Fed and Bank of Canada face rare contrast

“Over the sweep of time, the Canadian and U.S. economies have tended to move in lock-step.

Just not right now. From their currencies to shortterm interest-rate prospects, the fortunes of the two close trading partners are seemingly on different tracks. Canada is flirting with recession, while the U.S. recovery appears poised to take off.

The divergence story was on display again as the U.S. Federal Reserve Board moved an important step closer to its first interest-rate hike in more than a decade as it highlighted improvements in the job market,” wrote Barrie McKenna for The Globe and Mail on Thursday July 30, 2015.

McKenna continued, “In Canada, the fallout from the collapse in the price of oil is proving to be deeper and more enduring than many analysts expected, sending business investment plunging and the economy into reverse. Partial readings suggest that gross domestic product shrank in the first half of the year, meeting the traditional litmus test of a recession.

The Bank of Canada has now cut its key overnight rate twice in 2015 – most recently on July 15, when it lowered its key overnight rate 0.5 per cent.

The next rate-setting date for the Canadian central bank is Sept. 9, and financial markets are so far pricing in a roughly 40 per cent chance of another rate cut.”

Read the full article here.

Raymond Matt, CFP, CLU, TEP, CHS

Professional storm chasing-Would you do it? Is it worth the risk?

“Professional storm chaser Greg Johnson calls Monday night’s tornado in Manitoba a “monster” and among the top four that he’s ever seen.

The Regina-based host of the CMT show Tornado Hunters had a front-row seat, within 100 metres, of the twister. For about 20 minutes, he watched as the tornado thundered through fields just north of Pierson, a small community in the southwest corner of Manitoba,” wrote a reporter for CBC on July 28, 2015.

The reporter continued, “After chasing it for a while, the tornado became rain wrapped — a storm chaser term for “no more visuals,” Johnson said.

“It’s sort of trapped in the rain [and] it got dark. That’s a pretty nasty combination and not one that I’m interested in, so we broke off our chase at that point and decided that we had enough.”

Read the full article here.

Raymond Matt, CFP, CLU, TEP, CHS

Suncayr, new UV-sensitive marker

“Even when Rachel Pautler slathered on handfuls of sunscreen she still got burnt at the beach.

Being fair-skinned certainly has its setbacks in the summertime but Pautler wasn’t going to settle for the shade.

So Pautler and her team created a UV-sensitive marker you apply before your sunscreen. The ink goes on your skin clear but when the marking changes to purple, that means it’s time to reapply protection,” wrote David Friend for The Globe and Mail on Tuesday July 21, 2015.

Friend continued, “As they see it, Suncayr is useful for anyone who loves the sun, but especially for parents trying to keep tabs on the sensitive skin of their children.

Burns are one of the seemingly inevitable dangers of summer and maintaining the right amount of sunscreen is a guessing game.

While several companies have launched products to monitor UV exposure, generally the results have been mixed.

French company Netatmo is selling a bracelet called June that measures UV rays through a faux jewel, which sends the data to a phone app. It sells for US$130 online. Others have tried simpler versions of a UV wristband that leave a tan line and don’t necessarily provide an accurate measurement of your skin’s protection.

Some parents have settled for a more basic UV sticker applied directly to skin, but when their kids wade into water, it can fall off.”


Read the full article here.

Raymond Matt, CFP, CLU, TEP, CHS

Canadians growing richer at a notable pace

“It may not feel like it at the moment given our oil and broader economic woes, but Canadians have been growing richer at a notable pace.

In fact, new research suggests, the proportion of the Canadian population deemed high-income has been rising at a rate that is among the fastest in the world.

Which also means Canada’s middle class is shrinking, according to the recent Pew Research Center study of 111 countries,” wrote Michael Babad for The Globe and Mail on July 17, 2015.

Babad continued, “We’ve had setbacks, of course, including the financial crisis and the current crude slump that has shocked once-strong oil-producing regions such as Alberta.

Nor should we forget that unemployment is still high, just shy of 7 per cent, as Canada struggles to return to pre-crisis levels.

But where high income earners are concerned, Canada has now caught up to the United States. The portion of the population deemed at that level was 56 per cent in 2011, as the percentage of high-income earners rose in Canada and actually dipped in the U.S.”

Read the full article here.

Raymond Matt, CFP, CLU, TEP, CHS

Key interest rate slashed by Bank of Canada

“The Bank of Canada is cutting its key interest rate for the second time this year, citing a larger-than-expected first half contraction and a “puzzling” stall in non-energy exports.

The central bank lowered its benchmark overnight rate by a quarter percentage-point Wednesday to 0.5 per cent, blaming faltering global growth, disinflation and low prices for oil and other commodities.

The Canadian dollar fell more than a cent in the wake of the decision. Banks also cut borrowing costs, with Toronto-Dominion Bank cutting its prime rate Wednesday morning by 10 basis points to 2.75 per cent,” wrote Barrie McKenna for The Globe and Mail on July 15, 2015.

McKenna continued, “Making matters worse a massive plunge in business investment – down 16 per cent in the first quarter – has become a dead-weight on the economy. The bank now says it expects investment in Canada’s oil patch to plummet close to 40 per cent this year, significantly worse than the 30 per cent it initially thought, as long-term investments in the oil sands are delayed or put on hold until the price of crude comes back.

A lower overnight rate typically prompts banks to cut rates on home mortgages and other loans – a situation that could exacerbate record household debt levels in Canada and add fuel to the hot housing market in cities such as Toronto and Vancouver.

But Mr. Poloz and his central bank colleagues say the risk of weak growth and disinflation outweighs the worry that Canadians may pile on more debt.”

Read the full article here.

Raymond Matt, CFP, CLU, TEP, CHS

Is Muskoka’s vacation land facing disappointing realities?

“Peter Freed is sitting in the back of a golf cart that’s trundling across his Doug Carrick-designed championship golf course set against the dramatic rolling hills of Muskoka, a region more than one major travel magazine has called one of the prettiest places on Earth.

It has been 13 years since Mr. Freed, head of Freed Developments, spread his wings beyond building sleek condos in downtown Toronto and headed north into rural Ontario.

He purchased 850 acres of wilderness near Gravenhurst from five different owners to create Muskoka Bay, a community of up to 1,000 luxury cabins along an 18-hole golf course. The plan was to capitalize on the aging baby boomer demographic, many of whom were thought to be looking to semi-retire on the golf course,” wrote Tamsin McMahon, Real Estate Reporter, for The Globe and Mail July 3, 2015.

McMahon continued, “But in the years since Mr. Freed launched his grand plans, he has had to grapple with a number of disappointing realities. Baby boomers haven’t materialized as the major force for buyers of vacation homes. Golf course communities have been steadily falling out of favour. Then the global financial crisis hit, crushing demand for recreational homes for years afterward.

Since he launched Muskoka Bay in 2002, Mr. Freed has poured tens of millions of dollars into buying land, building roads and infrastructure. A clubhouse opened in 2009 and the golf course now has 375 members. There are 70-odd homes sprinkled around the course, but much of Muskoka Bay remains the same slice of pristine Canadian Shield that he first set foot on more than a decade ago.”

Read the full article here.

Raymond Matt, CFP, CLU, TEP, CHS


Jim Carrey rants VS anti-vaccination laws

“After a few years in Los Angeles, I like to think I learned some wisdom the hard way: Invest in a good sunscreen, avoid the 405 freeway at all costs, and try not to use actors as a source of scientific knowledge. If you start using actors as health advisers, next thing you know you’ll be asking Ozzy Osbourne to be your structural engineer,” wrote Elizabeth Renzetti for The Globe and Mail on Friday July 3, 2015.

Renzetti continued, “I could say that Mr. Carrey is not an expert on vaccines but knows a lot about greed trumping reason, having pocketed $20-million to star in The Cable Guy. That, however, would be an ad hominem attack, much like the one he launched on California’s governor, Jerry Brown, who signed a law mandating that all children in the state must be vaccinated before they could enter school. Mr. Carrey wrote, (“California Gov says yes to poisoning more children with mercury and aluminum in mandatory vaccines. This corporate fascist must be stopped.”)

That tweet is more crammed with nuttiness than a car stuffed with clowns. “Poisoning” is what the majority of us call “saving from great harm.” As for mercury, Mr. Carrey appears to share the (debunked) belief that the vaccine preservative thimerosal causes neurological disorders, including autism; even if that were true, which it’s not, pediatric vaccines in Canada and the United States don’t contain thimerosal, apart from optional flu shots. As for the use of “fascist” regarding a bill passed by a two-party legislature, well, there’s a history book or two that could fall on Mr. Carrey’s head and open to a convenient page.”

Read the full article here.

Raymond Matt, CFP, CLU, TEP, CHS

Importance of family business and wealth

“Growing up in a family business can have its benefits. But if the next generation of owners think their businesses are there to serve them (and not the other way around), they are sure to suffer a decline in fortune and status,” wrote Jacoline Loewen for The Globe and Mail on June 2, 2015.

Loewen continued, “Family businesses account for over 90 per cent of the world’s companies and although many are mom and pop stores, there is a growth in family businesses that are sophisticated public companies.

Sobeys Inc. has more independent board members that outnumber the family board members. Quite a few of the outside advisors are from family businesses themselves and understand the strengths of family businesses. One of those strengths is the driving, long-term vision that pushes beyond the quarterly results which can trackle public companies, and this view of the business as a long-term investment gives room for dynamic business decisions. The outside experts also understand the typical weaknesses of family businesses, such as the internal family dynamics around succession and wealth. They are human, after all. Outside experts give the good advice which may be hard to hear, but will push for the professionalism required to compete with global players which makes it worthwhile.”

Read the full article here.

Raymond Matt, CFP, CLU, TEP, CHS

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