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September 28, 2018 | Investment Ideas from the September 2018 BCA Conference

BCA Research’s annual conference delivered some great investment ideas this year, over two jam-packed days, to an audience of about 300 portfolio managers and investors from all over the world. There were some surprising forecasts, in an environment of heightened uncertainty in the world. This conference, organized by one of the world’s top macro research […]

September 21, 2018 | No One Saw It Coming

Recent news articles focused on the tenth anniversary of the Lehman Brothers failure and the global financial crisis that followed. A theme runs through much of the commentary; that no one could have foreseen the 2008-09 crisis. That narrative is wrong. There were some who forecast the 2008 financial crisis, in writing, with analysis to […]

September 14, 2018 | When the Bank Decides

Recently I attended The Oxford Central Banking Senior Executive Programme. Five days of presentations and discussions reinforced my understanding of the process of creating money — 97 percent of money has been created by commercial banks when they make loans. Some of the experts that presented at the conference discussed the implications of the money […]

September 7, 2018 | The Investment Implications of Increased Longevity

Longevity is an interesting concept for investors.  In its simplest form longevity is undoubtedly seen as a good thing because it means more time spent enjoying life or time with loved ones.  With significant gains in longevity over recent decades it is time to examine whether some of the traditionally held beliefs about our relationship […]

August 31, 2018 | NAFTA Threats Put Canada on the Spot

The U.S. administration has threatened Canada, again, over NAFTA. By negotiating directly with Mexico, the U.S. put pressure on Canada to agree to a new trade agreement. Since NAFTA is a three-way agreement there is no chance that NAFTA can be amended without Canadian approval. And yet, the U.S. President continues to push ahead with […]

August 24, 2018 | Emerging Markets are Cheap

Emerging markets equities have underperformed global markets in 2018 and over the last decade. Especially compared to U.S. markets, emerging markets look relatively attractive on a valuation basis. Emerging markets are going to outperform developed markets like the U.S. at some point. Is it time to dip a toe into the murky waters of emerging […]

August 17, 2018 | Canada Could Become a Superpower

The dire predictions of the English cleric Thomas Robert Malthus in 1798 have proven to be incorrect, so far. Malthus predicted that rapid growth in human population coupled with slower growth in food production would lead to widespread famine and death. Jeremy Grantham, of GMO and the Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment […]

August 10, 2018 | Elon Musk squeezes Tesla short sellers

Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, Inc., is causing trouble for the myriad of speculators who are betting against Tesla. By announcing that he is thinking about buying all publicly traded shares at $420 per share, he sent a chill down the spines of many short sellers. If Tesla goes private at $420, what would it […]

August 3, 2018 | U.S. Escalates the Trade War with China

The U.S. administration escalated the trade war with China this week. Previously, they had announced 10 percent tariffs on some Chinese goods to take effect on August 31. The U.S. upped the ante with a threat to raise the proposed tariff rate to 25 percent on $200 billion worth of Chinese products. Does this escalation […]

July 27, 2018 | Facebook Flop Raises Questions

Facebook reported results that were a shock to the market, causing a sell-off that saw the social media giant trading 18 percent lower on Thursday morning. The FAANG stocks, (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google) represent a large share of the S&P 500. Is Facebook’s stumble a warning for the broader market, or an isolated […]

July 20, 2018 | The Thoughts of Ayn Rand and U.S. Politics

The philosopher Ayn Rand’s worldview continues to influence key U.S. authorities long after her death in 1982. Her most famous follower is Alan Greenspan, who served as Chairman of the Federal Reserve for almost two decades. Shortly after Greenspan retired in 2006, the U.S. experienced its most severe financial crisis since the 1930s. Rand espoused […]

July 13, 2018 | Bank of Canada Rates and House Prices

The Bank of Canada (the Bank) raised its overnight interest rate to 1.5 percent this week, as expected. And there was a strong hint from the Bank that there are more increases on the way, with another one or two likely before the end of 2018. Did the Bank’s policy until now promote a dangerous […]

July 6, 2018 | Millennials Overtake Baby Boomers

The number of people in the Millennial generation is greater than those who are labeled as Baby Boomers. This demographic shift will have profound implications for many facets of society, such as housing, elections and employment. The younger generation is more different than most people realize, making it inevitable that there will be some unforeseen […]

June 29, 2018 | Europe Still Dependent on Russian Natural Gas

Russia is the main supplier of natural gas to Germany and other parts of Europe. The largest Russian energy company, Gazprom, holds about 35% market share of natural gas imported into Europe in 2018. Will Germany and other European countries remain dependent on Russia for their natural gas supplies for decades to come? At a […]

June 22, 2018 | The Fog of a Trade War

Media references to an all-out global trade war are spiking. China and the U.S. exchange threats almost daily, with announcements of new tariffs on a wide range of goods like steel, aluminum and soybeans that are traded internationally. European countries are planning to impose tariffs on U.S. goods in retaliation. Is the U.S. pushing the […]

June 15, 2018 | The Fed will Keep Hiking Rates

The U.S. Federal Reserve hiked rates again and signaled that there will be more increases to come as the U.S. economy continues to gain strength. The second hike of this year came this week. Now most observers expect two more increases before 2018 draws to a close. Will the Fed continue hiking rates for too […]

June 8, 2018 | Mother Nature, Not a Bubble

Canadian housing myths are plentiful. But a new myth popped up recently in the form of a suggestion that “mother nature” is pushing house prices higher in Vancouver and Toronto. Is “mother nature” driving house prices in those two large cities? Does that mean it’s not a bubble? Many people, including former Ministers of Finance, […]

June 1, 2018 | Trudeau’s Risky Play with Trans Mountain

The government of Canada purchased the Trans Mountain Expansion Project (TMEP) for C$4.5 billion from Kinder Morgan Canada Limited. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made this controversial move despite substantial political and financial risks. This government purchase ensures that planning and construction work for the project will continue and that the “great national economic benefits” of […]

May 25, 2018 | Lending Growth Slows Abruptly in Canada

Changes to the rules for qualifying for mortgages in Canada have been introduced in several stages recently. And these rules, on a cumulative basis, are starting to have a noticeable impact on lending to households and the housing market. Since availability of credit to finance a home purchase is arguably the single biggest factor in […]

May 18, 2018 | U.S., Mexico and Canada miss NAFTA deadline

The deadline to resolve the impasse in negotiations to amend the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) passed without a resolution of the issues. The negotiators were not talking as of Wednesday. If the NAFTA agreement is canceled by the President of the U.S. and ratified by Congress, there will be serious consequences for the […]

May 11, 2018 | Crude Oil Price Surges Lead to Recessions

The price of crude oil pushed above $70 in the last week, bringing back memories of previous oil shocks that shook the world. In decades past, oil price surges have been highly correlated with the onset of economic downturns. Is this latest move to higher oil prices going to interrupt the economic recovery this time? […]

May 4, 2018 | Bank of Canada Governor Poloz Speaks About Household Debt

Bank of Canada Governor Poloz spoke in Yellowknife, N.W.T., on May 1, 2018. He explained that household debts are large and increasing and represent a threat to the stability of the Canadian financial system. He concluded the speech with, “There is good reason to think that we can continue to manage these risks successfully. “ […]

April 27, 2018 | U.S. Government: Deep Tax Cuts and Deficits

The U.S. government recently enacted deep tax cuts that were designed to boost the economy. But tax cuts could mean smaller government revenue, and projections for deficits in government spending indicate huge increases in total government debt over the next decade and beyond. Will tax cuts be a plus or a minus for the US […]

April 20, 2018 | Energy Fails to Perform in a Benign Environment

The Toronto S&P/TSX index was down about 5 percent in the first quarter of 2018, while the important energy sector index (S&P/TSX Capped Energy) was down even more, by 8 percent. This was during a time of higher oil prices worldwide. In the US, energy companies listed on the stock market show a similar pattern […]

April 13, 2018 | Loss Aversion Could be a Very Costly Human Quirk

Loss Aversion is the human preference to avoid taking losses. This powerful force can cost people a great deal of money when it comes to trading stocks and buying and selling real estate. Can humans overcome their desire to avoid taking losses? I wrote about “loss aversion” as it comes into play when trading stocks in […]

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