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Monday , 2 March 2015

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S&P fined $1.4 billion for subprime mortgage fraud

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The integrity and credibility of one of the three major credit rating agencies that matter, Standard & Poor’s, has been given a severe beating. It is being fined about $1.4 billion for its role in the subprime mortgage crisis of 2008. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the agency that regulates the US financial sector, accused the ratings agency of fraud. The Justice Department and twenty US states brought lawsuits against S&P. Earlier this week, S&P agreed to pay $77 million for similar crimes, though it has not admitted guilt but rather agreed to a statement of facts of wrongdoing, according to various reports. A lawsuit against the former head of ... Read More »

August real estate market hotter than the weather

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Cooler than average August weather has not stopped home buyers in the GTA from getting out and buying. The strong sales growth that has been trending in the Toronto real estate market since the spring is showing no signs of abating. Mid-month sales numbers for August released by the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) show an increase of 7.6 per cent compared to the same period last year. During the first fourteen days of August, 3,504 sales were reported through the board’s MLS system. Since May, monthly sales have surpassed those of the three previous years. TREB President Paul Etherington said that sales were up for all major home types—detached, semi-detached, ... Read More »

Condo owners in SF win right to sue architects for bad design

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The California Supreme Court has ruled that the architects of a condominium building are partly liable for the bad design of the building, a design which has made the condominiums unbearably hot for their owners, they allege. The large complex in San Francisco has 595 units and essentially no ventilation. The windows do not open, causing overheating, and there are other defects including cracks, the residents allege. The architects argued that they have no liability to the residents as their role is to advise the developers. But the high court unanimously rejected that argument and, for the first time in California, ruled that residents who are harmed by the poor ... Read More »

European Central Bank experiments with negative interest rate

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Two days ago, the Governor of the Bank of Canada made the now-familiar announcement that its key overnight interest rate would remain unchanged at 1 per cent. It has not moved since September, 2010 because the bank does not feel the economy is strong enough to warrant a rise in rates. The bank’s statement about the interest rate non-change included the usual observations about modest growth in the economy, the low rate of inflation, and the future soft landing of the real estate market. The usual suspects, as it were. In Europe the very next day, however, something very unusual happened. After announcing that inflation in the eurozone had fallen ... Read More »

Construction industry feeling “very bullish” for 2014: OCS

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The outlook for Ontario’s construction industry in 2014 is “very bullish,” with more contractors expecting to do more work this year than last year. The Ontario Construction Secretariat (OCS) just released its annual survey of industrial, commercial and institutional construction contractors and the optimism in the industry is “above average,” the highest it has been since 2011. That positive outlook is especially marked in the GTA, the OCS says, mainly due to work forecasts in the commercial, industrial and engineering sectors. Contractors expect to do more work in each of the major construction sectors, with commercial, engineering and high-rise residential leading. Less optimism was seen regarding the institutional sector, which ... Read More »

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