Federal Government will Back Bank to Bank Loans?

Jim Flaherty is predicted to announce this to help ease the credit crunch, but is this going to help? We shall see, but it isn’t bad news, except for tax payers like us, who are now on the hook for these loans as well. This whole “bail out” thing seems to be another possible area where governments will overspend and this will lead to higher taxes. 

Stock Decline Continues

Not that you hadn’t noticed, but, stock prices continue to drop on sentiment (and not much else), as we seem to be in a “shame spiral” in terms of investing, where folks are getting out now just for the sake of getting out. Yes, some companies are announcing pretty shaky numbers, but not enough to justify this kind of sell off.

Is it time to buy yet? Not sure, call me in six months, I’ll tell you whether now was a good time to buy.

Ontario Deficit Provincially?

Evidently the forecast now is for a $500M deficit for the Province of Ontario this year, which means the province is going to have to make cuts or increase taxes to get their books balanced again, or make sure they make more money next year some how . Word is that the cuts will not happen and they will be protecting Education and Health Spending, and should be able to reverse this problem soon. I am skeptical about this statement, and hope this is not a trend we will start seeing at more levels of government.

Competition in Wireless World?

Quebecor announced they will be launching a wireless phone and data service to compete with the incumbents in the area (Bell and Telus).  This is very good news, as I feel that Bell and Telus are both gouging the hell out of the customers (I am a Bell customer currently). More competition is a good thing, and the fact that this offer is a GSM and HSPA play says again that CDMA (the incumbent North American technology) is not doing well either. Rogers, and Fido run a GSM network, whereas Telus and Bell did run only CDMA, but have since announced an “overlay network” with HSPA and GSM technology as well.

For those Nortel watchers out there, CDMA is one of the remaining “cash cows” in Nortel’s war chest, and this technology continues to erode (less and less spending worldwide).

More competition in this market is a very good thing. Time to walk into Bell and ask, “Why is my bill so darn high?” and see what “deals” they have for me.

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Bail Out Continues

So the bail out in the U.S. continues slowly, with the Senate passing a revised “fix it” plan, which now must go back to the Congress for their approval, so we still could have some roller coaster ups and downs as folks attempt to get things remedied or at least stabilized in the U.S. (and the rest of the financial world really).

Am I optimistic? Yes, but I am an optimistic guy. Is this the end of it? Absolutely not, there is many more turns in the road, my hope is we are not like Wile E. Coyote and suddenly realize there actually is NO road underneath us.

Buffett Gives GE Cash

This one intrigues me, because Warren Buffett seems to be “bargain hunting” right now, while looking like he is a “savior” for a lot of companies. He has “given” GE $3B to help them with their cash flow issues. Evidently Mr. Buffett stated:

“I have been a friend and admirer of GE and its leaders for decades. They have strong global brands and businesses with which I am quite familiar. I am confident that GE will continue to be successful in the years to come.”

He has put his money where his mouth is, because for this cash infusion Mr. Buffett receives a large amount of GE common shares. Mr. Buffett will be coming out of this whole mess (in my opinion) with a lot more money in his pockets.

If Mr. Buffett wishes to give me a ca$h infusion, he is more than welcome. 

Do Not Call the DNCL

I read stories about how the “No Call” registry to stop tele-marketers crashed, but I had no problem, but don’t call them, go to the web site instead at No Call Registry . Evidently I have 31 days to wait for the calls to stop, which should be good (I registered my cell phone as well), however, my guess is the folks who call from 000-000-0000 will continue to call, and if I ever find out who it is, I will report them to the CRTC for having an illegal phone number.

Why is TD Diluting My Shares?

TD is evidently going to be selling $5Bn of “mixed shelf” securities (i.e. shares, class A first preferred shares, warrants to purchase preferred securities and debt securities), this money will be going into their general fund and will be used throughout the company. More Class A shares means dilution of my shares value, by adding more to the pool, not sure I like this idea, but the statement was unclear as to how many Class A shares might be sold, so we shall have to wait and see.

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University Update: VoIP in Food Out?

No Food During Frosh Week?

So as my daughter’s first terms at University come closer we learn more and more about what we will and will not be paying for during her term(s) there. This week we found out that during Freshman week (or FROSH week in my day), she can move into her dorm room, but the cafeteria will not be serving food until the first day of classes. We now must sleuth out what exactly that might mean. Our guess is there is some food somewhere, but we are not sure how that is going to work, hopefully she won’t have to become a “Hunter Gatherer” for the week.

Voice Over IP or Cell Phone?

The next interesting point is that the University does not supply a phone line, I can arrange to have phone service, but it would be easier for her to simply use her Cell phone as her default phone service and be done with it. That is my guess as to how this could work.

Another option was pointed out to me by a co-worker, which is a new service offered called Free Phone Line which offers a local number for FREE in many areas in Ontario (not K/W yet, but soon).  Free phone line gives you a Voice Over IP (VoIP) client for your PC which you can then use as your local phone, or you can forward that number to another number permanently (say like your cell phone). I have already set up a number in Ottawa for me to try the service out (the number simply forwards to my cell phone right now). Lots of other stuff offered by this firm, but I am still mulling over how this might all work.

I spoke to the Free Phone Line tech folks and they had some suggestions too (and had some input to me about how the University might view the VoIP client as well), given the service is free, I like it so far.

If anyone has suggestions or comments about food or phones, please feel free to chime in.

The Parable of the Long Distance Bill

Things certainly have changed from when I went to University. I had a roommate who had a girlfriend at an out of town university, and thus there only way of communicating was via Canada Post and Telephone (remember this was 1980). They were very much In Love (what is the font for sarcasm?), but they were also trying to be cheap so they only made calls to each other after 11:00 PM during the week (did I mention I am an early sleeper and an early riser? That’s ok, I didn’t deal with it well, and was quite immature, as can be expected from a 19 year old, but that is for other stories).

The first phone bill showed up (I had never seen a phone bill in my life ’til then), so I opened it, and said out loud “WTF” (but not as a TLA either), it was for $125.00. I got back to our room and told my roommate and said, “I can’t afford this big a phone bill, this University is ripping us off!”.

My roommate then calmly looked at the bill and said quietly to me, “Your portion of the bill is $15.00…”, and then he pointed out there were 4 calls to my parents (all on Saturday in the afternoon and each for about 4 minutes). I then did the math and realized my roomie was putting out $110 to stay in touch with his girlfriend. I don’t think he married her, but he sure spent a heck of a lot on her in long distance phone bills.

I have told my daughters this story and pointing out that this had better not happen to them!

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Progress on Changes

Our attempts at curbing our spending on groceries, with day 3 of not going to the store to buy dinner, continues on with good progress. Tuesday we cheated a little with me picking up some veggies on the way home, so far so good. Breaking any habit takes at least 21 days of not doing it, before you can think you have broken the bad habit.

Bank Stocks Rebound

BMO was up $1.42, TD was up 80 cents, Scotiabank was up $1.10 and Sun Life was up 88 cents (all stock that I hold), so not a bad day for me.  It has been a bad time holding financial stocks, but always nice to see a rebound, we shall see whether this rebound continues (or whether it is a stop on the drop). Any readers wishing to comment on their opinions in this area, are welcome to chime in.

Laid Off?

A topic that worries me pretty much every day, and Smart Money has a very good list of things to do if you are laid off.  A good list of Do’s and Don’ts, but I have lived through the moment, and I can assure you it’s not easy to remember a list of things, at the moment of being laid off. I wish for all of you, not to have to live through the moment.

15 Cents a Message

Two of the 3 cellular phone leaders in Canada are introducing a 15 cent charge to RECEIVE a text message on your cell phone (if you are not part of a text messaging package already). If you receive a SPAM message, you must pay, so this one is going to cause some folks to be unhappy. Rogers has commented that they do not plan to follow suit (yet).

Rumor has it now that Apple is not selling the iPhone to Canada (through their Apple stores, you can still buy them from Rogers Wireless directly) in a reaction to Rogers Wireless data plans for the iPhone. Evidently the Canadian phones are going to Europe instead? I wasn’t getting one, but it should be interesting, for the Canadian Apple lovers. If you want to know more about the iPhone, my favorite cell phone Video Blog is The Smartphones Show, and that link will give you a run down on the iPhone (3G).

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I am paying how much for phones?

A friend is doing some number crunching trying to figure out which is the cheapest Cell Phone plan that she can get that fits her needs, so her and I have been discussing various pay per use plans (I know something about them because both my daughters have those set ups), I am not sure what her final decision was (I will post it when I know), but this caused me to look at my phone bills and I was flabbergasted to see just how much I pay per month for my phones.

The total this month is $190.00 (approx), for 1 home phone line (with a long distance package) and 2 cell phones all from Bell.

I leave that in a paragraph by itself because I am astounded at that number. That is more than I pay to heat my house and it is about 80% of what I pay in Electric + Natural Gas, this is ridiculous, and I am now banging my head on my desk realizing this is one of my major expenses every month.

I am getting nailed for the long distance plan on my home phone, but I am getting obliterated by long distance charges and text’ing charges on my cell phones. My wife and I save long distance charges by sending text message, however, evidently we send too darn many.

This is my new target for controlling costs, as this is a crazy expense. Anyone care to comment on their cell phone expenses and how they keep this expense down, I am open to suggestions (two tin cans and a piece of wire is one of my ideas right now).

Carnivals This Week

I am sending in posts to carnivals again so you can read some of my previous works at:

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