Canada envy, amid a global meltdown

"Canada's banks are finally getting some respect. Derided for years as meek and mild while banks around the world expanded wildly, suddenly the reputation of Canada's big lenders as prudent and sometimes downright boring has become an asset instead of a liability.

U.S. President Barack Obama has heaped praise on the management of this country's financial system. Ireland is considering overhauling its system to look more like Canada's. Financial papers around the world are running headlines such as “Canada banks prove envy of the world.”

Whether measured by market value, balance sheet strength or profitability, Canada's banks are rising to the top. Since the credit crunch began in the summer of 2007, the Big Five banks have booked a total of $18.9-billion in profits.

In roughly the same period, the five biggest U.S. banks have lost more than $37-billion (U.S.). One, Wachovia Corp., was forced to sell out to avoid failing. Another, Citigroup Inc., long the world's largest bank, may have to be nationalized and this week became a penny stock. The picture is similar in Britain." Tara Perkins and Boyd Erman, Globe and Mail

I worked for and still own Royal Bank and Toronto Dominion. I thought we pushed the envelope on lending a bit far some times. I guess that just shows how conservative a lender I was.

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