Two articles in the Canadian Globe and Mail newspaper caught the eye of those who are not fixated on navel gazing on the shitty affair ‘unfurling’ on the South Coast. The obvious question is what does it mean? Clearly CIBC- and we include the other Canadian banks operating in Barbados- are concerned about the current and future state of regional economies and have taken decisions to mitigate risk driven by concerns by shareholders whose concern is always to create share value and to satisfy the forecast of the financial analysts.
Some suggest there are indigenous financial intuitions that can fill the void if the Canadian banks were to withdraw from the Caribbean, the credit union unions come quickly to mind. Some question if the credit union movement in Barbados is ready to operate at the level required to deliver a best in class service in a global market fraught with regulation. We are not questioning if the cooperative model can deliver financial services to participants, a look at the balance sheets of the leading credit unions in Barbados suggest there is work to be done to ensure key acid ratios are met.
The Canadian Globe and Mail articles highlight the level of debt which Barbados has accumulated and the volatility of oil price that has negatively impacted Trinidad’s economy. These are two of the key markets in the English speaking Caribbean that have undergirded the stability of the regional economy in the post oil-crisis period of the 70s. The trivializing of credit rating downgrades and an inability by regional governments to address structural fault lines in our economies that are known by the policymakers must not instil confidence in the boardrooms in Toronto and elsewhere.
The reality is that replacing international institutions with indigenous ones will not address the underlying factors at the root of failing and poorly performing regional economies. The lack of interest by Canadian financial intuitions is symptomatic of a lack of leadership with the result, conspicuous consumption behaviour driven mainly by the globalization construct. Just look at Barbados to confirm the ease with which we- through our representative the government and private sector- have sold our best companies to non Bajan interest. What assets and symbols do we have left to define who we are as a people? How will our children define success in the context of nurturing Bajan esprit de corps?
The BU household has written voluminously for 10 years about the need to remove the weeds from the lawn. The weeds have sprouted to bush. ALL of the regional economies are now heavily indebted nations with decaying infrastructure and limited fiscal space to drive development. Our politicians who ‘lead’ in the model of government we practice continue to rollout policy directives that pander to feathering popularity and satisfying those behind the curtains with the money to finance political campaigns. The people can be characterized as ‘sheep’ in the process.
History is the teacher to portend how this will play out- Crash, Burn, Rise!
Here are the Canadian Globe and Mail articles.
- CIBC aims to double share of profits from U.S. operations
- CIBC mulls offering Caribbean subsidiary on U.S. stock markets Subscriber content
The footnote to this submission is that in Barbados we pride ourselves on being an educated people yet we have demonstrated a lack of ability to manage home grown institutions and to leverage the investment in education to separate Barbados from the rest. Why bother to invest in education if this is the result?