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CRA suspends online accounts of over 100,000 Canadians after login credentials found for sale on dark web – National Post

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If you received an unexpected and cryptic email on Feb. 16 from CRA warning that your email had been deleted from the agency’s web platform, do not worry

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OTTAWA – The Canada Revenue Agency had to suspend the accounts of more than 100,000 users of its online service because it detected troves of leaked login information on the dark web that could have led to data breaches.

If you received an unexpected and cryptic email on Feb. 16 from CRA warning you that your email had been deleted from the agency’s web platform, MyCRA, do not worry: your account has not been breached.

In fact, the agency says it means that their new early cyber security issue detection system is working (though the communication strategy will be reviewed and it “regrets the inconvenience.”)

But that also means your login data has probably been compromised through a third-party breach and you will need to contact CRA in order to regain access to your online account, particularly if you plan on filing your 2020 taxes online starting next week.

“To be clear, these accounts were not impacted by a cyber attack at the CRA. These accounts have not been compromised and the action taken to lock the accounts was a preventative measure,” agency spokesperson Christopher Doody said in an emailed statement.

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Steps on how to regain access to their online account will be sent to affected taxpayers by mail, he added.

The Feb. 16 email — an unusual form of communication in itself as the agency generally promises never to email taxpayers directly, preferring to send communications through MyCRA — came after the CRA suspended over 100,000 taxpayers’ accounts after detecting that their credentials were likely for sale on unsavoury online marketplaces.

“In this particular case, an internal analysis revealed evidence that some account credentials (i.e. user IDs and passwords) may have been compromised, and may be available for use by unauthorized individuals,” Doody wrote.

The agency assures that the data was not stolen from their servers, but instead through one of the many small-to-massive data breaches that have plagued an increasing number of organizations over the years (Equifax and Desjardins are just recent examples).

Some of that stolen login data was then put up for sale on the dark web, which is a hidden part of the Internet only accessible through tailored software.

When those credentials were cross-referenced with internal MyCRA login data, the agency noted over 100,000 accounts that used the same combination of email and password.

That meant that anyone who purchased the stolen data might have been able to access the taxpayers’ sensitive MyCRA account.

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To be clear, these accounts were not impacted by a cyber attack at the CRA

“As a precautionary security measure and to prevent unauthorized access to these accounts, we took swift action to lock the accounts and are in the process of contacting the legitimate account holders to unlock their accounts,” the agency said.

“We will work with impacted individuals to re-establish their credentials and unlock their accounts. There is no urgent need for taxpayers to contact us imminently unless they are an emergency benefit applicant and have active applications in our system.”

But the cryptic email sent out by the agency on Tuesday, which simply told the recipient that their email address had been removed from their Canada Revenue Agency account with no further explanation, created significant concern among Canadians.

Many were afraid that the issue was linked to significant cyber incidents and suspicious activity involving 48,500 MyCRA accounts last summer, though Doody assures that is not the case.

Those incidents forced CRA to suspend tens of thousands of taxpayers’ online accounts as well as suspend certain online services such as address changes until further notice.

Unable to reach the agency via its call centre, many Canadians turned to social media to get an explanation from the CRA.

“I just received an email that my email address has been removed from CRA. I don’t know why and didn’t initiate myself. I tried logging into the CRA website and as soon as I log in I get an error message. What’s going on?,” Twitter user Chris Lotts asked the agency.

Another user, Dennis Saunders from Halifax, was particularly concerned after receiving the cryptic email from CRA.

“Help me please you are freaking me out why am I locked out you removed my email Whats is going I am scared to death help me,” Saunders tweeted to the CRA.

• Email: cnardi@postmedia.com | Twitter:

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Royal Bank of Canada beats expectations on record capital markets earnings – Financial Post

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The bank’s net income for the three-month period ended Jan. 31 was approximately $3.85 billion, an increase of 10 per cent from a year earlier

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The chief executive of Canada’s biggest bank said Wednesday that they anticipate weak supply, rock-bottom interest rates and stockpiles of savings to keep driving demand for residential real estate, which comes as policymakers are starting to see froth in the housing markets. 

Canadian housing activity “remains elevated,” according to Dave McKay, Royal Bank of Canada’s president and CEO.

“While rising permit issuance is building up the new construction pipeline, we expect a lack of supply, low interest rates, elevated savings rates, continuing work-from-home arrangements and the potential resumption of immigration to underpin continued demand,” McKay said during a conference call for analysts and investors.

The comments followed Toronto-based RBC reporting first-quarter earnings that were better than expected, helped by both loan growth and a drop in the amount of money it had to set aside for potential loan losses. The base-case economic outlook that the bank uses for calculating expected credit losses also foresees Canadian housing prices to rise by 4.9 per cent over the next 12 months. 

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Yet the same kind of factors that RBC sees driving demand in the housing market are the same ones that policymakers are beginning to eye warily. 

Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem on Tuesday said that they are seeing some signs of “excess exuberance” in the housing market, albeit not to the level that prompted past policy actions such as mortgage stress tests. The governor noted that the economy is still coping with the coronavirus pandemic and said that “we need the growth we can get.” 

Even so, Macklem said that even they were surprised by the strength of the housing market’s rebound, which has been driven by factors such as a COVID-19-related desire for more space, helping to drive up demand and prices for suburban real estate. According to the Canadian Real Estate Association, home sales set another all-time record in January, with the actual national average sale price increasing by 22.8 per cent from a year earlier. 

Macklem told reporters on Tuesday that the central bank looks for signs of “extrapolative expectations,” which would involve people counting on “unsustainable” increases in home prices to continue. 

“If people start to … think that those are going to go on indefinitely, that becomes a concern,” the governor said. “We are acutely aware that in a world of very low interest rates, there is a risk that housing prices could get stretched, households could get stretched, and certainly that’s a risk we want to guard against.” 

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RBC, however, sees some debt-related risk abating, which helped the lender to beat earnings expectations. 

The bank’s net income for the three-month period ended Jan. 31 was approximately $3.85 billion, an increase of 10 per cent from a year earlier. When adjusted for certain items, Canada’s biggest bank said first-quarter earnings per share were $2.69, up 10 per cent year-over-year and better than the $2.28 consensus of analyst estimates.

Profit from RBC’s personal and commercial banking unit rose six per cent from a year ago, to nearly $1.8 billion, as it grew both Canadian deposits and loans during the quarter. An improved outlook for credit quality also allowed RBC to release $97 million in reserve funds, with the bank’s total provisions for credit losses for the quarter $110 million, down 74 per cent from a year earlier.

McKay pointed to the progress being made on vaccines as a reason for its improving outlook. 

“We’re growing in confidence in the trajectory of the vaccination of our population and the mitigation of risk,” he said in response to an analyst’s question. “We’re not there yet, so we’re still waiting to see the execution of this, but we’re getting more confident that the timing is starting to narrow around when this will happen.” 

RBC also said its most recent financial results were boosted by a flurry of stock trading earlier this year and in late 2020, as the lender managed to beat first-quarter earnings expectations.

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The bank’s capital-markets business reported net income of approximately $1.07 billion for the first quarter, up 21 per cent from a year ago.This, the bank said, was mostly because of higher revenue, “largely driven by higher equity trading primarily in the U.S. reflecting increased client activity, partially offset by lower, albeit strong M&A revenue, which was the second highest following the historical high in Q1 2020.”

Market conditions gave RBC’s insurance business a lift as well, with the unit’s net income increasing 11 per cent year-over-year, to $201 million. This was chiefly because of “improved claims experience and higher favourable investment-related experience,” the bank said in a press release.

Also reporting an earnings beat on Wednesday was Montreal-based National Bank of Canada, which said its adjusted EPS for the quarter ended Jan. 31 were $2.15, better than the $1.71 analysts had been anticipating. 

In keeping with what its rivals have been reporting this earnings season, National said that its loan-loss provisions had fallen in the quarter, decreasing nine per cent year-over-year to $81 million.

“While uncertainty remains on the exact path and timing of a full recovery, the economy is adapting to a new reality and creating an environment conducive to revenue growth,” said Louis Vachon, president and CEO of National, during his bank’s conference call on Wednesday. “With more people working from home, coupled with historically low interest rates, we continue to see significant pent-up demand in the housing market.”

• Email: gzochodne@postmedia.com | Twitter:

In-depth reporting on the innovation economy from The Logic, brought to you in partnership with the Financial Post.

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Inflation debate: Famous 'Big Short' investor signals risk as Fed's Powell downplays concerns – Kitco NEWS

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(Kitco News) As the Federal Reserve once again downplays inflation concerns, some major market players, including “Big Short” investor Michael Burry, are signaling just the opposite.

Powell

During his two-day testimony before Congress, Powell reiterated that central banks have learned how to keep inflation under control and that high inflation is “not a problem for this time.”

Powell pointed out that even though inflation may be volatile over the next few months, the effects won’t be “large or persistent.”

He added that inflation has been low for the last 25 years, and that it was not about to change. “We don’t see how a burst of fiscal support changes those inflation dynamics,” Powell said.

Powell even said that central banks have to unlearn the relationship with the money supply, noting that the growth of M2 doesn’t have a relationship with economic growth anymore.

When asked to elaborate on some leading inflation indicators, Powell noted that inflation dynamics evolve over time and don’t change overnight.

“Inflation is something I remember well. We’ve been in a low inflationary mode. And we have guidance telling markets when tapering will begin or when we will start raising rates,” he said.

Powell added that supply chain issues matter for inflation only when they are permanently challenged. “If there is a shortage of cars, prices will go up, but that doesn’t cause inflation. Inflation is something that happens year on year,” Powell said on Wednesday.

‘Big Short’ investor Michael Burry

These comments are in contrast to the alarm being sounded on Wall Street. The latest heavyweight to join the conversation was Michael Burry — the investor who was profiled in Michael Lewis’ “The Big Short” book about the mortgage crisis and who now runs Scion Asset Management.

Burry sent out a warning into the Twitterverse, warning investors to brace for inflation, as he pointed to a boom in demand due to the fiscal stimulus being injected into the economy.

“The U.S. government is inviting inflation with its MMT-tinged policies. Brisk Debt/GDP, M2 increases while retail sales, PMI stage V recovery. Trillions more stimulus & re-opening to boost demand as employee and supply chain costs skyrocket,” Burry tweeted on Saturday.

Burry is known for spotting the mortgage crisis ahead of time and making a fortune against the U.S. housing bubble. He became famous after his portrayal in the book and movie “The Big Short.” In 2019, Burry has invested in GameStop, well before the retail frenzy took over the stock, making millions.

The Scion Asset Management chief also quoted the book by Jens O. Parsson titled “Dying of Money: Lessons of the Great German and American Inflations.”

“Germany [the US] started by not paying adequately for its war [on COVID and the GFC fallout] out of the sacrifices of its people – taxes – but covered its deficits with war loans [Treasuries] and issues of new paper Reichsmarks [dollars]. ‘#doomedtorepeat,” Burry tweeted.

“#History is not useless,” said another tweet. “This text explores the 1970s American #inflation, which is more relevant today than one might think.”

Burry went on to say that in an inflationary crisis, the government would try to crush assets like gold and bitcoin.

“Prepare for inflation. Re-opening & stimulus are on the way. Pre-Covid it took $3 debt to create $1 GDP, and it is worse now. In an inflationary crisis, governments will move to squash competitors in the currency arena. BTC. Gold.”

Burry is short bitcoin at the moment, tweeting that the “long-term future is tenuous for decentralized crypto in a world of legally violent, heartless centralized governments with lifeblood interests in monopolies on currencies.”

Since then, Burry, under the hashtag @michaeljburry, has deleted all of his tweets, emptying his account completely.

Before 2021 even started, many analysts were worried about the threat of inflation. Here’s what some major players have said recently.

JPMorgan

Signs of inflation are already here, JPMorgan said in a note last week, adding that higher prices will trigger a new commodity supercycle.

“The tide on yields and inflation is turning,” JPMorgan said. “We believe that the new commodity upswing, and in particular oil up cycle, has started.”

Goldman Sachs

Goldman Sachs noted that inflation fears are driving some parts of the market but warned that the likely inflationary surge this year will be due to the base effects when weaker inflationary months are phased out from annual measures.

“Many investors believe the spending boost will lead to higher inflation and interest rates, which would reduce the value of equity duration and increase the importance of near-term growth,” said Goldman Sachs strategists. “Historically, inflation has boosted nominal S&P 500 revenues, but weighed on profit margins as companies struggled to lift prices at the same pace as rising input costs.”

Citigroup

As the economy improves, inflation fears are growing, according to Citigroup.

“Lead indicators suggest that an inflation scare may be in the making,” Citigroup Inc.’s chief U.S. equity strategist Tobias Levkovich. “Companies with price flexibility should come out as winners.”

Blackstone

Inflation means that we don’t “have the wind at our back anymore.”

“We’ve had a long 35 to 40 years of rate decline that has been a big support behind fixed-income investing, a big support behind equity multiples expanding, and so for those of us that live and breathe investing, it’s been a wind at our back for a long time,” said Blackstoneglobal head of credit Dwight Scott. “I don’t think we have the wind at our back anymore, but we don’t have the wind in our face yet. This is what the conversation on inflation is really about.”

Vanguard

Inflation is a big risk to the markets, according to Vanguard.

“The big risk in the market really is inflation, whether it is transitory or whether it is something more deep rooted,” said Vanguard head of investment-grade credit Arvind Narayanan. “There’s just a tremendous amount of stimulus in the marketplace, both monetary and fiscal, that favor economic growth.”

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Fed chief downplays inflation concerns connected with stimulus – CNN

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[unable to retrieve full-text content]

  1. Fed chief downplays inflation concerns connected with stimulus  CNN
  2. LIVE: Fed Chair Powell testifies before the House Financial Services Committee on monetary policy  Yahoo Finance
  3. Stocks Edge Higher as Powell Talks Up Stimulus: Markets Wrap  Yahoo Canada Finance
  4. Fed Chairman Powell Helps the Stock Market But Won’t Discuss Deficit  Bloomberg
  5. Strong German data helps European shares recover; Wall Street futures subdued  Reuters
  6. View Full coverage on Google News



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