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COVID-19 Are we F*cked ?

This is being written during March 2020 the COVID-19 Pandemic. At the time of publishing things were quite confused and unsure, but this is my simple opinion of where we in Canada may stand financially.

We are f*cked.

Is this me being overly alarmist? I hope so, but there are countless areas that are not likely to ever recover from the Pandemic.

As an addendum, this is added in September, and we are talking about having another lockdown. In Ottawa if you don’t follow the COVID protocols you will be fined $5000.

Travel and Vacation Industry

Dead.

  • The Air BnB industry and that side dodge is done. People will not be travelling much, for the next year or two. What happens to all those condos in Toronto that were bought with that in mind?
  • Cruises and Cruiselines? Good night, they are now synonymous with the Pandemic, if they recover it will be not in the near future.
  • Travel bloggers? Freebies are not going to be given out much, I think this gig is going to curtail or die off too. At this moment, Las Vegas is closed. This is not the W.C. Fields joke about visiting Philadelphia, this is Vegas, which never closes.
  • Airlines? These may recover if business travel returns, but they are going to take a beating, and will ask for a bail out.

Real Estate

F*cked

  • Construction sites are shutting down, thus screwing up the whole system.
    • People who are buying the new properties need to sell, but will have nowhere to go.
    • No one is buying a house right now, and when will they start?
  • Mortgages are being called and payments are being missed, renters are not being given reprieves either. What happens next? People being kicked out on the street? I doubt it, but you really don’t know right now.
    • Big wave of homelessness? I hope not, but the economic models aren’t there for this.
  • Over priced real estate may soon be worth less than their financing (i.e. mortgage), will we seeing folks walking away from their expensive high-rise downtown condo?

The Stock Market

F*cked currently having daily circuit-breaker calls.

  • Advisors are telling their customers to sell now, thus locking in their losses. They are following the buy high, sell low credo, that is not synonymous with getting rich.
  • FIRE and the entire early retirement craze should be forgotten for now. The markets have eviscerated those lofty goals for now.
  • The markets may rebound completely as it did in 2008, but surprisingly not as many folks got rich on that rebound as you might think.

Employment

F*cked, we had a weird job dynamic already, (the side gig world) but now it is F*cked.

  • My kids’ generation has had to have 3 part-time jobs to add up to a full time job, but none of those jobs exist right now. Restaurant jobs, are gone mostly due to the restaurants being closed. Retail jobs are gone, stores are closed.
  • The growth industries are:
    • Delivery, that is about it. Everything is being delivered now, but does anyone make any money doing this?
    • Government, because there is going to need to be a big government to deal with a broken country. Is this a good thing? I don’t think so, but I am a small L libertarian.
    • Debt, the world of debt is going to explode in terms of big money. Payday Loans, alternate loans and Bankruptcy Trustees are going to make big money in the short and mid term.
  • Will industries other than Travel go in the crapper? Lots of potential there
    • Retail, when folks don’t have a job, they aren’t going to be buying a lot of stuff.
    • Cars? If interest rates stay low, they may be OK, but if interest rates go up, this could make folks keep their old cars.
    • Oil and Gas already is in the crapper, with gas at 70 cents a litre, which makes it not worth working on the Oil Sands in Alberta.

Inflation

Coming, much like the four horsemen.

  • Governments are injecting Infinite money into the economy to try to prop it back up. I am not an economist, but even I know this is the recipe for Inflation (ever hyper-inflation). If money loses value, prices go up. Most folks don’t remember the 1970’s but this could be where we are heading (if not worse).
  • If we end up in an Inflationary spiral Interest Rates will have to be used to control things, and that is a world many folks have not lived in. I have seen 19% CSB’s in my lifetime, will I see them again?
  • Predatory loan companies making money on this? Absolutely.
  • Bankruptcy trustees may not be able to keep up with the tsunami coming at them.

Alarmist Clap Trap?

I really hope so. I hate to think we are financially f*cked as badly as I am guessing we are, but these are uncharted financial waters. I am not an economist, but I have lived for 60 years, and seen a lot of financial changes, and this one has me scared.

I hope we all come out of this with our health, and if we have that, all this other stuff can be dealt with, in some fashion or another.

Remember when we said, Get Out of Debt, it gives you options? This is what we meant.

What to Do?

First thing, take this article as simply a warning of what could happen. Next, make a plan for your financial world for:

  • The next week, what are you going to spend on? Why? Can you afford it?
  • The next month, assuming this stays the way it will.
  • Six Months, where hopefully around Autumn things start to turn around in terms of normalcy.
  • An overall recovery plan.
    • How are you going to recover your savings?
    • What is your retirement plan, given what has happened?
    • How do you plan around something like this happening again?
      • Hint: GET OUT OF DEBT !

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Indications Are Good Again

As the Magic 8-Ball tells us (OK Stats Canada tells us, but it sounds like the Magic 8-Ball), indications are good that the economy may be turning around. Yesterday stats Canada announced that the Leading Indicators jumped 1.3% , which suggests things may be turning around slowly in our economy.

The index seems a bit of a mish-mash of a lot of information, but as usual if you read closer you’ll see that there are some very interesting tid-bits of information in there.

  • The housing index is up 2.5% from last month, which means it is costing more to buy a house, so someone must be able to buy them if the prices are going up.
  • The TSX S&P is up 2.0% from last month and if you look back to June 2009, it is up 18% over that period, which is a big number (but it did have a long way to go as well, after the great drop of ’08)

Stocks and Houses

So two areas of “investment” are up a fair amount which is good, and the questions now are, will this last? We shall see is the only answer, but with stocks returning to pre-crash valuations in some areas (some will never come back folks, remember that), is it safe again? Can’t tell, and we’ll only really know looking back in a few years whether this was the start of the recovery or a “suckers rally”.

Given I bought my house a long time ago, fluctuations in it’s value mean little to me, as I don’t plan on refinancing it.

Blinky Lights Eh

Christmas Laziness and Cheer

I am planning on doing a Top 10 postings for the Christmas/New Year stretch (given I may or may not be around), so if you have any suggestions for this kind of a list (top 10 for this year), please leave a comment with a title or story you may have particularly liked (written by me, that is).

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Indications are Good and some Random Thoughts

Indications are Good“, isn’t that what the Magic 8 Ball used to answer?

It seems Stats Canada also thinks that is the case with their Leading Indicators index showing positive for the first time in a year. The Leading Indicators index is made up of many portions of the economy, including manufacturing, housing starts and the stock market.

The Stock Market (up 5.7%) and Housing Market (up 4.5%) seem to be the major driving forces that caused this positive jump, so does this mean the Financial Apocalypse is over? Seems to be what every “expert” is saying, but I remain skeptical for now. To quote the Magic 8 Ball, “Concentrate and ask again“.

Leading Indicators for the past while
Leading Indicators for the past while

Random Thoughts

The Financial Bloggers had their say this week as well about the current world of finances:

Have a great weekend all!

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Indicators are OK

Our friends at Stats Canada published their Leading Indicators for August 2008 yesterday and things in the Canadian economy seem to be doing ok, not great, but not as bad as some might think.

The most interesting statement made was:

Household demand has remained the most consistent source of growth in recent months. Sales of furniture and appliances grew steadily, helped by a steady housing market. Housing starts rebounded in August. Meanwhile, personal services have become the main prop to growth in services employment. Sales of other durable goods were an exception to the strength in household spending, reflecting slower auto sales over the summer in response to record gasoline prices.

The housing index dropped, which may mean more reasonable housing prices or a slowing of the price increases we have seen, which is good as well.

Speaking of House Prices

The Citizen talks about how new price valuations for homes across Ontario are about to be sent out by The Municipal Property Assessment Corporation. Remember these valuations have been frozen for the past two years, so these new numbers could be pretty darn crazy (given a 20% price increase since 2005 on average in Ontario).

“Residential property values have increased by an average of approximately 20 per cent across Ontario since 2005, when the last assessment update was done. Because of the four-year phase-in, property taxpayers will see an average assessment increase of five per cent next year,” Carl Isenburg, president and chief administrative officer of the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC)…

I look forward to seeing this envelope in the mail.

Quick Run Around the Blogs

Some excellent articles this week from other bloggers worth having a look at:

  • Michael James writes about the Current Financial Mess and gives a very philosophical view that we are still living good lives, we just need to figure that one out.
  • The Canadian Capitalist writes about the implications of the Fall of AIG, a little depressing, but good research as well.

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There are Statistics and Damn Lies

Lies, Damn Lies and Stock Price Trends

To paraphrase Benjamin Disraeli. One of my favorite times of the year is here, with the opening of the N.F.L. season and with baseball coming down to the end of the season, the orgy of numbers coming from both games is astounding and quite satisfying for a number nut like me.

As a kid I reveled in the numbers from Baseball and loved collecting them and comparing them, but even as a kid I learned that all the numbers in the world are only telling you what happened in the past (which can be very important), but these numbers do not necessarily point to what will happen in the future. It is important to know what has happened in the past (because we do not wish to re-do our previous mistakes) but to know the future is what we all crave.

Benjamin Disraeli by Cornelius Jabez Hughes, 1878.jpg

Benjamin Disraeli by Cornelius Jabez Hughes, 1878” by Cornelius Jabez Hughes, British (1819 – 1884, London, England London, England) – Harvard Art Museum/Fogg Museum, Historical Photographs and Special Visual Collections Department, Fine Arts Library. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Football is awash in numbers to the point where there is an entire industry that has been created to use the statistics created by football games (Fantasy Football leagues), which astounds me, that you create a game from a game (is that recursion?).

Financial analysts do the same things to investors. They have mega-tonnes of data on every single stock and what it has done since it’s start, and there are entire companies making fortunes analyzing these numbers, predicting what stocks “might” do by doing this analysis.

My understanding of the stock market, is that it has no conscience and no memory. Each day is a new day, and it’s like a Simpson’s episode (i.e. most of what happened yesterday isn’t relevant and it is forgotten) on the Equities market.  The simple fact a stock went down the previous day does not mean it will drop the next day (that fact alone, there may be other much better reasons, but the previous drop means nothing).

I have to laugh when I hear about “downward trends” and “upward trends” being reasons alone to buy or sell stocks, you may as well base your purchases on your lucky rabbit’s foot if you are going to think that way.

Keep crunching those numbers, but remember the numbers alone are meaningless without the context of why the numbers happened.

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