Expensive Food in Canada in March

Our friends from Stats Canada say that our basket of goods that makes up the Consumer Price Index went up only 1.2% year over year (with the year ending March 2015), which sounds just fine, but (as we know) the devil is in the details of these numbers, isn’t it?

The numbers sound lovely, except if you throw gasoline out of the equation and then your numbers change by increasing by a full 1 % (i.e. 2.2%).

CPI with and without Gasoline

CPI with and without Gasoline over the past little while

Given that gasoline had a 19.2% price drop (year over year) there must have been something else that went up a lot to keep the CPI going up the way it is. Any guesses as to what was the big nasty price increase? Booze and smokes (naturally) however, a close 2nd place is food which is up 4.2% (year over year), but looking closer, Meat is up 11%, so the meat eaters of Canada are taking it right in the wallet.

A quick glance at how “all over the place” prices are over the past 12 months:

Prices by Category

Price increases by category (past 12 months), compared with February

Luckily in Ontario booze prices are going to go up with the new Beer Tax proposed as well, yea! I suppose they could impose a Sirloin tax, but let’s hope they don’t think that far out of the box.

Bank of Canada’s core index

To help out with the confusing arithmetic, we have a different index for the Bank of Canada’s view, and remember their “sweet spot” for Inflation is 2.0%, and the past two months, their index has been over that, so are interest rate increases coming some time this year? Here is what Stats Canada said:

The Bank of Canada’s core index increased 2.4% in the 12 months to March, after rising 2.1% in February.

The seasonally adjusted core index rose 0.4% on a monthly basis in March, following a 0.1% increase in February.

However, the Bank of Canada already commented in this area, on Wednesday, and their statement about keeping their key overnight rate steady was:

Risks to the outlook for inflation are now roughly balanced and risks to financial stability appear to be evolving as expected. The Bank judges that the current degree of monetary policy stimulus remains appropriate and therefore is maintaining the target for the overnight rate at 3/4 per cent.

This was after they explained that the Canadian economy was “stalled” in the first quarter of 2015, so it seems the economy continues to be addicted to stimulants.

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Playoffs, Tax Time, Beer tax and #BestMoneyStories

The Hockey playoffs have begun and the NBA playoffs begin tomorrow, and there is an F1 race this weekend as well, sounds like a good weekend to me. Will the Sens be able to come back from their first game defeat? Who knows, but it will be fun to watch, no matter what.

Crocus

Springtime in Ottawa

April 30th is not that far away, have you got your taxes in yet? I have my refund already, but I must remember to sign up for direct deposit, as we also remember that Government Cheques are going away. Do a good job on your taxes, make sure you get all the deductions and credits you are allowed, and then, go to your employer and fill in a T1213 form (if you can use those credits in the coming year), so that you get paid the maximum you can, and stop loaning money to the government.

More interesting revelations coming out of the Duffy Trial this week (speaking of Senators), alleged contract shuffling and alleged payments offered to volunteers? Goodness the wacky things that go on in Ottawa. Where do I sign up for one of those paid volunteer jobs?

In Ontario, we will finally be able to buy beer in grocery stores, but for the right to do this, there will also be a new Beer Tax ? Ontario the good strikes again, and only 450 stores will get “permits” to sell beer? And a new tax on beer? Ms. Wynne allow me to add my voice to the folks asking #WTF? Remember there is a new budget coming on April 23rd too (Ontario Provincial that is).

Spring has sprung in Ottawa, and it is about bloody time!

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My Writings for Week Ending April 17th

Spring has sprung in Ottawa, and we even have crocii sprouting in the gardens, a nice change from February:

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Employee Discount Scam

Employee Discount, What Does it Mean?

I note one of the major banks is now offering Employee Rate Mortgages, attempting to entice you to move your mortgage over to their bank, with the promise of the same kind of discounts or lower rates that you would only receive if you were an employee of said bank. This continues on from the automobile manufacturers (specifically Ford) that offers Employee Rate discounts on their cars, but what kind of discount are you really getting?

RBC even touts these discounts when trying to entice new employees:

Whether you are looking to arrange a loan or buy a home, employee banking benefits can help you reach your financial goals. You’ll have access to valuable discounts on a wide range of banking, investment and insurance services, including reduced mortgage rates and reduced home and auto insurance rates.

These must be amazing discounts, and they are willing to give any person who walked in off the street the exact same “employee enticing” savings that they offer to their new hires ? That is amazing, but if they are giving you the same “insiders” rate that they give their own employees, weren’t those same folks taxed on that “benefit”?

Employee Discount

The Employee Discount Scam

No, this has little to do with the employees of RBC, and more to do with car financing marketing schemes from the Automobile industry. The Mortgage business is becoming quite cut-throat, so this is RBC attempting to differentiate themselves from their competitors by cloaking a better deal with the promise of it being an “insider’s deal” (thus assuredly the best deal you could possibly get).

What is next? I can see the marketing scheme already,

If you can find a better mortgage deal, you bring it to us and we will match that deal!

No, wait, that is precisely how the Mortgage business currently works.

Given our finance minister’s laissez faire attitude towards the banking industry lately, we may see more interesting “marketing schemes” introduced to entice us to move our hard earned cash to another banking institution.

Changing banks is fine, but make sure you get a good deal when you do it.

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More Part-Time Jobs in Canada, Yea?!?

Friday we got the news that there are more jobs in Canada in March, but they are part-time, thus those who are piecing together “patch work careers” made up of many part-time jobs, have found more of them? This is good news?

The report states:

Employment increased by 29,000 in March, driven by gains in part-time work. The unemployment rate was unchanged at 6.8%.

Over the first quarter, employment gains totalled 63,000 (+0.4%), the result of more part-time work.

In the 12 months to March, employment increased by 138,000 (+0.8%), with most of the growth in full-time work. Over the same period, the total number of hours worked was little changed (+0.1%).

More part-time jobs? Great for old folk who might retire and only want to work part-time, or teenagers looking for some extra cash, but for folks attempting to support  family? Yeh, not so much. I guess if we look at it year over year, there are more full-time jobs, so kind of “yea”?

Employment in Canada

Employment from the Past 5 Years

Unemployment continues to hover at 6.8%, which again, is a bit confusing, and has me wondering how all these numbers are calculated.

Unemployment

Unemployment for Past Little While

If you thought this was “fun with numbers”, the following statement is even more telling:

Adjusted to concepts used in the United States, the unemployment rate in Canada was 5.9% in March, unchanged from February. At the same time, the US unemployment rate was 5.5%, also unchanged from a month earlier.

So the unemployment number might be even lower if we used American job counting methods? This is arithmetic, isn’t it?

The Big Table

More importantly here is one of the big employment tables, that you should read every month, just to understand what you are being told.

Labour force characteristics by age and sex – Seasonally adjusted

February 2015 March 2015 Std err1 Feb to Mar 2015 Mar 2014 to Mar 2015 Feb to Mar 2015 Mar 2014 to Mar 2015
thousands (except rates)

change in thousands (except rates)

% change

Both sexes, 15 years and over
Population 29,160.7 29,183.3 22.6 303.8 0.1 1.1
Labour force 19,197.6 19,224.0 29.0 26.4 111.9 0.1 0.6
Employment 17,885.9 17,914.6 28.7 28.7 138.1 0.2 0.8
Full-time 14,488.2 14,460.0 39.2 -28.2 110.5 -0.2 0.8
Part-time 3,397.8 3,454.6 36.1 56.8 27.6 1.7 0.8
Unemployment 1,311.7 1,309.3 24.6 -2.4 -26.3 -0.2 -2.0
Participation rate 65.8 65.9 0.1 0.1 -0.3
Unemployment rate 6.8 6.8 0.1 0.0 -0.2
Employment rate 61.3 61.4 0.1 0.1 -0.2
Part-time rate 19.0 19.3 0.2 0.3 0.0
Youths, 15 to 24 years
Population 4,446.9 4,443.8 -3.1 -43.2 -0.1 -1.0
Labour force 2,870.9 2,872.4 16.9 1.5 6.8 0.1 0.2
Employment 2,488.4 2,499.0 15.6 10.6 23.3 0.4 0.9
Full-time 1,266.2 1,262.7 18.8 -3.5 -14.6 -0.3 -1.1
Part-time 1,222.1 1,236.3 19.8 14.2 37.9 1.2 3.2
Unemployment 382.6 373.3 14.5 -9.3 -16.6 -2.4 -4.3
Participation rate 64.6 64.6 0.4 0.0 0.7
Unemployment rate 13.3 13.0 0.5 -0.3 -0.6
Employment rate 56.0 56.2 0.3 0.2 1.0
Part-time rate 49.1 49.5 0.7 0.4 1.1
Men, 25 years and over
Population 12,087.5 12,099.8 12.3 168.9 0.1 1.4
Labour force 8,674.0 8,655.8 15.3 -18.2 63.0 -0.2 0.7
Employment 8,139.5 8,135.2 16.5 -4.3 76.3 -0.1 0.9
Full-time 7,497.2 7,486.7 21.9 -10.5 102.2 -0.1 1.4
Part-time 642.3 648.5 17.9 6.2 -25.9 1.0 -3.8
Unemployment 534.5 520.6 14.3 -13.9 -13.3 -2.6 -2.5
Participation rate 71.8 71.5 0.1 -0.3 -0.5
Unemployment rate 6.2 6.0 0.2 -0.2 -0.2
Employment rate 67.3 67.2 0.1 -0.1 -0.3
Part-time rate 7.9 8.0 0.2 0.1 -0.4
Women, 25 years and over
Population 12,626.2 12,639.8 13.6 178.2 0.1 1.4
Labour force 7,652.7 7,695.8 16.5 43.1 42.1 0.6 0.6
Employment 7,258.1 7,280.4 16.0 22.3 38.5 0.3 0.5
Full-time 5,724.7 5,710.6 24.9 -14.1 22.8 -0.2 0.4
Part-time 1,533.4 1,569.8 23.7 36.4 15.7 2.4 1.0
Unemployment 394.6 415.4 13.2 20.8 3.6 5.3 0.9
Participation rate 60.6 60.9 0.1 0.3 -0.5
Unemployment rate 5.2 5.4 0.2 0.2 0.0
Employment rate 57.5 57.6 0.1 0.1 -0.5
Part-time rate 21.1 21.6 0.3 0.4 0.1

not applicable

1.Average standard error for change in two consecutive months. See “Sampling variability of estimates” in the section “About the Labour Force Survey” at the end of the publication Labour Force Information (Catalogue number71-001-X) for further explanations.

Note(s):

The sum of individual categories may not always add up to the total as a result of rounding.

Source(s):

CANSIM table 282-0087.

 

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Senators, Retiring Rich and #BestMoneyStories

Yes, Mark at My Own Advisor is in 7th Hockey Heaven, and most of the City of Ottawa is celebrating about the Senators improbable playoff run. They lose their two best goalies, bring up a guy who was not very good in the AHL (and allegedly was thinking of retiring) and they now are in the middle of a very exciting playoff fight. Will they succeed? Hey, I can’t predict stocks to buy, why would I be able to prognosticate hockey games? I will watch closely though.

Ottawa is also agog about another Senator, the Patrick Duffy trial continues on with more defecating elephants (figuratively speaking) than Barnum and Bailey’s Circus. This is going to get ugly in terms of mud-slinging, and the interesting part for me is that Mr. Duffy will start receiving his salary as a Senator again (if he isn’t somehow unseated) the day after the Federal Election is called. I think your best financial plan for retirement, is to become a Senator.

Congrats to the Duke Blue Devils on winning the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship, excellent game, well worth watching. A brick bat to Bo Ryan Coach of Wisconsin for complaining about the officiating and “one and out” players, no place for that kind of talk coach, you are training men about life.

Seems we will have a deficit-free budget this year, but how this was all balanced is another more interesting story.

Retire Rich 2015 happened on Wednesday, and it was fun to watch the Twitter feeds from there with some of the more helpful statements included, naturally, I jumped in with my own helpful hints as well. Note that Preet’s theory of a perfect financial life is the same design that Lotus F1 cars were designed with (cross the finish line, win the race and then fall to pieces).

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My Writings for Week Ending April 10th

Wonder if McDonald’s will resurrect the Hamburgler character in their ads? Didn’t have a “best of” last week so let’s review a bunch of older stuff from me:

  • Having a little too much fun with my daughter’s Student Line of Credit, which isn’t really set up quite right, do these banks know who I am, and want me to write about them?
  • Had a little April Fools fun, which coincided with a lovely N.C.F.B.A. dinner out with Active Investors Fight Back, didn’t happen, but Preet is getting quite vocal on social media about things.
  • It was World Autism Awareness day on April 2nd, or as we call it around the C8j house, Thursday (it is also one of my daughter’s birthday).
  • Given I have an iPad, I find the lack of iPad Compatible Banking Apps to be quite annoying (some banks have them, while others rely on their iPhone app, which is not really the same).
  • I did learn something on the weekend about Lottery Tickets and Credit Card Cash Advances, I guess I am glad I don’t go to the Casino.


Asked Tangerine (who does have an iPad compatible app) about why they don’t have a Personal Line of Credit, got this answer

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