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Random Thoughts: Remembering 9/11

Many years ago the world changed.

For those who had loved ones who died on that day, my thoughts are with you. My thoughts are also with the folks in the Armed Forces who now are in harms way because of that day.

From the Blogosphere

  • Michael James had a special guest post by his wife “The Wife”, about Splitting Book Orders to get Free Shipping, “The Wife”s reputation for Frugality borders on outright CHEAPness, so you should listen to her advice.
  • Nancy Zimmerman writes about a topic near to my heart, Work Life Balance and she wonders whether the 9 to 5 day is an antiquated idea? Depends on whether you get paid for those extra hours, would be my comment.
  • Preet at WhereDoesAllMyMoneyGo laments the Financial Advisor Retirement Plan, and how easy it is to make money for yourself, but not your clients.
  • Larry MacDonald investigates the Cheapest Way to Invest? You could stuff your money in your mattress, that’s pretty cheap.
  • Ellen Roseman writes about Telecom Troubles Part II, my only trouble is that between my home phone and cell phone I am being GOUGED terribly. No service is worth what I am paying for this.


Random Thoughts: Canada Week

With Canada Day (July 1st) falling on a Wednesday and the 4th of July falling on a Saturday it makes for odd holiday patterns for both Canada and the U.S.A., my guess would be a lot of folks in Canada are taking Thursday and Friday off and making for a Mega-Long weekend.

To my American brother(s) and sisters I wish you a Happy 4th!

In the Financial Blogosphere

In the blogs this week some very interesting views of important issues in Personal Finance and Investing:

  • Michael James and I both spoke about Whether I can Blow $5M but Michael James offers concrete Advice For Wealthy Athletes.
  • Preet at Wheredoesallmymoneygo points out the TSX had a Rockin Year so far, and remember to watch him on the W Channel’s Ultimate Expert Challenge as well!
  • The Four Pillars are taking a run at the always popular topic in Canada Tax Deductible Mortgage/Debt, always informative he runs down the hows and ifs on this topic.
  • Loonies and Sense had Good Timing For Once, but even then ran into issues with the strike in the GTA (how high can you pile garbage?).
  • In the Tech area, Techcrunch mentions two words that may revolutionize your phones: Google Voice, read this and start thinking about how you might use it, I already have signed up on the waiting list.
  • Ellen Roseman continues her discussions about saving energy in Tanks and No Tanks.
  • Larry MacDonald gave us an Update: One Minute Portfolio another lazy man’s investing tool (I appreciate folks who make my life simpler).


Good Friday: Some Random Thoughts

Given this is a short week, here is a short list of some of the great financial posts of the week.

Good Friday Financial Thoughts

  1. The Canadian Capitalist had a guest writer who wrote about Bucking the Conventional Wisdom about Fixed Rate Mortgages. Is it time to lock in?
  2. Wise Bread hosted the Carnival of Pecuniary Delights: Saving Money edition, I am not mentioned in it, but it is a good read none the less.
  3. Larry MacDonald points us to an Investment Personality Test and outlines his results as well.
  4. Michael James (a math geek himself) points out you should Beware of Geeks Bearing Formulas , ok it’s not just him it’s Warren Buffett as well.


Enjoy the Festival of Easter!


If GM Goes Down, then What?

No Soup for you GM!

The new U.S. president is now playing hard ball with GM, and telling them to shape up or he will let them go under. This is an interesting tactic (that maybe should have been used with the Financial folks, but that is many trillions of dollars under the bridge already), which could spell 3 million more people on the unemployment line if threats of letting GM go down, transpire.

Will this happen? Nope, but it is an interesting sabre rattling tactic by the new regime in Washington. I could be wrong, but in a better optics move the GM Chairman stepped down, which shows change is coming in some fashion, but what kind of change? The bad optics is Mr. Wagoner is taking with him a compensation package of about $23 Million, where did THAT money come from?

Skype Your iPhone

That one surprises me, I thought Apple would keep the iPhone VoIP free for a while to appease their Big Phone company clients, but Skype announced yesterday a VoIP client for the iPhone. Right now it will only work on the Wi-Fi side of things, however this does mean the iPhone users will be able to save money by not using their precious talk minutes, or Big Phone Company data network minutes either, they will use their Skype client instead.

I suspect this is yet another step towards a ubiquitous network, and it should be interesting to see what new technology brings it all together (remember VoIP is about 10 years old already).

Stock Market Roller Coaster Continues

Back down the hill we go, with stock prices continuing to be quite volatile, it should be interesting to see where the prices go again this week, with talk of bail outs being cut and such. Stay tuned the very bumpy ride looks to be continuing for a good while longer.

Eating out and Drinking Out More

Marginally, up about 0.1% in January (according to Stats Canada), which is another interesting view. Why are we eating and drinking out more, even though we are in a financial crisis? To boost our spirits (pardon the pun)? We deserve a night out? Interesting statistic, but that means the food and beverage business will continue to be hiring folks and keeping them employed, which is a good thing. A new pub is opened near our house, and it does seem very busy (the Senior Citizens bus there on St. Patty’s day at 1:00 PM was a nice touch), maybe it’s time to do some investigative reporting.

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Nortel Teeters?

From the archives, I was writing quite often after I was laid off from Nortel, and this was on the day Nortel Declared Bankruptcy. In retrospective it was good that I got laid off, but the bankruptcy (January 2009) was horrible for many good people.

In the news the past few days have been talk of the former Telecom Juggernaut Nortel filing for Bankruptcy protection due to a loan repayment that may be due this week (there is no clear statement that this is actually the case).

What does this really mean?

To the folks still working there, not too much, life will go on and their jobs will most likely continue for now.

The concerns I am hearing are from an interesting cross-section of former and current Nortel employees:

  1. Folks who have just been notified of their redundancy, however they have not received their severance packages yet, if the company files for bankruptcy protection, what happens to these agreements
    • Unfortunately, folks with severance packages did not receive much money, and are owed millions.
  2. Pensioners, what happens to the pension plan which is already under funded? In bankruptcy protection what happens to the Pension liability?
    • Pensioners took a big hit, and lost their medical coverage as well.
    • Another area I didn’t know about was that those that were on long term disability lost their coverage, as Nortel was self-insuring.
  3. Current employees who were hoping to be laid off and getting a fair severance package? Rumor has it that lay offs are on hold, due to a lack of funds to pay them out? Sounds like an interesting rumor, but completely unsubstantiated as well.
    • There are a couple of employees that work for Nortel the company, but they are lawyers.

What did the Future Hold

Under bankruptcy protection a quick sale of Nortel may happen as well (it didn’t), and if that happens the creditors of the “old” Nortel may well have more issues dealing with the new owners as well.

Epilogue from a long time after: In hindsight Nortel was such a mess with its Pension under funding, and managerial blundering it was obvious (in hindsight) that it would never come out of bankruptcy protection (but that is with the aid of hindsight).


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