- the source for market opinions


July 11, 2019 | The Truism

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.

When’s the best time to invest?

When you have the money.

This simple truism is one of the hardest for most people to grasp. Maybe they understand the logic of it. But they can’t get past the emotion. This is on full display daily on this blog as people moan about a coming apocalypse, the next recession or the great reset – which never comes. Face it, the worst thing that’s happened to anyone took place back in 2008-9. The stock market lost half its value in a once-in-a-generation global credit crisis. But people who stayed invested throughout it with a balanced portfolio lost nothing. The average return during 2008-10 was 5%. How’s that a bad outcome?

This year, 2019, should be a lesson to all the doubters, wailers, gnashers and worriers. Just relax. Invest the money. Stop trying to time the untimeable.

The brief and sharp correction in Q4 of 2018 – as described here at the time – was just noise. An inconsequential and largely Trump-induced plop that put equities on sale and made geniuses of those who had cash to invest. Since then, the recovery’s been remarkable. Those who stayed invested through the storm have seen ’18 paper losses wiped away and gains added. Those who sold made their losses real.

This week the Dow and S&P are achieving new record highs, as they did repeatedly in 2017 and 2018. The year-to-date advance of the Dow is 15%. For the S&P 500, the gain is 19%. For the tech-heavy Nasdaq, investors are ahead 23%. And on Bay Street – so unloved last year – the return is well over 15%. And what about people who held on through the Christmas massacre, not buying or selling? For them the one-year advance on US markets is 11%, and in Canada about 5%.

In fact a balanced and globally-diversified portfolio has delivered close to 7% on average over the past eight years. That rivals or exceeds real estate in Vancouver or Toronto – and without land transfer costs, lawyers, realtor commissions, condo fees, property tax, insurance, home inspectors, renos or utilities. Add in those burdens, and people opting to stay liquid, free, flexible plus fully-invested (and rent) are the winners.

Over this period of time markets have gone up and down. Interest rates rose. Trump emerged. Brexit happened. Trade wars broke out. The US debt ceiling crisis came and went. Commodities fluctuated. Throughout it all, consistently, guys like Gluskin Sheff strategist David Rosenberg predicted one recession after another, and the Chicken Littles lapped it up. They’d feel foolish now, if they weren’t expecting a recession soon. Rosy said so…

Most people, as you know, don’t invest. They save. They buy houses. This is why 80% of TFSA money sits in cash or GICs and there’s a 70% homeownership rate. It’s also no surprise a third of people between 45 and 54 have nothing saved for retirement. Zilch. Another 20% have put aside  less than $50,000. And the average amount in hand when people retire is just $184,000.

What are they thinking? Surely not that they can live on CPP and OAS – governmental crumbs – for 25 years after careers end. Sadly the majority of Canadians believe investing means ‘stocks’ and that’s gambling. So avoiding risk is their preoccupation when (as stated here so often)  the biggest risk is running out of money, not losing it.

Thus the highest hurdle to financial security is emotion, not markets. Not volatility nor loss. It’s you. And that’s exactly why a balanced portfolio – containing safe things as well as diversified growth assets – is a good answer. Putting all your eggs in one real estate basket is not. And saving in a low-yield world may condemn you to decades of KD and lonely nights of Netflix.

So, yes, markets just hit fresh highs. The world’s totally screwed up. It’s a great time to get started.


Well, this is it. For the past few days a portion of this blog has been turned over to the steerage section, giving those who wanted it a chance to pretend they are me – without the chiseled abs, fabulous, tight tosh and non-stop charisma, of course. It’s been interesting. Your comments on whether or not Vox Canabis should be repeated would be welcomed. Unlike Bill Morneau, I actually care what you think. No, really…

Our final contestants include James, who sends along a picture of his unnamed but hopeful dog, and wants you to know what sucks about life.

   There are so many things wrong in the world today and yesteryear that it could fill a book, but if I want to sum it up in one word it would be “blame”

I believe throughout history we blame everyone else for our problems. You can pick any time period and any issue, and someone is blaming someone else for the problems of the day.

I  bet even the Neanderthals blamed Homo Sapiens for getting the better of them, wall art?!

What are the issues? Pick one and someone is pointing the finger at everyone but themselves, suck it up buttercup, each of us must take responsibility and work together to find solutions.

Which Brings me to the other problem we have and that is we have become polarized with two sides? or many sides? to every issue.

I think our leaders and politicians need to work together or heaven forbid united together for the good of Canadians and Canadians need  to come together on local issues and have town halls on how we can solve the issue in our Communities which than can build into a vision and strategy for the country; and all levels of government must participate.

We need a 25 year and 50 year vision, not changing shirts in the next election. The dog is bringing you a message of hope

Finally, Blog Dog Brian Ripley, who often posts links here to his dense housing charts. “I was apprehensive about submitting my essay to you because of the unrestrained testosterone that often overflows on your blog especially when the Trump fanboys get unleashed,” he says. “But today with the Epstein story breaking bad, and the U.S. Women’s Soccer team at the forefront of the equal-pay movement, I thought perhaps my essay might be of interest to your readers. It strikes me that the U.S. 2020 election is indeed in the hands of women.” Actually if Brian got his way, women would dominate politics. Cuz, as he argues, you just can’t trust men.

There is still no real universality when it comes to voting. The biggest group left out with the most at risk are children. According to the U.S. Bureau of the Census +/- 25% of the population in the U.S. are under 18 and therefore cannot vote, or effectively inform their government to make changes now that will benefit them or move the national interest more towards “the greatest portion of good”.

In Canada nearly 18% of the population is under 15 years of age (2007 Census Estimate). In Mexico 30% of the population is under 15 years of age (2007 Census Estimate).

These future citizens are barred from participation in shaping the world they will inherit.

How do we get this vote out? By proxy, held by the closest female caregiver. That’s right, a child’s vote should reside with their mother or the closest female caregiver or guardian.

Women bear the future, they should be entrusted with the vote of the largest ignored class of voters.

Imagine what could happen if we allowed our living inheritors a say in our affairs. In the United States for every 100 people, if 25% are children, and men and women share the remaining votes somewhat equally, then 37 women would have an additional 25 child votes to influence the other 38 male votes. That’s 62 female vs. 38 male votes. That ratio would lead to dramatic change.

In Canada, the results would be 59 female vs. 41 male votes, and in Mexico 65 female vs. 35 male votes. North America would become a model for the rest of the world.

The Grameen Bank is a case in point. It was first created as a university research project by Muhammad Yunus in 1976 in Bangladesh as an experiment in micro-banking (small loans to poor people). By 1983 it was made independent by government authority and as of 2007, women make up 97% of the clients who provide a 98% payback of the money borrowed.

Yunus discovered early on that men could not be trusted to repay the loans; women could. They used the money for creating businesses that provided income to insure the raising of standards for their families who in half the cases were previously living in desperate poverty but now have their children in schools, three meals a day, clean drinking water, sanitary toilets and rainproof houses.

It’s time to acknowledge our future. Let’s have Universal Suffrage, let’s count all the votes.

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July 11th, 2019

Posted In: The Greater Fool

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