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The Two ‘Faces’ of U.S. Debt-Ceiling Deal

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Mercifully, it appears that the U.S. debt-ceiling farce has finally ended – with an anti-climactic “thud”. It is only fitting that the two-faced regime which negotiated such an agreement should present us with a scenario which has two distinct interpretations. However, before getting into how this deal came to be, it’s necessary to spend a moment doing a reality-check on the actual terms of the deal.

In any rational assessment, this can only be defined as another complete failure for the hopelessly dysfunctional U.S. government. While the talking-heads in the mainstream media will do their best to spin this as “the best compromise available”, the mere failure to commit suicide cannot be construed as a “victory” when this deadbeat economy teeters on the brink of bankruptcy.

The ability of the Federal Reserve to (supposedly) “fund” the U.S. government via its magic printing press ends permanently once hyperinflation officially drags the worthless greenback to zero. As I have detailed previously, in unofficial terms the “fundamental” value of the U.S. dollar has already reached zero.

With the “Emperor” (i.e. B.S. Bernanke) clearly wearing no clothes, each time the Federal Reserve cranks-out a new truck-load of Bernanke-bills (backed by nothing) to “pay” the bills of the U.S. government for one more month, the probability increases that the the sycophantic masses will finally notice this chronic nudity. And by “sycophantic masses” I’m naturally referring to the “experts” in charge of our global monetary system.

Because this absurd “deal” does nothing to reduce the steady stream of those truck-loads of Bernanke’s confetti, in any/every meaningful way it is a complete failure. As is always the case with governments which only wish to pretend to be engaging in fiscal tightening, this deal is heavily “back-loaded”, meaning that any noticeable reduction in the deficit doesn’t commence until 2016, while virtually nothing is being done until 2013. When a chronic deadbeat solemnly proclaims his intent to start acting responsibly two years from now, this impresses no one.

Indeed, in the first year of this “deficit-reduction” a mere $200 billion is being trimmed from the latest, massive increase in U.S. debt. Given the $1.6+ trillion size of the current deficit, this is nothing more than “a rounding error”. With the relentlessly (and intentionally?) “optimistic” revenue projections which this regime has engaged in, by the time the first year of this supposed deficit-reduction is finished, the “unexpected increase” in the size of the U.S.’s annual deficit could easily exceed the total amount of “deficit reduction”. Translation: in the first year of this “deficit fighting”, the U.S. deficit will very likely increase rather than decrease.

This becomes more probable by the day. With this credit-junkie economy now (apparently) deprived of additional stimulus and more of the Fed’s “easy money”, it had already sagged noticeably simply in anticipation of being deprived of its next “fix”. When the withdrawal-pains really begin to set in, we will see this debt-crippled economy once again plummeting like a rock.

Given that the “optimists” in the U.S. government have (as always) proclaimed their expectation of a “stronger second half” for 2011, the actual numbers for this revenue-starved economy are sure to be a “disappointment”. This makes the mere failure of this new deal the best-case scenario. The worst-case scenario is that this feeble attempt at “deficit fighting” will be abandoned before “the ink is even dry”; with either more government stimulus, more Fed money-printing – or both.

In short, the totally juvenile posturing which has taken place in the U.S. government over the past six months – preventing these corrupt stooges from doing anything useful during that period of time – will likely have a shelf-life no longer than the latest “victory strategy” for the war in Afghanistan.

The indictment of how the Republocrats arrived at this deal is equally scathing. Interpretation #1 is that this was an exercise in pure cynicism. Any/every credible economist has already concluded unequivocally that it will never be possible to even substantially reduce the massive U.S. deficit without significant increases in revenues (i.e. higher taxes).  More specifically, as I regularly point out in my own writing, the U.S. government is currently experiencing its worst revenue crisis in history.

With the bottom-80% of the U.S. population already squeezed dry, that leaves “tax increases for the rich” (and/or the multinational corporate deadbeats) as the only, possible source of additional revenues. However, the Republocrats have already been instructed by their Masters that no such tax increases would be allowed. Thus, this last six months of (quite literally) “political theater” has been undertaken solely to prevent the rich from suffering even the tiniest dent in their wealth-hoards.

The role of the Republican half of this tag-team was a simple one (commensurate with their abilities): “no tax increases for Americans”. The reality that only the top-20% have anything left to tax is a “subtlety” beyond the comprehension of the “Republican base”. The fact that the vast majority of Americans have supported tax increases for the rich in recent polling is irrelevant to Republicans – as they only need the support of their “base” to retain their own jobs in the vast majority of the U.S.’s severely gerrymandered electoral districts.

The “role” assigned to the Democrats was a more difficult one, given that it involved openly and intentionally betraying their own “base”. At least the Republicans are able to pretend that they are serving the interests of their loyal flock of sheep. The Democrats have no such political cover. Their complete and utter capitulation in this pseudo-negotiation cannot be hidden: no tax increases of any kind for the rich, despite the clear “message” from their own supporters.

What this means is that from the first day this entire debt-ceiling farce began, it had already been decided that no agreement would be reached until (literally) the day before default. Thus, the lame excuse which would be put forward today by the limp-wristed “leadership” of the Democrat Party is that they were “forced to capitulate” – because the hopelessly and obviously deluded “Tea Party” zealots in the Republican Party were genuinely prepared to “crash” the U.S. economy if they didn’t get their own way.

Fortunately, The Daily Show’s ever-astute Jon Stewart immediately stripped that excuse from this collection of two-faced weasels. Stewart pointed out that if the Democrats were incapable of “standing up” to the Republicans in a debt-ceiling show-down (because of some sort of genetic “spine deficiency”), that they could have simply used a previous “golden opportunity” to secure a debt-ceiling increase – without being required to 100% capitulate on future taxation policy.

When was this “golden opportunity”? A little more than six months ago when the Democrats previously engaged in 100% capitulation to the Republicans on taxation policy – by extending the massive windfall-to-the-wealthy known as “the Bush tax-cuts” (and again betrayed their own supporters). Stewart pointed out that unlike the latest capitulation (where the Democrats can point to the increase in the debt-ceiling), when the Democrats capitulated on the Bush tax-cuts they obtained absolutely nothing in return.

With the fast-approaching U.S. debt-ceiling already an issue when Obama broke yet another campaign promise on the Bush tax-cuts, it is absolutely impossible for the Democrats to claim that they had “forgotten about” that deadline the last time they rolled-over-and-played-dead. In consistently caving-in to Republicans any and every time the subject of “taxing the wealthy” arises, Obama has revealed himself to be nothing more than the two-bit actor from Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” – whose own, unconvincing denials evoked the immortal phrase “the lady doth protest too much, methinks.”

If this first interpretation of the Republocrat deal on the debt-ceiling reeks of corruption, deception, and cynicism, the second interpretation is simply frightening. The only other possible way to view these events is that the capitulation by the Democrats on the debt-ceiling was not merely an “act”. Rather the clueless ideologues in the Republican Party were not bluffing as they held the debt-ceiling “gun” to their heads, but were fully prepared to pull the trigger.

Understand the dynamics here. This is the same Republican Party in which virtually every one of their “stalwarts” fervently believes that the U.S. can “balance its budget” with nothing but spending-cuts – despite the fact that all leading economists have concluded this is mathematically impossible.

Clearly not one of these numerical simpletons would have the slightest idea of the actual consequences of simply refusing to increase the U.S. debt-ceiling. Despite their complete ignorance on the result of their own actions, and “stern warnings” from literally all over the world of the idiocy and recklessness of such an act, these zealots were prepared to risk the complete destruction of their own economy – simply to blindly pursue their own ideological dogma.

Readers are free to pick their own, favorite interpretation. Was this simply another example of the spineless, devious hypocrites which the Democrats have devolved into; or, does the Republican Party now represent the most dangerously incompetent group of mental-midgets to ever obtain “high office” in a Western democracy?

Readers are also free to select “all of the above”.

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Jeff Nielson
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written by Jeff Nielson, August 05, 2011
Mr. Paladin, where I could probably make a lot of "friends" for myself (or at least REDUCE the number of "enemies" ) would be to toss out some specific numbers.

I use the phrase "ultra-wealthy" instead of simply "wealthy" deliberately and consistently, because my commentary is targeted SPECIFICALLY at a sub-group of the "wealthy": the predators at the very top.

In CRUDE terms I'm talking about the top-1%, although it's probably a little larger group than that.

The people to whom I definitely am NOT targeting my "tax the wealthy" mantra is at the MERELY "moderately affluent". People with a net-worth between $500,000 and $1 million would NOT be "paying more taxes" if I ruled the world (lol) - and perhaps a little LESS.

People in the $1 million - $2 million bracket MIGHT pay a tiny bit MORE in taxes, but they are not the CAUSE of the problems (i.e. massive imbalances) in our societies.

Where the VAST majority of the wealth-hoarding occurs is with the mega-fortunes of the billionaries and TRILLIONAIRES (still a very tiny "club"). Those are the people who would pay much, much, much more in taxes - even with a mere 5% wealth tax (roughly 1000% percent more).

And remember: the wealth tax is one tax to replace ALL OTHER TAXES, at ALL levels of government. You get ONE hit to worry about. NO disincentives to maximize INCOME. No penalty for taking CAPITAL GAINS. No corporate taxation - since a wealth tax ALREADY accounts for that too.

No property taxes, no sales taxes, etc., etc.smilies/grin.gifsmilies/grin.gif
bobbbny
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written by bobbbny, August 05, 2011
Since the poor, and the middle class, spend 100% of what they make in order to live, a 10% consumption tax would disproportionately punish the 90% of the population with little to no net worth. For that reason, the wealthy would embrace it with open arms.
I have never heard of the concept of "deserving rich" vs "undeserving rich", but I'm certain that if I asked them, they would all say they were deserving.
Deserving of more.
The fact is, that under the current system, there has been one of the greatest concentrations of wealth in this country that the world has ever seen. The top 10% of the population has gone from owning 37% of the nations assets 20 years ago, to owning 70% of it today. The top 1% owns nearly half of the nations wealth, so the tax numbers quoted have not stopped the rich from getting richer, have they?
The concept that a consumption tax would encourage people to earn more has me scratching my head. Who is NOT incented to earn more just because they can then have more things? Again the facts here: Real wages in the US have ben falling for over 30 years. If the suggestion here is that a steelworker, or a police officer, or an electrician would work harder with an additional tax burden, I would submit that they would be happy just to have a job.
This country is short 13 million jobs now.
Corporations have never been more flush with cash, yet they will hire no American workers. Why should they? Thanks to GATT, they have all the labor they need in China and Mexico. Instead, they are buying up their competitors, closing production facilities, and laying off workers.
By the way, corporations pay only 10% of US taxes collected.
All this "social progress" has been made during a period of time in which taxes have been cut to the lowest levels in decades.
One last point. The Founding Fathers recognized the need for a government to provide for the common defense, and to promote the general well being of the people. I don't think very many people would advocate that we embrace anarchy.
Government has a place in our society, but it should be a government of, by, and for the people.
Not a government that promotes the welfare of the very rich, and that kisses the asses of its corporate masters.
Fischer
...
written by MrPaladin, August 05, 2011
You make good points. I think we can find some common ground here....

My belief is that there are "deserving rich" and "undeserving rich," just as there are "deserving poor" and "undeserving poor."

I think the deserving rich (and everyone else who is "deserving," i.e., contributing to society) are taxed enough. People who worked hard to build businesses, created great inventions or had valuable ideas that satisfy people's desires are probably paying enough in taxes.

The other group: bankers, insiders, Wall Streeters, the politically-connected, day-traders, market manipulators, government drones, Harvard-Princeton-Yalies, etc., who essentially contribute nothing of value to the economy should indeed be taxed more. Most of them should be prosecuted for fraud, as well.

Since it's not practical to decide who belongs to which group, the idea of everyone paying the same rate on what they buy, say 10 percent, is appealing to me. It seems fair. It provides incentive for people with little money (and everyone else) to earn more. Additionally, imagine no income tax, no loopholes, no IRS, no intrusive government poking into our affairs. This is what the Founding Fathers intended.

Wealth is not really a large bank account; wealth is "things." A place to live, a car, a TV, etc. The wealthiest among us could not avoid the 10% on their yachts, mansions and expensive marriages; they could have billions in the bank, but that is nothing but a promise of security until the money is spent... and spend it they will.

I don't care a whit for the supposed "needs" of government. If 10% is not enough, too bad. Medieval serfs paid that much. Stop spending on programs that only the recipients of free money and services want. It's nothing but a system of buying votes, handing out freebies to garner votes. It's complete bull. Stop the stupid forever-wars around the globe. Get government out of education and housing. It would be easy to cut spending....

Jeff Nielson
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written by Jeff Nielson, August 05, 2011
Bobbbny, thanks for the borrowing info. So even "0%" isn't cheap enough money for Wall Street? Lol!

Mr. Paladin, regular readers are familiar with my warning about how easy it is to "lie with numbers" (note: I'm NOT accusing you here - you're just the "messenger").

Here are the facts:

The U.S. government (proportionately) is taking in LESS revenues than at any time in history (relative to the size of the economy).

Those on TAP are being taxed at the LOWEST rate in history.

As for "how much" of the tax-pie they are paying, THINK about what I have been saying: the U.S. economy has been TOTALLY "hollowed-out".

The fact that even though those ON TOP are paying their LOWEST tax-rates in history they STILL generate the most revenues.

Why? Because those beneath them have ALREADY been squeezed dry!

Note that if the fat-cats had 100% of the wealth (instead of only 90%) that they would pay "100%" of all taxes.

Would that "prove" that the rich were "over-taxed" or would it "prove" that they had TOO MUCH WEALTH ?????
Fischer
...
written by MrPaladin, August 05, 2011
Robert Ringer has just expressed my view fairly well:

This “shared-sacrifice” babble from Democrats and the media is starting to get to me. My first choice is that there be no income tax at all. But if we accept the fact that Americans are forever doomed to bondage then, yes, I’m in favor of sharing the sacrifice. Consider that right now:

1 percent of eligible taxpayers pay 40 percent of the taxes. That’s not fair.

5 percent of eligible taxpayers pay 59 percent of the taxes. That’s not fair.

10 percent of eligible taxpayers pay 70 percent of the taxes. That’s not fair.

Worst of all, 50 percent of income earners pay virtually no taxes at all. That’s not fair.

So, perverse as it may seem, I’m in agreement with those on the left who insist that we need “shared sacrifice” when it comes to taxation. The facts are irrefutable: Major corporations and the wealthiest Americans already pay an obscenely disproportionate share of the government’s heist.

If Americans really wanted things to be more “fair,” they would insist that politicians tell the 50 percent of the populace that gets a free ride that the party is over and they are going to have to start paying their “fair share.”
Both the fair tax and the flat tax are good ideas when it comes to making taxation more fair. But an even better idea would be a voluntary tax. (Contrary what many still argue, today’s income tax is not voluntary.) That’s right, let everyone be free to contribute to the government’s coffers as he sees fit.

Those who believe that politicians are well-intentioned and wise when it comes to spending taxpayers’ money should be free to contribute all they want to the government. Likewise, those who are opposed to how the government spends taxpayers’ money — or opposed to the premise that politicians and bureaucrats have the right to force supposedly free citizens to hand over any of their money to them — should have the right to not contribute at all.

One catch: Those who would choose to pay nothing — or less than a minimum amount (a question that would require considerable debate) — should not be eligible for any government services or largess of any kind. That means no Social Security, no Medicare, no Medicaid, no food stamps, no research projects, no cash subsidies for businesses — nothing.

Minimal defense and public-safety spending could be paid for out of a small national sales tax, but all other government agencies would have to be paid for directly by users of their services.

http://robertringer.com/roberts-insights/the-retrogression-of-civilizations/
8/5/11
bobbbny
...
written by bobbbny, August 04, 2011
To those who have the insight to see what is right in front of them, the plot unfolds.
Scared to death over the implosion of Europe, aided and abetted by the banksters and their rating agency attack dogs, money is flowing like a tsunami into the US.
Against all logic, todays T-Bill rate is 0.0000%.
Bank of NY today announced that it would charge 13 basis points (BP's) on all "hot money" deposits.
That means a negative rate of return.
Why?
The bank must pay the FDIC 10 bp's for FDIC insurance.
The additional 3 bp's are to cover administrative costs.
That's fair for a bank which can borrow all it needs from the Fed for zero.
Who benefits?
The US government, which can now finance it's debt at zero percent because of the fear it has engendered.
Perhaps that fear is well founded.
Would you buy Euro's now?
What will happen?
Like a tick engorging itself with the blood of indebted nations, it will explode from greed.
This "free" money will create not one single job, add nothing to GDP, and allow us to finance for free (for now) the enormous debt which must eventually collapse.
Just like the Romans, who sucked the wealth out of the world, we too will drown in our own greed.
Who benefits from the collapse of nations?
Banksters, and banksters only.
The rest of us pay.
That is, until they collapse like the bloated tick.
Jeff Nielson
...
written by Jeff Nielson, August 04, 2011
Mr. Paladin, I know you're miscontruing my proposal here, because for AT LEAST 3/4 of the population what I'm proposing is LESS TAXES. EVERYONE on the bottom is already paying too much.

Furthermore, consumption taxes are the ONLY form of taxation even MORE "punitive" to those on the bottom. Thus (while I know you didn't intend this) what you propose is EXACTLY what the banksters are in the process of doing: taxing CONSUMPTION ever more heavily - giving the ultra-wealthy even MORE of a "free ride".

Note also that in "real dollars" spending in Western economies has been FLAT (relatively) it is REVENUES which have "fallen off a cliff".

Obviously the only "solution" to the worst REVENUE CRISIS in the history of our economies is MORE REVENUES...
Fischer
...
written by MrPaladin, August 04, 2011
I agree with your description of the debt-deal, but I can't agree that more taxation is the key to solving our problems.

In principle, I'm against all taxes, since they are nothing but theft, pure and simple. If you want to insist, however, that without any taxes there would be chaos, etc., then OK, I could support maybe a 10 percent sales tax on all citizens -- but only with an end to all income taxes. Anything above 10 percent is nonsense.

Additionally, if you want to propose some kind of one-time asset tax on wealth-holders above, say, $5 million, OK, I'll even compromise my principles and accept a 10% theft. (Not that I'm even close to being someone in that club.)

But the poor little government won't have enough money to fund its activities, you say? Tough luck, say I. It'll just have to cut its spending, more than half of which is completely unproductive and wasteful, anyway.

All right, assuming my little pipe dream won't come true in my lifetime, why not just put a cap on the government's budget and cut it 5 percent across the board over the next ten years? So in 2012, it may not spend a penny more than in 2011, then in 2013 it can only spend 95 percent of the 2011 figure, only 90 percent in 2014, and so on for ten years. This would stop the expansion of government spending and debt in its tracks, which is the root problem.


bobbbny
...
written by bobbbny, August 03, 2011
It seems that the battle has been joined, and the heat is being turned up.
Not only have South Korea, Thailand, and Russia all announced large gold purchases this week, it seem that global dollar vigilantes are now turning the tables on the attack dogs known as Moodys and S&P. They are showing that more than one can play at this game.

China Boldly Goes (Again) Where Moody's Has Never Gone Before, Downgrades US From A+ To A, Outlook Negative
Submitted by Tyler Durden on 08/02/2011 - 20:39
Bond China Creditors Debt Ceiling default Google National Debt NRSROPeople's Bank Of China Quantitative Easing Rating Agency Recessionrecovery Risk Management Volatility
As was predicted last week, China's rating agency Dagong, unlike its worthless western counterparts, has come through on its threat to downgrade the US in the event a subpar debt ceiling deal was hammered out. As Xinhua reports, 'Dagong Global Credit Rating Co. said Wednesday it has cut the credit rating of the United States from A+ to A with a negative outlook after the U.S. federal government announced that the country's debt limit would be increased." Confirming that not being branded a NRSRO is the only thing that allows a rater to still think straight (and not in terms of lost client revenue if one goes ahead and tells the truth), Dagong's decision was spot on: "The decision to lift the debt ceiling will not change the fact that the U.S. national debt growth has outpaced that of its overall economy and fiscal revenue, which will lead to a decline in its debt-paying ability, said Dagong Global in a statement." So while Moody's, which is now certified as the laughing stock of the sheep herd (sorry Mark Zandi, you will never be promoted to anything in this administration - we promise you), pretend that all is well and that the only thing better than $14.3 trillion in debt is $16.8 trillion, China demonstrates what happens when a rating agency actually knows how to do addition and/or long division.

So now China is turning the tables on us.
Wait, theres more. Check this out:

http://news.yahoo.com/putin-says-u-parasite-global-economy-191447751.html

Thats right. The Russians are accusing us of being "global parasites" through our dollar global domination and irresponsible economic policies.
The whole world is waking up, and the bankster days are numbered.
Where will you be when the dollar collapses?
Jeff Nielson
...
written by Jeff Nielson, August 03, 2011
Yes Paxjds, we can now SEPARATE the "predator governments" from the (relatively) "honest governments".

The HONEST governments are now steadily accumulating hard assets, and SHUNNING "paper".

Meanwhile the predator-governments continue WALLOWING in their own paper, meaning they CAN'T load-up on commodities and other hard assets - since the mere ACT of doing so would take their paper to zero.

Like animals who lack the INSTINCTIVE sense not to defecate all over their own LIVING QUARTERS, the predator-governments (and predator Oligarchs) are now being forced to live in their own filth...
Jeff Nielson
...
written by Jeff Nielson, August 03, 2011
Bobbbny, I loved the piece by HSP!

If there is ANYONE who can convince the masses that "the Emperor is wearing no clothes", then it is THIS gentleman.

HA65MPH, you know I don't "play favorites". smilies/cheesy.gifsmilies/cheesy.gifsmilies/cheesy.gif

I'm going to keep "blasting" ALL of the Republocrats - since they are merely "two sides" of the SAME (evil) coin...
paxjds
...
written by paxjds, August 03, 2011
This TV Farce by US politicians was Theater from start to finish. How could the dems in all reality tax the Rich after Obama (with Republican support) clowns spent trillions in bailing out and finnancing: Banks, wall street firms, insurance companies, GE, several automotive companies, and unions. And the zealots of the Ruplicans chiming in on not taxing the rich, as it would hurt investment and the economy.
Both parties are Jokesters and need to be thrown out of office, or preferably jailed forever. There was and will be no real cuts "IN THIS DEAL", just the reduction in the estimated 7 1/2 % increase in the compounded government expenditures for the next ten years. The world press has been dumbed down so long, they can no longer see what this ONE PARTY Government is doing to the people of the US while making the wealthy insiders SUPER WEALTHY !!
It is apparent to me, that the only people and governments on the planet with any sense are those that are purchasing precious metals and commodities in preparation for the coming worldwide collapse.
0
...
written by HA65MPH, August 02, 2011
smilies/kiss.gif WELL , YOU JABBED AT THE DEMS'' ...AND COMPLETELY KNIFED THE REPUBS'' .., TRY TO NOT BE THIS OBVIOUES YOUR 'LIKE WITH ALL YOUR HEART ' OBAMMY , WHO WAS HIDING UNDER 'POLOSKIS' SKIRT '' , (UGLY THOUGHT) smilies/cheesy.gif BUT VERY WELL WRITTEN ...I URGE YOU , TO PINCH YOUR NOSE , HOLD YOUR BREATH ,TRY WITH ALL YOUR MIGHT , ..TO REALLY TELL ABOUT THE DEMS''' ..THEN , I WILL KNOW ......YA LOVE ME ! smilies/grin.gif
bobbbny
...
written by bobbbny, August 02, 2011
I select "all of the above".
Both are two shades of grey that exist to serve the ruling corporatocracy.
Both are mindful, or mindless participants in the global wealth grab by the ruling elite, of which they are part.
Fortunately, we know the roadmap they are using.
It's been seen before.
Here is an excellent piece by Hugo Salinas Price that shows how past is prologue.

http://www.24hgold.com/english/news-gold-silver-quacks-and-quackery-through-the-ages-a-divertimento-.aspx?article=3593355878G10020&redirect=false&contributor=Hugo+Salinas+Price

To know & understand this is the way to protect yourself from the meltdown that is occurring in real time right before your eyes.
Kind of like watching a train wreck in slow motion, isn't it?

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