and Chief Curator, National Gallery; Mr. Stephen Gritt – Chief, Restoration Conservation Laboratory, National Gallery; Ms. Lise Labine – Director, Human Resources, National Gallery.” http://www.cac-accr.ca/pdf/Ministerletter.pdf

2008-05-08 PSAC. 2008-05-08. “Federal Program Reviews Mean Layoffs and Downgraded Services at the National Gallery of Canada.” Ottawa. “Jobs will be lost and corners will be cut at the National Gallery of Canada as a result of the federal government’s revolving “strategic review” of program spending in targeted departments and agencies across the federal government. Selected to undergo a review in 2007 along with 16 other departments and agencies, the National Gallery was directed to cut its budget by five per cent. Where the recent federal budget released in February referred to “better use of internal resources and administrative efficiencies” in the museums sector, the plain truth was announced by the Director of the National Gallery on April 3 when he announced 10 job cuts, including five layoffs – one of those to a senior paper conservator with more than 25 years of service. Among those laid off are three members of the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) and one member of the Professional Institute of Public Service of Canada (PIPSC). Director Pierre Thèberge also said the five per cent cut dictated by the strategic review process will necessitate other cuts that will have an impact on the Gallery’s publishing and marketing capacity. Events and exhibitions will have to be scaled back and training will also have to be curtailed, according to Thèberge. Reaction to the cuts, and in particular to the position of the senior paper conservator, has been swift. Numerous letters to Thèberge from senior gallery staff, trustees and conservators say the cuts call into question the gallery’s commitment and its ability to fulfill its mandate to expand and conserve its extensive collections. PSAC is currently considering a range of actions in response to the employer’s actions. Ed Cashman, PSAC Regional Executive Vice-President for the National Capital Region, argued that, “These cuts will not only hinder the Gallery’s ability to carry out its mandate, they will also have a significant impact on smaller museums across the country that rely on the gallery’s collections to draw visitors into their facilities.” http://www.newswire.ca/en/releases/archive/May2008/08/c6375.html?view=print

2008 “The gallery’s contemporary art shows [1998-2008] have been largely limited to retrospectives of aging artists who generally did their best work half a century ago when Pierre Theberge was curator of contemporary Canadian art at the very institution he now heads. Examples in recent years: Alex Colville, Norval Morrisseau, Gathie Falk, Bette Goodwin (Gessell 2008-06-10).”

2008 National Gallery promotes its blockbuster (June-September 2008) called “The 1930s: The `New Man’” – which promises to be one of the most intriguing art shows of the year. Featuring more than 200 works by artists including Wassily Kandinsky, Max Ernst, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, Alberto Giacometti, Joan Miro, Diego Rivera and many others, it looks at an era when Marxist and Fascist regimes in Russia, Germany and Italy were trying to create a “superman” without human weaknesses (Knelman 2008). This is a strange choice by a man known for his dictatorial management style. The 1930s has been the subject of major thematic exhibitions in Berlin, Vienna, Madrid, and Paris. The NGC version examines the connection between art and biology. “In the 1930s, biology became a force for change, often destructive, notably in its racist and eugenicist forms that sought to “improve” the human species. During this decade, the opposed concepts of the “degenerate” – or “mentally ill” – artist, as described by the Nazi ideology of the Third Reich, and the “superman” or “new man” became widespread. These ideologies were to have a profound influence on forms of art and representation.” The works presented in this exhibition come from private and public collections in Austria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Germany, Holland, Israel, Mexico, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States grouped under nine themes: Genesis, Convulsive Beauty, “The Will to Power”, The Making of “The New Man”, Mother Earth, The Appeal of Classicism, “Faces of our Time”, “Crowds and Power”, and The Charnel House. The organizing committee is chaired by the director of the National Gallery of Canada, Pierre Théberge. Its members comprise the following curators: Jean Clair, retired director of the Musée Picasso in Paris; Didier Ottinger, of the Centre Georges Pompidou; Constance Naubert-Riser, professor emeritus, Université de Montréal; Ann Thomas, the NGC’s Curator of Photography and the NGC’s director of National Outreach and International Relations, Mayo Graham, who acts as the committee’s coordinator. excerpts from http://national.gallery.ca/english/540_2091.htm

2008-07-03 National Gallery director Pierre Théberge sent an email to gallery staff “dedicated one nondescript sentence to announcing deputy director David Franklin’s leave and two extensive paragraphs detailing the career achievements of his “interim” replacement, Mayo Graham, who worked closely with Mr. Théberge at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts before following him to the gallery a decade ago. Some have even described Ms. Graham, who was serving as director of national outreach and international relations, as Mr. Théberge’s protégé. Sources close to the gallery said the current tensions are rumoured to have come out of a dispute between Mr. Franklin and Mr. Théberge over the planned dismissal of another employee, which then escalated into a rift between them and made Mr. Franklin feel unwelcome (Alphonso and Bradshaw 2008-07-18).” Although David Franklin often replaced Pierre Théberge in public relations they were not close colleagues. Mr. Blockbuster, Pierre Theberge promotes activities that are part of a movement within museums globally in the 1990s that are criticized by some as being categorize are part of the dumbing-down of museums. David Franklin is a scholar.

It was widely believed that the two men were not close colleagues.

Webliography and Bibliography

Alphonso, Caroline; Bradshaw, James. 2008-07-18. “Gallery’s dirty laundry receives private airing
Federal Court seals file on application for judicial review of case involving dispute between top administrators at National Gallery
.” Globe and Mail

Angus, W. David. 2005-01-30. “A gift for givers.” Montreal Gazette.

Bemben, Linda. 2002. “Poetry: Striking Red Shoes, An Introduction” Our Times.

Gessell, Paul. 2008-05-21. “But can he discuss art?” Art and the City.

Gessell, Paul. 1997. “Risk-taker in charge at Gallery: Pierre Theberge succeeds Thomson.” The Ottawa Citizen.

Gessell, Paul. 2008-06-10. “Let’s have a biennialArt and the City.

2008-07-03. “National Gallery curator takes an indefinite leave.” The Ottawa Citizen.

Gessell, Paul. 2008-07-17. “National gallery heads faceoff in court: Judge dismisses mystery case involving directors.” The Ottawa Citizen.

Jana, Reena. 2001. “Staff Strike at the National Gallery of Canada.” Artforum International Magazine, New York, NY.

Knelman, Martin. 2008-03-19. “Not coming to a gallery near you.” The Star.

McCooey, Paula. 2008-07-18. “Day after secret court hearing, national gallery says all’s well.” The Ottawa Citizen. with files from Paul Gessell.

NACF. 2002-09-18. “National Arts Centre Foundation. Roundtable on Philanthropy in the Performing Arts.” September 18, 2002. Public Policy Forum.

NGC. 2000-04-03. “National Gallery of Canada Comes to Amicable Agreement with Educator Guides.” Press Release. NGC:Ottawa.

NGC. 2001-02-21, “National Gallery of Canada Director and Curator Appointed to the Order of Canada.” Press Release. NGC:Ottawa.

NGC. 2001-06-04. National Gallery of Canada and Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography sign new agreement with the Professional Institute of Public Service of Canada.

NGC. 2001-07-11. “Tentative agreement reached for PSAC members at the National Gallery of Canada.” Press Release. NGC: Ottawa

CBC News. 2003-09-23. Gallery director under fire for $600,000 expense tab.”

NGC. 2003-09-23. “Board of Trustess Supports National Gallery of Canada Director. Press Release. NGC: Ottawa.

NGC. 2005-06-03. “One million dollars for the Renaissance Ball.” Press Release. NGC: Ottawa.

NGC. 2006-06-20. “The National Gallery of Canada Foundation receives the most important financial gift of its history.” NGC: Ottawa.

NGC. 2007-01-11. “Publication National Gallery of Canada Review V gets the support of the renowned Donald and Beth Sobey Chief Curator’s Research Endowment.” Press Release. NGC: Ottawa.

Picard, André. 1997-11-22. “A Call to Alms: the New Face of Canada.The Toronto Star.

Starn, Randolph. 2005. “A Historian’s Brief Guide to New Museum Studies.The American Historical Review. 110:1. Last accessed 2008-07-20.


Société Générale trader, Jérôme Kerviel, 31, was accused by the Société Générale, Paris of implementing an elaborate, year-long fraud that involved betting billions of dollars of the bank’s money on European stock index futures. Michel Histel, 62, a French retiree who is closely following the story argues that it is common knowledge that the Société Générale’s has played a leading role in financial derivatives products. Jérôme Kerviel was employed by the Société Générale and in his role as arbitrageur he was expected to hedge large bets on index futures. In a sense what he was doing is a logical conclusion of the irrational process of betting on potential but risky, uncertain and unguaranteed future stock values prices. The value gaps may be intelligently guessed but the risk of unforeseen socio-economic structural, geopolitical and/or environmental changes, is always there so that even real financial transactions are more virtual that really real. In this risk society there is a chance for (even and often) very young people with an intuitive grasp of gaming to win big on their wagers. But this is not the logic of a marketplace. Impatient money contributes hugely to the growing inequality between the ultra-rich who can afford to gamble and the deterioration of the quality of life in the lower quintiles especially those who are most vulnerable to social exclusion.

Folksonomy cloud

impatient money, hedge funds, private equity funds, arbitrageur, arbitrage, value gaps, financial instruments, fictitious trades, fictitious sales transactions, virtual, real, risk management, auditors, audit, futures contracts, index futures, one-way bets, “long” positions, very high total nominal amounts, real portfolios of stock index futures, European stock index futures, Dow Jones Euro Stoxx, DAX, FTSE, speculation, financial derivatives products, repackinging of risky investments, transparent versus veiled financial dealings, current crisis in confidence in the banking sector, interconnections between banks, hedge funds, high risk investments and pension and mutual funds, group think, market will correct itself, learned incompetence,

Timeline of events related to the Subprime Market

1965-2005 Between 1965 to 2005 there was no national US real-estate bust as home prices surpassed inflation by a percentage point or two on average. However local reversals have taken place and some cities have never recovered (Christie 2005).

1970s “The additional grades or risk have arisen from the willingness to underwrite mortgages for more risky borrowers, encouraged by the democratization of credit since the 1970s. Lending to more risky borrowers is, by definition, more risky. More loans to risky borrowers increases the total amount of risk to be sold in the marketplace” (Mason and Rosner 2007).

1973-5 US investors in the S&P 500 lost 14% in 1973 and 26% in 1974 but gained 37% in 1975 (Mann 2000).

1975 Foreign competition made its inroads into the North American economy. Corporations panicked with a knee-jerk reaction by implementing the first major layoffs which eventually spread and multiplied, in time destroying the notion of job security and the dignity of work in North America (Uchitelle 2006; Uchitelle 2007).

1983 Australia’s benchmark ASX 200 index experienced a long losing streak which would be unparalled until 2008-01-21 (BBC News 2008-01-21).”

1985 In Peoria, Ill. a more traditional area the average home price fell from $60,800 in 1981 to $51,400 in 1985 partially because of strikes and lay-offs at Caterpillar, the city’s biggest employer (Christie 2005).

1986 The “total pay of top managers in North America has increased from 1986 through 2006 to roughly 40 times the average and from 1966 to 110 times the average(Leary 1998:265).”

1987 Canadian families saved 20 percent of their take-home pay (Ed 2007).

1987 Oliver Stone’s and Stanley Weiser’s fascinating but soulless film entitled Wall Street about a young stockbroker, Bud Fox’s entanglement in white-collar crime through his mentor and hero, Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas), an extremely successful businessman and Wall Street broker. in a speech by Gekko to a Teldar Paper shareholders’ meeting, a company he planning to take over, Gekko, and by extension, the Wall Street raiders he personifies, justifies his actions. He argues that he is liberating corporate America’s from its slothfulness and waste accumulated through the postwar years. He argued, “Greed is good” a slogan which symbolised the ruthless, profit-obsessed, short-term corporate culture of the 1980s and 1990s. These values became associated with neoclassical, anti-union economic policies that made slash-and-burn capitalism possible. Wall Street refers to the symbolic and geographical location in Lower Manhattan, the first permanent home of the New York Stock Exchange, center of New York’s financial district and the financial industry.

1987 Stock market crash

1987-19-20 London’s FTSE 100 experienced one of its worst days down 10.8% (BBC News 2008-01-21).

1987-10-20 London’s FTSE 100 experienced one of its worst days down 12.2% (BBC News 2008-01-21).

1987-10-21 London’s FTSE 100 experienced one of its best days up 7.9% (BBC News 2008-01-21).

1987-10-22 London’s FTSE 100 experienced one of its worst days down 5.7% (BBC News 2008-01-21).

1987-10-26 London’s FTSE 100 experienced one of its worst days down 6.2% (BBC News 2008-01-21).

1988 In “oil patch” cities like Oklahoma City prices plummeted 26 percent from 1983 to 1988. They only returned to 1983 levels in 2003 fifteen years later. In Oklahoma City, the inflation-adjusted price in 1983 was $196,600. Today, it’s just $135,100 (Christie 2005).

1988 Houston home prices fell 22 percent from $111,000 in 1983 to $86,800 in 1988 rebounded only in 2003. Counting inflation, the average Houston home, which cost just $159,700 in 2004, is actually worth less [in 2005] than it was [in 1983]. When, adjusted for inflation, a home cost about $219,000 in 1983 (Christie 2005).

1988 – 1990s Real estate prices fell in Northern California first followed by the rest of the state “as employers fled, incomes dwindled, quakes rumbled, sales fell and prices slipped. [. . .] Silicon Valley’s housing market crashed into recession along with the state’s economy (Perkins 2001).

1980-1990 In Los Angeles real estate was turbocharged for nearly 10 years (Christie 2005).

1989-90 The notorious price bubble of 1989-90 was linked to central banks specifically the Bank of Japan. “The Japanese economy continued to suffer during the early 1990s, and remained in recession until the end of 1993. Nominal GDP growth rates, which had been around 7 percent during the bubble period, fell beginning in 1990 and by 1991-93 were close to zero. Profits in the manufacturing sector fell 24.5 percent in 1991 and 32.1 percent in 1992. Bankruptcies began to rise starting in the latter half of 1990; by 1992, bankruptcies with debt more than Y10 million totaled 14,569 cases. Failures of real estate firms or of firms engaged in “active fund management” constituted more than half the corporate bankruptcies in 1991 and 1992 (Miller 2001).”

1991 Inflation-adjusted take-home pay in Canada froze to this level (Ed. 2007).”

1992 A new car in Canada cost $20, 000.

1992 – 2000 “Japan remained pretty stagnant in the last eight years, with the majority of the loss coming in the first two, when it eventually fell by more than 60%. There was never a big drop, just a constant and inexorable drift downward. Real estate prices plummeted, almost no Japanese company ended 1992 higher than it started 1990. In the interim, banks have failed (and if it weren’t for the financial props of the Japanese government, many more would have), and companies have had to reassess some of their basic assumptions, such as lifetime employment and large benefit packages” (Mann 2000).

1992-04-10 London’s FTSE 100 experienced one of its best days up 5.6% (BBC News 2008-01-21).

1996 There was a housing market reversal in Los Angeles with average house price dropping from $222,200 in 1990 to $176,300 in 1996, a loss of 20.7 percent. “Furthermore, those are nominal prices, not real values. To calculate the loss more realistically you would have to figure in the cost of inflation: $222,200 in 1990 would have been worth $266,700 in 1996 dollars, which means the actual loss for homeowners buying in 1990 and selling in 1996 was closer to 34 percent (Christie 2005).”

1994- 1996 “In 1994, [Japanese] banks wrote off non-performing assets of Y5.7 trillion, exceeding the previous high of Y4.3 trillion in fiscal year 1993. As yet, no major bank has failed, although a number have reportedly encountered serious difficulties. In December, 1994, the Bank of Japan supervised the takeover of two credit cooperatives, the Tokyo Kyowa Credit Cooperative and the Anzen Credit Cooperative, through the creation of a bridge bank with government support. The Bank’s decision not to let these institutions fail and pay off depositors under the deposit guarantee program was based, largely, on concern for the potential systemic effects of a deposit payoff on public confidence in the banking system in general. The “jusen,” or housing finance banks, suffered the most serious problems; these institutions, which were typically organized and sponsored by major commercial banks and staffed, in part, by former officials from the Ministry of Finance, lost tens of billions of dollars as a result of the collapse of the price bubble, and became one of the most contentious political issues of the day during 1995-86 (Miller 2001)”.

1996-12-05 “How do we know when irrational exuberance has unduly escalated asset values, which then become subject to unexpected and prolonged contractions as they have in Japan over the past decade? And how do we factor that assessment into monetary policy? We as central bankers need not be concerned if a collapsing financial asset bubble does not threaten to impair the real economy, its production, jobs, and price stability. Indeed, the sharp stock market break of 1987 had few negative consequences for the economy. But we should not underestimate or become complacent about the complexity of the interactions of asset markets and the economy. Thus, evaluating shifts in balance sheets generally, and in asset prices particularly, must be an integral part of the development of monetary policy.” Alan Greenspan (December 5, 1996)**

1998 There was a market correction in the United States in October of 1998.

2000 In Tampa Bay Florida, high risk adjustable-rate mortgages (ARM) made homes “seem affordable when wages stagnated as prices soared. They were just the ticket for cash-out refinancings and home equity credit lines that bought cars and swimming pools and paid off credit card debt. “What happened in a lot of expensive real estate markets is that first-time home buyers who felt they could not afford a home otherwise, took on a loan that had lower monthly payments than a traditional mortgage would have,” said Allen Fishbein, director of housing policy for the Consumer Federation of America. “They weren’t being underwritten on the basis of the borrower’s reasonable capacity to handle these loans.” The payments started out manageable, especially since many loans offered teaser rates. But borrowers are getting a lesson in what the word “adjustable” means. More than $130-billion in mortgages payments were reset in 2006″ In 2006 nearly a third of Tampa Bay mortgages were the high-risk varieties, up from 10 percent in 2003 (Huntley 2006).1992 – 2000 “Japan remained pretty stagnant in the last eight years, with the majority of the loss coming in the first two, when it eventually fell by more than 60%. There was never a big drop, just a constant and inexorable drift downward. Real estate prices plummeted, almost no Japanese company ended 1992 higher than it started 1990. In the interim, banks have failed (and if it weren’t for the financial props of the Japanese government, many more would have), and companies have had to reassess some of their basic assumptions, such as lifetime employment and large benefit packages” (Mann 2000).

2001-09-11 London’s FTSE 100 experienced one of its worst days down 5.7% (BBC News 2008-01-21).

2002-10-15 London’s FTSE 100 experienced one of its best days up 5.1% (BBC News 2008-01-21).

2002-07-02 London’s FTSE 100 experienced one of its best days up 5.0% (BBC News 2008-01-21).

2003-03-13 London’s FTSE 100 experienced one of its best days up 6.1% (BBC News 2008-01-21).

2004 British Columbia graduates from university have an average debt of $20, 000.

2005 Real-estate investing spiked, pressuring prices upward. In Phoenix, according to Bill Jilbert, president and COO of the Coldwell Banker brokerage there, investors from Nevada and California have invaded the Arizona market, and “affordable housing has been pushed to extremes (Christie 2005).”

2005 Market analyst Winzer (2005 cited in Christie 2005) warned that the housing market was high-risk as the boom has already gone on longer than expected. Low interest rates which means cheap mortgage rates extended the cycle of the real estate boom artificially creating higher demand and higher prices as all market levels (Winzer cited in Christie 2005). “Winzer assesses local market risk by taking into account economic and population growth, construction costs, vacancy rates, and, especially, income. He also considers such factors as density and access to open land. Prices in densely settled New York have always been higher than those of cities with lots of space for new housing (Christie 2005).

1991- 2005 “[I]ncreased complexity from increased grading of risk can also result in increased opacity. Risk that is more difficult to see, by virtue of complexity, is risk just the same. There are plenty of reasons to believe that the amount of risk in the marketplace has increased. Figure 3 shows that defaults on ABS and residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) increased substantially between 1991 and 2005″ (Mason and Rosner 2007).

2006-06-12. “Canadian Executives Indicate Human Resources and Rising Canadian Dollar are the Major Business Challenges.” CTV. June 12, 2006.

http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/show/CTVShows/20060611/ctv_release_20060611/20060612

2006 Fitch Global Structured Finance 1991-2005 Default Study revealed that, “the overwhelming majority of global structured finance defaults over the 1991-2005 period were from the U.S., accounting for more than 97 percent of the total. While the 1,000 U.S. defaults were mainly concentrated in the Asset-Backed Securities._ (ABS) sector, the 27 international defaults were primarily from the collateralized debt obligations (CDO) sector.” See Mason and Rosner (2007) warn that risk continues to increase, as ratings agencies revise their loss expectations to account for the dynamics of the mortgage meltdown. For instance, on March 27, Standard & Poor’s raised its expectation for losses on 1.

2006 In Florida millions of homeowners were warned of the mortgage meltdown in which they will “face a financial nightmare brought on by a combination of higher interest rates, risky mortgages and a housing market gone cold (Huntley 2006).

2007-05-10 Desmarais, Paul Jr. 2007. “Private equity, public interest.” National and Global Perspectives . May 10, 2007. p. 16. Paul Desmarais, Jr., Chairman of Power Corporation of Canada warned of the structural impact on the industrialized world caused by the meteoric rise of private equity and hedge funds in the financial markets in a an article (2007) published in the Canadian Council of Chief Executives journal National and Global Perspectives. The current crisis in confidence in the banking sector is a direct result of the meteoric rise of private equity and hedge funds which transformed the mortgage market.

Is it not ironic that the principal investors in private equity and hedge funds – large institutional investors – are happy to put massive amounts of money in the hands of people who do not register with any securities commission, or have few, if any, governance regulations to adhere to and report on? (Desmarais 2007:16).

2007-05-10 Desmarais, Paul Jr. 2007a. “Chairman’s Address to Shareholders.” Power Corporation of Canada. May 10, 2007.

2007-06-14 Gandalf Group. 2007. “C-Suite Survey On The Role of Private Equity.” Report on Business. Globe and Mail. June 14, 2007. http://www.dwpv.com/images/C-Suite_June_2007.pdf In May and June, 2007 the 150 C-Suite executives from the top 1000 corporations interviewed by the Gandalf Group were generally optimistic about the Canadian economy (Gandalf Group 2007:4). Some expressed concerns about the increasing levels of foreign ownership in key sectors and about private equity firms hollowing out corporate Canada. 23% have concerns that private equity firms engage in too much short-term thinking (Gandalf Group 2007:32). Most executives now favour restrictions in strategic industries. “The strongest areas of consensus about the negative impacts of private equity relate to keeping the company Canadian owned and about the debt burden of the company. A substantial percentage of executives believe that private equity also has a negative impact on the economic contribution the company will make to Canada and to the community it operates in, on the labour relations of the company and on the governance of the company (Gandalf Group 2007:28 ).”

2007. “C-Suite Survey.” Globe and Mail, Report on Business. 18 June 2007: B5.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/Page/document/video/vs?id=RTGAM.20070619.wvcsuite0619&ids=RTGAM.20070619.wvcsuite0619&hub=search

2007 Mason and Rosner (2007) warn that risk continues to increase, as ratings agencies revise their loss expectations to account for the dynamics of the mortgage meltdown. “Residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) market has experienced significant changes [from 1997-2007].” [T]hey caution that “structural changes in mortgage origination and servicing have interacted with complex residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) and highly volatile CDO funding structures to place the U.S. housing market at risk. This [. . .] could lead to prolonged domestic economic implications for U.S. standing in the world economic order [. . .] The potential for prolonged economic difficulties that also interfere with home ownership in the United States raises significant public policy concerns. Already we are witnessing restructuring and layoffs at top financial institutions. More importantly, however, is the need to provide stable funding sources for economic growth. The biggest obstacle that we have identified is lack of transparency.” (Mason and Rosner 2007).

2007-06-27 “In a Marketplace interview Amy Scott asked interviewees about the disturbing consequences of the interconnections between banks, hedge funds, high risk mortgages and pension funds. In June, 2007 two major hedge funds managed by the investment bank Bear Stearns, who purchased securities that were essentially a “repackaging of all kinds of risky mortgages” to tap into the subprime mortgage market are now verging on collapse as the number of borrowers defaulting on these mortgages increases. Joseph Mason explained that “this isn’t just a Wall Street problem. Your 401k or pension fund may be invested in similar mortgage-related securities.” The investor-base is broad and it is difficult to know who is at risk. “Investment managers don’t have to report their holdings. And unlike stocks, these securities aren’t quoted on an open market [. . .] Those hedge fund investment managers create investments that are bought by our pension funds and mutual funds. Charitable foundations are invested in these. It’s a broad investor base, and it’s not the rich versus the poor.” Mason has been a firm proponent of more transparency in financial dealings (Scott 2007).” See Democratization of Debt: Bear Stearn and Mortgage Meltdowns

2007-09-06 The U.S. subprime mortgage meltdown “Only 5% of mortgages in Canada are subprime compared to 20% in the US. And Canadian financial institutions are more prudent than their American counterparts insisting on mortgage insurance when appropriate and separate appraisals of a home’s purchase price to ensure they are not financing more than 100 per cent of a home’s value. In the US by late 2006 subprime lenders were going bankrupt and as many as 1.5 million Americans could lose their homes before the panic is over. In this under-regulated US industry, lenders partnered with hedge funds to make quick returns on investments then called in debts to avoid losses. Since we are all in some way linked to these investment portfolios, either through mortgages, pensions or insurance, we end up contributing to processes that are fuelled by high-risk, short-term, fast-profits thinking that enriches a few while causing havoc for most of us. See also http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/personalfinance/mortgage-meltdown.html

2007-11-27Staggering poverty report has province listening: A United Way report Losing Ground: The Persistent Growth of Family Poverty in Canada’s Largest City claims almost 93,000 Toronto, Canada households are raising children in poverty. That’s 30% compared with 16 per cent in 1990.” OECD, Policy Development, Public Policy, child poverty, del.icio.us, digg story, digg.com, economic efficiency model, how to be poor in a rich country, policy research, social exclusion, vulnerability to social exclusion

2007 Since 1991 inflation-adjusted hourly wages rose only 10 cents (Ed. 2007).”

2007 A new car in Canada cost $32,000 a 60 percent increase from 1992 (Ed. 2007).”

2007 Canadians collectively owe three quarters of a trillion dollars in personal debt. Canadian families not only have no savings, they draw on pension savings to make ends meet.

“The result of the easy credit is that an average family now owes far more than it takes in. That means we remain solvent only so long as the book value of our assets — things like our home, pension funds or investments — continue to increase (Ed. 2007).”

2007 British Columbia graduates from university have an average debt of $27, 000.

2007 It is now acceptable for Canadian families to pay 60 percent of income to pay monthly payments of their home mortgages (Ed. 2007).

2007 The British Columbia government will allow home owners who are over 55 to defer property tax payments for as long as they live. The government will claim unpaid taxes after you die or sell effectively placing the tax burden on the children (Ed. 2007).

2007 “The number of corporate failures in Japan rose for the third month in a row totaling 896 cases in December up 18.2%. November flops were up 6.5% and the number of companies going belly up in October were up 7.8%. The amount of debts the insolvent companies left behind were up 30.6% to 463.09 billion yen (Belew 2007).

2007 In March Bob Lawless reported in his blog that, “The folks at Automated Access to Court Electronic Records or AACER regularly collect data from all the bankruptcy courts for creditors and attorneys. They have a wealth of information that does not show up in the mainstream media. Most recently, they tell me that there were 58,640 total U.S. bankruptcy filings in February 2007 as compared to 55,088 total U.S. bankruptcy filings in January 2007. OK, that looks like a slight increase, but looks are deceiving. It’s actually a fairly hefty increase. The February filings were spread over only nineteen business days while the January filings were spread over twenty-one days. On a daily basis, the February filings were up 17.7% as compared to January (Lawless 2007).”
2007 Jayson Seth analysed data in National Association of Realtors (NAR) June 24, 2007 report. Seth argues that “America’s easy-credit, quick-flipping, borrow-now-and-forget-the-consequences lifestyle is coming to an increasingly painful, grinding halt” and the “confidence of homebuilders is at a 16-year low (Seth 2007).”

2007 Lawrence Yun, National Association of Realtors announced that the real estate market is softening due to psychological factors, tighter credit for subprime borrowers. NAR’s Lawrence Yun explained that since late 2006 housing sales have slowed as buyers double up with family, friends or just mortgage helper units in their homes to be able to pay for higher-priced homes.

2007 Mason and Rosner (2007) warn that risk continues to increase, as ratings agencies revise their loss expectations to account for the dynamics of the mortgage meltdown. For instance, on March 27, Standard & Poor’s raised its expectation for losses on 1. “Residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) market has experienced significant changes [from 1997-2007]” Furthermore they caution that “structural changes in mortgage origination and servicing have interacted with complex RMBS and highly volatile CDO funding structures to place the U.S. housing market at risk. Equally as important, however, is that housing market weaknesses feed back through financial markets to further weaken financial instruments backing today’s CDOs. Decreased housing starts that will result from lower liquidity in the MBS sector will further weaken credit spreads and depress CDO and MBS issuance. This feedback mechanism can create imbalances in the U.S. economy that, if left unchecked, could lead to prolonged domestic economic implications for U.S. standing in the world economic order [. . .] The potential for prolonged economic difficulties that also interfere with home ownership in the United States raises significant public policy concerns. Already we are witnessing restructurings and layoffs at top financial institutions. More importantly, however, is the need to provide stable funding sources for economic growth. The biggest obstacle that we have identified is lack of transparency.” (Mason and Rosner 2007).

2007 In a Marketplace interview Amy Scott asked interviewees about the disturbing consequences of the interconnections between banks, hedge funds, high risk mortgages and pension funds. In June two major hedge funds managed by the investment bank Bear Stearns, who purchased securities that were essentially a “repackaging of all kinds of risky mortgages” to tap into the subprime mortgage market are now verging on collapse as the number of borrowers defaulting on these mortgages increases. Joseph Mason explained that “this isn’t just a Wall Street problem. Your 401k or pension fund may be invested in similar mortgage-related securities.” The investor-base is broad and it is difficult to know who is at risk. “Investment managers don’t have to report their holdings. And unlike stocks, these securities aren’t quoted on an open market.” Mason has been a firm proponent of more transparency in financial dealings (Scott 2007).

2008-01-12 Should banks avoid investing in carbon-intensive projects? “Ceres is composed of and works with investors ($4 trillion) and environmental groups to address sustainability challenges. In their report Corporate Governance and Climate Change (2008) they argue that the banking sector needs to become aligned with GHG reductions.” read more | digg story

2007-01-20Globalization and the Rise of Inequality: The extremes of wealth and poverty threaten globalisation. North American companies lose jobs to the Chinese Special Economic Zone (SEZ) where factories often employ rural women to work in 19th century conditions to keep their costs low. Meanwhile the total pay of top managers in North America has increased from 1986 through 2006 to roughly 40 times the average and from 1966 to 110 times the average. Globalization “refers to the current transformation of the world economy the reduction of national barriers to trade and investment, the expansion of telecommunications and information systems, the growth of off-shore financial markets, the increasing role of multinational enterprises, the explosion of mergers and acquisitions, global inter-firm networking arrangements and alliances, regional economic integration and the development of a single unified global market. The phenomenon of globalization is accompanied by increasing international mobility, the migration of workers, the growth of tourism and the increasing ease of international travel (Leary 1998:265).”

2008-01-19 The Bush administration announce they are seeking “a stimulus package of as much as $145 billion”. However the stock market did not respond positively as investors were concerned that the looming American recession would trigger economic crisis that will span the globe. See (Jolly and Timmons 2008-01-21).

2008-01-21 Société Générale trader, Jérôme Kerviel, 31, was accused by the Société Générale, Paris of implementing an elaborate, year-long fraud that involved betting billions of dollars of the bank’s money on European stock index futures. Michel Histel, 62, a French retiree who is closely following the story argues that it is common knowledge that the Société Générale’s has played a leading role in financial derivatives products. Jérôme Kerviel was employed by the Société Générale and in his role as arbitrageur he was expected to hedge large bets on index futures.

2008-01-21 “Global stock markets tumbled, with European indexes set for some of their biggest losses in recent years, amid growing fears of a recession in the US (BBC News 2008-01-21).”

2008-01-20 “Global stock markets plunged on Monday as fears spread that the turmoil in United States mortgage markets is spreading. Indexes in Europe fell as much as 7 percent after a huge sell-off in Asia. “There’s something approaching panic in the market,” Holger Schmieding, the chief European economist at Bank of America in London, said by telephone. “There’s been a reassessment in the market of the U.S. economic outlook, with most people now thinking that there will be a recession,” and investors are starting to reconsider the idea that the rest of the world “will remain aloof from U.S. problems [. . .] The selling began in Sydney, with Australian stocks falling nearly 3 percent for an 11th consecutive decline. Major markets in Asia followed suit, with the benchmark Nikkei 225-stock average in Tokyo falling 3.9 percent, the Hang Seng in Hong Kong falling 5.5 percent and the benchmark mainland Chinese index falling more than 5 percent (Jolly and Timmons 2008-01-21).”

2008-01-21 London’s FTSE 100 index fell 4.5% to 5,637.3 (BBC News 2008-01-21).

2008-01-21 Hugues Rialan of Robeco France says we are in a panic mode and a crisis in consumer confidence as the banking sector’s reassurances that they were not overexposed to US mortgage-related investments, prove to ring hollow and false. The banking sector lost consumer trust when they lost of “billions of pounds on investments linked to the US housing and mortgage markets (BBC News 2008-01-21).”

2008-01-21 “Australia’s benchmark ASX 200 index closed down 2.9%, or 166.9, points at 5,580.4″, amid growing fears of a recession in the US. This is ASX 200 index’s “lowest level for a year. It was also the 11th consecutive negative day for the index, the longest losing streak in more than 25 years (BBC News 2008-01-21).”

2008-01-21 “There may be more downturns in store for Asia, particularly as banks report the fallout from their investments in the United States mortgage market. Companies “have not announced their year-end numbers yet,” Schuller, of Moody’s, said, and if they are holding subprime assets, they may need to write-off their value, she said. “They are going to be taking these 25 to 30 percent haircuts we’re seeing on Wall Street,” she said. “I think it is going to shock people.” [This article which appeared in the New York Times was written by David Jolly reporting from Paris and Heather Timmons from New Delhi. Tim Johnston contributed reporting from Sydney, and Martin Foster from Tokyo (Jolly and Timmons 2008-01-21).”

“Mustier explained that Kerviel’s role on the trading desk was that of an arbitrageur, which meant that he was entrusted to purchase one portfolio of stock index futures and at the same time sell a similar mix of index futures, but with a slightly different value. The object of arbitrage is to try to make a profit from these differences in value. Because the value gaps between similar financial instruments are usually very small and temporary, this type of activity typically involves trading in very high total nominal amounts. Kerviel’s fraud, according to the bank, consisted of placing sizeable, real purchases in one portfolio but creating fictitious sales transactions in the second, off-setting portfolio. This gave the impression to risk managers that the risks in the first portfolio were hedged, when in fact they were not. As a result, the bank wound up exposed to massive, one-way bets, or “long” positions. Instead of hedging, which was his job, Kerviel was effectively speculating with the bank’s money. Mustier said a review of Kerviel’s trading records showed that he first began creating the fictitious trades in late 2006 and early 2007, but that these transactions were relatively small. The fake trading increased in frequency, and in size, during the course of the year, he said, but the largest fictitious trades – involving futures contracts on the Dow Jones Euro Stoxx 50, the DAX in Germany and the FTSE index in Britain – were entered in early January. “Our controls identified from time to time problems with this trader’s portfolio,” Mustier said, although he declined to say when the first questions were raised by risk managers, saying that the bank’s auditors were still investigating. Each time one of Kerviel’s trades was questioned, Mustier said, Kerviel would describe it as a “mistake” and cancel the trade (Clark 2008-01-27).”

2009-01-21 Analyst Mike Lenhoff at Brewin Dolphin Securities predicts that the prospect of falling US interest rates announced by the US administration will have a positive effect on the market by January 2009 and the crisis mode of January 2008 and the drop in global indexes based on fears of a US recession will be proven to be a panicked knee-jerk reaction (BBC News 2008-01-21).”

Bibliography and Webliography

BBC. 2008-01-21. “Global shares tumble on US fears.” BBC News on-line. Uploaded 2008/01/21 16:10:48 GMT. Accessed 2008-21. http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/business/7199552.stm http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/7199552.stm

CBC News. 2008. “TSX plunges 500 points.” Last Updated: 2008-01-21:13:26 ET.

Clark, Nicola. 2008. “Société Générale reveals more details of €4.9 billion fraud.” >> International Herald Tribune. www.iht.com Uploaded January 27. Accessed January http://www.iht.com/bin/printfriendly.php?id=9534514

Jolly, David; Timmons, Heather. 2008-01-21. “Stocks Plunge in Europe and Asia on U.S. Recession Fear.” New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/21/business/22stox-web.html?_r=1&ei=5088&en=f84e22b0fa01257e&ex=1358658000&oref=slogin&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss&pagewanted=print

Leary, Virginia A. 1998. “Globalization and Human Rights.” In Symonides, Janusz (Ed.) Human Rights: New Dimensions and Challenges: Manual on Human Rights. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate Dartmouth Publishing Company Ltd. / UNESCO Publishing. pp. 265-276. 2007.

“Rich man, poor man.” The Economist. Jan 18th 2007. Accessed January 18, 2007.


Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 2008. “Risk Society: Unintended Consequences of Subprime Market.” >> Google docs. January 21. http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=ddp3qxmz_505grfcrtgjFlynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 2008. “Societe Generale: a Logical Conclusion of Impatient Money, Unregulated Hedge Funds and Private Equity Funds.” >> Google Docs. Uploaded January 28. http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=ddp3qxmz_510gwkhvrcs


Patrick Watson (1980) vs CTV (2007): the case of Conrad Black: The Canadian Establishment and governance.

Throughout the trial of Conrad Black I wondered why Patrick Watson‘s articulate and well-researched CBC documentary entitled the Canadian Establishment (1980), was not viewed on CBC. Conrad Black was known for a strong and effective offensive tactics when dealing with his image management in the press and until the guilty verdict became publicized the media was discouraged from entirely objective coverage. This may change now that the jury has revealed to their decision. CTV coverage reveals a pro-Black bias describing him as stoic, proud, even …onian, in the face of this trial, almost agreeing with Conrad Black that he is somehow above the law. However, he did glare and skowl at the jury when they gave their decision. They describe how he helped every community he was a part of. They admire his rise from his university education to an emerging career with the press to the circle of the uber-wealthy. They expect him to stand up to this and continue to argue for his own innocence. He was found guilty of obstruction of justice where he removed evidence from his Toronto office and of email fraud which hold a combined possible sentence of 10 to 65 years. Charges of racketeering were dismissed. Nonetheless he stole millions of dollars from Hollinger, and continues to feel no remorse. There appears to be a strong empathetic response to the potential of his doing his real jailtime in an American jail where he is actually going to have to do work such as laundry. There is speculation and some relief that since he is so ‘astute’ in terms of money that he will have provided for himself and his family, Barbara Amiel, their son and daughter, Alanna in some ‘legal’ fashion. CTV journalists are comparing the American and Canadian legal systems in terms of fairness and approaches to access to jury information. They mused about whether American courts would be harsher on Black and his co-accused than their Canadian counterparts who would be more influenced by Black’s position of power, wealth and prestige. They seem to admire Black for his intelligence and his ability to write and do research and imagine him using his minimum security prison to study and write. Although others argue that an American minimium security prison is not an exclusive club prison like those in Canada and Black will not have access to a computer. CTV interviewees describe Black as someone very concerned with his place in history. CTV journalists look for ‘silver lining’ in his situation. They wonder how Black will survive from now to his sentence hearing by Judge … in November. He is no longer a Canadian citizen since he abandoned it to become a British Lord. This means he has no rights to go to Canadian jails which are considered to be friendlier to the uber-wealthy. Black is expected to begin quickly to appeal the jury’s findings. This will not be stalling the sentencing hearing.

What makes Watson’s (1980) revelations so compelling at this time is the way in which he reveals Black’s roots as outsider on Bay Street until he was able to take advantage of widows of Establishment members to get his toe in the door. While Black’s father had some wealth through his brewery, his family lacked the prestige and power of the Canadian Establishment. According to Watson, it was during the era of Conrad Black that the Establishment shifted towards an even more self-serving attitude of entitlement. His business ethics predates that of the mean-spirited arrogance of the financeers in the 1990s. He seems to embody that which is dysfunctional and unsustainable in a social world corrupted by extremes of wealth and poverty.

My own concern with Black was the role he played as media mogul in obstructing access to an objective press, a keystone of democracy. Like the the New Brunswick-Bahamas Irvings prior to their ethical turn, mass media moguls adopt Friedman’s motto that their sole responsibility is to make money. Black claimed that he hoped to provide more of a pro-business, economic efficiency viewpoint to counteract the perceived social justice bias of the media (Flynn-Burhoe).

Do we secretly admire white collar criminals and their brilliant lawyers? Conrad Black and three others are accused of stealing $60M from shareholders to fatten their 5- and 7-figure salaries. Prosecutor Jeffrey Cramer claimed in his opening statement that media mogul Black failed to provide the public with objective accounts of world affairs.

read more | digg story

CTV News. 2007. Conrad Black. July 13, 2007.

Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 2006. “Media and Objectivity: a Selected Timeline of Social Events.” >> papergirls. December 6.

Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 2007.

Is the Mass Media Coverage Biased in Favour of Conrad Black?”>> papergirls. May 9, 2007.

Watson, Patrick. 1980. The Canadian Establishment. CBC.

Patrick Watson.” Museum TV Archives.


According to TD Bank Financial Group Economists Drummond and Tulk (2006) wealth disparities will intensify. They paint a dismal picture for Canadians excluded from the top quintile. Prospects are bright for Canada’s 22 billionaires and others in that elusive group of Ultra High Net Worth (UHNW) ie c. .004% of Canadian families (Stenner et al., 2006 ), who hold more than $10,000,000 in assets. In sharp contrast to Canadians in the four lower quintiles, the UHNW benefited with large increases in wealth since 1984. Unlike real estate held by the lower quintile, these rare families saw their luxury homes, properties, businesses and collections rise in price. With these additional assets they were able to invest, many in tax-free RRSPs, so their net worth grew. “If investment returns rise the trend towards growing wealth disparities will likely intensify. This could be compounded by sluggish wage gains in the low end and the financial challenge of immigrants – the main source of growth in the younger, less affluent population (Drummond and Tulk, 2006).”

Considerable wealth was accumulated in Canada between 1999 and 2005. In 2005 net worth increased by 41.7% to nearly $1.5 trillion (US?). The most recent Statistics Canada report revealed today that the Canadian national net worth reached $4.8 trillion by the end of the third quarter. While in terms of an economist’s algorithm this translates into an average of $146,700 per person. In reality only the a tiny number of Canadian households benefited. “The gain in net worth resulted from an increase in national wealth (economy-wide non-financial assets) as well as a sharp drop in net foreign debt. National net worth grew 2.8% in the third quarter, the largest increase in more than two years (Statistics Canada 2006 )”.

Drummond and Turk are concerned that in spite of the dramatic growth in Net Worth, there is a significant portion of the population with little or negative Net Worth (debts/assets ratio) in 2005.

Although Drummond and Turk cite the World Institute for Development Economics Research as their source in regards to situating the seemingly overwhelming disparity between the 10% of households that are extremely wealthy and the lower quintiles. (I believe they refer to reports by Senior Researcher of the World Institute for Development Economics Research (WIDER) of the United Nations University, Mark McGillvray (2005) whose research is available only of the deep Internet — an exclusive members-only club.)

For the first time however, 165 of the UNHW families accepted to be interviewed by the Stenner Group. The True Wealth Report (Stenner 2006 ) reveals that the most popular past-times of UNHW are traveling (particularly to London, Paris, Vienna, New York and Vancouver staying in ), playing golf and taking part in other sports, collecting art and antiques, drive BMW’s, Volvo’s or Porsches. They claim their philanthropy is tied to both their religious faith and strategic money management (Stenner et al., 2006 ).

(Morissette and Zhan, 2006)

According to Stats Can economists in their recent report who refer to research by Western University Economist James B. Davies and Shorrocks Economist with the United Nations World University, it is to measure the actual holdings of the uber-wealthy. Forty-eight percent of Canadian wealth might be held by less than 1% of the Canadian population; (Davies and Shorrocks, 2000, Davies, 2003).

Western University Economist and co-author of publications with Shorrocks, editor for the United Nations World University publications and Financial Post journalist (Chevreau, 2003) both cited Shillington’s C.D. Howe Insitute report (2003), revealing an unintended disincentive for the those who earn under $50,000/annual to save. “Shillington (2003) has used Statistics Canada’s 1999 Survey of Financial Security to illuminate what he calls the “futile saving” problem. He looks, first, at the savings of “near-seniors”, those households where the older spouse is aged 55 – 64. He finds that 21% of these households have no retirement saving, and in total 53% have retirement savings of less than $100,000. On the grounds that savings of $100,000 would not permit the purchase of an annuity of more than about $10,000 Shillington believes that the majority of these people will be GIS recipients in retirement. Their savings are thus “futile”, since they will be at least half confiscated by the GIS taxback.17 Turning to actual GIS recipients, Shillington reports that about 23 percent have an RRSP, with an average value of $43,000; 29 percent have an RPP, with an average value of $65,000; and about 40% have either an RRSP or RPP. In Shillington’s view this represents the result of a gigantic fraud, however unintentional. Governments and financial institutions have advertised the importance of saving for retirement very heavily, and the annual campaign to get RRSP contributions is a vigorous one. The voices warning low-income people that this is in no sense an “investment” are tiny ones.” (Davies, 2003) p. 28

Shillington concluded that

poor seniors dependent on the federal Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) and its means-tested provincial and municipal counterparts should not bother with RRSPs. To do so means losing GIS benefits, rent subsidies, drug benefits, provincial aid programs like Ontario’s GAINs and similar welfare programs.” Once RRSPs create income from Registered Retirement Income Funds after 69, $1 in income reduces GIS benefits by 50¢. Since half of GIS recipients pay income tax, they face an effective marginal tax rate of 75% on extra income. In some cases involving dividend gross-ups, the effective top-rate savings may pass 100%, Mr. Shillington said. For them, “RRSPs are a terrible investment. They are victims of a fraud, however unintentional.” Saving $100,000 in RRSPs may be futile if that is your target. However, it does not mean younger people with $100,000 already saved should stop, as long as they are on the way to accumulating several hundred thousand dollars by the end of their working lives. “RRSPs can be dangerous to your financial health” is the subtitle of Free Parking, a self-published book by “reformed financial planner” Alan Dickson. “I totally agree with the report,” Mr. Dickson said. Citing 2001 Statistics Canada data, Mr. Shillington said of $1-trillion in retirement assets, $600-billion is in employer pensions, $340-billion in RRSPs and $70-billion in RRIFs. (Chevreau, 2003)

“National net worth reached $4.8 trillion by the end of the third quarter, or $146,700 per person. The gain in net worth resulted from an increase in national wealth (economy-wide non-financial assets) as well as a sharp drop in net foreign debt. National net worth grew 2.8% in the third quarter, the largest increase in more than two years (Statistics Canada 2006 )”.

Clever people like Derek Foster who know how to work the system trigger angry responses against publicly-financed assistance for the lowest quintile. (Heinzl, 2005) Foster (born c. 1961) began making astute investments while still in university. He learned from finance gurus Peter Lynch and Warren Buffett. In 2005 he continued to earn enough from his total investments (which total six digits) in Starbucks, Colgate-Palmolive, Rothmans Inc., Royal Bank of Canada, Corby Distilleries Ltd., Manulife Financial Corp., George Weston Ltd., Pembina Pipeline Income Fund, Canadian Oil Sands Trust and a dozen or so others, that he and his family of four can live modestly without ever having to work again. Their low income c. $30, 000/annual actually allows them to enjoy certain publicly-financial benefits designed for low-income earners with no assets (Heinzl, 2005). Others include Dianne Nahirny’s Stop Working, Start Living (http://www.smartmakeovers.com) and Alan Dickson’s Free Parking and Advance to Go (http://www.freemoneypress.com)

(McGillivray, 2005)
(McGillivray, 2005)

Unfortunately I cannot use this source. References have no weight: [1.4 million Canadian children -- about one in five -- living in poverty, an increase of more than 500,000 since 1995. [. . .]“Housing, health, education, labour rights and a healthy environment are all included in the covenant,” she said. “Wealthy nations like Canada are expected to take steps toward meeting the goals of the covenant, but since Canada last reported in 1993, it has taken many steps backward.” [. . .] But life may not be as rosy as the UN survey found. A recently released Indian Affairs study said off-reserve aboriginals came in about 35th and on-reserve natives rank about 63rd in the world, putting their standard of living in Canada at the same level as Mexico’s and Thailand’s. The Ottawa-based Centre for the Study of Living Standards recently said anyone who has tried to measure Canadians’ quality of life has found it’s worsened considerably during the 1990s, even though the economy has bounced back from the last recession. (McGran, 1998 )

With more than a billion people living on less than one dollar per day, some evidence of increasing gaps in living conditions within and between countries and the clear evidence of substantial declines in life expectancy or other health outcomes in some parts of the world, the related topics of inequality, poverty and well-being are core international issues. More is known about inequality, poverty and well-being than ever before as a result of conceptual and methodological advances and better data. Yet many debates persist and numerous important questions remain unanswered. This book examines inequality, poverty and well-being concepts and corresponding empirical measures. Attempting to push future research in new and important directions, the book has a strong analytical orientation, consisting of a mix of conceptual and empirical analysis that constitute new and innovative contributions to the research literature.Mark McGillivray is a senior researcher with the World Institute for Development Economics Research (WIDER) of the United Nations University.

Selected webliography

Chevreau, Jonathan (2003) RRSPs a bad option for low-income earners Financial Post.
Davies, James B. (2003) Social and Economic Risks to Seniors in Ontario. Ontario Panel on the Role of Government (OPRG). Toronto.
Davies, James B. & Shorrocks, Anthony F. (2000) “The Distribution of Wealth.” In Atkinson, A.B. and Bourguignon, F. (Eds.) Handbook of Income Distribution.
Drummond, Don & Tulk, David (2006 ) Lifestyles of the Rich and Unequal: an Investigation into Wealth Inequality in Canada. TD Bank Financial Group.
Heinzl, John (2005) The ‘Youngest Retiree’ Tells How To Punch Out Of The Workplace. Globe and Mail.
McGillivray, Mark (2005) Inequality, Poverty and Well-being, Helsinki, Finland, Palgrave Macmillan.
Mcgran, Kevin (1998 ) Anti-poverty activists take case to the United Nations. The Canadian Press. Toronto, ON.
Mcquaig, Linda (1995) Shooting the Hippo: Death by Deficit and Other Canadian Myths, Toronto, Viking
Mcquaig, Linda (1998 ) The Cult of Impotence: Selling the Myth of Powerlessness in the Global Economy, Toronto, Penguin Books
Morissette, René & Zhan, Xuelin (2006 ) Revisiting Wealth Inequality. Perspectives on Labour and Income. Ottawa, ON, Statistics Canada.
Shillington, Richard (2003) New Poverty Traps: Means-Testing and Modest-Income Seniors. C. D. Howe Institute. Backgrounder. 65.
Statistics Canada. (2006). “National balance sheet accounts: Third Quarter”. Press Release. Ottawa, ON. December 15, 2006.
Stenner, Thane, Bower, Rod, Currie, John & O’connor, Rory (2006) True Wealth Report: Values and Views of Ultra-Affluent Individuals, Vancouver, BC, T. Stenner Group ™.

Sachs, Jeffrey D. 2011-03-04. “Need versus greed: The global economy is growing quickly, but too much wealth is siphoned off by well connected billionaires.

This post is being written on line back and forth between articles, EndNote, zotero and the slow world. It is currently being updated.

Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen 2008. “Food Fertilizer Fuel.” >> papergirls.wordpress.com

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