North America

Some of those shorting Canadian banks contend that the firms aren’t preparing adequately for higher loan losses if credit conditions worsen, Bloomberg News reported. The argument by investors including money manager Steve Eisman and PAA Research LLC’s Bradley Safalow has to do with accounting changes Canadian banks made after adopting global rules known as International Financial Reporting Standard 9 in late 2017. Previously, banks set aside money for bad loans -- also known as a provision for credit losses -- when recognizing a loss.

Read more

Canadian households are wallowing in debt. Home prices are falling. Credit growth, the key driver for bank earnings, is hovering close to its slowest pace since 1983, Bloomberg News reported. All of which should be bad news for the country’s lenders -- and good news for investors betting against them. “Should” being the operative word. Even with danger signs piling up, the shares of the six biggest Canadian banks have stubbornly refused to drop, instead surging 9.4 percent this year -- and frustrating short sellers hoping to make money on stock-price declines.

Read more

True believers in Petroleos Mexicanos are fueling a rally in its bonds, reckoning that government support for the beleaguered state-owned company will ultimately provide a backstop from any troubles, Bloomberg News reported. Investors including MetLife, Pictet and SMBC Nikko Securities say Pemex’s bonds were overly punished last year amid concerns the government isn’t doing enough to address the company’s problems. The challenge of falling production given Pemex’s $108 billion of debt and high taxes is real, but optimists argue its yields shouldn’t be much above sovereign notes.

Read more

Canadians Are Feeling the Debt Burn

Household debt in Canada, a nation generally known for moderation, has reached levels that could be qualified as excessive, Bloomberg News reported. Canadians owe C$2.16 trillion—which, as a share of gross domestic product, is the highest debt load in the Group of Seven economies. With the housing market cooling, a reckoning may be fast approaching.

Read more

Philip Morris International Inc on Friday said its Canadian unit, Rothmans, Benson & Hedges Inc (RBH), was granted creditor protection, following a tobacco class action ruling in Quebec this month, Reuters reported. The company said it would deconsolidate RBH from its financial statements, and it cut its full-year 2019 diluted earnings per share forecast to at least $4.90 at prevailing exchange rates, from at least $5.28 in the forecast it made on March 4, shortly after the ruling in Quebec.

Read more

The prior instalment of this sovereign insolvency blog trilogy concluded that "output foregone" is huge in highly-indebted IMF programme countries with high growth potential, the Financial Times reported. That is because in such cases, IMF programme design prioritises debt recovery ahead of activity. It imposes exorbitant primary surplus targets, wrecking the balance between primary spending and low taxes that is necessary to realise high productive potential. Jamaica is a case in point.

Read more

The Canadian subsidiary of British American Tobacco PLC has become the second Canadian tobacco company to get restructuring protection in the wake of an $11 billion Quebec appeals court judgment, with the company saying it is under "existential threat" from tobacco suits, Law360 reported. On Tuesday, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice granted protection to Imperial Tobacco Canada Ltd. under the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act, staying the collection of the more than $6.8 billion the company expects it will owe on the judgment.

Read more

Beleaguered rich-lister Eric Watson will likely remain embroiled in courts for years — and faces the possibility of a tax bill of $200m when penalties are added — after a landmark court decision yesterday saw his businesses ruled to have engaged in $51.5m in tax avoidance, The New Zealand Herald reported. Justice Matthew Palmer said a complex 2002 transaction — involving Cayman Island companies while Watson himself was relocating from New Zealand to the UK for tax purposes — was an avoidance arrangement. The case is one of the largest tax judgments in New Zealand history.

Read more

The head of SNC-Lavalin told the Canadian government it had to change its anti-corruption rules “as expeditiously as possible” in a 2017 letter to the minister in charge of procurement, just as her department was helping oversee public consultations on lighter punishments for corporate misconduct, The Globe and Mail reported. SNC-Lavalin chief executive Neil Bruce wrote to Public Services Minister Carla Qualtrough on Oct. 13, 2017, and sent copies of his message to seven other senior cabinet ministers. Mr.

Read more

Denis O’Brien’s saw its debt burden increase in the three months to the end of December as earnings dipped, increasing pressure on the telecoms group as it seeks to lower its borrowings ratios, The Irish Times reported. The Jamaica-based group, which completed a massive debt restructuring earlier this year, told its bondholders on Wednesday that its net debt amounted to 6.8 times earnings before interest, tax, depreciation (ebitda) at the end 2018, its fiscal third quarter, according to sources.

Read more