Saturday, November 15, 2008

The experts have spoken...

...and they're in agreement that Jim Flaherty's planned selloff is a boneheaded idea:
"It's hard to believe this is an ideal environment to sell any asset," said Bank of Montreal economist Douglas Porter.

"And it raises the bigger issue of just how hard should the federal government press to keep its books balanced. My view is if it comes down to selling the family silver at a discount rate just to make the books balance, that doesn't make sense."

Portfolio manager Adrian Mastracci of Vancouver-based KCM Wealth Management said the other disadvantage of selling assets at this time is that the private sector would only be interested in the government's best properties. He said his advice to clients is wait for better conditions unless there is no other choice...

"We actually own some of the most valuable real estate in the country," says Gordon McIvor, vice-president of strategic acquisitions for Canada Lands.

McIvor said that unless Ottawa has changed its mind, he has been told that the CN Tower, which the government acquired in 1995, is not for sale.

But when to sell is key, he adds.

"Part of our job is to make sure we sell at an optimal time. We don't want to flood the market, and we also don't want to sell when it is not going to achieve the best value for the taxpayer."
Which leaves Flaherty alongside the Canadian Taxpayers' Federation in arguing that anything to get assets out of government hands is worthwhile even if it means selling at a lousy price. So much for pragmatism over ideology...

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