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October 24, 2017 | The Block

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.

John and Arthur were the first ones to email me notes in the morning. That was followed by a text from Tony, then a Tweet from Garrett at one of the big banks. And so it went. Different locations, various devices, differing connections, same message.

“I was at the Algonquin Park visitor center on Sunday,” says John, who leads such an empty life that he has to read this blog on weekends. “I linked into free WiFi and tried to check out your Sunday post but it was blocked – and I was shocked why. I took a screen shot, see attached. Thought you might want to know.”

Here’s what these people saw:


“Category: Hate and Racism”, it said. Shocking, indeed. As regular addicted readers will know, this blog has taken fire repeatedly for deleting posts that contain xenophobic, anti-immigrant, anti-Islam, Chinese-hating, racist comments in a Trumpian era where intolerance has gone mainstream. Houses cost a stupid amount because credit’s too cheap and Canadians too horny for them, not because offshore dudes are stealing our real estate. Stats support that. Common sense confirms it. Most of all, this blog will never fall to the lowest common denominator of dissing the newcomers who come here, often heroically.

So why, I asked webmaster William Stratas, would this happen?

“This is the consequence of network administrators who configure their routers for third-party network filtering services and may have inserted a new listing in that service,” he replied obtusely. “The solution for users is to use a desktop or mobile VPN service (like or that punches through the office network filter and allows the user to access unfiltered content.”

So Bill is following up, and has sent off a research query to whatever omnipotent entity is in charge of deciding what you read (other than me, of course). Early results are that it’s a Cisco router service using a filtering algo run by an outfit called Brightcloud. (It may be controlled by realtors, former Audi leasing specialists and Costco employees. With Kias.) Further results will be shared here. Meanwhile, just imagine what might have been the case if all that junk smeared around the comments section had actually been published. The thought police would have a cow. And  let’s not even discuss the feminists…

Bottom line: be respectful here. No matter how much it kills you.

Speaking of near-death experiences, federal money minister Bill Morneau probably thinks today’s economic statement has saved him from political death. It was wall-to-wall lollipops as the T2 gang took credit for vastly higher economic growth, more new hires and a way less scary deficit number than was contained in the last budget. This is allowing the Liberals to spend more money, of course, as the child credit is expanded (indexed) and the working poor (does not include bloggers).

All good?

Lots of economists think not, arguing that when the economy is better than expected (like now) government should turn off the spending tap so they have resources to  turn on when the next downturn arrives. By indexing the Canada Child Benefit, for example (a new promise), Ottawa is committing itself to an extra few billion billion per year in structural spending – forever. Once you cross the bridge – sending couples money for having children – it’s impossible to ever go back. People don’t vote for politicians who promise less. They vote for guys who will tax everyone else to give you more.

Anyway, eggheads at the major banks are arguing that further spending will probably trigger higher interest rates, since the Bank of Canada thinks it’ll add more stimulus than necessary. By hiking the cost of money some of that stimulus will fade, keep inflationary (and wage) pressures in check and the massive pile of debt from expanding so fast.

“My view is that with the underlying economy growing rapidly, this really isn’t the time for fiscal stimulus,” says BMO chief economist Doug Porter. That makes perfect sense, of course. A time to reap and a time to sow. But Doug doesn’t have multiple numbered companies, a French villa, millions in family company stock and a festering political problem. Nor does he need to get elected again.

The feds gave people what they wanted to hear today. And I’ve got an algo up the derriere. Tells you something.

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October 24th, 2017

Posted In: The Greater Fool

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