Miloon Kothari, Former UN Investigator, Reviewing Vancouver Housing Crisis – “Hyper-speculation. Casino Capitalism. Gentrification. Collusion. Corruption. Criminal Investigations. A Lottery Which Reduces A Social Resource Like Housing To A Commodity.”

“Overall, I’m actually quite shocked on several fronts. One is that the housing crisis that I observed in 2007, 10 years ago, has become worse on virtually every level, whether you look at the level of homelessness, densification of poverty, the crisis of rental housing and the lack of housing options for low-income people. So that’s been quite surprising. These adverse housing and living conditions are partly fed by the hyper-speculation and gentrification you see all across the city.
I’m also quite disturbed by the fact that the city government, instead of playing the role of protecting housing options that lower-income people have, has been either through acts of commission or omission actually abetting this whole process. The kind of gentrification that you see happening in the Downtown Eastside, and that you see now in Chinatown is also being done through a process of rezoning, through the development of condominium buildings that drive up land values for adjacent areas. There doesn’t seem to be a commensurate attempt to increase the housing options for lower-income and modest-income people. You either see a shortage of shelters or inadequate conditions in shelters, a complete reduction in the number of single resident occupancy units, or the type of decrepit situation that you see at the Balmoral.
I don’t know what the logic is there, but [it’s] similar to the logic in other cities, where municipalities, in collusion with developers, deliberately let a particular area deteriorate and then it becomes an emergency. And then, when renovations happen, those properties don’t ever go back to the people who lived there before…”

“There’s no reason why the gentrification that is happening in the Downtown Eastside or Chinatown should be allowed. An entire area could be zoned off from this speculation to protect the low-income people living there. It has to be a political choice. It requires leadership at the political level. One can’t rely on the planners without the political sanctioning of such a policy. If you are doing rezoning, it could be limited to developing social housing for those most in need, not for the rich. A few token units for seniors and low-income people are insufficient. So I don’t see the city doing an adequate job in trying to stem that tide of gentrification.
The only conclusion you can reach is that there has to be collusion between the city machinery, developers, and obviously homeowners are de facto part of that too. That is who is benefiting from this system as it is. And it’s hurting the vast majority of the people who live here. We’re talking about millions and millions of dollars being made in this corrupt structure. People should be thoroughly embarrassed by this. If this were a similar situation in other countries, there would be investigations and hard questions being asked. Why are interest rates so low? Why are the banks being downgraded for being overexposed in the housing market? There should even be criminal investigations related to the real estate sector. The story of the unbridled real estate market in Vancouver is casino capitalism as its worst — a lottery which reduces a social resource like housing to a commodity.”

– from ‘Vancouver Housing Crisis ‘Worse on Virtually Every Level,’ Says Former UN Investigator’, an excellent interview with Miloon Kothari by Am Johal, The Tyee, 20 June 2017

99 responses to “Miloon Kothari, Former UN Investigator, Reviewing Vancouver Housing Crisis – “Hyper-speculation. Casino Capitalism. Gentrification. Collusion. Corruption. Criminal Investigations. A Lottery Which Reduces A Social Resource Like Housing To A Commodity.”

  1. Remind me again why political campaign contribution isn’t considered to be a bribe?

    • Great question, space.

      This is part of the reason for campaign finance reform becoming such a hot topic.
      Why should politicians be allowed (or need) to take money from any entities?
      Why not a small set campaign budget, and a standardized way of informing the population about candidate platforms (cheap flyers and internet)?
      Then townhall discussions and debates (online if necessary).
      Why should the candidate with the best advertising team win?

      It’s so obvious that this should change, but guess why it doesn’t?

  2. The investigator is shocked? Take the time to watch Bill Moyers interview with Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman relating to the book Capital, by Thomas Picketty – What the 1% don’t want you to know. It’s a lot easier than trying to read that 700 page tome. Moyers and Professor Krugman use the word ugliness. It’s apt.
    We the geese are being plucked. The brainwashed geese don’t realize it’s happening as they rah rah at corporate sports events; drinking corporate beer; eating corporate CAFO mystery dogs. Tipping servants at Starsucks because the billionaire owner doesn’t pay a living wage. Buying water, or sugar water, from billionaires.
    So often these parasites are introduced as billionaire so and so, or so and so is worth x billions of dollars. Worth? These parasites. These horrifically greedy relentless parasites. And they’re passing the billions on to their spawn. Ugliness. Ugly parasitic dynasties.
    Whenever someone asks you to contribute to a charity – don’t. Point your finger at the billionaire parasites. Put some pressure on these shameless venal blood suckers – these maggots who can’t afford the time to pick up thousand dollar bills, but still screw their wage slaves.

  3. If gov’t bought land in advance of re-zoning, or transit expansion, then sold it at cost, and extended their lending rates at cost, then housing wold be cheaper for low income people. To remain affordable, this inventory of low income housing then has to stay in that category, ie sold back into the low income housing pool. Enabling people to volunteer their time, where they could help out, or where organizations like Habitat For Humanity was willing to help, would also reduce the cost. This appriach cost the gov’t very little; not a tax burden on others. Yet would add housing for many.

    • Sorry, aside from the whole stupidity of that idea which wouldn’t actually help low income people after a few years, it also defeats the whole purpose of having transit centers – which is to have massive density so people don’t need to drive! If you buy up land around potential transit centers beforehand and don’t build up massive density, the transit center wouldn’t work as planned and hemorrhaging even more money.

      As well, government in democracy are supposed to be transparent and respect citizen rights and properties. So, it would be very bad optics and begging for a court case if government bought properties under another name for cheap, and trying to hide their intentions.

    • Sorry dude, the idea is a bit too simplistic. Let’s look at the scenarios. Take the cambie corridor for example. Is your plan that the city would buy up lots for sale before annoucning rezoning plans? If that is the case, two issues.

      1. City would have massive liabilities on their hands and also have to manage rentals and other maintanence issues to deal with. The issue here is that the city of vancouver is not an investment entity so it can’t have massive balance sheets to the tune of say a few hundred lots bought at market value like this. The other thing is that if they start collecting land then the remaining land owners would then start to not want to sell. And we all know that even if you are missing one lot in say a five lot assembly it won’t work.

      2. What if a homeowner wants to rebuild their lot. Right now, if it is rezoned the city can say no. But if there is no rezoning the city have no legal grounds to deny a homeowner the ability to rebuild on a lot that it is zoned for.

      So while the idea sounds good in principle in reality this would never fly in the current system. Imagine if city of vancouver jacked up property taxes just so that they can hold or buy land on their balance sheets the uproar would be massive.

      Also remember that the social housing policies that the city is enacting is all using land it already owns. Because there will be hell to pay if it jacks up taxes to pay for social housing.

  4. It’s too bad that basic personal finance, economics, psychology are not taught as required courses in high school. It’s almost as important as the 3Rs in modern society, and it would probably help reduce some of the idiotic ideas from the left, who wants government to do everything for free or at other people (eg. those evil & lazy rich people) expense.

  5. Word of Mouth (from westside frank):
    RE costs are making it difficult for hospitals in Vancouver to find personnel such as radiology technicians, physiotherapists, and renal dialysis technicians. Specific stories of individuals in these kinds of positions leaving town.

    • really? I bet a lot of physiotherapists clinics would love that because a lot of them aren’t making a lot of money or overflowing with clients.

      Yes, there are those that leave town but there are also out of work grads that would love to have a job to stay in town.

      People have to get their head out of their asses and stop believing fairy tales that you can triple a city’s population and everyone will still have affordable single family houses in the same city area. Especially when we have more high income couples than before.

  6. One of El Ninja’s heroes invested heavily in the Canadian Real estate market, and he missed it by a day! Sigh.

    • white_angelos_honest_ombra

      the warren may have started as a value investor … but now, he’s as crony as can be … hey, it’s what works … until it doesn’t

    • El Ninja doesn’t speculate and gamble, he invests! He doesn’t care about minor events because he’s concentrating on the bigger picture and making bigger returns!

    • white_angelos_honest_ombra

      to guess right, recapping busted companies can be very refreshing … otoh, my guess is the warren’s guess involves co-opting nice cdn taxpayers somehow … oh the hypocrisy … meanwhile, the russians are at it again … pffft! …

  7. Warren Buffett is a refreshing financial genius. Take some time to read his quotes if you get the chance. He believes he is a rare combination of luck and a peculiar financial mind who is rewarded by society far more than a great teacher or soldier. His policy response to poverty interestingly enough is that he believes in a low earned income tax credit, which incentivizes people to get some kind of job but makes sure they make a living at it.

    On North American capitalism and taxation:

    “The free market’s the best mechanism ever devised to put resources to their most efficient and productive use. … The government isn’t particularly good at that. But the market isn’t so good at making sure that the wealth that’s produced is being distributed fairly or wisely. Some of that wealth has to be plowed back into education, so that the next generation has a fair chance, and to maintain our infrastructure, and provide some sort of safety net for those who lose out in a market economy. And it just makes sense that those of us who’ve benefited most from the market should pay a bigger share. … When you get rid of the estate tax, you’re basically handing over command of the country’s resources to people who didn’t earn it. It’s like choosing the 2020 Olympic team by picking the children of all the winners at the 2000 Games.”

    • white_angelos_honest_ombra

      the folksy hypocrisies more blatant than ever … how is tax and redistribution not even more so handing over command of resources to ppl that didn’t earn it? … all just feel good salesmanship … however, one must credit to him with knowing how to work it … btw, the warren made out huge in the bail-outs … that’s his mo in the age of cb interventionalism … greet the masses with the right hand, pick their pockets with the left … enjoy

  8. The Orifice of Omaha is a parasite; a feudal financial lord. “Low income earned tax credit” – what a crock. It amuses him if wage slaves in hopeless jobs get a tax credit. Better to read Pierre Berton’s: ‘Smug Minority’.
    Capitalism has stuffed his pockets, and he can pontificate all he wants, he can even buy aircraft carriers, but he is not giving up a non-taxable cent – until he dies. How magnanimous. Don’t bullshit about what you’re going to do with all that cash when you’re dead. If the Orifice believed what he was saying, he’d divest now. Today. Yesterday.
    He has 76.6 billion dollars. Can you wrap your head around that number? How much bigger a share should billionaire parasites pay since they’ve benefitted so much from unfettered capitalism? How about all of the billions. Let’s be gracious and kind and leave these bleeding heart angels a few hundred million – just to get by – a safety net.

    • Wrap your head around this: How many billionaires are giving away 99 percent of their fortune, and how many are advocating for increased income taxes on the wealthy? Some parasite. Buffett is an uber capitalist but there are far better targets for your scorn.

      • [Guardian] – America’s trailer parks: the residents may be poor but the owners are getting rich: It’s an unusual but potentially lucrative investment: billionaire Warren Buffett is heavily invested, and his and others’ success is prompting ordinary people to attend Mobile Home University, a ‘boot camp’ in trailer park ownership

        …”Trailer parks are big and profitable business – particularly after hundreds of thousands of Americans who lost their homes in the financial crisis created a huge demand for affordable housing. According to US Census figures, more than 20 million people, or 6% of the population, live in trailer parks.

        It is a market that has not been lost on some of the country’s richest and most high-profile investors. Sam Zell’s Equity LifeStyle Properties (ELS) is the largest mobile home park owner in America, with controlling interests in nearly 140,000 parks. In 2014, ELS made $777m in revenue, helping boost Zell’s near-$5bn fortune.

        Warren Buffett, the nation’s second-richest man with a $72bn fortune, owns the biggest mobile home manufacturer in the US, Clayton Homes, and the two biggest mobile home lenders, 21st Mortgage Corporation and Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance Company. Buffett’s trailer park investments will feature heavily at his annual meeting this weekend, which will be attended by more than 40,000 shareholders in Omaha.”…

      • white_angelos_honest_ombra

        sul margine di lethe
        seguir vo’ l’idol mio
        che tanto adoro

  9. As of 2016, donations total 24.6 billion. He has pointed out the reason he delays charity is that the longer the money is in his hands, the longer it has to compound at 20% per year on the long term average. It’s not being spent on his lifestyle. Why divest early when he can compound it?

    • white_angelos_honest_ombra

      not face-value altruism … yet another ruse in plain sight … there is a spectrum but follow the money with eyes wide open and ask yourself what these foundations (gates, soros, zuckerberg, clinton-ack!, etc.) ultimately fund … a denser concentration and consolidation of power … they’re not giving it away … how much do you already work for the govt (income/sales/hidden)? … would you like to do even more? … higher taxes? … oh yes, yes, yes please … nice mind trick, no? … beware of billionaires leaning heavily on govt assistance (eg. musk-ack!) … the warren didn’t have to … but he did

  10. Ah yes, Sam Zell – the one they call the ‘Grave Dancer’. A walking talking gnomish caricature of a capitalist.
    There’s an interesting battle between altruistic love muffin Buffy’s NV energy and Elon Musk’s SolarCity. Bloomberg has a hilarious image of the Orifice of Omaha trying to submit Musk with a rear naked choke.

    • white_angelos_honest_ombra

      the sociopath selection process superbowl … but dunno, could a contestant or 2 carry redemptive qualities? … meanwhile bits of warren hcg color via cohodes twitter feed fwiw …

      • My son was operated on about ten times. That surgeon is a hero. A superstar. The author of this article calls the Orifice of Omaha his hero. The Orifice climbed to the top of the financialization rat pile. He profits from people selling Caca Cola while a billion people don’t have access to clean water. He profits along with the Wal-Mart cretin clan – billions and billions of dollars – while poor people suffer. A hero? Billionaires are black-hearted black hole parasites. Al Capone and Pablo Escobar had redeeming qualities too.

      • “You don’t earn a billion dollars. You steal it.” – Fran Leibowitz

      • white_angelos_honest_ombra

        hero in the sense of business acumen, i think … less so the morality … but, we all draw that line differently … principles are expensive … the warren can pay but chooses otherwise, imo … contrapuntal … nobody no system is perfect … and it could be worse certainly … i regard the progeny perhaps for revelations of redemptiveness … unspoiled, undespotic seed oft unusually issued from the fruit of privilege … that is no accident … and for the rest, maybe god’s revenge? karma for wickedness? … hell has its harbors on earth … must excuse morningtime’s half-minted almagam … don’t overdissect … the holes are bigger than some of the parts

  11. 3208 Euclid Ave: I was surprised when this tarted-up Van Spec turd of a house sold last year for $1.95M – about half a mil too much. It’s back for sale for $1,977,675 – and still half a mil too much.

  12. 2786 46th Ave E: another flip fail – this weird-looking house on the massive Killarney Bog was bought Feb 2016 for $1.57M – now listed at $1.599M; not enough to cover costs, but not a big haircut. $61K less than last assessed for this non-trendy charm-free viewless location.

  13. 2891 Pandora: bought (overpaid) for $1.398M in Jan 2016. Now offered as a renoflip at $1.599M. Why is it that the bullshitters do dollar store prices. The square footage indicated is a wild exaggeration. Flanking an alley, no garage, nowhere near Skytrain, and subject to the relentless cacophony and parking lunacy of the PNE, this gem is not.

  14. Astrophysicist and science communicator Neil deGrasse Tyson has a video illustrating the relative net worth of obscenely rich Gates. For Tyson, at that time, it was worth it for him to bend down and pick up a quarter from a sidewalk – somewhere between a dime and a quarter. A nickel was not worth the effort. For Gates, the equivalent amount was $45,000.00. Note, that this video is a few years old. Extrapolating, that number would now be $90,000.00. It would not be worth Gates’ time to bend down and pick $90,000.00 off the sidewalk. And there is still a Niagara Falls of cash pouring into his boodle. To speak of his or Buffy’s philanthropy is a nice boost to their egos, but their motivation is greed – the game, and greed – and greed is not good.

    • That’s such a stupid analogy….Bill Gates isn’t giving up any money by bending down to pick up $45K. He’s not making $$$/min every minute of every day, and if he takes a dump for 10 mins he stops making $$$/min during that time.

  15. 1607 55th Ave E: a semicustom absolute stinker of a house; a shitload of idiot ideas gleaned by the clueless builder from the library of Van Spec Dreck. An embarrassment. A pile of cash wasted. Painful. And bad feng shui. To put a pile of eights in the absurd asking price does not bleach out this eyesore – an exemplar of stupid building. A grotesque repellent dysfunctional kitchen/open crapset.

  16. 3621 Turner: bought new just last May before the non-resident tax – a hopeful handwash flip – no profit; probably a loss. A charmless viewless area – no upside to this property. A bad buy.

  17. 2136 34th: a massive waste of cash. No lane, no view, no Skytrain. Contender for turkey of the week.

  18. 766 53rd Ave E: ad says this is a 3-storey house. False. It is a typical 2-storey with basement and an extra illegal suite. Big difference. And no laneway house. Desirability – low. Price – ludicrous. If you have over 3 mil to throw down on a house, why would you buy this turkey.

  19. 2381 Georgia St E: bought 5 years ago for $645K, this itty bitty postwar box assessed at $26,500. has been heavily reno modded and staged. Listed at $1.899M. Insane. Give credit for the work that’s been done; trying to make a silk purse out of a pig’s ear, but your daddy must have deep pockets to consider this list – essentially half a mil for the modifications – some, indisputably, illegal. Fascinating to look at though.

  20. white_angelos_stupid_analogy

    cb-enabled can kicking is why bears evolved to hibernate … the ones that survive emerge really super hungry

    • Re. hopeful about spawn progeny of the born privileged – winners of the lucky vagina lottery. Not sanguine. Case in point: bizarre pair of Drumpf blowfish that Bill Maher calls Uday and Qusay, or Douchebag Von Fuckface and Thurston Shitbag the 3rd. Aroused and proud to be killing animals in Africa. You could add the third leg: “Barron”. Harkonnen?

  21. Relieved to see the pffft dropped – that was just annoying. Would recommend Eddie Huang’s ‘Fresh of the Boat’ for a remakable facility and play with language: also the monstrously intellectual verbal genius Christopher Dewdney.

    • white_angelos_stupid_analogy

      annoy, what? see the penguin … seed of the usurper? … boys will be boys, nobody’s perfect, etc. … key question is … tip of iceberg, or whole iceberg? … dunno … really dunno and things always change … but these have been investigated, pored over, dredged most thoroughly … note time, scale, scope of quest vs nuggets found

      • Feedback can be a catalyst for growth. Overall, your stream of consciousness statacco syntax has merit. Again, Huang’s ‘FOB’ might appeal to you.

      • “Nothing can beat the glory of the layout editor for the print edition of a newspaper…”… Professor Vijay Prashad

      • Consummate practitioners of black heart. Gang leaders. Pirates. Parasites. Yet geese from BGT say they’d like to perform for these global robbers and directors of hitmen. The brainwashing is thorough. From the popes in their priapic hats, to the beaver-headed guards – their game is thorough.

  22. 3005 28th Ave E: a terrifying location flush with the Nootka Street Speedway. Boneheaded monster boy racers routinely crash houses, poles, trees. Add frequent fire trucks, ambulances, motorcycles – location, location, location – this one is nasty nasty nasty.

  23. white_angelos_orange_appeal

    pssst … … bonus … … fwiw i submitted n400 soon after nov 8

  24. Highly recommend anything by Peter Joseph, of Zeitgeist fame. His Q&A response at about 55 min from “Train of Thought” on ZDAY Australia 2017 about Greedy Guts Gates and other “philanthropists” is intelligent and reasoned.

  25. 4016 Rupert: an attempt at a flip – bought 4 months ago for $1.079M – listed at $1.478M. That’s a bump of $399K – not $400K – that would look greedy. A horrible garbage location – one of the worst – listed by a no name rodent. No bank would give a mortgage on this ridiculous flip price. Not worth living in let alone buying.

  26. Every time you take a sip of caca cola; or buy a bottle of plasticky water; or sip some starsucks, some billionaire parasite gets his beak wet. Having a DQ icecream? There’s Buffett with his tongue hanging out for a lick. Buying an Apple product? He gets a cut of your cash.
    A billion people don’t have access to clean water. Two to three billion don’t have access to a toilet. These are related. Could the bullshit billionaire parasites remedy this? In a heartbeat. Is that going to happen? Don’t hold your breath.

    • Please remember that Republicans believes that poor people are poor because it’s their own damn fault. If only those poor people got off their ass, got an education, they would have done well in life. Poor countries are poor because they don’t have democracy and human rights, and again it’s the fault of the stupid people in those countries only. Giving them charity would only make things worse.

      Democrats / Liberals on the hand believes that it’s all due to rich white men not checking their privileges properly, and not voluntarily pay their fair share, and basically go die. If only they had done that then every problem in the world would be solved.

  27. white_angelos_orange_apocalypse

    h+s top? if yes, things are going to get ‘real interest’ -ing …

  28. 919 27th Ave E: renoflipping beavers hard at it – bought Sep. 2016 for $1.55M – now listed at $2.298M: a 70’s Van Spec Dreck in a No Frills location

  29. Mayor Gregor and Qu Wanting have call it quits.

  30. 2745 29th Ave E: last year someone spent a quarter mil framing out a Van Spec Mohawk – it reached dry-in phase and stopped. It has become part of a land assembly – including a decent house that was built just over 10 years ago. All that cash and effort flushed. It’s crazy how people are still building single detatched in this area near a Skytrain station – so wasteful.

  31. 3066 26th Ave E: the quintessential scraper. Don’t bother with your renovating ideas. Rodent’s only listing – a paycheck for paperwork from someone just this side of the grave.

  32. 2896 14th Ave E: “You could argue this is a perfect location!!”. You could also argue that it’s a s***hole location flanking an alley at the bottom of Renfrew Heights in the Grandview Gully sitting on top of Still Creek. Stunning view of the ass end of a bunch of Van Specs on Renfrew St. Noisy.

  33. white_angelos_orange_apocalypse

    boc raises rates – whaaat? … they’re really not in control … markets are dragging them higher … pretty much gone as far as we can in one direction … very long way back

    • [G&M] – Vancouver’s Grouse Mountain Resorts expected to be sold to Chinese investor with state ties

      …”Vancouver’s landmark Grouse Mountain Resorts is expected to be sold as early as next week to a Shanghai-based investor, the latest in a series of Canadian commercial property acquisitions by Chinese entities.

      China Minsheng Investment Group (CMIG), the country’s largest privately owned investment manager, is expected to pay approximately $200-million for Grouse Mountain, which is owned by the McLaughlin family, according to sources familiar with the transaction.

      The year-round recreation destination, which dominates the Vancouver skyline from the North Shore Mountains, includes close to 500 hectares of private land that attract more than 1.3-million visitors annually. Grouse Mountain went up for sale last September, shortly after the Whistler Blackcomb ski resort sold for $1.4-billion.
      A spokesperson for CMIG declined to comment on a potential transaction, as did spokespersons for Grouse Mountain and its real-estate agent, CBRE Ltd.

      CMIG was launched in 2014 by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang with approximately $9-billion of capital and is designed to function as Beijing’s version of New York-based asset manager Blackstone Group, investing in sectors such as real estate, hospitality, health care, technology and finance.”…

    • #Surely,ItCouldNeverHappenHere…

      [NewRepublic] – Trump’s Russian Laundromat: How to use Trump Tower and other luxury high-rises to clean dirty money, run an international crime syndicate, and propel a failed real estate developer into the White House.

      …”In 1984, a Russian émigré named David Bogatin went shopping for apartments in New York City. The 38-year-old had arrived in America seven years before, with just $3 in his pocket. But for a former pilot in the Soviet Army—his specialty had been shooting down Americans over North Vietnam—he had clearly done quite well for himself. Bogatin wasn’t hunting for a place in Brighton Beach, the Brooklyn enclave known as “Little Odessa” for its large population of immigrants from the Soviet Union. Instead, he was fixated on the glitziest apartment building on Fifth Avenue, a gaudy, 58-story edifice with gold-plated fixtures and a pink-marble atrium: Trump Tower.

      A monument to celebrity and conspicuous consumption, the tower was home to the likes of Johnny Carson, Steven Spielberg, and Sophia Loren. Its brash, 38-year-old developer was something of a tabloid celebrity himself. Donald Trump was just coming into his own as a serious player in Manhattan real estate, and Trump Tower was the crown jewel of his growing empire. From the day it opened, the building was a hit—all but a few dozen of its 263 units had sold in the first few months. But Bogatin wasn’t deterred by the limited availability or the sky-high prices. The Russian plunked down $6 million to buy not one or two, but five luxury condos. The big check apparently caught the attention of the owner. According to Wayne Barrett, who investigated the deal for the Village Voice, Trump personally attended the closing, along with Bogatin.

      If the transaction seemed suspicious—multiple apartments for a single buyer who appeared to have no legitimate way to put his hands on that much money—there may have been a reason. At the time, Russian mobsters were beginning to invest in high-end real estate, which offered an ideal vehicle to launder money from their criminal enterprises. “During the ’80s and ’90s, we in the U.S. government repeatedly saw a pattern by which criminals would use condos and high-rises to launder money,” says Jonathan Winer, a deputy assistant secretary of state for international law enforcement in the Clinton administration. “It didn’t matter that you paid too much, because the real estate values would rise, and it was a way of turning dirty money into clean money. It was done very systematically, and it explained why there are so many high-rises where the units were sold but no one is living in them.”…

    • Can I ask an honest question? Have we ever been all that good at stopping dirty money? Two issues. One, who is to say what is clean and what is dirty? Two, there is a good reason why we call equate money with liquidity; just like water, it’s not easy to stop water from leaking into your house. Similarly, it is difficult to stop money from coming in when it wants to. Especially when the people who are trying to get that money in is probably much smarter than the people trying to prevent it. It is probably far more efficient to tax it after it gets in than to stop it from getting in.

      • #TheShortAnswer?… #TotalLackOfPoliticalWill… #HighCrimes&Misdemeanors,Or… #JustMalfeasance&Corruption?… #20YearsAgo…

        [G&M] – Ex-spy takes on CSIS review body

        …”At issue is a sensitive probe of Chinese espionage activity in Canada, code-named Project Sidewinder, that was the product of years of joint analysis by CSIS and the RCMP.

        Mr. Juneau, who worked in CSIS’s research and analysis branch, co-authored a draft of the Sidewinder report with an RCMP intelligence analyst in May of 1997. It concluded that China posed the single largest threat to Canada’s national security…

        …Mr. Juneau noted that other Western intelligence organizations and a bipartisan U.S. congressional committee have since produced reports that echoed many of Sidewinder’s conclusions. “We were ahead of our time and that’s what probably killed our report.”…

        [NoteToIllustriousEd: “Ahead of our time” was an analytical/institutional paradigm predicated on preemptive neutralization of “sub-optimal outcomes”]…

    • white_angelos_orange_apocalypse

      russia has gdp roughly comparable to canada +/- depending whether oil/gas is boom or bust … ergo hardly a threat for global domination … however, unlike canada they have a very nice nuclear arsenal … means they can’t be easily pushed around … reason 1 deep state is fixated on russia … reason 2 trump knows peace + good relations with russia = no reason for nato = no mass military spending = more $s for other stuff … otoh, the left’s fixation is just plain egoism and denial … if intended, one of the slickest moves trump ever made was convincing the left he was stupid … now they’re stuck with either trump can’t be legit or we’re just complete fools … so, they flail and grab onto anything to avoid the conclusion they’re colossal idiots … all these, what taleb calls iyi’s, they can’t let it go, trapped in the hole dug by their own huge egos … watch him work them over and over and over

      • Russia suffered between 26 and 40 million deaths thanks to WW ll – that scar runs deep in their collective psyche. They will not be pushed around, but they will also not be instigators.
        The smartest thing the bibulous bonehead Boris Yeltsin ever did was to make Putin president. If you spend any time listening to him you can see that he’s the greatest leader Russia has ever had – a leader, not a ruler. He is staggeringly articulate, has a comprehensive understanding of geopolitics, and is humorous – quite unlike Drumpf who sounds like Hal and looks like he has perpetual indigestion. Extra points that Putin sometimes doesn’t wear a shirt, and that he started playing hockey in his sixties. He’s the world rock star of politics.
        Regarding no mass military spending – there are too many fear mongering primitive apes padding their pockets to hope for that. As Major General Smedley said: war is a racket.

  34. How did Greedy Jim get his start? As a curbstoner – the lowest of the low in an industry so vile that “like a used car salesman” is a common derogatory term. He parlayed that into car dealerships and took that cash to take over Neon Products – which pollutes our visual environment with countless repellent billboards – advertising his crap and that of others. It is a Niagara of cashflow. With this cash he buys everything and has so many thousands of wage slaves – an economic dictator. Instead of putting up statues of himself like dictators are prone to do, he sticks his name everywhere. His tentacles are everywhere: Overwaitea, Buy-Low, Reliance Properties, Pricesmart, Western Family … it goes on and on and on – a cancer. If he doesn’t own it, he doesn’t want it. Or it’s a family company like BMW who is so rich they can’t be bothered selling it to this predacious parvenue. Dirty money, clean money?

    • I kind of agree with that sentiment exactly. Who are we to say what is dirty and clean when we have billionaires who probably tax dodge their way to the billions. And then we are so righteous to say oh so and so’s money came from bribery. Is tax evasion any worse? Who is to judge really. But if it is Jim Pattison buying up everything in BC it is ok. If it is chinese offshore buyers buying it then it is not. What is the real difference really between the two?

      The funniest part of all this is that people don’t realize why we have such an influx of foreign money. The local elite would much rather this city be full of rich foreigners than it is by local folks. That is a fact. Pattison makes money from consumption, look at everything he owns. And a rich foreigner with money, dirty or clean, would be far more profitable to the local elite because they consume and buy the products. The local elite could care any less if they paid any taxes because the less taxes they pay the more money they will spend anyways.

  35. Interesting post there from Auteur on the sale of Grouse Mountain. Imagine being so rich that you have a mountain resort to sell. It begs the question – why are the obscenely rich McLaughlin family selling. It’s like selling a corporate sport franchise. Even if you have billions, you can’t just buy one – it’s cashflow plus status. More importantly, what are they going to do with all that cash. Lululemon greedy pig sold and sank it into real estate. What is the plan for the McLaughlins? Share it? … bitter hysterical laughter.

  36. Peter Joseph, founder of Zeitgeist, in his book: The New Human Rights Movement – Reinventing the Economy to End Oppression, states that the richest 100 people could end global poverty four times over; that in the twentieth century 1,800 million deaths are due to capital inequality. He quotes Gandhi: “It matters little to me if you shoot a man or starve him to death by inches.”
    We do have people who live lives of quiet desperation, hanging on to wage slave jobs, so the billionaires get a little more market share – their little game. It’s depressing to contemplate the bs the billionaires squeeze out of their holes.
    Joseph’s book is good, if a little verbose – better for most to watch him on Youtube. Surprisingly, he makes no mention of the war on drug users – the profits made from criminalizing people with addictions while big pharma, and the tobacco and alcohol industries float merrily along.

  37. [VancouverMayorGregorRobertson’sNewPenthouse]

    • [Guardian] – The Grenfell inquiry must look at the developers carving up our cities

      …”…we have a concerning culture of cronyism that, while not illegal, suggests a lack of accountability. From the housing minister down to the local councillor, elected politicians now routinely rub shoulders with property developers, house builders and commercial lobbyists. This is no accident. Politicians’ decisions have an impact on companies’ ambitions, whether they are reviewing planning applications, setting affordable housing targets or “regenerating” whole areas. Bluntly, companies want these decisions to go their way. Develop connections with the decision-maker and you can “strip out risk”, in the words of one lobbying firm.

      The politicisation of planning has come with the growth of the regeneration industry. While once planning officers in local government made recommendations that elected members of planning committees generally followed, today lobbyists are able to exert far greater influence.”…

  38. 2735 Oxford St: sellers on crack – last assessed at $1.805M – listed at $2.9M. Who can get a mortgage for a pie in the sky extra $1.1M? Does not compute. Need tons of free floating cash. A nothing house with horrendous kitchen layout; no garage; illegally covered deck; piercing traffic noise from Hwy 1; massively annoying noise from the PNE all summer with concomitant traffic issues; nowhere near Skytrain. WTF.

    • white_angelos_orange_apocalypse

      costs symptomatic, not causal … high tax rates + irresponsible governance + crony dole + socialistic vote-buying dole … watch out – same kind running canada … if yvr gets messed up, fringe economy, no biggie … if yyz dysfunctionalized, whole thing goes down hard … ww race to bottom courtesy of cb’s gone wild … sure could use a mass idiot extinction event, or 2

  39. Collision, corruption … peanuts compared to Madoff and SAC Capital. The reason Madoff made off with so much cash for decades is because the whole Wall Street game is such a cesspool of lies. SAC paid a fine of $1.8 billion – with a B – for insider trading, while the owner of this band of thieves walked away – rich, obscenely, stinking rich. Of course he’s a philanthropist. There’s whitewashing, greenwashing, pinkwashing. What’s a good term for philanthropy – to describe the bones these parasites throw to make themselves feel good while avoiding taxes – after sucking the life out of wage slaves. Share is not in their vocabulary. Cohen took home $2.3 billion in 2013 when he shut down SAC – worked his poor little fingers to the bone.

  40. 3468 Nootka: for sale forever at $1.99M – bumped to $2.188M.

  41. Piganthropy: when greedy pig billionaires kick back some cash – to avoid paying taxes while trying to look like benefactors. Greedy Guts Gates doesn’t think he should have to pay taxes at all.

  42. Dalia Dippolito – my favourite rodent.

  43. 3536 William St: fascinating; quirky; artsy; crude. Cool lights. Salvation Army decor. Waste vent stack through the attic bedroom is quite the feature. Bought 20 months ago for $915K – listed exactly at assessed: $1,199,600 = $284,600 bounce. $14,230/month. Looks like a couple with a dog that have moved on. Nice that the back overlooks a park. Not so nice that Hwy 1 will drill holes in your ears. Desirability factor: low.

  44. 3085 20th Ave E: Flip – bought May 17, 2017 for $1,401,000. – listed at $1,699,000.

  45. Time for a new blog post…. 🙂

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