Tag Archives: Money

Items of interest

Aside from the French elections, there are a number of issues bubbling under which as a small time currency trader I find of particular interest. These are as follows; the French Presidential election and how that will impact on Sterling and the Euro, also a mini trade war between the USA and Canada over a particular type (‘Ultrafiltered’ milk used in cheese making) of Dairy produce which the Trudeau government have implemented. Which is odd, because by doing so the Canadian Government are dictating that Canadian cheese makers cannot import and use a product which no-one in Canada makes.

For the curious this article may explain matters. However, it is worth noting that to get into the supply management chain to access Canadian markets, a license to produce is required. The cost of which varies from Province to Province, but effectively means that Canadian Dairy farmers have to pay the Government to produce Dairy products. Which effectively keeps small producers out of the marketplace. Farmers can keep cows, but unless a farmer has a permit, they can’t sell the milk or any product made from that milk (As well as needing a processors licence). So only the big guys or large co-ops really get to be players.

This trade conflict’s issues balance on a two edged sword of supply management (Canada) vs subsidies (USA). Although from my perspective I don’t need to know all the ins and outs, just the effect they are likely to trigger. Canada will lose this fight as the USA is already complaining about those north of the 49th who haven’t been paying their share of their NATO commitment. Which is another bone of contention.

Now which do I think is more important? For me the answer is a no-brainer. It’s the low level trade war over Dairy produce and collapse of the North American Free Trade Agreement these issues look like triggering. Which means taking a short position on the Canadian Dollar looks to me like a good idea. Not that I’m not going to go short on the Euro, but if the French popular vote goes the way of Macron and not Le Pen, then the profit I stand to make over the shrinkage of the Euro will be much less. Macron is very much the establishment candidate and unless put under extreme pressure (And perhaps not even then) won’t give the French a referendum on membership of the EU or do anything on French border control. Although I did say that about Cameron and BREXIT. However Macron is being backed by such august personages as Jeremy Corbyn which is probably the kiss of death on anyone’s electoral campaign.

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If it was that easy…

This is one of those dull posts about money and politics. Give it the go-by if you’re looking for something scurrilous and more interesting.

I wrote most of this post last Friday, when I was fretting and fuming over not receiving critical mail. Canada Post over here is a joke. Four weeks plus to deliver priority Air mail letters? And here’s me labouring under the delusion that I live in a first world country. Maybe the politically correct love the ‘third world’ so much they’re trying to drag Canada down to the level of Zimbabwe? I don’t know. However, a quick google indicates my postal gripes are not a new problem.

However, I’m heartened by the news of the stronger pound after Madame Tracey’s snap election announcement, as this vindicates my decision to ‘go long’ on Sterling. I’ll also be watching the French Presidential elections closely, as a victory (or even a close run loss) for Marine Le Pen means the Euro is going to take a hammering. Which from my point of view is no bad thing.

There is a saying that if it was that easy, everyone would be doing it. I’m still having issues with shifting money around. Most of these have to do with Canada Post being its usual inefficient self and taking far longer to deliver a simple air mail letter (4 weeks and counting!) from my new offshore bank than a heavily sedated 3-toed Sloth with arthritis. Fortunately there is the Internet and there is the telephone. I know where the money is. It’s going nowhere without my say-so, so nothing really lost apart from opportunity. The exchange rates won’t be doing much until late next week when the fun really starts.

Update: Fun is starting. May is when the SH1T really gets to hit the fan.

Had my previous offshore bank not decided to close because of the new regulatory overhead I would not be having these issues. Monies would be paid, services obtained, and the world of business, at least as far as I’m concerned, would carry on regardless. Nonetheless, when it comes to offshore banking the state has demanded these cumbersome new regulations which have to be facilitated by, guess who? Yet another branch of the state, the postal service. All to stick a finger in the dyke of financial regulation to stop ‘money laundering’ when the metaphorical sea is coming over the top. Because, as any fule know, anyone who needs an offshore account is a tax dodger and a criminal, right? Well, thanks for nothing. Guilty until proven guilty seems to be the way of things nowadays. You’re a criminal if we say so, comrade, eh? Or a ‘thought criminal’ if you hold the wrong opinions.

Anyway, there are provincial elections coming up and there is no way I’m voting NDP or Liberal, as they’re simply two cheeks of the same ‘tax and spend’ arse who both pass laws against free speech and put up taxes. We’ve got a Libertarian candidate running, so that’s where my vote will be going this time around. Not that I’m stupid enough to vote for any NDP or Liberal candidate, that would be like selecting the fattest spoiled toddler to rule the Kindergarten.

Interesting times

My, my. We do live in interesting times. Niall Ferguson argues in his “Five ingredients for a populist backlash” talk about why we are where we are using history, from 1873 onwards;

While he doesn’t give any definitive answers, he does give a broad brushstroke picture of what will result. Which for small time investors and currency speculators like me are useful straws in the wind. I like Niall, he’s not afraid to admit when he gets it wrong, especially over BREXIT. Unlike so many others in academia.

What I’m hearing about is political and economic forces similar to those which resulted in ‘la Belle Epoque’. There will be a few hiccups along the way, but as the EU collapses because that organisation is correctly observed to be little better than a hollow bureaucratic shell to fund lavish lifestyles for European ‘elites’. I foresee a new, more localist optimism driving economic growth, and the fading of many bugaboos like the anti-human notions of man made climate change and similarly pointless divisiveness of identity politics. A new liberalism of less government, greater individualism and wealth awaits over the next decade or two for those who are willing to embrace this nascent trend. Those that do not face obscurity and the scratching pens of scholars trying to work out how ‘progressive’ politics got it so badly wrong. The ‘elites’ amongst them. Word is leaking out that they’re beginning to lose big, and like Soros and his ilk, are doubling down on political interventionism while billions leak out of their back pockets.

There’s a lot going on out in the big wide financial world with talk of Marine Le Pen’s bid for the French Presidency and possible ‘FREXIT’ vote. Not to mention the possible Italian ‘Uscitalia’ (Thanks Peter) I’ll also be keeping a close eye on the proposed Catalonia referendum vote scheduled for late 2017. As well as the Chinese doing a possible deal with the US over Alaskan oil. Which will spell yet more pain for the politically hobbled Alberta oil sands. Which are some of the reasons why I’ll be going short on the Euro and Canadian Dollar but long on the US Dollar and Sterling.

BREXIT Day

Well, well, well. It’s finally here. Official negotiations begin to get the UK out of the EU finally get underway. For my part, I’ve decided to ‘go long’ on my UK investments, keeping funds in Sterling as I have a ‘seeming’ that the value of the Pound Sterling is going to go up significantly, having been artificially depressed a la Marvin the Paranoid Android for far too long. The currency markets don’t like uncertainty, and will punish any currency where the political will of a country is judged as weak. A case in point being the Euro, which isn’t doing so wonderfully, what with the uncertainty of the Anti-EU groundswell in the Netherlands and France, to name but two.

Frankly, I think the EU has had it. Indeed, the old Warsaw pact collapsed because it was being artificially glued together by the old Soviet Union. But there were too many differing cultures and languages for such a beast to work without a rule of iron from the top down. So it will be with the European Union.

It’s a shame for Europe. Had the EU stayed as the European Economic Community free trade zone to standardise weights and measures I think it could have survived. However, the bureaucrats wanted a big federal state with all the trimmings, and economically sane people don,t. Because big bureaucracies are unwieldy and uneconomic. Too much is taken from the productive to provide millionaire lifestyles for a self-selecting and unaccountable political ‘elite’ which strangles everything else. Canada and the USA function because they are (mostly) held together by the grass roots of common interest. There is some form of democratic control. The EU doesn’t really have any.

Now the trigger has been pulled on BREXIT I’m quite sanguine. Indeed, this is a form of ‘triggering’ which along with several other factors directly affecting the Sticker household, are giving cause for celebration. BREXIT, like the Daffodils and Cherry blossom may be late, but all three are welcome, and presage better years ahead.

Here we snow again

It’s eleven on Monday morning. Two hours ago I looked out of my office window to see a grey sky that looked full of rain. An hour and a half ago it started snowing. Now it is snowing quite heavily, with visibility under a hundred and fifty metres.

This is rather absurd because over the weekend we were promised snow, which did put a dusting on the hills further north, but left our little domicile basking in sunlight. Now we’re getting dumped on. This is Victoria. The Canadian Riviera. It’s not supposed to snow here. Where’s that global warming when you really need it?

Seriously though this is just another part of the usual climate cycle. Some years it’s warm, sometimes it’s not, and despite all the fluffy whiteness currently descending upon us, it’s just weather. Like all the climate Cassandras out there, wandering round like old school bible thumpers constantly prophesying that “The end is nigh.” keep saying when things don’t happen as they predict, and that anyone who’s ever driven to work or taken a transatlantic flight is somehow guilty of causing a warmer or colder than average spring day. Earth’s climate is a chaotic system, and so far the climate models have more in common with the obscurity of Nostradamus’ poetic prognostications or a newspaper astrologer than reality. These are models that idiots like Trudeau want to impose carbon taxes for? The climate models that don’t actually work?

Never mind. Today I have forms to fill in and send to the UK. My offshore bank is closing down because similarly bureaucratic-minded morons think that relatively small time investors like me are all wicked money launderers who need to have Mr and Mrs Spank take a quick trip to bottyland. So the bureaucrats have upped the regulatory burden to the point where there’s no profit in it for my bank any more. Of course the big guys with millions will be fine, they can afford the lawyers and shell companies, but people with only a few hundred thousand are being squeezed out of the market. Which means I have to find a new bank account and jump through even more bloody hoops to transfer my funds around Europe and the UK without getting caned by my Canadian banks extortionate foreign currency transaction fees.

At one point last week I was reduced to naked sarcasm with a bank functionary over the levels of disclosure they required to open an account. Not being satisfied with my notarised ID and credit references and previous bank statements, my late parents sources of income were demanded. To which I was forced to respond; “I don’t know. Can you hang on while I go and find a first class spirit medium and ask them?” Seriously. Trying to find another bank that will take my funds is turning out to be a Kafkaesque labour of Hercules. You’d think they didn’t want the money.

And outside the snow is falling. Onward and bloody upward.

Woodwork and nail guns

Well that’s it, the Drinks cabinet is finished and the house smells of varnish and woodstain, which will go away after a few days. Frankly I’ve stopped noticing it already. Everything works and Mrs S has a better looking reading corner. Job done.

One nice surprise was my electric stapling gun. An Arrow ETF50PBN, which is fine for what I need it for, and makes stapling domestic cable runs a breeze. Only good for softwoods though, but I don’t need anything heavy duty. What amused me was it is able to shoot nails too. Well, one type of nail, a 5/8th inch BN1810 to be precise which will require a last tap with a light hammer to drive home, but this is good. I now have a capability I didn’t think I had. No more bent nails because my hammering technique is on a par with a Tourettes sufferer with a bad case of sleep deprivation, and using a nail gun there’s no denting of the wood.

Home Depot still stocks the nails and staples, so despite being over fifteen years old my electric stapler / nail gun will do all I need it for. Which was the final nailing of the finished back over the rear of our pine drinks cabinet. This final phase took longer because I stained the outer skin, so that was another two hours drying time out in the garage (We have a garage! For the first time in absolute yonks!), so fixing the back happened about seven pm last night.

The new home is taking better shape after six weeks. Pictures are finally going up on walls with more to do. Mrs S and I are discussing ways to make the place look a little more homelike, a little less stark whilst retaining the lack of clutter and not spending a bloody fortune. Things have been worse.

eutanic-rock-and-a-hard-placeI’m also keeping a weather eye on the currency markets and looking at taking a serious (for me) short position on the Euro. The Euro is going to take a big hit over the next few months due to the French and Dutch elections because of the strong showing Euro-sceptic candidates of Le Pen in France and Wilders in the Netherlands garnering popular support. The news coming out of Sweden and France regarding Immigrant riots and the large uptick in sex crime will give them extra momentum. So it’s a fairly safe bet to say that if the Euro sceptics don’t win, they will at least come in a close second. In the meantime, I’ll be shorting the Euro. I may lose a bit at first, but what with BREXIT looking a bit more steady, the EUtanic will be going down and I’ll be able to trade out at a reasonable profit. We may even see the return of the Franc and Guilder. That will be interesting.

A little bit of woodwork

Things have slacked off on the work and financial front. Documents have all been signed, funds transferred and nothing mission critical is going to happen for the next month (I hope). So there’s not much for me to do and frankly I’m tired of listening to the mess Trudeau and all the other Liberal (Hah!) politicians are making with their virtue signalling (instead of doing the more mundane but important stuff like not spending so much) and trying to tell everyone else what they can and cannot think, the dickheads. So I’ve decided to immerse myself in a little woodwork.

There’s something soothing about natural wood and I’ve always had a penchant for a little DIY since getting my Grade 1 in woodwork at school. Something about patiently working with the grain and texture that fully engages the hands and mind, focusing the attention on minutia, driving out all the negative shit that silts up the daily consciousness. The gentle rhythmic motion of hand sanding, staining and finishing soothes the head, smoothing over all your own roughened edges and allowing a little time to put all your mental dominoes in the right order, letting the right bits of your mental jigsaw fall into their correct places and lower the blood pressure. It’s an exercise that is worth all the pills and potions in the world, and probably much better for you.

drinks-cabinet-beforeAnyway, the project I’ve begun is the improvement of a cabinet we bought two years ago. The main body of which is solid pine, which looks great, but like so much Canadian furniture the back is thin, tatty and unfinished. The current back is some very rough looking plywood which doesn’t even cover the whole back, and since we’re using the unit as a room divider, this needs ‘tidying up’. So the current back, which is frankly a bit of a bodge job (See picture), has to go.

What I’m doing is very simple. I’m removing the old and rough 3/16ths plywood and rather shabby looking beading, and replacing it with a double layer of 1/4 inch finished plywood into a rebate already cut into the pine. Which will make for a more solid back with a nicer finish, even if it does make the whole unit about ten kilos heavier. When I’m done we won’t be looking at a cheap and tatty bit of rough plywood back which needs covering with a backcloth, but a simple solid and plain looking piece of nicely finished wood grain in keeping with the antique knotty pine front and sides. Nothing fancy, although I might be tempted to add some light 1/8th inch pine beading around the edges at a later date. It all depends on the end result. So long as it looks neat and tidy when I’m done.

So far the inner layer has been cut, sanded and stained and I’m waiting for the varnish to dry before removing the ugly old (and much more fragile) cabinet backing to pin and glue the inner layer in place. Then I’m going to sand the outer piece to a fine finish on the edges, sand, stain, varnish and fix with panel pins and glue. Like I say, this is nothing complicated, just a gentle exercise in improving on a previous bodge job.

While I’m at it, I’m also fitting a small LED light internally to illuminate my single malts and the wine rack. So we’ll have a much more functional piece of kit than before. Not bothering with a motion sensor, just a simple bar light and switch.

Doing stuff like this, at least for me, helps clear the mind and improve decision making. Which is nice. More on this project later.

What is Davos?

Now I subscribe to a number of financial news services, from the FT to what some might call the ‘fringe’ which drop into my inbox every morning. I generally take them all with a grain of salt and tend to trust my own instincts. But sometimes you get an absolute gem. This one is from the “International Man” feed by a guy called Doug Casey who runs the International Man project which beautifully encapsulated the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland; “The 2017 Davos consensus – more welfare and warfare“. From which I take this perfect description of those who fancy themselves financial lords of creation over us cattle.

“A bunch of out-of-touch, self-anointed elites meeting to hand down from above their uniformly bad “solutions” to the world’s problems. Then they pat each other on the back for all the good they’re doing.

No matter the problem, their prescription is always more welfare, more warfare, more money printing, more taxes, and of course, more centralization of power into global institutions.

Interestingly, Donald Trump has never been invited to Davos. But his many opponents surely have.”

So it’s not just me who thinks this way. It’s a private club to run the world, and the public is not allowed a say.

Which gave me the idle thought. If those Islamic terrorists really wanted to do themselves some serious good, they wouldn’t be bothering about the penny-ante stuff of murdering ‘infidels’ on YouTube, or ramming perfectly serviceable aircraft into iconic buildings, they’d go after the Davos attendees. Because to go all Orwell, the rich and powerful meeting at Davos are the people for whom “Oceania was at war with Eastasia. Oceania had always been at war with Eastasia.” These self appointed rulers own much of the media, fund the protestalot NGO’s, and you can call me a tinfoil hat wearer if you like, but what emanates from these meetings of the mega-rich and powerful makes me think meetings like Davos are wellsprings of true Fascism.

I don’t recall voting for any of them either. Ever.

No such thing as ‘Revenue Neutral’

I often spend the early hours of the morning answering transatlantic queries that I could have sworn I answered six months ago. Like this morning, and the one before that. To confirm my suspicions I went into my saved emails, ran a simple text string search and, yup. Already told ’em that. In the same words no less. Sometimes I feel like I’m dealing with Goldfish level attention spans because I have the annoying (To my opponents) ability to recall what was said on a given topic for some time afterwards. And if I’m not sure of a critical detail I bloody well go and check. I make no claims to more than a slightly better than average intelligence, however, some so-called ‘qualified’ people make me despair.

Like with this stupid ‘Carbon tax’ we’re going to get foisted on us by the idiot fop Canadians made Prime Minister. Like with the carbon tax the NDP have just dumped on the Albertans. And these dumb fuck politicians say their new tax will be ‘revenue neutral’.

Well there isn’t such a thing as revenue neutrality. If tax is applied then it has to be collected. New taxes always have a collection cost. Administrative staff need to be recruited and paid, new (often very expensive) offices built or leased and furnished, electricity, sewerage and water for all those workers so they don’t have to work with their legs permanently crossed. Computer systems and support staff. Money to pay for the phone bills and software licences. Then there’s the kind of Ouroboros-like effect of taxing government employees to pay for their own wages, offices, phone and electricity etcetera, etcetera. With every new tax, the tax collection system has to be enlarged. Web sites have to be built with FAQ’s and phone lines to keep frustrated taxpayers on while they stare disbelievingly at the way taxation has just taken yet another bite out of their stagnated income.

In short, you can’t get more out than you put in. Which is a fundamental law of economics. ‘Revenue neutral’ is one of those ghastly hollow little soundbites used by virtue signalling left of centre politicians who don’t have to keep a vice like grip on the family budget. The politico’s and their hangers on (By contrast to ordinary people, for a given value of ‘ordinary’) have privileged little lives insulated from the effects of their actions. What they can’t see is the simple fact that any new tax, like, let me see, the insane ‘Carbon tax’ that Albertans have just been saddled with cannot ever be ‘revenue neutral’. No matter how many cheques are sent out to the people they’ve just sent careering down the slope to energy poverty. Someone has to pay for all the people to administer such a scheme. Ergo any tax take is not going to be anything like ‘revenue neutral’. But anyone with two brain cells to rub together knows this anyway.

Don’t even get me started on the David Suzuki bullshit about ‘saving the planet’ as justification for the new Carbon tax. What does he know? He’s an Entomologist for Christs sake, not an atmospheric physicist. His field, before he found there was more money to be made in advocacy and media whoring, was the study of insects. Ergo, anything he has to say on a climate science can reasonably be assumed to be no more well informed than some random bloke down the pub. Atmospheric Physics requires some serious Mathematical skill, which very few people have, even then climate modelling has failed dismally to reflect reality. Although I do admire Suzuki’s ability for making millions out of scare story advocacy. He’s made a mint from speaking fees and public appearances. The fact that all his prognostications of climate doom have repeatedly been shown to be complete and utter bollocks make me that much more in awe of his talent for turning dross into cold hard cash. That and his much-cited demand to be escorted by a ‘bodyguard’ of the hottest girls on campus. You have to take your hat off to the sheer, bare faced chutzpah of the old con merchant.

Mind you, I don’t think Suzuki had much sway over Harper, but his resurgence as influence over a half wit drama teacher who looks like Mick Jagger was his real father has to be admired. As for when Trump takes office at the end of this week and the pseudo-environmentalists like Suzuki lose their influence within the US, I will be listening to the outraged wails with a grim smile on my face.

Told you so

Back last year, when the Brexit vote was first mooted all the prophets of doom were running around screaming about the economic damage leaving the EU would do the dear old UK, I cautiously espoused an opposing view here and here and here.

eutanic-rock-and-a-hard-placeNow Mark Carney, Chairman of the Bank of England has seen the light. Seven months late, but that’s why I put not my trust in Princes and watch the truth of real numbers. The City of London, like any other financial market, floats on a sea rich and royally reeking of bullshit, but, and it’s a massive curvaceous booty to boot, the numbers say that the EU is overstretched financially, and with the exit of the UK beginning in March 2017 will likely lurch into a deeper crisis than the one it is in already.

In the UK however, all the future indicators are positive. Countries are queuing up to do deals with one of the major trading hubs of the western world. For too long the UK was trapped as a satellite, bound into a fairly restrictive single market without all the global links it needed to really catch fire, financially speaking. Now those markets look set to burst wide open, and for a few years there should be an expansion as old and new relationships are exploited. More jobs, an expanding economy, and maybe even a loosening of the bondage ties of EU mandated directives. Of course there will be winners and losers, but for the guy who is quick off the mark, the rewards will be out there.

These are exciting times. At least for an investor with their eyes wide open. With a pro-UK man in the White House for a change, a deal maker at that, and with a possible new and more positive relationship with Russia in the offing I’m feeling quite sanguine. For too long the world has been fighting itself like a dog in a sack, now the sack can be opened, and the dog can go chase all the juicy bones out there. Sure, it won’t be all plain sailing, but this is the beginning of a new era, and with luck the morbidly obese bureaucracy of the EU will be a distant fading memory in a couple of decades time.

Wonder what they’ll do with all those grandiose insults to architecture the Eurocrats were so fond of?