15 October 2008

Where's a Gravol When You Need One?

After a strong start to the week, the markets have taken a turn for the worse once again, as profit takers took their early week gains and the remaining panicked lemmings continued to dump their investments at what in many case, are likely losses.
While the credit markets remain frozen, there is some evidence that there is some thawing around the edges. The US rescue package will need some time to work, but this will be the main issue that needs to be addressed.
What is bothering me most is the market reaction to the word - recession. Recessions are a painful, but necessary part of the economic cycle. Even prostate exams don't last, and neither do recessions. Both the IMF and the Conference Board of Canada are predicting that Canada will avoid a recession, but that has done little to quell investors' fears. Since Canada has not experienced a recession since the early 90s, I think that most Canadians have forgotten that the world didn't end back then and are now overreacting to all the drama that the media has created.
We're very likely nearing the bottom of this market crash/correction but it will be some time before we see true stability. If recession fears are realized, the next few years won't produce a new bull market, but it still should generate a number of very good bargains. For those who have the courage and patience, this crisis could be a gold mine. Be cool, everybody be cool.

14 October 2008

Until Next Time

The results from Quebec West aren't in yet, but no surprises on the Canadian election to this point. Barring some major unforeseen event, Harper's Conservatives look to be on their way to winning a second minority. Not that he'll be all that happy - the Conservatives flirted with majority territory early in the campaign, but after a few small gaffes and the plebs blaming their government for the American financial crisis, his chances of winning a majority have all but disappeared.

During the past two years, Harper was able to manage the country fairly well from a minority position. His mistake was calling an election two years too early when the opposition parties really hadn't done anything to disrupt his mandate. I guess Harper felt that there was no better time to go for the kill against the Liberals, considering how weak and ineffective Dion has proven himself.

Some people will be happy, others upset...but all in all, I don't think Canadians have much to worry about. None of the opposition parties will be too anxious to trigger another early election and unless Harper shows tremendous strength in three or four years time, I don't think we'll see him repeat this error. Next time around, it's very likely the Liberals will have a new leader and if we're lucky, we won't have the NDP chihuahua around next time.

Yawn. In comparison to the American election extravanganza, ours is really pretty boring. Not that it's a bad thing...but it is boring.

08 October 2008

Obama vs. McCain - Round Two

I didn't make updates after last weeks VP debate because I was goshdarn laughin' too hard and feelin' all mavericky inside. And I was lazy and to be honest, I didn't think the Disasta' from Alaska really deserves any more attention here.

Last night's presidential debate was a decent affair, once again McCain performed reasonably well, even though I disagree with his platform, and Obama, who wasn't supposed to be a strong "town hall" debater, did extremely well, held his own under attack, and looked a lot more comfortable than his counterpart. The real loser of last night's debate was the format. It stifled what could have been some interesting exchanges...and as I have a biased opinion, I think it would have allowed Obama to really call out McCain on some of the bullshit his campaign has been behind.

Some issues are gray, while others are black and white. The sad reality for John McCain is many of the stands he takes are simply the wrong ones. I know he's been trying his hardest to spin his tax policy as a good one, but it's just stupid. Rich people do not need tax breaks. Multi-billion dollar profit generators don't need them either. The middle class, on the other hand, does. This isn't rocket science, people. Same with health care. In a First World nation, people should not lose their homes and life savings because they needed their appendix out. That is ridiculous and it's shameful. As for foreign policy, Obama is dead-on once again and only an ostrich with their head buried in the sand would miss this. If Osama bin-Laden is in the target scope in Pakistan...damn right you take him out! You don't need to invade Pakistan to do it...a cruise missile would suffice, and not one country in the entire world (Pakistan excluded) is going to complain. And Iraq......McCain is stuck on the "surge" working. Yeah...great. Bribing the insurgents with money and adding tens of thousands of more troops isn't a brilliant strategic maneuver. I'm sure Obama knows that yes, fewer people are being slaughtered daily in Iraq, but his point is what the hell were any of those troops doing in Iraq in the first place??!?!

Anyway, a 10-8 round to Obama...no knockdowns, but I'm giving Obama an extra point after seeing how fast McCain fled the debate hall. He knows it, you know it...hell, even GOP whores like Rush Limbaugh know it. The strategy now? I don't think any of us want to know.

Are We Really This Simple?

If you've been following the recent market turmoil closely, a big headline today was the united actions of several international central banks to lower their prime lending rates. The Bank of Canada lowered its overnight lending by half a percent, while the charter banks only dropped theirs by a quarter. This has sparked outrage from the usual suspects, namely those Canadians who love to bitch yet know nothing about why any of this was done.

I'd probably have more luck convincing my living room wall, but once again, it seems very few people actually understand what is happening and why...and even fewer people seem to have any interest in finding out. After all, trashing banks seems to be a typical Canadian passtime. Banks aren't charity organizations and no one is forcing anyone to borrow money...and if borrowing money at 4.5% rather than 4.25% is going to cause you to lose sleep at night, you've all got problems.

In the meantime, I and the millions of Canadians who have directly invested in Canadian banks and indirectly through their pensions/RRSPs owe a debt of gratitude to the Canadian banking sector for not falling into the same trap as many international banks fell into. Our "fat cat" CEOs are bargains with their few million dollar/yr salaries as opposed to gentlemen like the CEO of Lehman Bros. who grossed nearly half a BILLION dollars in a few short years.

Quit your whining people....it's tiresome. If you don't like it, vote for the NDP. Taliban Jack is going to take on our banks and make them and our economy as unprofitable as possible. Won't it be nice to all be poor?

27 September 2008

McCain vs Obama - Round One

Just a quick commentary on the first Presidential debate which finished just over an hour ago.

I didn't see any knockout punches thrown by either candidate and didn't see a lot that surprised me from either one.  McCain looked weak, as expected, on the economy and was unable to give any specifics on what he'd do to improve life for the average voter and what he'd do to help solve this economic crisis.  Obama, on the other hand, did seem to be more comfortable on the topic and made it clear that his plan will benefit the American middle class...a demographic that McCain made no reference to during the entire debate.

When it came to foreign relations, McCain looked far more comfortable and was more assertive in his answers.  Obama more than held his own, but it was clear that the two men have definite differences in opinion.  I personally agree with Obama's position on the majority of the issues, although I wasn't comfortable with either candidate's blind allegiance to Georgia, who in my mind, had a great deal of responsibility for instigating their recent conflict with Russia.

At any rate, I score this round 10-9 Obama....thus far, it appears that some of the immediate reaction following the debate scored it the same way.  Next week's Biden-Palin debate should be called a no-contest already...I wouldn't be surprised if Palin's trainers throw in the towel before she even gets in the ring.

25 September 2008

Let Them Eat Cake

I don't know why Marie Antoinette's infamous line came to mind...but it seems to me that Republicans on Capitol Hill seem to have that attitude today. The proposal to bail out Wall Street seemed to be a go today...that is, until House Republicans turned their meeting today at the White House into a circus.

There are various schools of thought on whether or not the US government should prop up the failing banks on Wall Street. Some oppose the idea of using public monies to save them from collapse while others think it critical to protect the American financial industry. I personally support the bailout proposal as long as there are safeguards in place to protect the necessary public investment, which is huge at 700 billion dollars. The way I see it, if taxpayers don't want to foot the bill now, they will certainly foot it later when they see their retirement savings and pension plans evaporate. That may not mean as much to younger voters, but for anyone planning to retire in the next few years, it could be devastating. And not only to Americans, but to investors worldwide.

What I can't understand is why House Republican, John Boehner, decided to stir up dissent now. President Bush, who has done very little right in his eight years in office, now is unable to even rely on the support of his own party in moving forward on the one of the few correct decisions he's made. My only theory is that this is a staged response, one that will allow John McCain to waltz in and take credit for bringing the dissidents to the table.

Sadly, this is utter bullshit. McCain, who has been a strong supporter of bank deregulation has zero credibility when it comes to battling this crisis. His "suspension" of his campaign was nothing but a political stunt after seeing his poll numbers sliding and watching his VP pick continue to flail around like an elephant in a china shop. I don't buy into comments suggesting he's scared to debate Obama, but I don't doubt that he'd like to delay the confrontation. Worse yet, suggesting rescheduling this debate on the date that the VP debate was supposed to fall was an even larger gaffe. Whether intentional or not, it gave the appearance that McCain's campaign is desperately worried about watching Palin drag down their support even further.

By all accounts, McCain said very little today aside from commenting that the US economy was in crisis. Uh...yeah. No frigging shit, John. You just figured that out? Barack Obama, while not an economic genius either, at least contributed to the discussion and had a few important points that will likely be included in the final proposal, if it ever comes to light.

In the meantime, while President Bush and his administration and Democrats attempt to solve this crisis in a timely manner, McCain sits silent, unable to offer anything useful, and House Republicans have chosen to politicize our retirement. Let them eat cake, eh? Thanks for putting the country first, jerkoffs.

24 September 2008

Laugh Before Bed

Even Mad T.V. isn't this funny. The Palin trainwreck continues. Yikes.

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