Canada is routinely cited as a boring backwater in financial services that has none of the scandals plaguing the rest of the industry. But in an extraordinary investigative report on The National, CBC’s Ian Hanomansing revealed an ongoing Canada Revenue Agency investigation, and a looming criminal investigation into KPMG Canada’s Isle of Man tax “haven” scheme reserved for its wealthiest clients. The report names names. Current Canadian government ministers are also implicated in apparent conflicts of interest.

I found this important editorial opinion piece in The Guardian, the UK journal. The point of this is, […]

One day after federal Finance Minister Joe Oliver deflected concerns over Canada’s poor economic showing to start 2015, the OECD announced that it now projects Canadian growth this year at about 1.5 percent, down sharply from 2.2 percent during its previous temperature reading in March and a full percentage point below its forecast last November. Oliver on Tuesday told a Parliamentary Committee that he does not anticipate a recession.

This issue has driven me absolutely nuts since I first arrived in Canada from Silicon Valley. It did not take me long to figure out that things did not work they way they did in California, and that there wasn’t much of a true entrepreneurial economy here. Since then, I have also been appointed to the Canada Foundation for Innovation grant process, providing me with insight into how R&D funding works in Canada. I have seen many issues in Canada that have impaired the nation’s ability to develop an entrepreneurial culture, among them is the inherent Canadian conservatism and short term horizon of investors unfamiliar with technology venture investment. But none has been worse than Canada’s decades-long neglect of adequate funding for research and development nationwide.

For most people, pleading guilty to a felony means they will very likely land in prison, lose their job and forfeit their right to vote.

But when five of the world’s biggest banks plead guilty to an array of antitrust and fraud charges as soon as next week, life will go on, probably without much of a hiccup.

The Justice Department is preparing to announce that Barclays, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and the Royal Bank of Scotland will collectively pay several billion dollars and plead guilty to criminal antitrust violations for rigging the price of foreign currencies, according to people briefed on the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Most if not all of the pleas are expected to come from the banks’ holding companies, the people said — a first for Wall Street giants that until now have had only subsidiaries or their biggest banking units plead guilty.

The Bank of Canada’s Spring 2015 Business Outlook Survey (link to complete report below) released this week, gives more reason for serious concern regarding the economic prospects for all Canada, and the widening impact of Canada’s “natural resource curse”: it’s fossil fuel based economy. The report points to a significant increase in business pessimism about the economy as a whole, well beyond the oil economy, which is causing business to significantly reduce plans for capital spending and hiring. As I pointed out previously, the impact of the oil economy collapse is likely to reverberate throughout the Okanagan. The BofC report suggests that the impacts will be even deeper and more diverse.

UBS has confirmed it is being investigated by US authorities into whether it helped Americans evade taxes through investments banned in the US. The Swiss bank said US regulators were investigating potential sales of so called “bearer bonds”. These bonds can be transferred without registering ownership, enabling wealthy clients to potentially hide assets. The fresh investigation by the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York and from the US Securities and Exchange Commission comes after UBS paid $780m (£512m) in 2009 to settle a separate Justice Department tax-evasion probe.

Students of Industry Analysis may be interested in this. For my January 2012 Industry Analysis course focused on the semiconductor industry, I set up an imaginary portfolio, using only industry analysis macro information. My Wall Street Journal portfolio of 13 semiconductor companies, covered a wide range of application markets. I would NOT recommend this as a serious portfolio strategy due to the highly cyclical and volatile nature of this industry. However, my overall gain over 2 years has been 32.87%. The top gainer, Micron Technologies (296.73%), lost its CEO in a plane crash after I invested but obviously recovered. The other two top gainers, ARM (112.70%), and Texas Instruments (56.71%) are both heavily involved in wireless communication chips.