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August 16, 2017 | Milestones

A best-selling Canadian author of 14 books on economic trends, real estate, the financial crisis, personal finance strategies, taxation and politics. Nationally-known speaker and lecturer on macroeconomics, the housing market and investment techniques. He is a licensed Investment Advisor with a fee-based, no-commission Toronto-based practice serving clients across Canada.

The day’s news is below. First, let’s talk about what really matters to humanity. This blog.

I admit it. The site was born almost a decade ago when a new book needed flogging (people used to read wads of paper covered with words). In the wake of the American housing mess, I worried we were on the same path. And we were. Still are. Similar outcome.

Over the years, GreaterFool evolved, straying into economics, personal finance, taxation, investment assets and, naturally, dogs. Then came hormones, moisters, house lust, wrinklies, [email protected], thirsty underwear, FOMO and so much more. Now (says Google Analytics) the site is visited 7 million times a year.

As regular addicts know, I’ve also allowed my two fancy portfolio manager buddies, Doug & Ryan, to write a post on alternating Saturdays, so they can still have plenty of time to polish their Porsches and trophy wives. And all along the way one thing has been consistent – roughly 1% of the daily readers leave comments.

So yesterday we passed a milestone, as the 500,000th approved comment was published (from some dude named ‘paulo’ in Peterborough). Illustrating that I have no life, every one of those comments was moderated by hand. Some had colourful language tamed. Others required a comment. And hundreds were deleted, trashed or put into a special spam file I am assembling for the authorities. As Dorothy and Bandit can attest, this whole process may have involved scotch, hurled epithets and fast motorcycle rides to recover.

Days ago I mentioned a recent tidal wave of deplorable comments aimed largely at immigrants, natives, Chinese people, lefties and 1%ers. Me, as well. Open attempts to keep prejudice, racism, xenophobia and haters off this blog earned me a death threat or two. That admission brought on a whole 24-hours of sucking-up comments which puffed my ego, making me completely forget about being garroted.

“How about assign people to pre-filter for you? I’d do a day a week or every two weeks.  Maybe that’s weird or maybe it give you an idea. But it is oh so wearing.  If you had a break from the filth and just see only the good or at least neutral. I see how it affects the people around me who have to receive crap and they don’t see it as much as you.” — Kevin

It also brought offers (like the one above) from readers I’ve never met to vet comments, provide bodyguard services, or sue the shorts off the weenies who made such threats. Additionally, it raised the question of whether this blog is doing things correctly. Should comments be allowed only from people who register, or would that stifle free speech? Should there be comments at all? Should they be better organized so people can respond directly to others? Should filters be installed to automatically weed out weasel comments containing objectionable words or phrases? Would Smoking Man OD as a result? Or, is this blog okay the way it is, and I just need more alcohol?

Given there are now over half million comments posted, seems like a good time to reassess. If you have an opinion, let’s hear it.


Well, the deathwatch continues. Days ago we told you August sales in the GTA could end up being 50% less than the same month last year, according to realtors now kissing their Audis so long. Mid-month numbers (internal) from the real estate board show that purchases were down 36% up to yesterday, and that listings have shrunk materially (down 10%) as dismayed sellers abandon the market.

No wonder. Prices have just entered bear territory – marked by a 20% decline. What cost $920,800 in April is now fetching $731,600 across this vast territory of six million souls – 5.996 million of whom will not be buying a house this month.

So has the bubble burst?

Of course. That’s obvious. And it won’t be reflating after Labour Day. Nor is Vancouver spared, where condo sales have powered ahead, move-up buyers have disappeared, and the detached market is in seriously bad shape. All the poohbahs populating the mainstream media are praying this is a soft landing and the market will unwind in an orderly fashion. But history suggests otherwise. Bubbles almost always end in a mushroom cloud, not a sprinkle of regret.

Anyway, speculation is idle. The autumn is a complete unknown. The central bank will probably hike again. Mortgage rates will likely rise. The feds will drop the tax hammer on small businesses. Trump will edge closer to self-destruction. And you can count on that stressful new stress test at the bank.

Says a veteran realtor: “If you bought anytime since last Labour Day, you are probably worth less than you paid. That is no small number of people when you consider how busy the previous year was. The closer to April 30, of 2017 that you purchased, the deeper you are in the hole.”

No soft landing for you.

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August 16th, 2017

Posted In: The Greater Fool

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