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Sault Ste. Marie is a city on the St. Marys River in Ontario, Canada, close to the U.S.-Canada border. It is the seat of the Algoma District and the third largest city in Northern Ontario, after Sudbury and Thunder Bay.
To the south, across the river, is the United States and the city of Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. These two communities were one city until a new treaty after the War of 1812 established the border between Canada and the United States in this area at the St. Mary’s River. In the 21st century, the two cities are joined by the International Bridge, which connects Interstate 75 on the Michigan side, and Huron Street (and former Ontario Secondary Highway 550B) on the Ontario side. Shipping traffic in the Great Lakes system bypasses the Saint Mary’s Rapids via the American Soo Locks, the world’s busiest canal in terms of tonnage that passes through it, while smaller recreational and tour boats use the Canadian Sault Ste. Marie Canal.
French colonists referred to the rapids on the river as Les Saults de Ste. Marie and the village name was derived from that. The rapids and cascades of the St. Mary’s River descend more than 20 feet (6 m) from the level of Lake Superior to the level of the lower lakes. Hundreds of years ago, this slowed shipping traffic, requiring an overland portage of boats and cargo from one lake to the other. The entire name translates to “Saint Mary’s Rapids” or “Saint Mary’s Falls”. The word sault is pronounced [so] in French, and /suː/ in the English pronunciation of the city name. Residents of the city are called Saultites.
Sault Ste. Marie is bordered to the east by the Rankin and Garden River First Nation reserves, and to the west by Prince Township. To the north, the city is bordered by an unincorporated portion of Algoma District, which includes the local services boards of Aweres, Batchawana Bay, Goulais and District, Peace Tree and Searchmont. The city’s census agglomeration, including the townships of Laird, Prince and Macdonald, Meredith and Aberdeen Additional and the First Nations reserves of Garden River and Rankin, had a total population of 79,800 in 2011.
Native American settlements, mostly of Ojibwe-speaking peoples, existed here for more than 500 years. In the late 17th century, French Jesuit missionaries established a mission at the First Nations village. This was followed by development of a fur trading post and larger settlement, as traders, trappers and Native Americans were attracted to the community. It was considered one community and part of Canada until after the War of 1812 and settlement of the border between Canada and the US at the Ste. Mary’s River. The US prohibited British traders from operating in its territory, and the areas separated by the river began to develop as two communities, both named Sault Ste. Marie.
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In finance, subprime lending (also referred to as near-prime, non-prime, and second-chance lending) means making loans to people who may have difficulty maintaining the repayment schedule, sometimes reflecting setbacks, such as unemployment, divorce, medical emergencies, etc.
Historically, subprime borrowers were defined as having a FICO or equifax scores below 600, although “this has varied over time and circumstances.” These loans are characterized by higher interest rates, poor quality collateral, and less favorable terms in order to compensate for higher credit risk. Many subprime loans were packaged into mortgage-backed securities (MBS) and ultimately defaulted, contributing to the financial crisis of 2007–2008.
Proponents of subprime lending maintain that the practice extends credit to people who would otherwise not have access to the credit market. Professor Harvey S. Rosen ofPrinceton University explained, “The main thing that innovations in the mortgage market have done over the past 30 years is to let in the excluded: the young, the discriminated-against, the people without a lot of money in the bank to use for a down payment.”
The term subprime refers to the credit quality of particular borrowers, who have weakened credit histories and a greater risk of loan default than prime borrowers. As people become economically active, records are created relating to their borrowing, earning and lending history. This is called a credit rating; although covered by privacy laws, the information is readily available to people with a need to know (in some countries, loan applications specifically allow the lender to access such records). Subprime borrowers have credit ratings that might include:
Lenders’ standards for determining risk categories may also consider the size of the proposed loan, and also take into account the way the loan and the repayment plan is structured, if it is a conventional repayment loan, a mortgage loan, an endowment mortgage, an interest only loan, a standard repayment loan, an amortized loan, a credit card limit or some other arrangement. The originator is also taken into consideration. Because of this, it was possible for a loan to a borrower with “prime” characteristics (e.g. high credit score, low debt) to be classified as subprime.
New types of “exotic” mortgages became popular in the U.S in the years leading up to the economic downturn. These mortgages often featured “teaser rates” that kept initial monthly payments artificially low, only to have them increase significantly later in the mortgage. Features such as this were never adopted by major Canadian mortgage lenders. The sub-prime market did not take hold in Canada to the extent that it did in the U.S., where the vast majority of mortgages were originated by third parties and then packaged and sold to investors who often did not understand the associated risk. Most mortgages in Canada, on the other hand, are originated and retained by institutions whose goal is to maintain a long-term relationship with the borrower. CMHC does not insure sub-prime mortgages
Canadian banks, trust companies and credit unions tend to have a broader relationship with their customers than just a mortgage, also offering credit cards, car loans and investments. They have a financial interest in ensuring that borrowers do not take on unmanageable debt, which reinforces their motivation to prudently underwrite mortgages.
The Canadian banking system is dominated by five or six large banks that together hold the majority of domestic banking assets. The large banks are in turn diversified geographically and across product lines, while the non-traditional, or shadow, banking system is relatively limited in scope compared with that of the U.S. Oversight is facilitated by a single authority (the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions, or OSFI), which has responsibility for the prudential oversight of these federally incorporated institutions.
Communication with the banking community is thus reasonably straightforwar]. There is a strong focus on the quality of the banks’ risk-management practices. While this is often attributed to a traditionally conservative business culture in Canada, an important factor in Canada is the difficult lessons learned from previous banking problems. An example is the economic difficulties in the early 1990s, which included a significant housing downturn. Canadian banks therefore entered the recent period of financial stress with better risk-management practices, focused on limiting credit losses], than in previous episodes. This helped to limit their exposure to some potentially riskier sectors and products. For example, subprime mortgages, as they occurred in the U.S. market, remained a relatively limited phenomenon in Canada.