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Showing posts from January, 2010

J. D. Salinger died

He is one of those authors whose work is both inspirational and weak, because it speaks to a very specific segments of the population. I was discussing Salinger yesterday with a colleague, he a bit younger than me, and he read the book two years ago – he was singularly unimpressed by the prose, topic and pace of the story.I read Catcher in the Rye at university, and I then wholly agreed that the story is trivial, and generally boring, but I forgot to whom this story was speaking too:teenagers in general and teenage boys in particular. I read Salinger as part of a course I took a McGillUniversity on the 20th Century Novel. The teacher was Hugh MacLennan, a writer in his own right and by then a raconteur long past retirement age (he was by then in his late 70s), he died a few years after I graduated, I believe that mine was the last class he thought at McGill. I was a young French Canadian kid, switching from the French school system to English so that I could eventually attend a top Am…

Level 3 Assets: What’s up with that and other Bugbear!

Level 3 assets have been bugging me big time.Basically, US FASB establishes how each bank “marketable” assets are valued..For example Level 1 assets because there is a widely known market price; as an example you own shares of Research in Motion (RIM).Valuing the shares for balance sheet purpose should be simple, but its not; balance sheets are a “snapshot in time”, and have by definition several limitations; don’t even get me started on the tax implications.Assuming that the bank owns RIM shares; what’s the value of the shares, the average price paid, the price at the end of the year, or the average stock price during the year?The difficulty is easy to see, and each “value” can be justified.In fact, what is generally used in the US is the value of the shares at the end of the year…no better than either other methods but as long as everybody uses the same methodology.Level 2 assets are more complicated, the best example are interest rate swaps, where two parties exchange the form of i…

Canada's 2010 Economic outlook

Where is Canada’s economy going in 2010 and 2011, this is not only idle curiosity on my part but also part of my day job.At heart I am agnostic, I believe raw data, but I’m not married to any one indicator, because it is easy for indicators to morph from leading to following, usually when an indicator becomes a policy tool…My favorite data point is credit creation (12% per annum – at no time has credit creation in Canada become negative), and number of hours worked (growing in Canada after a dip in 2009), in a deep recession I disregard unemployment numbers as too much can be hidden to make the information useful as a barometer of economic activity (especially since a large percentage of new jobs are created in small and medium size companies – not the large caps). Personal experience/history is also important (history doesn’t repeat itself, but it usually rhymes).My take: OECD economies are facing two or maybe three contraction drivers:deleveraging by consumers (not by choice), aging…

Airport Security

Two days ago, Ms. FinN and I flew back to Montreal from Cancun. We had spent two weeks in the sun, away from the cold and the snow. There was some level of trepidation as to the security we would encounter at the airport, so we arrived very early (way too early it turns out).
First thing first, the highway between Merida and Cancun just begs for a Porche Carrera, you could easily hit 250 Kph on that road... its a very straight an quiet highway in the Yucatan. Anyway we arrived at the airport far earlier than I had anticipated, returned the rental car at Hertz, and walked across to the terminal -- there really is something to be said for small airports.
We quickly found the Air Canada check-in counter, we had already printed our boarding passes, so it was rather fast, our entire trip has been that way. On arriving in Cancun in December we cut across the terminal (we've been there a few times already) and skipped a long line (don't know why it was there) to walk down to the c…