Credit is the Lubricant for the Wheels of Business

Unfortunately Credit and Debt is the opiate of the consumer (to paraphrase Karl Marx, and his views on religion). As long as consumers continue to use Debt, business will continue to rely on it (and the associated expanded spending).  Witness the current economic situation where consumer credit is the lubricant of the economy.

Live Within Your Means ?

Forget that, Grandpa! No one needs to live within their means, when interest rates continue at these historic lows. Next thing you will be telling me is that interest rates will go up? Concepts like house poor seems to have disappeared from our money vocabulary.

Live Now

Interest rates are down now, credit is easy now, so the economy seems to be saying, live now, pay later. You only live once, after all. Can I afford to buy this, is another concept that has disappeared from our financial lexicon. The most important thing is to have a good credit rating.

What would the economy look like if most consumers decided, “I can’t afford that”? The constriction might change a lot of things.

Credit Opiate of the Masses

Credit is Limitless (i.e. Pay Later)

Anyone can get credit now, no one gets turned down for a mortgage, and if they do, you have blundered mortgages, sorry blended mortgages. Have you heard of anyone being turned down for a mortgage lately? Anybody who wants a new car does not get a loan or lease for a pickup truck? Credit is the lubricant on those transactions.

Will we run out of the lubricant? Will debt get tighter soon? All economic models in North America rely on free spending consumers, and tight debt rules would be the sand in the lubricant of the economy.

Remember, eventually, all debts must be paid, but when will that reckoning be? Perhaps sooner than we wish?


Potholes, Tuition Increases, and #MoneyTalk

February’s new symbol in Ottawa is the Pothole. Due to the quick temperature swings we have been experiencing, the roads are slowly deteriorating and the size of the potholes cannot be discerned until you hit it. I think the big money will be in realignment, hub replacements and tire repair, because some of these pothole (or sinkholes) are quite deep.

Pot Holes are getting out of Control Here in Ottawa (Photo Courtesy CBC News)

My Alma Mater (the University of Waterloo) announced their new fees schedule, and tuition and all associated fees continue to track higher than inflation. Undergraduate tuition will rise by about 3% however, co-op fees will rise by 2.8%. If you are planning to help your kids with University Costs, you need to know that you should plan for these kind of  tuition increases every year. Don’t mean to pick on Yuppy U., but at least they publish this information.

RRSPs continue to be the non-topic for February, with few if any ads being seen. There are more ads for PayDay Loans and Short Term Loans than there are for RRSPs. The only thing people care about less is the Roll up the Rim at Timmy’s, what is going on Canada? Next thing I’ll hear is that a Canadian Tuxedo has gone out of fashion!

The CRTC has rejected a call for a public inquiry into aggressive tactics by the big Telcos and Telecomm companies? Must mean that the frequent visitors at my front door, on my phone and in my mailbox must be my imagination, well that puts my mind at ease. The Canadian Telcos have it too darn easy, and what we pay for Mobile Phone, Internet and Cable is just too damn high.

This Flu season does seem to be a nasty one, with a second round coming at us. I have noticed more folks sick at the office, and more folks coming to work to share their illness too. I got a flu shot for the first time this year, so far I don’t seem to have caught the Flu, but I guess I might be speaking prematurely?

Tangerine went a bit berserk a week or two ago and sent me countless tax forms in my emails (in both languages). I only have 1 account so not sure why I got that many emails, but got an email saying they knew they sent them, but no real explanation why.

My Recent Writings

I guess I got caught up in the Olympics and work, and ended up not writing anything new this week, but as I have mentioned, if you follow my twitter feed you will get a large dose of my archives as well. Remember that RRSP season can also be RRSP Re-Balancing season too.

Micro Blogging on Finance

The City of Hamilton is looking into limiting the number of PayDay loan places, and I am all for it. Our friend Doug Hoyes spoke, but this graphic really did hit me.

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RRSP, Lent, Happy Year of the Dog and #MoneyTalk

RRSP season is here, but there really doesn’t seem to be the hype of previous years. There seems to be an under-current about how the RRSP isn’t all that it is cracked up to be? I don’t understand this, yes it is a before tax savings plan, but it is a savings plan. The TFSA and RRSP both have a place in your savings plans, but remember that paying off debt is more important.

Year of the Dog

Me and my favorite Dog but he isn’t around to celebrate the year of the dog sadly.

Lent began on Wednesday, a new season to try to make some positive changes in your life. You don’t need to be religious or Christian to use this as a time for positive change, just decide to change.

Happy Year of the Dog , it is Chinese New Year today and it is the year of the Dog (specifically the year of the Earth Dog). Might be an omen for investing, as the market has been a bit of a bad dog so far this year. One Astrology site gives very good financial advice for the year of the Dog:

Financially take more precautions with your security and don’t overspend. Get a budget going so you can track where your money goes.

So you can’t argue with that, it’s science!

Tax season is on the go as well folks, in fact TurboTax announced they are certified by the CRA so you can use their application to submit your taxes on-line. Yes, some folks submit early, and get their money back, a better idea than procrastinating and not getting your return in on time.

My Recent Writings

Index Investing Downsides came out of an article I read using the Ottawa Public Library’s free app RBDigital (very useful and free magazines). The article kind of sat on both sides of the argument, but I am really not sold on the value espoused by active management funds and active trading. Yes, when the market tanks, the Index tanks, but do actively managed funds really save you?

Micro Blogging on Finance

If you are reading my RDSP and DTC posts you really need to follow Milburn Drysdale because his site has far better information on how to get all this done.

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Index Investing Downsides

Even though I do Index Investing (mostly) I do realize that with all investing plans there are downsides. I read an interesting article in the Kiplinger magazine (by Elizabeth Leary) that talked about the obvious Index Investing downside, you are investing in the Index. In these raucous days of market corrections, this is a concern to Index Investors

The best quote from the article is:

“By definition, index funds guarantee that you will suffer 100% of the next bear market’s decline,” — Jim Stack, president of InvesTech Research.

Given  you are an Index Investor, you already knew that, but for others the subtleties of the statement is lost. When the Indexes are in a Bull Market, you enjoy the low MER and growth, but when the Bear Market comes (and it has?) you will feel the brunt of the market drop. The argument that actively traded funds make are that they can react quicker to market corrections.

Index Investing

Both of those statements are true, but the losses you incur from Actively Traded funds MERs are usually not mentioned (especially during Bull Markets, so you lose some of your profits). Do all actively traded funds manage to stop-loss during market corrections? No (some do), and some might argue they are some of the market forces that cause the market corrections.

The other point folks forget is that the “Yard Stick” that most Index Funds use correct themselves as well. The S&P (and others) regularly update (add and drop) stocks from their Indexes, depending on what the Index is tracking. They don’t typically do this during a market correction, but the “bad apples” do eventually go away.

Ms. Leary points out that if you buy into the argument about Indexes and how active traders can be more nimble, you are assuming that your Mutual Fund manager are smart enough to deal with rapid market changes. This is a very big assumption to make, you must choose the wisely managed Active Trading Mutual Funds or risk being worse off than if you simply use well-defined indexes. The hard part is figuring out which funds are the wisely managed nimble ones.

My Opinion

I will stick with index investing for now. I tried to be an active investor myself and lost enough money to realize that Market Timing is not possible for an individual investor. Are there Actively Traded Mutual Funds that beat the market (i.e. out strip the Indexes)? Yes, however, it is interesting that it is rare to find any that can make that claim over 10 years.


Roller Coaster Markets , Olympics and #Moneytalk

The markets went berserk, and now folks are attempting to explain, mansplain or rationalize what happened. Was it bitcoin? Was it American Inflation Concerns? Maybe I wasn’t wearing my lucky socks on Tuesday? Who knows but the mayhem continues. It is now being called a correction, so welcome to the end of the Bull Market of 2009.

Given this started with a 20 minute debacle, I doubt that many humans were involved in this, more like many trading algorithms saw their shadow and they all dumped, stock, causing the sudden deep drop. Another example of FinTech having the promise of doing things well, but has the downside of amplifying and accelerating bad things. Hopefully it will be a sobering event for Millenials who keep saying, “The Market never goes down”.

roller coaster markets

In Ottawa we learned that our LRT is delayed at least 6 months, if not longer. Given that the “Mass” Transit system in Ottawa has been a mess for 4 years, I guess another year of waiting won’t matter. I keep thinking that it shouldn’t take this long to put in a tram system, but I am not a “Mass Transit” expert either.

The Olympics have already started, and not just because Korea is so many hours ahead of us. Mixed Curling has started, and mixed team skating has started as well. Glad to see Curling made it into the Olympics. I hated Curling as a child, but that was because it interfered with watching the Bugs Bunny Road Runner hour. Go Olympics! Go Sports!

Remember it is Tax Season and RRSP season as well. I don’t espouse making those late RRSP additions for the sake of it, but remember you can use a TFSA, an RRSP, or an RESP to save for your future (or your kids’ future). My only argument against using those would be, you should pay your debts off first!

My Recent Writings

A while ago a loved one was duped into changing her Cable TV provider, but thanks to Ellen Roseman I was able to remedy the situation. Slamming Senior Citizens is a growth industry (given the baby boomers are getting older), and I am not happy about it. Don’t let these 21st Century Fuller Brush Salesfolk get fat on duping our seniors.

Micro Blogging on Finance

Crisis? What Crisis? The Markets went berserk for a while this week, but they are fine now? Maybe? Preet has some advice for you.

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