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Showing posts from November, 2009

2,063 years later...

so, what have we learned in 2,063 years ?

"The budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be refilled,
public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be
tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should be
curtailed lest Rome become bankrupt. People must again learn to work,
instead of living on public assistance."
- Cicero - 55 BC

evidently nothing...

Thanks little sister for this enlightened thought

Property Bubble in China

My dad just came back from China, board meetings and a bit of sightseeing in the Yellow mountains. It my dad's 10th trip to China over the past decade, me I've only been twice. Anyway, again he was amazed by the vitality of the city, its energy, its growth, its continual building process. apparently the Bund is currently undergoing massive upgrading in preparation for the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai.
Various commentators have been commenting on the growth of China, which this year exceeded 8%, and my dad concurs from the ground, but many more are worried about the Chinese credit expansion, among them mis Michael Petttis a Shanghai based professor and blogger. Over the past few months he has been discussing the credit expansion in China that has found its way, in greater and greater propertion in the the real estate sector. This morning an FT article discusses the Shanghai property market as having some level of over capacity; in fact it compares New York which is perceived…

Death Pannel Debate

This afternoon while waiting for one of my clients to show up, I was "perusing" the internet, specifically the site for David Frum, a Canadian expatriate, famous for being a speach writer during the W. administration, and a Republican commentator.
David linked to the web site of one Laura Ingram, a Talk Radio personality (according to her Wiki profile) on the role of Sarah Palin in the Republican party. One comment in particular was rather interesting, David alluded that Palin missed the boat in her book, it is a "tell all" revenge tom of the usual DC kind instead of being her opening salvo of a policy discussion. As an example he reproaches her the popularization of the "Death Panels", her well know comment on her Facebook page, when no such panels exists (End of life counselling).
Now most Republicans know full well that the death panels were a falsehood, in fact, end of life counselling is an important part of the health care system, making sure that…

Socialized Medecine -- the H1N1 vaccine

Yesterday afternoon I left a meeting in the western part of Montreal, and decided that it was the right time to get the H1N1 vaccine. On monday I had checked what was the most convenient local to get the shot, it was at Place Alexi Nihon, a 1960's shopping center near Montreal's old hockey forum (now a cinema).

I arrived at the vaccination center at 16:00, at 16:33 I was all done!

Let me just say that I am part of a "at risk" group because of asthma, two years ago I got a very bad flu during a trip to the Middle East. eventually on my return to Montreal I had to spend the better part of a day in one of Montreal's premier respiratory clinics, it scared the crap out of me, I still remember the technician's look on his face when he reviewed my blood oxigenation level...

So I arrived at the vaccination clinic at 16:00, there were a number of cordonned off segments, the first triage was to determine if I was eligible for the vaccine, I showed my health insurance ca…


Well Ms. FitN proved me wrong, she baked more than 150 pretzels to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall. Don't get me wrong she's an extraordinary women (after she can stand being with me), she is also tenacious and has once again proven her mettle!

So if you have 10 minutes today, pay her a visit at her gallery!

Beating Earnings

Like every guy in the business I follow the business news, and most of the time they get it wrong, still there is rarely any mea culpa. The latest is the "beat" estimates on earnings: Where 58% of the S&P 500 companies beat their Q3/09 earnings estimates. Don't kid yourself that's a load of manure!
A parable may be a useful tool here: Let say that you have a daughter, and as a new years resolution she tells you that last year she got an average of B-. This year she will aim to get a B average (just work with me here). Come June your daughter tells you that the year is difficult that she's didn't do all her homework and that the teachers are more demanding, so she will not get an B, but she will get C- or even a D. She works real hard, and at the end of the September she tells you that she now things she is going to get a D+. At the end of the year her grades arrive and she's got a C-. Granted C- is better than a D+, but its not a B-, …

The Pox on Analysts

Another rant...
I think that a fable would be the best way of attacking this problem, it concerns three analysts, each looking at very different segment of the financial market, let us say that the first, we will call him the Bear, is an old school macro economist, nice guy, not too much respect at the farm from the other animals. However, those who listen to him have done reasonably well; his view is similar to many market observers, the U.S. economy is still in trouble and that recovery will only occur once deleveraging has occured -- and it has not started yet.
The second is the Bull, nice micro economist, nice guy not much introspection -- let just say that his prognostication was that by the end of September 2008 the worse was over, and today everything is fine, growth is hear for good, and the stock market is not overvalued. In fact, we are about this is just the beginning. You see labor productivity in the U.S. is growing through the roof, yes sir, its simple the single larges…

Swine Flu and Reporters

I love journalists, always looking for the easy answer the glib comment. As everybody knows we are in the mist of a flu epidemic (pandemic maybe?) of global proportion. Canada, with its socialized medicine determined that it would need 8 million vaccine doses for the entire population (basically because 2/3 of Canadian think they don't need vaccination). Needless to say with the recent death of a 13 year old boy in Ontario every parent is freeking out. Yet the authorities are not making the vaccine available to children, the government in order to maximize the effectiveness of the vaccine has targeted specific segments of the population, which do not yet include children.
Journalists at the CBC know that the vaccine can only be administered to a certain number of individuals at anyone time (you cannot vaccinate 8 million Canadian in one day!) so there is a queuing system to optimize the delivery process: First, medical workers as the first line of defense it is only reasonabl…