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Daily Archives: March 4, 2014

Canadian Student Debt Growing Fast, But U.S. Is Much Worse Off

Canadian Student Debt Growing Fast, But U.S. Is Much Worse Off.

student debt canada

Student debt in Canada has soared in recent years, highlighting growing concerns that post-secondary education in becoming increasingly inaccessible.

But Canadian students can at least take some solace in this: The situation is much worse in the U.S.

According to Statistics Canada’s Survey of Financial Security, released last week, student debt grew 44.1 per cent from 1999 to 2012, or 24.4 per cent between 2005 and 2012.

In all, one in eight Canadian families are carrying student debt, with a median value of about $10,000, StatsCan reported. There was a total $28.3 billion in outstanding student debt in 2012, the survey found.

Yet Canadian students’ debt burden “pales in comparison with the U.S.,” writes BMO economist Sal Guatieri, noting that south of the border, student debt grew 110 per cent between 2005 and 2012, to almost $1 trillion.

The situation in the U.S. has grown so extreme that some experts are calling student debt the next economic bubble.

All the same, Canadian students are seeing their financial obligations grow faster than income. According to a study from the Canadian Centre for Polilcy Alternatives, released last fall, the costs of a post-secondary education — including tuition and compulsory fees — have tripled since 1990.

The CCPA forecasts that costs will rise another 13 per cent by the 2016-2017 student year. Ontario has the highest fees, at $8,403 on average last fall, rising to $9,517 by 2016-17. Newfoundland has the lowest. Its average of $2,872 last fall will barely rise, to $2,886, by 2016-17.

study last year from TD Bank found students are increasingly delaying major life milestones due to the rising costs of education, with the situation being made worse by a sluggish post-recession job market. That survey found average debt load sits at around $27,000.

Tuition hikes were at the heart of the Quebec student protests in the spring of 2012. The CCPA projects Quebec’s average tuition will hit $3,759 by 2016-17, low when compared to most provinces, but a nearly three-fold increase since 1990-91.

But to BMO’s Guatieri, the relatively better position of Canadian students, compared to U.S. ones, is good news for the economy.

Canadian students “could be in a better financial position to buy automobiles and homes than their American counterparts,” he wrote.

Ukraine Crisis Has Been Hiding In Plain Sight

Ukraine Crisis Has Been Hiding In Plain Sight.

Oddly enough, I know Ukraine. Or as much as one can know the country from spending time traveling there, long ago as a post-graduate student and in recent years as a tourist and writer. Part of my family was from a Ukrainian town, which I have visited.

Amid the standoff in Crimea, observations from this time lend some insight into the tangled roots of the crisis.

  • Vladimir Putin has been hiding his intentions in plain sight. In an infamous 2005 speech, he declared that the dissolution of the Soviet Union was the “major geopolitical disaster of the century.” But more to the point, he lamented the fact that “tens of millions of our co-citizens and compatriots found themselves outside Russian territory.” This was dog-whistle politics in Crimea, Eastern Ukraine and elsewhere. People were listening. Were we or the Europeans?
  • Ukrainian culture is deep and distinctive. When I first traveled to Kiev and Odessa by way of Lvov as a student in the early 1970s, I got lecture after lecture about the universal genius of Taras Shevchenko, the Pushkin/Shakespeare of the country.
  • Even so, independent Ukrainian nationhood has been more of a romantic dream than a political reality. Lithuanians, Poles and Russians have run the country for most of the last millennium. The main avenue of Kiev is lined with Soviet architecture. The Russians designed Ukraine’s most beautiful city, Odessa, as the St. Petersburg of the South. And it is.
  • The crowd on the Maidan, according to an eye witness, was a brave, spontaneous and democratic one. It wasn’t manufactured by higher powers. “They just kept marching forward knowing they would get shot,” said the observer, an American who was in the city on business.
  • But the new ruling group, empowered by the street protesters, won’t necessarily be a total contrast to the rapacious Yanukovych bunch. “Ukraine is basically tribes of billionaires fighting with each other over resources,” said a former U.S. government official who has worked for more than one tribe there as a political and security adviser.
  • Historically and culturally, Crimea isn’t Ukraine. Sevastopol and Yalta, famous spots on the peninsula, feel Russian when you visit. Sevastapol is home to monuments –- literally and operationally –- to Russian military power: the old Russian fleet submarine bays; the dolphin training center (like a shabby Sea World); the stone markers representing Soviet battles in World War II. Yalta, an almost mystical name to the old Russian leisure class, is home to the dachas of famous Russian artists and the World War II meeting of Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin. When you visit the Czarist summer home that played host to that meeting, there is nothing Ukrainian about the place in any sense.
  • Ironically, and confusingly, old Kiev was the birthplace of Eastern Slavic culture and faith, the place where Vladimir I in 980 decided to adopt Christianity. Evidence of this history is on display to this day, in sacred catacombs that contain rows of skulls of monks from many centuries ago. Russia and Ukraine are yoked together: uncomfortably, sometimes violently, but inevitably.
  • The definition of what is Ukraine has always been elastic around the edges. The first Ukrainian city I visited as a student in a Volkswagen bus in 1970 was Lvov, in what was then called “Western Ukraine.” It had the feel of an Austrian or Polish town, a Middle European city, and for good reason: at one time or another, it had belonged to both. (Under the Austrians it was known as Lemberg.)
  • There is not the same tradition of American-style ideas of freedom — sometimes glorified in the abstract, and paid lip service to by Putin –- in Russia or Ukraine.When I was traveling on a post-graduate fellowship from the Watson Foundation, my carefully limited visa allowed me to drive to Kiev and Odessa, but not to deviate from that route in any way, for any length of time. Well, I wanted to visit Bila Treskva, an hour south of Kiev, where my mother’s ancestors were from. So I drove there without permission. It took the authorities only a few hours to find me, take me into custody and question me for a couple of hours. Before they let me go they made me sign a document admitting my malfeasance. It was in Russian.

To Celebrate Detente Russian Navy Blocks Channel Between Crimea And Russia | Zero Hedge

To Celebrate Detente Russian Navy Blocks Channel Between Crimea And Russia | Zero Hedge.

It took just a few short hours after Putin’s Cold War 2.0 “detente” overtures for Russia to show that there is a difference between actions and words. In this case, and as always, the former continue to outperform the latter, and Reuters reports that Russian navy ships have blocked off the Kerch Strait which separates Ukraine’s Crimea region and Russia.

According to the news service, which however cites Ukraine border guards so it must be taken with a large grain of salt as last seen during yesterday’s “ultimatum” escalation, the border guards have said that Russian servicemen are in control of the Crimean side of the narrow channel and that Russian armored vehicles have been sighted on the Russian side.

“The Kerch Strait is blocked by two Russian ships – from the north and from the south,” Pavel Shishurin, the deputy head of the border guards, told reporters.

The Russian military has not confirmed his comments.

But as long as Putin contemplates whether or not to put troops in the Crimea, as in more, all is well. At least according to the “markets.”

To Celebrate Detente Russian Navy Blocks Channel Between Crimea And Russia | Zero Hedge

To Celebrate Detente Russian Navy Blocks Channel Between Crimea And Russia | Zero Hedge.

It took just a few short hours after Putin’s Cold War 2.0 “detente” overtures for Russia to show that there is a difference between actions and words. In this case, and as always, the former continue to outperform the latter, and Reuters reports that Russian navy ships have blocked off the Kerch Strait which separates Ukraine’s Crimea region and Russia.

According to the news service, which however cites Ukraine border guards so it must be taken with a large grain of salt as last seen during yesterday’s “ultimatum” escalation, the border guards have said that Russian servicemen are in control of the Crimean side of the narrow channel and that Russian armored vehicles have been sighted on the Russian side.

“The Kerch Strait is blocked by two Russian ships – from the north and from the south,” Pavel Shishurin, the deputy head of the border guards, told reporters.

The Russian military has not confirmed his comments.

But as long as Putin contemplates whether or not to put troops in the Crimea, as in more, all is well. At least according to the “markets.”

Ukrainian, Russian Warships Cross Bosphorus, Enter Black Sea | Zero Hedge

Ukrainian, Russian Warships Cross Bosphorus, Enter Black Sea | Zero Hedge.

The Bosphorus has been a busy place today where first two Russian ships, the Alligator Class landing ship 150 Saratov and the Ropucha class landing ship 156 Yamal have passed the Turkish strait in a northerly, Black Sea, direction, followed promptly by the Ukrainian frigate U130 Hetman Sahaydachniy. Full steam ahead to a Sevastopol rendezvous? Find out in a few hours.

Photos and captions courtesy of Bosphorus Naval News:

Saratov passing through Bosphorus on 4 March 2014. Photo TRT

 

Yamal passing through Bosphorus on 4 March 2014. Photo AA

 

Ukrainian frigate Hetman Sahaidachny is passing through Bosphorus with Ukrainian flag hoisted.

h/t @Saturn5_

Ukrainian, Russian Warships Cross Bosphorus, Enter Black Sea | Zero Hedge

Ukrainian, Russian Warships Cross Bosphorus, Enter Black Sea | Zero Hedge.

The Bosphorus has been a busy place today where first two Russian ships, the Alligator Class landing ship 150 Saratov and the Ropucha class landing ship 156 Yamal have passed the Turkish strait in a northerly, Black Sea, direction, followed promptly by the Ukrainian frigate U130 Hetman Sahaydachniy. Full steam ahead to a Sevastopol rendezvous? Find out in a few hours.

Photos and captions courtesy of Bosphorus Naval News:

Saratov passing through Bosphorus on 4 March 2014. Photo TRT

 

Yamal passing through Bosphorus on 4 March 2014. Photo AA

 

Ukrainian frigate Hetman Sahaidachny is passing through Bosphorus with Ukrainian flag hoisted.

h/t @Saturn5_

John Kerry To Explain How Ukraine Is Fixed – Live Feed | Zero Hedge

John Kerry To Explain How Ukraine Is Fixed – Live Feed | Zero Hedge.

Having “condemned Russia’s incredible act of aggression” which markets now appear to have forgotten about, we wonder just what Secretary of State John Kerry will have to say in this speech. Markets appear to think it’s all over and east and west Ukraine can all sing Kumbayah with Putin leading the melody but other leaders continue to call for “crushing” sanctions against Europe’s largest gas supplier. We are sure Kerry will clear it all up and explain where the line that was not crossed is… and for goodness’ sake don’t mention the Russian boots on the ground in Crimea.

Group hug?

Mission Accomplished? Stocks at all time highs…

One wonders just what Victoria “Fuck The EU” Nuland whispered to Tymoshenko…

Live Feed (embed) via NBC (if embed not working click here)

John Kerry To Explain How Ukraine Is Fixed – Live Feed | Zero Hedge

John Kerry To Explain How Ukraine Is Fixed – Live Feed | Zero Hedge.

Having “condemned Russia’s incredible act of aggression” which markets now appear to have forgotten about, we wonder just what Secretary of State John Kerry will have to say in this speech. Markets appear to think it’s all over and east and west Ukraine can all sing Kumbayah with Putin leading the melody but other leaders continue to call for “crushing” sanctions against Europe’s largest gas supplier. We are sure Kerry will clear it all up and explain where the line that was not crossed is… and for goodness’ sake don’t mention the Russian boots on the ground in Crimea.

Group hug?

Mission Accomplished? Stocks at all time highs…

One wonders just what Victoria “Fuck The EU” Nuland whispered to Tymoshenko…

Live Feed (embed) via NBC (if embed not working click here)

Putin Advisor Threatens With Dumping US Treasurys, Abandoning Dollar If US Proceeds With Sanctions | Zero Hedge

Putin Advisor Threatens With Dumping US Treasurys, Abandoning Dollar If US Proceeds With Sanctions | Zero Hedge.

While the comments by Russian presidential advisor, Sergei Glazyev, came before Putin’s detente press conference early this morning, they did flash a red light of warning as to what Russian response may be should the west indeed proceed with “crippling” sanctions as Kerry is demanding.  As RIA reports, his advice is that “authorities should dump US government bonds in the event of Russian companies and individuals being targeted by sanctions over events in Ukraine.” Glazyev said the United States would be the first to suffer in the event of any sanctions regime. “The Americans are threatening Russia with sanctions and pulling the EU into a trade and economic war with Russia,” Glazyev said. “Most of the sanctions against Russia will bring harm to the United States itself, because as far as trade relations with the United States go, we don’t depend on them in any way.

From RIA:

“We hold a decent amount of treasury bonds – more than $200 billion – and if the United States dares to freeze accounts of Russian businesses and citizens, we can no longer view America as a reliable partner,” he said. “We will encourage everybody to dump US Treasury bonds, get rid of dollars as an unreliable currency and leave the US market.”

 

US Secretary of State John Kerry on Saturday warned that Russian military interventions in Ukraine, which have been justified by the Kremlin as protection for residents in heavily ethnic Russian-populated regions, could result in “serious repercussions” for Moscow.

“Unless immediate and concrete steps are taken by Russia to deescalate tensions, the effect on US-Russian relations and on Russia’s international standing will be profound,” Kerry said.

 

Kerry mentioned economic sanctions, visa bans and asset freezes as possible measures.

 

Former deputy energy minister and lively government critic Vladimir Milov slammed Glazyev’s remarks, saying they would put further downward pressure on the ruble, which was pushed down Monday to a record low of 36.5 against the dollar amid fears about the possible outbreak of war.

 

“That idiot Glazyev will keep talking until the dollar is worth 60 [rubles],” Milov wrote on his Twitter account.

To be sure, a high-ranking Kremlin source was quick to distance his office from Glazyev’s remarks, however, insisting to RIA Novosti that they represented only his personal position. Glazyev was just expressing his views as an academic, and not as a presidential adviser, the Kremlin insider said.

That said, putting Russia’s threat in context, the Federation held $138.6 billion in US Treasurys as of December according to the latest TIC data, making it the 11th largest creditor of the US, which appears to conflict with what the Russian said, making one wonder where there is a disconnect in “data.” This would mean the Fed would need just two months of POMO to gobble up whatever bonds Russia has to sell.

The bigger question is if indeed, as some have suggested, China were to ally with Russia, and proceed to follow Russia in its reciprocal isolation of the US, by expanding trade with Russia on non-USD based terms, and also continue selling bonds as it did in December, when as we reported previously it dumped the second largest amount of US paper in history.

… especially when one considers the latest news released by the Kremlin:

PUTIN, XI DISCUSSED UKRAINE BY PHONE, KREMLIN SAYS
RUSSIA, CHINA SHARE SIMILAR POSITIONS ON UKRAINE, KREMLIN SAYS

Putin Advisor Threatens With Dumping US Treasurys, Abandoning Dollar If US Proceeds With Sanctions | Zero Hedge

Putin Advisor Threatens With Dumping US Treasurys, Abandoning Dollar If US Proceeds With Sanctions | Zero Hedge.

While the comments by Russian presidential advisor, Sergei Glazyev, came before Putin’s detente press conference early this morning, they did flash a red light of warning as to what Russian response may be should the west indeed proceed with “crippling” sanctions as Kerry is demanding.  As RIA reports, his advice is that “authorities should dump US government bonds in the event of Russian companies and individuals being targeted by sanctions over events in Ukraine.” Glazyev said the United States would be the first to suffer in the event of any sanctions regime. “The Americans are threatening Russia with sanctions and pulling the EU into a trade and economic war with Russia,” Glazyev said. “Most of the sanctions against Russia will bring harm to the United States itself, because as far as trade relations with the United States go, we don’t depend on them in any way.

From RIA:

“We hold a decent amount of treasury bonds – more than $200 billion – and if the United States dares to freeze accounts of Russian businesses and citizens, we can no longer view America as a reliable partner,” he said. “We will encourage everybody to dump US Treasury bonds, get rid of dollars as an unreliable currency and leave the US market.”

 

US Secretary of State John Kerry on Saturday warned that Russian military interventions in Ukraine, which have been justified by the Kremlin as protection for residents in heavily ethnic Russian-populated regions, could result in “serious repercussions” for Moscow.

“Unless immediate and concrete steps are taken by Russia to deescalate tensions, the effect on US-Russian relations and on Russia’s international standing will be profound,” Kerry said.

 

Kerry mentioned economic sanctions, visa bans and asset freezes as possible measures.

 

Former deputy energy minister and lively government critic Vladimir Milov slammed Glazyev’s remarks, saying they would put further downward pressure on the ruble, which was pushed down Monday to a record low of 36.5 against the dollar amid fears about the possible outbreak of war.

 

“That idiot Glazyev will keep talking until the dollar is worth 60 [rubles],” Milov wrote on his Twitter account.

To be sure, a high-ranking Kremlin source was quick to distance his office from Glazyev’s remarks, however, insisting to RIA Novosti that they represented only his personal position. Glazyev was just expressing his views as an academic, and not as a presidential adviser, the Kremlin insider said.

That said, putting Russia’s threat in context, the Federation held $138.6 billion in US Treasurys as of December according to the latest TIC data, making it the 11th largest creditor of the US, which appears to conflict with what the Russian said, making one wonder where there is a disconnect in “data.” This would mean the Fed would need just two months of POMO to gobble up whatever bonds Russia has to sell.

The bigger question is if indeed, as some have suggested, China were to ally with Russia, and proceed to follow Russia in its reciprocal isolation of the US, by expanding trade with Russia on non-USD based terms, and also continue selling bonds as it did in December, when as we reported previously it dumped the second largest amount of US paper in history.

… especially when one considers the latest news released by the Kremlin:

PUTIN, XI DISCUSSED UKRAINE BY PHONE, KREMLIN SAYS
RUSSIA, CHINA SHARE SIMILAR POSITIONS ON UKRAINE, KREMLIN SAYS

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