Jul 252019

The Canadian federal election is coming up soon. And after that the U.S. presidential race will be in full swing for the 2020 election. Will the incumbent Donald Trump stay for another 4 years? It’s hard to make that call at this point. But perhaps there are some investment opportunities we can look at in the meantime.

Unfortunately the financial market as a whole isn’t particularly attractive right now. The S&P 500 currently has an Earnings Yield (EY) of just 4.45%. So if we put money in a stock market index fund today, we will likely receive an annual return of 4.45% based on corporate earnings, and assuming all other factors stay the same. This is noticeably lower than the long term average EY of 7.35%. Although 4.45% isn’t the worst return you can get, after paying maybe 1% of that in tax, and losing another 2% to inflation, the net real return on investment would be less than 1.5%.

That’s why I’ve decided to be more selective about which assets to buy. One thing you can always count on during an election is uncertainty. The market hates that word. One whiff of uncertainty and investors leave the stock market faster than a guy after hearing the results of the pregnancy test. This upcoming election comes at a time when the U.S. economy is slowing due to record amounts of debt weighing it down. According to the New York Fed, household debt increased for 19 quarters in a row, and is now nearly $1 trillion above the previous peak. Student loans have doubled since 2006 as a percentage of GDP. This will most likely lead to interest rate cuts in the United States to help bolster the economy. And my assumption is that the Bank of Canada will take similar action soon after, as it often did in the past. Lower interest rates usually boosts the stock market and commodity prices.

So for the next 6 to 18 months, I think the best asset classes to be in are bonds, prime real estate, and precious metals. Long term bond funds are highly sensitive to interest rate changes. But as long as we’re quite confident that rates aren’t moving up, then bond funds should provide a low risk option to earn some interest income, with the added potential for capital gains if the price of borrowing become cheaper.

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Nov 072016

The Advantage of Asymmetric Risk/Reward

An asymmetric trade is when we have limited downside risk, but a lot more upside return potential. 😀

For example, earlier this year Great Britain held a referendum to decide whether or not it should leave the European Union. There was a 50/50 chance it could go either way. However most investors, traders and political pundits were pretty confident that the UK would vote to remain in the EU. So before the vote on June 23rd, the British financial markets were fully priced for a “stay” result. But when the votes were counted it turned out that they were wrong. So people panicked. Shortly after the vote, the British Pound dropped 15%, and the UK stock market also fell.

The UK referendum represented an asymmetric trading opportunity because if the people had voted to remain in the EU, then nothing much would have happened to the markets. But if they voted to exit, then there would be a large shakeup, which is what actually happened. 🙂

Parallel Opportunity in the United States

The U.S. presidential election on Tuesday this week represents another asymmetric event for the markets. Mainstream news sites and people on Wall St. are signally a 90% or greater chance that Hillary Clinton will win, and Donald Trump will lose. However, based on my own research on alternative news sites it appears to be more 50/50, so I expect the results to be pretty close. 🙂

What this means is the financial markets have already priced in a Hillary win. So there are two outcomes to the election and how it will affect investors over the short term. Below are possible examples of what could happen in each scenario.

  1. Hillary becomes president. No major movement in the stock market. Stocks won’t climb dramatically because almost everyone expected her to win, so it’s already priced in.
  2. Donald becomes president. Many people caught off guard. Sharp negative reaction in the financial markets. Gold goes up US $50/oz. Dow Jones stock index falls by 500 points. $USD loses 5% against $CAD.

To take advantage of this situation, one could short the US dollar or the US stock market, and buy the Canadian dollar or precious metals.

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Oct 262015

What a Liberal Government Means for Canadian Investors ?

Last week the charismatic Justin Trudeau lead the Liberals to win the 2015 federal election. I’m sure his good looks has nothing to do his popularity and success. 😛


Justin pledged to make meaningful policy changes to the country that could benefit millions. But will his commitments help you? The jury is still out on the long-term effects, but here’s a TL;DR summary of what Trudeau’s government means for Canadian personal finance and investors in the short term.

The new Liberal majority government will…
  • spenders
  • low-income seniors
  • stock market investors
  • students
  • most middle-class workers
  • savers
  • high-income households
  • single-income nuclear families

These are only generalizations. The rest of this post will explain individual policies that could affect your pocket book. Keep in mind that just because politicians promised something during their campaign, it doesn’t mean they will always follow through. Any of these policy changes below could be altered or cut completely going forward.

Borrowing To Invest. ? Going back into Deficit. 

According to the federal finance department, Canada’s government had a $1.9 billion surplus in the 2014-2015 fiscal year. 🙂 But the new Liberal government under Trudeau plans to run a $10 billion deficit for each of the next 3 years, before balancing the budget again in 2019.

Going into more debt as a way to expand economic output isn’t necessarily a bad idea. $10 billion is peanuts relative to our $1,827 billion/year economy (0.6%.) Also, our national debt to GDP ratio is quite low by international standards, which means we can borrow money at ridiculously low costs. New 10 year Canadian government bonds are currently yielding 1.5% in annual interest.

After factoring in inflation, there might actually be no real cost to tax-payers, lol. 🙂 Craig Alexander, the Vice President at the C.D. Howe Institute, said that despite digging deeper into debt, the debt to GDP ratio of Canada is still going to decrease over the next three years because our GDP is expected to increase as well. 😀

About a third of the new spending will go towards much-needed public transportation and infrastructure development and repairs. This means building more roads, highways, bridges, etc. This should improve the country’s productivity because gridlock and urban densification are causing major problems right now in large cities such as Toronto, Montreal, and parts of Vancouver. The other two-third of public spending is planned for social housing, seniors centers, and clean energy projects like solar and wind farms.

Due to more deficits and fiscal stimulus the Bank of Canada will be less likely to further cut interest rates for the time being.

What this means for you: Invest your money. Historically the S&P/TSX Composite performed well during times of deficit spending. Below is a graph I put together using stock market returns and government budget information courtesy of the CBC. During the two decades from 1995 to 2014 there have been 9 years where the government ran a deficit budget. And the stock market had positive returns in 8 out of those 9 years.


Economic stimulus increases employment and grows the economy so people and businesses feel more optimistic about their investments which tend to be bullish for the financial markets. 🙂 In particular I would consider investing in stocks or sectors that have exposure to financials, cannabis, industrial goods, construction, utilities, preferred shares, and green technology (solar panels, wind, etc.)

Goodbye annual $10,000 TFSA contribution limit ?

The Tax-Free Savings Account annual contribution limit will revert back to $5,500 and increase in $500 increments based on inflation. This will make it harder for Canadians to save and won’t benefit the middle class. There’s a rumor that the TFSA only helps the rich get richer. But that’s baloney! The TFSA actually helps anyone who wants to save get richer. Here’s a table courtesy of the National Post which shows that many low and middle-income families still managed to max out their TFSA contribution rooms in 2013 when the limit was still $5,500.

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Aug 172015

Donald Trump Reveals His Personal Finances ?

I watched part of the Republican debate earlier this month. Some Americans warn that if Donald Trump becomes the next President then there will be Hell toupée. ? But he also has a lot of dedicated supporters. He’s quite a polarizing political figure. But what’s even bigger than his brash character and bold hairstyle is his impressive portfolio of material wealth. 🙂

His net worth is not clear as it’s difficult to put an exact value on such intangibles like his brand. Many sources say he is worth about $4.5 billion while Trump himself claims he is worth about $8.7 billion. As a presidential candidate Trump is required by law to disclose his finances to the Federal Election Commission. This opens up his personal finances for the whole world to see. It’s a great opportunity for us to study what makes him so successful in business and how we can possibly do the same. Trump’s financial disclosure documents reveal that over the last 18 months he’s made at least $380 million. This means Donald Trump makes about $250 million a year. Wow! It must be hard for anyone to Trump that kind of income. 😛

If he does somehow over-comb the controversies and become the next U.S. president, I expect he would want to make some changes to the White House. 😉


? Types of Incomes ⛳ 

Surprisingly only $14,000 of his $380 million income is from a salary, lol. This goes to show that the rich are very tax efficient. Salary and wages are the highest taxed income sources one can earn in both Canada and the U.S. Most of Trump’s income comes from his business and investments. He owns the Trump Tower Chicago, the Trump National Golf Club in N.J. and the Mar-A-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla, among many other properties. Roughly half of his income, about $200 million during the 18 month filing period, came from golf courses and resorts. He also earned at least $10 million in royalties for licensing his brand to not only luxury hotels, but also to vodka makers and energy drinks companies.

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Nov 062012

Say hello to the new plastic $20 bill from the Bank of Canada. These will start to replace the current paper $20 bank notes starting from tomorrow, Nov 7th. I think they are quite nice to look at (o_o) I really appreciate how our currency is color coded, no offence to those who are color blind :S

Last month was pretty normal in terms of my finances. I sold some more stocks to try and get to at least $20,000 in liquid cash so I can take advantage of any good investment opportunities.  I need to update my dividend progress soon because haven’t done that in awhile.

*Side Income:
  • Part-Time Work = $600
  • Dividends = $400

*Discretionary Spending:

  • Eating Out = $100
  • Others = $100

*Net Worth: (MoM)

  • Assets:
  • Cash = $19,100 (+$2,300)
  • Stocks = $67,900 (-$400)
  • RRSP = $30,200 (-$400)
  • Home  = $248,000
  • Liabilities:
  • Mortgage = $205,200 (-$400)
  • Margin Loan = $16,900 (Unch)
  • RRSP Loan = $6,900 (-$600)

*Total Net Worth = $136,200 (+1.9%

Started the year with about $102,000 in net worth. Still 2 months left until the end of 2012. Hope to make it to $140,000 by then if the stock market does well. Big election today for our neighbor to the south. There’s a lot of noise and speculation about what’s going to happen, but I think we all know who’s going to win today (^_^;)

* Numbers are rounded to the nearest $100.