Friday, December 27, 2013

U.S. judge rules NSA surveillance legal, but his argument is already invalid

NSA mass collection of phone data is legal, federal judge rules
US district judge William Pauley said the dragnet program "represents the government's counter-punch" to al-Qaida in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks. The decision conflicts with a ruling in another case, increasing the likelihood that the US supreme court will take up the issue.

In the latest case, Pauley noted that the program was controversial, but lawful. "While robust discussions are under way across the nation, in Congress, and at the White House, the question for this court is whether the government's bulk telephony metadata program is lawful. The court finds it is.
Counter-punch you say? Of course the only problem is the spying actually began before 9/11:

Spy Agency Sought U.S. Call Records Before 9/11, Lawyers Say
June 30 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. National Security Agency asked AT&T Inc. to help it set up a domestic call monitoring site seven months before the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, lawyers claimed June 23 in court papers filed in New York federal court.

The allegation is part of a court filing adding AT&T, the nation's largest telephone company, as a defendant in a breach of privacy case filed earlier this month on behalf of Verizon Communications Inc. and BellSouth Corp. customers. The suit alleges that the three carriers, the NSA and President George W. Bush violated the Telecommunications Act of 1934 and the U.S. Constitution, and seeks money damages.

``The Bush Administration asserted this became necessary after 9/11,'' plaintiff's lawyer Carl Mayer said in a telephone interview. ``This undermines that assertion.''

The lawsuit is related to an alleged NSA program to record and store data on calls placed by subscribers. More than 30 suits have been filed over claims that the carriers, the three biggest U.S. telephone companies, violated the privacy rights of their customers by cooperating with the NSA in an effort to track alleged terrorists.
Bush-Cheney began illegal NSA spying before 9/11, says telcom CEO
Contradicting a statement by ex-vice president Dick Cheney on Sunday that warrantless domestic surveillance might have prevented 9/11, 2007 court records indicate that the Bush-Cheney administration began such surveillance at least 7 months prior to 9/11.

The Bush administration bypassed the law requiring such actions to be authorized by FISA court warrants, the body set up in the Seventies to oversee Executive Branch spying powers after abuses by Richard Nixon. Former QWest CEO John Nacchios said that at a
meeting with the NSA on February 27, 2001, he and other QWest officials declined to participate. AT&T, Verizon and Bellsouth all agreed to shunt customer communications records to an NSA database.
So not only is it not a "counter-punch", but the NSA spying they claim has prevented "more 9/11's" didn't prevent 9/11 at all. Of course the U.S. never had any intention of "preventing 9/11", but you already knew that, didn't you?

GOP lawmaker: NSA spying in U.S. could have prevented 9/11

They really do think you're that stupid.

Legalizing NSA spying has been the plan all along. Edward Snowden, likely unknowingly has delivered exactly the information the NSA wants public. Because if nobody stops them, then by default it becomes legal and can now be referenced publicly as evidence.

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Richard Fantin is a self-taught software developer who has mostly throughout his career focused on financial applications and high frequency trading. He currently works for eQube gaming systems.

Nazayh Zanidean is a Project Coordinator for a mid-sized construction contractor in Calgary, Alberta. He enjoys writing as a hobby on topics that include foreign policy, international human rights, security and systemic media bias.

UPDATE-1: The illusion of cheap

Saw two interesting articles recently I thought I would share.

U.S. sticks it to transit users while gifting drivers a tax cut
In 2009, the government decided to grant an equal tax break to commuters who take public transit, allowing them to write off part of the cost of their bus or train tickets. In Washington, D.C., the transit authority noticed a slight increase in ridership. In New York, more than 700,000 people were eligible for the benefit.

But the lawmakers slapped a sunset clause onto the subsidy. So on Jan. 1, the tax benefit for transit takers will be automatically reduced to $130 a month, from $245.

At the same time, the tax benefit for drivers will increase $5 to $250 a month.

“All along we have always asserted it’s a backwards policy thrust that we have right now,” said Billy Terry, senior legislative representative of the American Public Transportation Association. “To have parking more incentivized than transit absolutely makes no sense.”
 Actually it makes perfect sense when you want to incentivize purchase of a bailed out car industry. It makes perfect sense if you need to encourage the repetitive purchase of vehicles, over and over and over. It helps to give a boost to a "vital" industry that is extremely susceptible to rising oil prices and then later gas prices which if you haven't noticed WTI is climbing back towards the magic $100 marker as talk of "the recovery" picks up.

Interestingly enough, despite the U.S.'s record "fracking boom" the overall pattern of oil prices hasn't changed, in fact 2012 saw a much lower dive down to $80.

WTI-Brent Spread Narrowing as U.S. Exports Record Fuels
While the U.S. is pumping the most crude oil in a quarter century, laws prohibit most exports, driving down costs for domestic refiners and spurring record shipments of everything from diesel to gasoline that will diminish stockpiles. The forecasters expect Brent prices to weaken as regional supply recovers, led by Iran and Libya.

The continuing arbitrage for oil products out of the U.S. is going to move WTI higher,” said
Eugen Weinberg, the head of commodities research at Commerzbank in Frankfurt. “We’re likely to see negative surprises for Brent because right now the market is not yet pricing in the return of Libyan and Iranian barrels.”
Take note first, on how important the Libyan and Iranian supplies are for lowering affordability for the Europeans. This goes back to what I said on Libya way back on Hellberta. The "nuclear deal" and lifting of sanctions with Iran is also well timed.

Second, the U.S. is going to drive WTI prices higher. Now, I disagree with their reasoning. Beyond standard considerations, supply constraints, etc, oil is largely driven by speculation which is itself driven by expectations of the future. Generally oil price will rise if demand for oil is going to go up, or that there is an expectation supply is going to go down. Not surprisingly oil price tends to follow the same pattern as economic confidence. It's good, it's good, oil price rises, but as affordability hits the ceiling of $100 and begins hitting resistance it does not have enough momentum to go beyond $110 (as I forecast back in January), and it is at these points that the "recovery stalls".


The above chart I stole from YCharts but the doodles are mine.

As you can see as well our window of affordability as I like to call it is getting smaller, and smaller.

Which brings us to:

Fossil Fuel Subsidies Nearly $800 per Canadian, says the IMF
What the general public is mostly unaware of is the prices we pay for energy are subsidized prices. When we pay $50 at the gas pump, the gas we got is actually worth more than $50. When we pay $100 for our hydro bill, the energy we used is actually worth more than $100. Why? It’s because the government financially subsidizes the energy we use. They have been doing this for years but most of the general public are not aware of this. The energy prices we consumers see are below market levels.

You might think: Isn’t that great? The government is paying for part of my gas! Let’s trace it backward, where does the government get their money to subsidize your gas? That’s from government revenues. Where does the government get their revenues? Mostly from taxes. The federal government of Canada get more than 80 percent of their revenue from two sources: income taxes and consumption taxes (source:
StatsCan). Who pay the government those incomes taxes and consumption taxes? That’s the taxpayers. You get the picture … it’s you. The gas you get from the pump is paid partly by you at the gas station. The other part of the cost is also paid by you, but indirectly through the withholding tax from your paycheque and through the GST you pay when you go shopping.
This is why I have to laugh when we talk about "low inflation" and the government supposedly fighting it. They're hiding true inflation from you around every corner. It's a joke. It's an excuse to keep interest rates low to keep lending rolling to keep this stupid impossible monetary game show on air.

Warning: Things may be more expensive than they appear

Update-1

Here is another example of how we provide the illusion of cheap:
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia – Striking workers making shoes and clothes for Western brands have blocked roads and briefly scuffled with police in Cambodia.

The workers are demanding a two-fold increase in the minimum wage to $160.

The protests Friday snarled traffic in and around the capital Phnom Penh.

Human rights activist Om Sam Ath said protesters blocking a highway leading to Sihanoukville throw stones at police, who fired into the air.

He said four workers were injured, but it was unclear how serious the injuries were.

Most of the country’s 500 factories have been closed since Thursday, when the manufacturers association urged its members to cease operations, citing the fear of violence.

The garment industry employs more than 500,000 people and is Cambodia’s biggest export earner.

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Richard Fantin is a self-taught software developer who has mostly throughout his career focused on financial applications and high frequency trading. He currently works for eQube gaming systems.

Nazayh Zanidean is a Project Coordinator for a mid-sized construction contractor in Calgary, Alberta. He enjoys writing as a hobby on topics that include foreign policy, international human rights, security and systemic media bias.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The new normal

This probably isn't going to be a popular post at this moment, but I think it's a necessary one. It's not going to be very long and I only have a couple points to make.

For many of the people still without power in Eastern Canada, life must currently be hell. Having no power sucks, and 5 days is certainly pushing it. Some residents have now started to get angry at the city, the province, Mayor Ford, for not restoring power fast enough. It's an understandable anger, but it's also a futile one; at the end of the day you're still the one with no power.

I've advocated many times on here that having a survival plan is essential. We often forget in our modern disconnected infinite growth world that electricity is not something we inherit. It is a complex system, made even more complex by the super storms and expensive energy that is becoming the new normal. I will say it bluntly: do not expect power supplies to remain stable. You must have an at least 7 day survival plan that works in your area: food, clothing, shelter. You want a supply of candles. LED flashlights that run on hand power, cranks, solar. You likely want propane torches, a stash of cash (in case ATMs are down), and numerous other items. There is no comprehensive list because every area is different. Examine your environment and plan accordingly.

It's sad to say, but if you are not prepared to survive without electricity you can not really blame anyone but yourself. Sure it's nice to say we have a right to electricity, that it's "unreasonable" to have to wait 5 days for power to be restored, that it's extremely sad that people have actually died from this event. But I have news for you: this is really only the beginning. Be thankful gas stations still have gas and that currently credit is cheap to fund the repair work or this mess could have been a whole lot worse.

The first storm has now moved on to the U.K. with the same devastating effects while a second storm is coming up which is likely to bring more modern misery. This is the new normal, get used to it, and more importantly prepare for it.

I have such mixed emotions during these types of events. The Alberta flood and Slave Lake forest fire, Lac-Megantic, this snow storm, hurricane sandy. I have mixed emotions because on one hand there is so much suffering, but on the other I have to point out that we're fucking asking for this folks. The day after the Alberta flood Alison Redford went on to announce the grandiose new plans for oilsands exports. No one has bothered to see if sucking all of the water out of the ground in northern Alberta is contributing to the dry conditions leading to increased forest fires. Canada has in general thumbed it's nose at the very concept of climate change. Well it's fucking changing, and the changes coming are going to bring with them a lot more suffering and a lot more instability.

Yet despite this when disaster does strike hardly anyone is prepared and it seems that everyone starts crying over it. Take some responsibility. Instead of yelling at that dipshit Rob Ford as if he can make things go faster, or complaining that a "state of emergency" wasn't declared (as though declaring it so makes it go away), why aren't you yelling at the governments who have valued profits over your family's well being? Why haven't you prepared for the event there is no power? The knowledge of the coming super-storms has been readily available for a long time. We thumb our noses at it.

It's only going to get worse from here on out folks. We're looking at a future with more storms and disasters, both man-made (Lac-Megantic, Fukushima) and natural. A government who puts millions of dollars into propaganda convincing you to sacrifice your family for profit isn't going to roll up as a knight in shining armor to save the day, they simply don't have you as their primary interest and even if they did the capacity and capability to handle these disasters is going to diminish as time goes on, peak oil takes hold, and the banking sector loses more control.

You are ultimately the only one responsible for your family, and how you handle that responsibility and ensure their safety is entirely on you, nobody else. It's time to face the music for our past abuses and ignorance. Welcome to the new normal.

Ice storm stories: How some Torontonians survived without hydro

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Richard Fantin is a self-taught software developer who has mostly throughout his career focused on financial applications and high frequency trading. He currently works for eQube gaming systems.

Nazayh Zanidean is a Project Coordinator for a mid-sized construction contractor in Calgary, Alberta. He enjoys writing as a hobby on topics that include foreign policy, international human rights, security and systemic media bias.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Would the Owner of the Responsibility of Poverty Please Stand Up

James Moore has apologized for his comments on poverty though I'm not really sure exactly which part he's apologizing for, his views or the way he expressed his views (the government's views?). However, apology or no apology I think I can safely assert that his comment regarding where responsibility (doesn't) lie is representative of the current government and his views.

That's not really a stretch. It's typical conservative ideology, not surprising. It's interesting though that the ownership of responsibility never seems to come into focus when it comes to advertising for a single industry for instance? Is that the government's responsibility?

Why is the government going to the trouble of spending tax dollars on advertising in the first place? Because the oilsands have a provable, public, abysmal track record which has earned them the reputation they have which oddly brings us to a failed responsibility never performed by the government in extending the time for tailings reclamation instead of giving them all an 'F', for fail.

However, contrast that with BlackBerry whose public track record is equally public, provable, abysmal (in terms of performance), but are they receiving any P.R. support from the government? They're being attacked by "foreigners" (Samsung, Apple, et al) but do you see any Ethical Phones campaign?

Do you see $2billion dollar innovation subsidies being offered to BlackBerry to maintain competitive like government gave industry for CCS? Of course I know many industries beyond oil and gas receive subsidies but my point here is these are extraneous "subsidies" and not only that, but very direct in their interference (collusion) with industry. Select industry. Is that the government's responsibility?

Is it the government's responsibility to commercialize foreign policy (weapons sales) because it's "something business leaders have been urging"? Is it the government's responsibility to help banks that made bad bets? No...

It is, however, the government's responsibility to not undermine the economic mobility of it's population. It is the government's responsibility to not undermine the economic system with corrupt currency. It is the government's responsibility to uphold national sovereignty, no matter what "business leaders" think about the idea.

There's a lot of responsibility to go around though. Maybe if us, the Canadian people, actually stood for something - for anything other than profits, profits, and profits, we'd actually have a government that reflects that. Everything that's happening, is happening because we've allowed it to happen. Poverty is happening because we allow it to happen, because we do not address the underlying Ponzi scheme. Giving to charity will NEVER eliminate poverty. It's nice to do, it helps the impoverished endure being impoverished, but it is not a cure. So long as the monetary system exists as it does there is no cure, it is a system failure, a mathematical impossibility. Our acceptance of this system is the inherent acceptance of the existence and implied necessity of poverty.

Fixing that is everyone's responsibility, even Minister Moore's.


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Richard Fantin is a self-taught software developer who has mostly throughout his career focused on financial applications and high frequency trading. He currently works for eQube gaming systems.

Nazayh Zanidean is a Project Coordinator for a mid-sized construction contractor in Calgary, Alberta. He enjoys writing as a hobby on topics that include foreign policy, international human rights, security and systemic media bias.

Visualizing generational theft

Via Zero Hedge


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Richard Fantin is a self-taught software developer who has mostly throughout his career focused on financial applications and high frequency trading. He currently works for eQube gaming systems.

Nazayh Zanidean is a Project Coordinator for a mid-sized construction contractor in Calgary, Alberta. He enjoys writing as a hobby on topics that include foreign policy, international human rights, security and systemic media bias.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Update-2: FP removes interesting piece of information from oilsands article with no explanation

So yesterday I came across an article on Cenovus and I found one paragraph particularly interesting, so I tweeted it.


Interestingly, the paragraph that contained that portion is now removed from the article. There is no record of an edit or mistake, just gone. Poof. It's interesting because that paragraph defines an unsustainable deteriorating condition in Alberta. If the future wealth is going to come from extreme energy, but extreme energy needs the profit from conventional energy to operate, we've got a problem don't we?

Oh well, gone now.

Update-1

The author actually got back to me via Twitter. Here is the exchange:


Apparently it wasn't "removed" or changed, the article was simply replaced with a nearly identical article with the same title at the same URL. So, NOT a change, a replacement. Good thing that was cleared up eh?

Update-2

CBC has the original article before "replacement": http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/cenovus-energy-to-cut-capital-spending-13-in-2014-1.2461632

Now that I have the full text of the two articles in front of me I can reference more than the one sentence I copied. It seems to me all of the information that defines what the *new* FP article describes as "getting a handle on rising operating costs and boost cash flow" is pretty well gone. All that remains is a light shell of the details provided in the "wire copy".

The entire outlook of the article has been altered replaced from a cautionary outlook on the cost of development, to a rosy outlook of the company's reactions in question.

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Richard Fantin is a self-taught software developer who has mostly throughout his career focused on financial applications and high frequency trading. He currently works for eQube gaming systems.

Nazayh Zanidean is a Project Coordinator for a mid-sized construction contractor in Calgary, Alberta. He enjoys writing as a hobby on topics that include foreign policy, international human rights, security and systemic media bias.

UPDATE-1: Bank of Canada's new strategy? "honesty", apparently

Haha, oh boy. You can not make this stuff up folks. You cannot!
In a speech in Montreal, he said the central bank was more worried about downside risks to inflation than upside ones since inflation is well below a 2 percent target, but he stopped short of hinting at any easing.

Asked at a news conference afterwards whether it was accurate that the bank was getting ready to cut, he said: "We don't know. We've expressed our neutrality on that question, which is to say that we're even-handed on the two sides of it at this stage, given what we know today."

He said the bank's move in October and again this month to stop referring to future rate hikes, following 18 months of more hawkish language, was a shift to honesty rather than dovishness.

"All we're really doing is being honest that at this stage we think that interest rates will stay where they are for quite some time, so issuing a warning they're almost ready to go up is not the right timing for this," he said.

"Of course, we believe it will happen as the story unfolds but the destination seems far enough away that we can address that as we get closer," he said.
A shift to honesty, which I can only imagine must be from.. dishonesty, then? Hmm.

Canada’s housing market most overvalued in the world, Deutsche Bank says
According to the IMF, Canada has the most overvalued housing market in the world
Canadian housing 21% overvalued, ratings agency says

And oh yea, there's "low inflation" (we've gone over that before) and somehow housing prices just keep inching up, and up and up. But our officials insist there's no bubble. It's a concern, sure, but certainly not a concern that would warrant, oh I don't know, raising interest rates? Or is it because we can't, Bank of Canada? Is it because we're competing with the FED and American cash injections? Is our dollar really lower, or is this just a speculative taper caper high? You see it's tough to know, isn't it?

Rigged markets certainly don't make that any easier.
The system is rigged

Then the most shocking of all, a key international interest rate used to set trillions of dollars of prices, is being manipulated. LIBOR, the London Interbank Offered Rate, is like the foundation of a house that holds billions of people. If that foundation is askew — as we now know it was — what does that say about huge parts of the markets and those prices we thought were based on real information? A mirage.

For this business journalist, the shock of that was intense. There will always be fraudsters — smooth-talking snake oil pitchmen — and regulators are on the lookout for them. But the evidence is mounting that whenever it is possible to fix a price for personal gain, someone is doing it.

That’s not just a disappointment; it undermines the entire system. Tiny price distortions get magnified across the global economy. We all pay, even if we don’t really know it. Most important, if market participants — from a sophisticated bond trader trying to price a bond based off a benchmark rate, to your grandmother putting her life savings into a stock — don’t believe in its fundamental soundness, don’t believe that prices are as fair as prices can be, the entire thing falls apart.
Are we done playing this stupid game yet? Or are we just going to pretend that somehow Canada exists in a special void of economic wonder where "prudent fiscal leadership" saved the day? The U.S. saved the day, and they're still saving the day today at a cost to the American people of $85/billion per month. We're still on extreme emergency life support folks and it isn't going to last forever!

Update-1

O-M-G! folks, you can not make this shit up! Last line:
The central bank chief has previous stressed he is focused on inflation and that the value of the Canadian dollar is determined by markets.
The "markets", not the easing. Riiiiight. I guess honesty isn't so forthcoming after all.

This part, then, is even funnier:

Poloz told Reuters in December the recent Canadian dollar weakening may have been partly caused by sentiment about the U.S. Federal Reserve's plans to taper its latest round of bond-buying. But added he did not want to extrapolate where the currency was headed.
It's the markets! it's the FED! says the recently "honest" Bank of Canada. Good times.


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Richard Fantin is a self-taught software developer who has mostly throughout his career focused on financial applications and high frequency trading. He currently works for eQube gaming systems.

Nazayh Zanidean is a Project Coordinator for a mid-sized construction contractor in Calgary, Alberta. He enjoys writing as a hobby on topics that include foreign policy, international human rights, security and systemic media bias.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

It's official: The global banking cartel is a cartel

 EU imposes record 1.7bn euro fines on major intl banks over rate-rigging
“What is shocking about the Libor and Euribor scandals is not only the manipulation of benchmarks, which is being tackled by financial regulators worldwide, but also the collusion between banks who are supposed to be competing with each other,” said JoaquĆ­n Almunia, European Commission Vice-President in charge of competition policy.

“Today's decision sends a clear message that the Commission is determined to fight and sanction these cartels in the financial sector," Almunia said in the EC statement. "Healthy competition and transparency are crucial for financial markets to work properly, at the service of the real economy rather than the interests of a few."
 As if there was any doubt eh?

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Richard Fantin is a self-taught software developer who has mostly throughout his career focused on financial applications and high frequency trading. He currently works for eQube gaming systems.

Nazayh Zanidean is a Project Coordinator for a mid-sized construction contractor in Calgary, Alberta. He enjoys writing as a hobby on topics that include foreign policy, international human rights, security and systemic media bias.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The clogged sewers of finance and industry

I read a remarkable observation today. Well it's not really a remarkable observation, it's an obvious one, one which I've been forecasting since 2011, but what's remarkable about it is that I read it in a mainstream paper.

Is Bank of Canada trying to weaken Canadian dollar in a ‘stealth easing’?

YES!!! For fuck's sake. That's what it's all about; the exchange rate! That's what it has always been about. It's why we are in a much bigger pickle than it would appear. You want to know why the government is patching the housing market with "regulation" while the central bank keeps interest rates at record lows despite the obvious signs of a bubble? This is why. Raising the interest rates will pop the housing bubble, not because the rates themselves will cause rampant defaults but because the loss of our exports to the U.S. will ensure those loans can not be serviced. The resulting loss of work is what will trigger the defaults on our unaffordable houses.

Alberta hitting limits to growth

So, remember this? The event we were waiting for to finally raise interest rates? Check this out:

Cost of refinery backed by province soars to $8.5 billion
Originally pegged at $5.7 billion in November 2012, the project's cost was revised late Wednesday to $8.5 billion by its partners, North West Upgrading Inc. and Canadian Natural Resources.

"While the scope of the facility has not changed, due to a combination of cost inflation and the inability to fully capture certain cost-savings initiatives, the cost estimate has been revised to $8.5 billion," the partners said in a release.

The startup date will be pushed back to September 2017 from mid-2016. The Alberta government said it would support the Redwater project with a $300-million loan payable over 10 years at prime plus six-percent interest.

"The project remains a good deal for taxpayers," Alberta Energy Minister Ken Hughes said in a statement. Hughes was out of the province Wednesday, but his press secretary, Mike Feenstra, said the loans will be shared 50-50 between CNRL and Alberta Petroleum Marketing Agency, with each side contributing $300 million.
Underestimating the rapid rising of costs is only going to become worse. You can bet your ass their projections do not account for monetary stimulus or the positive feedback loops being created as the cost of base materials and energy of society rises. For example.

Mining sector faces rising costs, uncertain demand
Canada’s mining industry faces significant challenges in the near term, including higher prices, uncertain demand and depressed commodity prices, according to an annual report card on the industry by Deloitte.

But the report cautions that demand for commodities will rebound in the longer term and companies should be investing now in anticipation.

The industry is in an awkward transition period, facing growing resource nationalism, demands for greater corporate responsibility and a looming labour shortage, at a time when companies are struggling with volatile commodity prices, said Jurgen Beier, a national mining practice leader at Deloitte.
Embrace innovation

But that will force mining companies to be nimble and innovative, he said.

"There are a number of proven technologies and things that are out there today that radically change the way ore is extracted and change the way mining occurs,” Beier said.

"We think this is the opportunity to embrace that innovation, to get to that point of sustainability."

The Canadian mining sector is seeing a lot of cost-cutting and rationalization in the face of slowing demand from China. Barrick Gold has s
uspended work on its massive Pascua-Lama mine in South America as the gold miner moved to cut costs.

Just today,
Potash Corp. announced more than 1,000 layoffs in the face of falling potash prices and Rio Tinto said it would pull back on capital investment in its iron ore and copper projects.
I just have to point out that I called China's stagnation back in 2011 too. I don't know what sort of "indicators" Canadian business and the government uses to forecast economic events, but they frankly suck at it. Which brings us to "foresight":

Oilsands company wants $56 million in government compensation
Leases were cancelled to give Fort Mac room to grow
CALGARY - A junior energy exploration company has submitted a $56 million bill to the provincial government for compensation for cancelled oilsands leases near Fort McMurray.

And Binh Vu, CEO of Alberta Oilsands, did not rule out seeking further recourse above and beyond the dollar value of what his company has already put into its halted project.

“When a project’s cancelled, you look at all different avenues,” Vu said in an interview Monday. “If it’s a private deal, and your joint venture partner cancels for some reason, you’d look to them for some sort of recourse ... That’s something we may look at with the government, but it’s not something we’ve looked at in detail.”

The Calgary-based junior is one of 10 companies affected by the Alberta government’s July decision to cancel all oilsands leases on 22,000 hectares of land in the Fort McMurray region. The land will instead be purchased on an as-needed basis by the Municipality of Wood Buffalo, which is desperate for more housing and infrastructure to meet the needs of its growing population.

The government has agreed to compensate the oilsands leaseholders under the terms of the Mineral Rights Compensation Regulation. Alberta Oilsands — which was already in the regulatory approval stage with its Clearwater project — says $56 million is the total it has arrived at based on that legislation. The figure represents the money spent by the company so far on licensing fees, bonus bids, and development to this point.
“We had to go through receipts and invoices from 2007, which was when we acquired the leases,” Vu said. “It’s frustrating. Shareholders coming into this company were expecting the development of an oilsands project ... Getting a project to the stage where you’re about to dig into the ground, and then it gets cancelled — well, basically, we’ve wasted the last five or six years.”
Brilliant right? The amazing inability to have simple foresight seems to be a recurring problem with the Alberta government which the taxpayer of course covers. But wait, we've yet to arrive at my all time favorite indicator of Alberta's limits to growth and stupidity regarding foresight, in this case in terms of not spending on infrastructure when it's needed to 'balance the budget':

'Peak toilet' problem puts brakes on northwest development
The sewer capacity crisis that has frozen development in northwest Calgary is so dire that the city had to take extra measures to allow 183 homes already under construction to finish.

The long-promised northwest recreation centre can also go ahead as planned. The Tuscany fire station and a planned middle school in Royal Oak, too.

But that's basically it for new growth in an area encompassing a dozen entire communities, new suburban growth areas and parts of other northwest communities.

In a city where growth strains are often discussed, the "peak toilet" crisis means the system can't handle more flushes until a second sewer trunk is built through Bowness in 2017.

"Obviously it's a mistake and we have to rectify it as quickly as possible," said Coun. Ward Sutherland. Ward 1, which he represents, is almost entirely covered under this freeze.
I wouldn't count on a real "surplus" anytime soon coming out of Alberta.

A couple of other provinces are doing some neat tricks

Deficit drops, although oil revenues dip as well - Newfoundland
The Newfoundland and Labrador government said Monday that its financial position is improving, although reductions in spending are coinciding with a notable decline in oil revenue.Finance Minister Tom Marshall told reporters that the government now expects to finish the fiscal year at the end of March with a deficit of $450.6 million, down from $563.8 million, which was projected in the March budget.
Marshall said government spending for the year has been reduced by $270.1 million, thanks to delays in infrastructure work and in programs. 
Auditor General troubled by debt growth - New Brunswick
Finance Minister Blaine Higgs delivered his second quarter financial update on Thursday afternoon. He now projects the net debt will grow by $587.2 million for the year ended March 31, 2014. That is $7.2 million less than the original debt growth prediction of $594.4 million.

"This continue increase in net debt represents a very disturbing trend," said MacPherson. "An even higher demand will exist on future revenue to pay past expenses."

The report notes in 2013, the province had to put out $660.3 million to pay the interest costs on the debt, which represents 8.5 per cent of its annual revenue.

The report also shows New Brunswick has the second highest net debt per captia in the country. In essence, it would require every New Brunswicker to pay $14,623 to pay off the net debt, which is less than $100 shy of the net debt per capita in Nova Scotia.
 

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