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Random Thoughts: Happy Christmas…

… The Recession is Over?

To paraphrase from a John Lennon song (Merry Christmas the War is Over). Mark Carney claimed:

“We are on track for the recovery both in Canada and globally,”

Really? Indications are this might be coming true, but it might be a little preliminary to be making any global statements about how we are through the worst of this, as there are many financial landmines out there that could de-rail a recovery, but again I applaud his optimism, let us hope it is well founded.

Random Thoughts

For this momentous week when the recovery started (he said with a certain amount of sarcasm), let’s see what the Financial Blogging Community has been talking about:

  • Preet at WhereDoesAllMyMoneyGo is celebrating his second anniversary with a Massive Giveaway Contest, which I am getting into, by making this link. I like free stuff and I think I deserve it too!
  • Michael James points out that the phrase “Close only counts in hand grenades and thermonuclear devices”, can also be extended to Lottery Winnings.
  • Larry MacDonald reviews an interesting sounding book in Contrarian Finances and Investing, always interesting if you take a contrary position to the mob.
  • Canadian Financial DIY talks about Inflation For Retired Canadians – Some Surprises, and he knows of what he speaks being one (almost).
  • Investorgeeks blisters Microsoft and Ballmer in specific in Ballmer You are Fired!

Have a great weekend, here in Ottawa more rain, but at least my grass is green, or maybe it’s seaweed I can’t tell any more.

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The Library and Video Games?

Why Buy When You Can Test Drive?

Our family has a play console (A Wii (Wii-U now) as I have written about earlier), but we don’t have many games for it and we haven’t really thought about buying too many games, however, the Ottawa Public Library came into play again for us. I noticed that they loan video games for a week for free for the Wii, so we have started to reserve these games for us to try out. Given these games typically cost from $20 all the way up to $60 per game, I’d want to be very sure a game is “play worthy” before I purchased it, so this ability to borrow games from the library is quite useful to our family.

This can be done from home is also very convenient, and it being free is that much better for me. If we don’t enjoy the game, we simply return it and think no more about it, but we have purchased one game after a week trial, which is still being played by my son, so I view this experiment in Consumer Frugality as a success for that reason.

I have heard folks use this same technique when it comes to buying cars, they will rent a car that they are interested in trying out for a vacation (say a week) to figure out whether they like the car or not, so it effectively becomes a week long test drive, which is a good idea as well.

In Ottawa, it is not just Video Games, you can also try out 3-D printers, and a bunch of other really cool tech things. Use your Library, and fight for it, it is an amazing resource, that you won’t realize is good, until it’s gone!

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Interest Rates Hover July 2009

Interest Rate Remain the Same

To no ones surprise the key overnight rate from the Bank of Canada was kept at the ludicrously low rate of 0.25% today.

The reasons behind this decision are:

The dynamics of the recovery in Canada remain broadly consistent with the Bank’s medium-term outlook in its April Monetary Policy Report (MPR). Stimulative monetary and fiscal policies, improved financial conditions, firmer commodity prices, and a rebound in business and consumer confidence are spurring domestic demand growth. However, the higher Canadian dollar, as well as ongoing restructuring in key industrial sectors, is significantly moderating the pace of overall growth.

Some of the early strength in domestic demand represents a bringing forward of household expenditures, which modestly alters the profile of growth over the projection period relative to the April MPR. The Bank projects that the economy will contract by 2.3 per cent in 2009 and then grow by 3.0 per cent in 2010 and 3.5 per cent in 2011, reaching production capacity in the middle of 2011.

Total CPI inflation declined to -0.3 per cent in June and should trough in the third quarter of this year before returning to the 2 per cent target in the second quarter of 2011 as aggregate supply and demand return to balance. Core inflation held up at 1.9 per cent in the second quarter of 2009. The Bank still expects core inflation to diminish in the second half of this year before gradually returning to 2 per cent in the second quarter of 2011.

OK guys, don’t give yourself whiplash patting yourselves on the back. Low rates have meant continued consumer spending, and yes inflation is low, but the fact the economy is going to shrink this year and allegedly will grow next year is hardly reason to celebrate. What happens with this recovery, inflation, maybe?

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Fight For Your $10 A Case Study

Amazing the amount of work I have done to get $10. Back in 2009, I fought with Costco to get it. Funny, Costco has never been an issue in this area for me. I had a chair that fell apart 2 years after I bought it, and they gave me a FULL refund. There were no questions simply a refund to my account. I had the amount paid, and an approximate date, and that was enough.

Costco Coughs up $10

About 2 weeks ago my wife and I joined Costco as an experiment on whether we’d get the benefits claimed from a years subscription. So far things are ok, we have not gone out and bought 16 gross of toilet paper so we have kept our purchases to specific things that we know are much cheaper at Costco (or on sale).

Wednesday last week I received an invitation from Costco to join and to inspire me they said they’d give me a $10 cash card when I joined (I assume they got my name from a list of previous subscribers). This perturbed me since I had only just joined and now I wasn’t going to get $10, which I felt was due me. I decided to go to the courtesy desk at Costco and demand my money, since I had only just joined. To my surprise the answer was, “Yes sure that sounds like a good idea“, and the young lady handed me over the cash card with little or no fuss. I felt a little sheepish that I was worried I might not get any money.

Just goes to show, if you don’t ask, you will never know if you will ever get!

We spent the $10 on a good deal on Apple Juice, if you are curious about our wind fall profit.

The Voice of A Generation Silenced

Walter Cronkite
Walter Cronkite

I was saddened on the weekend to hear of the passing of  Walter Cronkite. I grew up watching the CBS evening news with “Uncle Walter” every night, to me he was the face of News (even though I am a Canadian). In these days of 24 hour news and Blogs reporting all sorts of news (yes me included), I was saddened to hear of the silencing of a voice of integrity. I guess that’s no longer, “… the way it is…”.

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Weekend Video: Stopping What Should Happen

An interesting vignettes from the National Film Board that seems quite simple at first, but then think about what the short is talking about, an interesting concept.

The introduction in fact makes it more interesting:

In this animated short from the Canada Vignette series, learn how societies in evolution are often in danger of self-destruction.

Canada Vignettes: The Egg , Jean-François Pouliot & Robert Bélisle, provided by the National Film Board of Canada

Speaking of societies in Evolution how about this

Canada Vignettes: News Canada, Yossi Abolafia, provided by the National Film Board of Canada

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