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May 22, 2020 | Lessons

What lessons did the virus give us? Did we react calmly, correctly? Tom’s a contractor with a small crew in southern Ontario. Four trucks, usually eight guys. Just four now. The others asked to be laid off, to collect the CERB for four months. Tom told them to get their damn butts on the job […]

May 21, 2020 | Last Chance?

Would you list your house during a pandemic – when people leap off sidewalks from each other and hide behind masks? Nah. Most folks are taking a pass. That’s why the number of active listings in all markets has dropped and, in some places, plunged. In the GTA, for example, new offerings in April crashed […]

May 20, 2020 | ‘Too Much of It’

Canada’s debt mess got real this week. Changes loom, including the doubling of required down payments for houses, tighter credit, more defaults, a brewing crisis in the autumn and falling real estate values. The guy in charge of the nation’s housing agency had some shocking things to say when he addressed the House of Commons […]

May 19, 2020 | The Bad Omen

Remember when we all knew Americans were hedonistic, debt-lapping, financially crippled, amusing profligates? Well, maybe not. Or could be we’re just way worse. First, consider borrowing. Households in both countries have been intemperate. In fact, when it comes to snorfling loans, Canadians have no equal. US families sharply reduced their appetite for mortgages after the […]

May 18, 2020 | Hicks

Thirty-seven months ago Dorothy, Bandit and I piled into the wagon at daybreak and hit the Parkway. Gridlock. Ninety minutes later we broke through the sticky eastern membrane of the GTA, heading east. To Lunenburg. Where we’d had a seasonal home for eight years. We never went back. At least, Bandit didn’t. It took a […]

May 17, 2020 | Don’t Be So Sure

Not only could you fly Air Canada anywhere, eat out, get a haircut, get your teeth fixed and go to the office in February, but you could also get a mortgage fast, cheap and easy. No more. We’re risk-on now. Lenders are circling the wagons. And left on the outside could be some of those […]

May 15, 2020 | Filthy Lucre

‘No cash.’ Anti-social signs like that cropped up everywhere after the virus came to town. Just one more way of building walls between people. Masks. Jumping off the sidewalk when someone approaches. Plexiglass shields. Sheltering at home. All of this has created a new reality. Covid, 1. Humanity, 0. Cash money isn’t exactly social glue, […]

May 14, 2020 | The Wages of Fear

Some notes from the Virus Diary on this Star Date 14.05.20. For years he was a GreaterFool Deep Throat undercover correspondent from the delusional, house-lusty, moist metropolis of Vancouver. Then he escaped to Europe, but remains addicted to this pathetic site (aren’t we all?). “I’ve written you now for what seems like close to 10 years,” he […]

May 13, 2020 | The Rentiers

The landless class can be so cruel. Witness a few weeks ago when this blog told you about a doctor wanting to move back into his Toronto condo so he could accept a position at the downtown St. Mike’s hospital. After renting it for five years and working out of town, he planned to move […]

May 12, 2020 | Germ Warfare

If you haven’t changed your pants in two weeks, you’re probably working from home. Isolated. So, like, what’s the point? Maybe you don’t need pants at all. Millions of people aren’t going to the office, the shop floor, the store or visiting clients any more. They haven’t for months. And more months to come. Working […]

May 11, 2020 | Into the fog

Will the virus forever change the future? Or is this just recency bias talking? After all, it’s a human failing – projecting current conditions forward. For example, when assets rise (stocks, houses, gold, Bitcoin, fine art) people think they’ll rise forever. So they buy into inflating markets. But when stuff plunges (like equities in late […]

May 10, 2020 | Free Money

Ten years ago. Mark Carney was our central bank boss. “Individuals who have taken on too much debt could be at risk of going broke if there is another adverse economic shock,” he told reporters, while delivering the latest interest rate news. Nobody cared. The debt-to-income ratio for households was 150%. The average Toronto property […]

May 8, 2020 | The Win

The GreaterFool Nation’s latest poll results are in. A decent sample – over six thousand responses in the last 24 hours. This is interesting: the readership of this pathetic blog appears to drip with maskless cowboys, eschewing government pogey, worried about civil liberties but generally supporting political anti-virus actions and definitely not going shopping or […]

May 7, 2020 | Whither Us?

Charlie spotted an ad this week on Twitter, seeking a renter. The unit is a 350-foot nest in a giant downtown 416 tower, fully furnished since it used to be an Airbnb. Before the deluge. The key point: over the course of a month the rent ask has dropped seven times, from just below $2,000 […]

May 6, 2020 | Eating Risk

Over 700,000 homeowners have pleaded for mortgage relief. What does this tell us? First (duh) these folks can’t pay, don’t want to or need the cash to finance food, Netflix and N95s. In short, they own real estate they could only afford when a regular income was flowing. No savings, no reserves, lots of stress […]

May 5, 2020 | Stay Away

This week BeeMo shocked many when the bank said it expected up to 80% of staff to stay home, post-virus. No cubicle farm. No collaborative work spaces. No elevators to floors in the sky. No gleaming bank tower. Another nail in the downtown coffin. Daniel’s one of those financial worker bees. An IT banker dude […]

May 4, 2020 | The Bull Trap

Do you agree with the following? Virus spending’s off the charts. Governments can’t just borrow the money from the Bank of Canada, which creates it out of faerie dust and unicorn flatulence (as the Mills believe). So taxes are going up. A lot. Interest rates have collapsed (look at bond yields – incredible). Mortgages are […]

May 3, 2020 | The Big Unlock

Alex asked a simple question of me on the weekend: Should we make some low ball offers on houses that have been on the market for a while (given current state of market and low level of competition) while this pandemic is still going on? Or should we wait a bit, once it becomes apparent that […]

May 1, 2020 | Where Renters Rock

Let’s talk rent. First, all those house-lusty, first-timer, newbie moister buyers out there should understand the days of fist-over-fist price appreciation on entry-level homes (we’re talking condos here) are done. Kaput. Stick a fork in it. There were lots of reasons not to buy before Covid came to town. Now there are reasons to bail. […]

April 30, 2020 | The Reckoning

The dichotomy continues. The market goes up. The economy goes down. A lot of folks, understandably, don’t get it. They want black. They want white. Some even hate me Like Matty, who sent this anguished note after yesterday’s post on some of the things to expect post-virus: It’s actually incredible the amount of two-faced garbage […]

April 29, 2020 | Now What?

  How much will taxes pop? Some of the answer will come Thursday morning. The Parliamentary Budget Officer is an independent guy, not part of the government, the PMO or Trudeau’s Liberal caucus. In short, he has creds. So what the PBO will announce in the morrow should be taken seriously. Three weeks ago, amid […]

April 28, 2020 | The Virus Diaries

Jon’s a heart doc, transitioning from a small regional hospital to the Big Smoke. His new gig in the cardiac unit of a major Toronto medical centre starts Friday. “Huge promotion,” he says, “and now that Covid is moving offstage there’s a serious backlog of elective surgeries to handle. I will be busy.” The good […]

April 27, 2020 | The Outcome

Stocks up again. Volatility down. Portfolios restoring. Man, this drives some people nuts. Not a day passes without a renowned macroeconomist wag or savant quant analyst in the steerage section telling you, ‘markets will make new lows,’ or ‘the worst is to come.’ But it’s not happening. It’s done. Mr. Market hit the bottom in […]

April 26, 2020 | The Cost

  It’s been a month, more or less, since the emergency began. Consequences pile up. Few aspects of life have escaped change. Civil liberties, for example, have been slashed. So far most people are willing to trade unemployment, inconvenience, long hair, hug deficits, closed borders, self-anointed cops and draconian rules for what they’ve been told […]

April 24, 2020 | Can’t Wait

Normal is gone. At least until the autumn. Then you can get a haircut, jog through the park, grab a beer, see the dentist, buy shoes, pick a new iPhone, or (like me) visit the gym for a four-hour workout to tone up your glistening abs. But some things will be odd for a long […]

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