The article you just read was brought to you by a few thousand dedicated readers. Will you join them?

Thanks for coming by The Tyee and reading one of many original articles we’ll post today. Our team works hard to publish in-depth stories on topics that matter on a daily basis. Our motto is: No junk. Just good journalism.

Just as we care about the quality of our reporting, we care about making our stories accessible to all who want to read them and provide a pleasant reading experience. No intrusive ads to distract you. No paywall locking you out of an article you want to read. No clickbait to trick you into reading a sensational article.

There’s a reason why our site is unique and why we don’t have to rely on those tactics — our Tyee Builders program. Tyee Builders are readers who chip in a bit of money each month (or one-time) to our editorial budget. This amazing program allows us to pay our writers fairly, keep our focus on quality over quantity of articles, and provide a pleasant reading experience for those who visit our site.

In the past year, we’ve been able to double our staff team and boost our reporting. We invest all of the revenue we receive into producing more and better journalism. We want to keep growing, but we need your support to do it.

Fewer than 1 in 100 of our average monthly readers are signed up to Tyee Builders. If we reach 1% of our readers signing up to be Tyee Builders, we could continue to grow and do even more.

If you appreciate what The Tyee publishes and want to help us do more, please sign up to be a Tyee Builder today. You pick the amount, and you can cancel any time.

Support our growing independent newsroom and join Tyee Builders today.
Before you click away, we have something to ask you…

Do you value independent journalism that focuses on the issues that matter? Do you think Canada needs more in-depth, fact-based reporting? So do we. If you’d like to be part of the solution, we’d love it if you joined us in working on it.

The Tyee is an independent, paywall-free, reader-funded publication. While many other newsrooms are getting smaller or shutting down altogether, we’re bucking the trend and growing, while still keeping our articles free and open for everyone to read.

The reason why we’re able to grow and do more, and focus on quality reporting, is because our readers support us in doing that. Over 5,000 Tyee readers chip in to fund our newsroom on a monthly basis, and that supports our rockstar team of dedicated journalists.

Join a community of people who are helping to build a better journalism ecosystem. You pick the amount you’d like to contribute on a monthly basis, and you can cancel any time.

Help us make Canadian media better by joining Tyee Builders today.
We value: Our readers.
Our independence. Our region.
The power of real journalism.
We're reader supported.
Get our newsletter free.
Help pay for our reporting.

Mark Carney Says Climate Change Will Bring Economic Disaster. Will the Powerful Listen?

Global bank heads say urgent action needed to prevent a ‘Minsky moment’ collapse in asset prices.

By Crawford Kilian 23 Apr 2019 |

Crawford Kilian is a contributing editor of The Tyee.

“We always find the strength to bear the misfortunes of others,” the French writer La Rochefoucauld observed centuries ago. And when the misfortunes are those of the victims of climate change, our politicians and their corporate sponsors are like Atlas, strong enough to bear a world of hurt on their well-tailored shoulders.

They may find themselves feeling just a little shaky, however, after a recent open letter written by Canadian Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of England, with Banque de France governor François Velleroy de Falhau and Frank Elderson, chair of the Network for Greening the Financial Services (NGFS).

These guys are not shaggy Extinction Rebellion protesters being busted in London. And teenage activist Greta Thunberg would likely ask why they took so long to admit what’s been obvious since long before she was born in 2003.

But Carney and his colleagues advise the masters of the universe; they are the consiglieri of the world’s corporate capos, and when they murmur a warning in the capos’ collective ear, wise capos heed them.

Their open letter announced the first report of the Network for Greening the Financial Services, a group that includes central bankers from around the world. That report tells the capos that “climate-related risks are a source of financial risk.” (Greta Thunberg and billions of other girls would roll their eyes.)

The report continues with equally obvious warnings: climate change will affect the economy on all levels from households to government; it’s highly certain; it’s irreversible; and it depends on short-term actions (right now, this minute) by “governments, central banks and supervisors, financial market participants, firms and households.”

Back to 1960

I can imagine how badly the Trudeau government will take this advice, never mind the Conservative provincial governments that now extend from Edmonton to Toronto. Their agendas amount to burning fossil fuels as fast as possible, whether by shipping them overseas, flying Canadians to charming tourist destinations or burning gas domestically in their Ford F150s.

But Carney and his colleagues are consiglieri who can count. They’re reminding the capos that sometimes there’s no money left in the racket.

“The stakes are undoubtedly high, but the commitment of all actors in the financial system to act on these recommendations will help avoid a climate-driven ‘Minsky moment’ — the term we use to refer to a sudden collapse in asset prices,” he wrote.

A Minsky moment is the instant when you realize that the house you’ve bought is worth less than the mortgage you’re still paying off. When, even if the house is paid off, selling it wouldn’t sustain you through even a short retirement — not after you’ve also paid off the consumer debt you’ve blithely run up ever since your first student loan.

Running on fumes

That debt has put Canadians at the bottom of a hole $2.16-trillion deep, the highest relative household debt load of any Group of Seven country. We are collectively running on the CO2 fumes of our fossil fuels.

According to a recent report, almost half of us are just $200 from insolvency and our own personal Minsky moment.

That helps to explain why Alberta is so obsessed with expanding the Trans Mountain pipeline: Albertans have the highest average debt in the country. After borrowing during the boom years, the average Alberta household debt rose from $164,000 in 2010 to $192,000 in 2016. And that includes an average mortgage in 2016 of $124,000.

A Minsky moment might start when enough debtors declare bankruptcy to cause problems for their banks. Or it might start when oil companies realize even a pipeline won’t save them, fire all their workers, and shut down. Or when sanctions shut off Iranian oil and the price soars beyond many countries’ ability to pay.

As Dr. Samuel Johnson famously observed over two centuries ago, “Depend upon it, sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully.” Mark Carney may carry enough credibility to concentrate the minds of the masters of the universe, who might then hit the brakes and adopt climate-friendly investment policies, with the paid applause of their political servants.

But Hyman Minsky and a few like-minded economists warned of disaster in the 1990s, and the market still imploded in 2008. Heroic measures saved the system, which recovered only to fund the presidential campaign of Donald Trump.

Politicians talk about “balancing” the environment and the economy; it’s understood as code for business as usual and never mind the emissions. Carney and his colleagues are reminding the capos that business as usual is going to cost them far more than diverting their funds into renewable, sustainable energy. 

The capos should be grateful: it’s an offer they can’t refuse.  [Tyee]

Share this article

The Tyee is supported by readers like you

Join us and grow independent media in Canada

Facts matter. Get The Tyee's in-depth journalism delivered to your inbox for free

Tyee Commenting Guidelines

Do not:

  •  Use sexist, classist, racist or homophobic language
  • Libel or defame
  • Bully, threaten, name-call or troll
  • Troll patrol. Instead, downvote, or flag suspect activity
  • Attempt to guess other commenters’ real-life identities


  • Verify facts, debunk rumours
  • Add context and background
  • Spot typos and logical fallacies
  • Highlight reporting blind spots
  • Ignore trolls and flag violations
  • Treat all with respect and curiosity
  • Stay on topic
  • Connect with each other


The Barometer

Tyee Poll: What Coverage Would You Like to See More of This Year?

Take this week's poll