David Olive, Star Columnist

Pun intended. I have enormous respect for this writer, mostly of business/financial articles.

On Thursday June 21 the Toronto Star included, on the front page of the Business section, a thoughtful article on productivity.

Mr. Olive points out that productivity does not, at least in Canada and in Ontario, bring higher wages. It might bring higher profits, but those do not trickle down to anyone you know. Productivity brings, in fact, poverty. Remember the ‘paradox of the pins’. Higher productivity simply means fewer work hours.

Next time a company spokesperson, or a politician, talks about increasing productivity, realize that the speech is on behalf of the corporations, not the workers.

On a mildly related point, Mr. Olive has compared our Canadian banking ‘success’ with other countries. Here I beg to disagree on a minor point. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act in the USA prevented merging of different flavours of banking, in particular client banking with for-profit investment. David believes this is not as important as having relatively few banks and very few regulators – the Canadian situation. I still believe that having a large institution hold, and invest for me, my assets, and, hold, and invest for itself, its own assets, means that if it completely screws up in the latter, my funds will either evaporate or be bailed out by taxpayers. I agree that ‘Chinese walls’ don’t work. I am suggesting that separate legal entities should be required to do these two different kinds of funds management.

That said, Mr. Olive’s analysis of regulation, USA versus Canada, is quite fascinating. In the USA, so many cross-purpose regulators results in, er, poor regulation. Here we only have two regulators, and to quote Mr. Olive, they can finish each other’s sentences.

If you can get at the Toronto Star, I recommend you read David Olive. He is amazingly well researched, thoughtful, and provocative. Like Stephen Aftergood, he is nobody’s pawn. A white knight, maybe.

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