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April 2, 2018 | No. 3,004

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.

“I started reading your blog in August 2008,” says Brandon, who now requires PTSD therapy. “Ten years later and you’re still posting every day.  It’s a thankless job and you should brag about the fact you’ve been around so long. Why didn’t you have an anniversary blog post?”

Actually, I hadn’t thought it about. So I just looked. Yes, this is post number 3,004. That’s 2.3 million words (or only 1.75 million when you eliminate ‘moister’, ‘horny’ and ‘pooched’.) So far 546,175 comments have been published (not counting six hundred thousand deleted from Smoking Man). Google says 7.3 million sessions happen at GreaterFool each year. Less than 1% of visitors leave a comment, which should make us feel good about humanity. The average time people spend on this pathetic site is three and a half minutes – apparently all they can bear.

This blog started back in 2008 when the detritus of the US housing crash was becoming evident. Actually it began as a shameless promo for my latest book at the time (of the same name), and morphed into something far darker. After a year or so, there was so much to chronicle that five blogs a week were squeezed out. Then six. Finally I added two guest bloggers – fancy-pants portfolio managers at Turner Investments – so now we go seven days a week causing endless mayhem and confusion, just like Donald Trump.

Over this decade a lot of stuff happened. To all of us.

Personally, it’s been ten years of change. The wealth management biz I started in 2010 now employs nine people and is one of the largest practices in North America. That was a shock. Who knew so many folks wanted to escape the seductive clutches of [email protected]? Then I bought a miserable pile of bricks and launched the Belfountain General Store in the country where 16 people now work and Bandit gets free ice cream. Dorothy and I have lived in a few houses over this decade, gutting three of them. And the next project begins in three weeks. Ask me anything about drywall.

Real estate has been in turmoil since the day this blog began. It scared me then, and still does, the way most people overdose on housing. Few of us could have known that governments would pimp property as they have. ‘Emergency’ interest rates after the credit crisis turned into almost ten years of cheap money encouraging massive debt-snofling. That created $2 trillion in household debt, and inflated average homes far beyond the means of average people.

At first politicians did everything they could think of to stimulate borrowing and spending in order to rescue the economy from the brink. Zero down. Forty-year ams. RRSP home loans. First-timer grants, credits and rebates. It worked. Suddenly million-dollar houses were everywhere. So lately elected people – panicked the bubble will explode and eat the economy – have been peddling in reverse. The binge became a boom, then a bubble, and may yet yield a bust. Along the way many families have found windfall gains. Many have taken on unrepayable debt. It is a story still being written. Hence, this blog.

What started solely as a property thing has morphed over the years into a site which talks about investing, economics, taxes, babes and balanced portfolios. The economy’s gyrations over a decade have been profound. For most of this time we were borderline deflationary, living in a low-rate, low-return, low-growth, low-performance world. That all changed about the time Trump appeared (it wasn’t just a coincidence). Now stock markets have shot higher, the cost of living is rising, America has full employment, interest rates are relentlessly spiking and financial investors are doing better than those stuck in real estate. But at the same time, the world has an incredible debt overhang, while a whole new set of dangers has emerged. Canadian politics has drifted inexorably to the left just as the moisters emerged blinking from their parents’ rec rooms. They seem to like taxes. Little dinks.

Well, keeping score on a blog that has published the equivalent of 38 books in the past decade is probably pointless. Read. Don’t read. It’s your choice. Nobody pays me for clicks or eyeballs. You will never find a ‘Real Estate Wealth and Bitcoin Expo’ ad on GreaterFool. Just a lot of boring, repetitious blathering around the same few principles. Here are a few…

Be balanced in everything you do. Love, investing, canine management, house lust, voting NDP.

Do not buy what you cannot afford. Duh.

Be really, really, really careful about borrowing and debt. Watch how your elected leaders act. Do the opposite.

Aggressively avoid taxation, at least until the Mills mature and grow out of it.

Never confuse gambling with investing. Bitcoins, cryptos, condos, junior oil stocks, Tesla, bullion, MICs – all bad news.

Never buy real estate with anyone you haven’t slept with.

And, above all, remember the most precious asset is time. It cannot be borrowed, earned, stolen, banked or bought. Without it, nothing. And now your three and a half minutes are up.

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April 2nd, 2018

Posted In: The Greater Fool

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