Feds have a strong case for a national securities regulator, says Monahan

Alberta and Quebec are girding for a constitutional battle with the federal government over what they see as “an unprecedented federal power grab,” after Finance Minister Jim Flaherty unveiled his plans for a national securities regulator, wrote Canwest News Service May 27.

On Wednesday, Flaherty unveiled draft legislation to create a single national securities watchdog to replace the provincial and territorial regulators that oversee the country’s stock exchanges and other financial markets.

Constitutional expert Patrick Monahan said the federal government should be able to make a strong case that securities regulation falls under federal jurisdiction. “Capital markets today are not just national – they’re global. They don’t respect provincial boundaries. They don’t really respect national boundaries,” said Monahan, vice-president academic & provost at York University.

The ‘trill’ of investing: Schulich prof has a better idea

Fears of a “debt contagion” spreading from Greece to other debt-addicted countries in Europe and beyond are roiling stock markets and wreaking havoc with global currencies, wrote Mark Kamstra , finance professor at the Schulich School of Business at York University and visiting scholar at California’s Stanford University, in The Globe and Mail May 27. The situation has underscored how governments have become over-reliant on debt in order to finance runaway public spending. But cash-strapped governments in Europe and elsewhere do have another option: They could issue equity.

Here’s how it would work: Much like the way corporations raise funds by issuing equity, governments could raise money by issuing a bond tied to the level of that country’s gross domestic product. The idea for this novel debt instrument was first proposed by Yale economics professor Robert Shiller in his 1993 book Macro Markets.

In a recent C.D. Howe Institute policy paper, Prof. Shiller and I suggest that the Canadian government issue a new bond we call the “trill” for short because it would pay each holder one trillionth the annual GDP of Canada in perpetuity. Currently, such a bond would pay out approximately $1.50 per year. We estimate that the trill would be priced over $60, perhaps as high as $150 depending on investor appetite. A $10,000 investment in a trill priced at around $60 would give investors an annual return of approximately $250 – slightly more than the current yield on a one-year GIC, but lower than the return generated by index funds such as the TSX 60.

There is clearly a place for trills in the menu of debt issued by Canada and other countries. As we’ve seen during the past few weeks, the excessive build-up of government debt can trigger deep spending cuts or even tax hikes at a time when countries can least afford them – for example, during a severe and protracted recession. In contrast to debt currently issued by many governments, payouts from a GDP bond, or trill, would actually decline during a recession due to the corresponding decline in GDP. Much as corporations avoid liquidity crunches (and bankruptcy) by limiting their fixed debt obligations, governments could likewise diversify their debt obligations and avoid the sort of financing crises that have more recently thrown markets into turmoil.

Facebook bullying case lands in court

The parents of a 15-year-old Nova Scotia girl have turned to the courts to find out who created a fake Facebook page that includes allegedly defamatory comments about her appearance and sexual behaviour, wrote Nova Scotia’s Cape Breton Post May 27.

The family’s lawyer, Michelle Awad, confirmed that officials with California-based Facebook Inc. have already given her the numerical Internet Protocol address assigned to the computer used to create the account. But the lawyer still doesn’t have the name or names of those who assembled the page.

The judge who heard that case, Justice Heather Robertson, cited an Ontario Superior Court of Justice decision last year where Bell Canada and Rogers were ordered to provide to York University identifying information of anonymous people who allegedly wrote defamatory e-mails.

Historic sites open doors to its architectural past

There will be a new door opening in North York this year, wrote the North York Mirror May 26. Added to the list of architectural gems that will allow residents inside for sneak peek this weekend is the Archives of Ontario.

This new state-of-the-art facility will be displaying original records from its holdings showing the development of architecture in Toronto from the 18th Century to the 21st.

Located on York University’s Keele campus, the Archives of Ontario building is designed to offer enhanced services to the public and includes more than 90 digital microfilm readers, audio and video booths, modern digitization and conservation labs and a classroom for educational programming.

Chai with CEO yields top tips on entrepreneurship, leadership

York grad Jerome Dwight (MBA ’05) learned early that if you want to be a business leader – or for that matter want to succeed in any endeavour – you need to figure out your advantage, and to hammer it home, wrote Brampton’s South Asian Focus May 26.

“You need to find out what you’re unique at and then emphasize that as your professional advantage” to beat out the opposition, he told aspiring entrepreneurs and business leaders last week at a Chai with CEO evening, organized by ICCC Young Professionals team.

Today Dwight is president and CEO of BNY Trust Canada, a subsidiary of The Bank of New York Mellon with assets under administration worth $300 million in Canada. The Bank of New York Mellon itself had $22 trillion – yes, trillion – globally in assets under custody and administration.

Last year Dwight became a recipient of The Globe and Mail’s Canada’s Top 40 Under 40 award. And last week, he was passing on his insights to aspiring entrepreneurs and business leaders.

“Getting an MBA or whatever is just the start [Dwight himself is a chartered accountant, a chartered financial analyst and an MBA from the Schulich School of Business at York University]. When you see the changes at companies like RIM and Apple – it’s mind-boggling.”

Theatre festival brings summer fun

The Classic Theatre Festival is Ottawa Valley’s professional summer theatre company, dedicated to producing classic hits from the Golden Age of Broadway and the London Stage, wrote the Smiths Falls Emc May 27.

The festival is the brainchild of York grad Laurel Smith (MBA ’93), a lifelong performer, director, producer and playwright who has run her own company, Burning Passions Theatre, since 1999 in Toronto, producing a variety of shows from youth and women-centered plays to musicals and critically-acclaimed productions of George Bernard Shaw plays. It was while working at the Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake two summers ago that Laurel decided to strike out on her own, combining her love of theatre and the summertime experience with her strong business background (a York University MBA and years of large-scale theatre management) to start her own company.

Football all-star delivers powerful message of hope

Brian Nugent is a big man with a big heart and an even bigger message that mesmerized a student audience at Norwood District High School, wrote the Campbellford Emc May 27.

The former York football all-star and first round CFL draftee and NFL wide receiver delivered a powerful message of hope and perseverance; of giving back and then receiving more through gestures of kindness and caring – all with a deft blend of humour, poetry and straight talk.

“You can get whatever you want in life as long as you help others get what they want. With that one attitude people see that,” a pumped up Nugent said in an interview after his presentation. “My job in life is how can I better people? What can I learn from you? I’m always in a quest of constant learning. How can I improve myself? You never finish growing no matter who you are.”

The journey has not always been easy for the former York University star. His mother’s illness and death from breast cancer when he was in high school was devastating. “It was a difficult time,” he recalled.

On air

  • Véronique Tomaszewski, a sociology course director at York’s Glendon College, spoke about the G-20 summit, on TFO-TV’s “Panorama” May 26.