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September 29, 2020 | The Protest

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.

Note to readers: If you come here to leave a comment trying to influence the US election, ah, go away. I warned weeks ago that mindlessly partisan posts would be deleted. You know who you are. The social media world is polluted, corrupted, invaded, twisted and polarized enough without that swill slopping over our gunwales.

None of us know the outcome of November 3rd nor the extent of the ensuing chaos. There’s likely no good outcome. The focus of this blog is not the next American president, but the impact on the economy, taxes, central banks, rates, housing, jobs, assets and financial markets. If you think in black-and-white, you’re part of the problem. Take a hike. Come back in January.

Got it? Good.

Now, about tonight. The debate in Cleveland. Many think it will be the political spectacle of a generation. Despite that, Mr. Market has been chugging along after a recent correction from record levels. In the face of all the crap 2020 has bestowed upon us – millions out of work, a recession and lots of crippled industries – investors who are (a) balanced and (b) have ignored everything, retained that 15% gain they enjoyed last year. And now with 2021 looming, with a  vaccine inching closer and that damn election soon to be in the rear view, no need to change course – regardless of what happens between now and Christmas (if they let us have it).

“This is the most crucial debate ever,” analyst Ed Pennock wrote yesterday. “Unlikely there’s a clear winner. Certainly could be a clear loser. Markets like certainty.”

Exactly. It will come. What you think of the orange monster or the drooling guy is irrelevant. That big, hairy (and manly) delete finger is ready. Make my day.

Arnie’s pain: ‘You really stung me’

Days ago we eviscerated a dude we called Arnie who wrote asking if he and his mat-leave wife (three month-old in arms) should blow their $80,000 in savings on a $800,000 semi in the distant burbs. You may recall they earn a collective two hundred grand and now rent in the city for $2,500.

Why buy in the midst of a real estate boom, a recession and a global pandemic, we gently asked? Are you just all hopped up on baby hormones and house lust? Owning would suck away liquid wealth, increase housing costs by over 70%, create $745,000 in debt and you’d still only own half a house a long commute away from work. Why do it?

In fairness, here is his subsequent lament:

“I saw you featured my email on your blog today. I must say I laughed when you did this to others, but it really stung when you did it to me.

“We don’t have just 80k in assets. We have a bit  more, but this is what we’re prepared to spend on a down payment, because we want a reserve fund and would like to try and be balanced.

“We don’t have a balanced portfolio yet, but we’re immigrants and moved to this country just 3 years ago. And yes, FOMO and kid are the reasons we want to buy. When you put it that way, it sucks.

“Anyway, I’d like to ask you to be nicer to people who email you, but your incisive comments are the reason we’re drawn to reading your blog. By the way, you didn’t answer my question.  Do you think prices of 800k houses will be lower than 650k in a few years? Let me know.

“Like I mentioned, it looks like the government is prepared to sell the country in order to keep RE prices up. Every single financial analyst who predicted the crash is right about the fundamentals, but wrong about the lengths to which the system will go to decouple values from fundamentals. I haven’t decided whether I’m going to buy or not, but I was hoping for perspective on how low the crash may go, and how long it will stay down.”

Arnie’s big mistake: trying to justify risky personal actions based on macroeconomics. The question is not where house prices or government policy are going, but if an action is correct based on personal circumstances. How is that not a simple and clear criterion?

If you need a home (a baby doesn’t cut it) and can afford one (increasing living costs by 70% is plain unwise) without draining your net worth (sorry, Arnie, the RESP and a nestegg come first) then go ahead and buy. But not now.

Ever been to Huntsville? Take warm undies.

Blog dog Joe has come across a weird situation. Actually it’s Joe’s brother-in-law which has been left shaking his head, wondering what the blazes is goin’ on down there in the GTA.

Hi Garth. My brother-in-law in Huntsville and he had his 3 year renter leave when the renter bought his own house. He put an advertisement on Kijiji for a 2 bedroom apartment to rent in Huntsville and received 344 applications for this.

It took awhile to go through everyone as he wanted the best applicant. It was quite the shock to receive so many for this place which is about two hours North of Toronto.

So I responded, asking J where all these apps were coming from. People in the area, maybe, whose igloos had melted over the summer or wanted to move into some kind of habitable shelter before the six months of darkness and roaming bears began? That would make sense.

“No, he said. “None of the applications were local. The Huntsville population is tiny and the Kijiji advertisement went provincial. It was just a surprise to have that many applications for this one apartment.”

And this is the topic for today’s comment section: what the heck?

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September 29th, 2020

Posted In: The Greater Fool

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