Canada, the World’s Soundest Banking System
While the rest of the global banking system falls apart, Canadian banks are receiving the highest rankings as healthy, competitive stocks. Mark Skousen of Investment U says that superior bank stocks will soar when the markets recover.
Here are four tightly regulated stocks Mark recommends that are selling at “incredible bargains. ”
The U.S. financial system is a mess – according to the World Economic Forum, the United States ranks 40th among banking systems around the world. Without federal bailouts, the two largest banks in the country, Citibank (NYSE: C) and Bank of America (NYSE: BAC), would be in bankruptcy, and the good ol’ USA would be headed for the Greater Depression, as my friend Doug Casey likes to call it.
But you’ll never guess where the world’s No. 1 banking system is. No, it’s not fabled Switzerland nor booming Hong Kong.
While the central banks around the world are desperately trying to stem the flow of red ink, this country’s red is emblazoned on its iconic mounted police force.
It’s right next door: Canada. The land of hockey and moose has the world’s soundest banking system. While European and Asian banks are collapsing, Canada stands out as an oasis of financial calm.
Canadian Banks Receive Highest Rankings
According to the Global Competitiveness Report, Canadian banks received the highest ranking, 6.8, out of a possible 7.0 (healthy, with sound balance sheets). The lowest ranking of 1 means insolvent and possible government bailout.
Canada’s stock has been rising quietly – the Canadians are known for their modesty and self-restraint – as American financiers and media are astonished to find that their northern neighbors have somehow avoided the subprime lending scandal and the housing market mess.
What’s Canada’s secret? With the exception of oil-rich Alberta, Canada did not have a strong construction surge as the United States did during the boom years. And mortgage interest is not tax deductible in Canada.
Canadian banks are national in scope; the top five banks have branches in all 10 Canadian provinces, making them less susceptible to downturns. They have large numbers of loyal depositors and a more solid base of capital. They are more tightly regulated than their U.S. counterparts, more liquid and less leveraged.
Canadian Banks – 4 of The Top 10 Largest North American Banks
Among the top 10 largest banks in North America, 4 are Canadian banks:
- Royal Bank of Canada (NYSE: RY),
- Bank of Nova Scotia (NYSE: BNS),
- Bank of Montreal (NYSE: BMO),
- and Toronto Dominion (NYSE: TD), which bought Commerce Bank last year.
Canadian bank executives don’t have to be excoriated by Parliament before taking a pay cut. The CEOs of Canada’s three-largest banks have all voluntarily cut their own pay in response to the global economic crisis.
Canada has its share of problems – being linked to commodity prices – but financially it’s done a better job than its southern neighbor. While the Bush administration ran up massive deficits year after year, Canadian officials finally pushed through a stimulus package that resulted in the government’s first deficit in a decade!
Right now, the Canadian banks are selling at incredible bargains. With operating margins exceeding 30%, and dividend yields between 6% and 8%, Canadian banks are selling at only around eight times earnings. Bank of Montreal is my favorite – it’s selling for only six times this year’s expected earnings and is yielding 10%.
During a crisis, the good investments get hit like the bad ones. But when the markets recover, the good bank stocks will skyrocket, especially those across the border.