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Tuesday, 11 March 2008
The Road To U.S. Economic Recovery: Who Will Help And Who Will Hinder?

The "Subprime Crisis" was like a large dirty nuclear bomb going off with fallout all over the world. Below is an excellent overview of where this is coming from:

 

Needless to say, neither Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton or John McCain were aware of this bomb when the fallout started to spread.
The Federal Reserve and various central banks of the world have tried to contain this contamination through lower interest rates and currency injections, but the damage has been done to many major banks and financial institutions.
Perhaps, the biggest damage has been the "doom and gloom atmosphere" that has spread from former U.S. homeowners to billion dollar investors in every corner of the Globe.
It boogles the mind that this "subprime mess/bubble" was developing long before 2007/2008 without a word from U.S. and G8 leaders. "Non Bank Paper"(i.e. subprime mortgages, credit card debt and card loans) were bundled together as "highly rated securities" and sold to banks.
Where were the political and financial leaders when this "junk paper" was being sold by the billions?
Any political or financial CEO in the West has to have a good grasp on what could go wrong with the global economy. It's obvious that more than bandaid solutions are necessary to get the U.S. and the world out of this financial mess.
Here are some suggestions:
  1. There's no reason why subprime mortgage financing should exist at all. Canada has done well without it.
  2. High risk securities should be properly rated and regulated so that buyers know what they're getting into.
  3. Mortgages sellers should inform their customers of all costs relating to their mortgages.
  4. Citizens of the U.S. should be encouraged to save money in high interest bank accounts which are not taxed. This is now done in Canada.
  5. The U.S. Government should promote a house as a long term investment rather than as a line of credit or a way to make a quick buck in "a house flip". Pride of ownership would be the theme.
  6. Children at school should learn as early as possible the ABCs of investing, saving and credit before they make use of them.
  7. The candidates in the U.S. election should be challenged to come up with a better plan for a U.S. economic recovery. 

Posted by qualteam at 2:03 PM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 11 March 2008 4:26 PM EDT
Sunday, 9 March 2008
Leslie Gore At The Rose Theatre In Brampton

Despite getting caught in a Blizzard, Irene and I managed to get to the Rose Theatre on time for Leslie's performance.

It was worth it. Leslie's voice is lower pitched and raspier then it was in the 1960s, but the emotional impact was still there. Even though she's 61, she was still able to conjure up an image of a teenage girl who just couldn't hold a boyfriend.

The highlight of the evening was her last song, "You Don't Own Me". It sent chills up and down my spine. Check out her new CD on her website.

Songs like "It's My Party" and "Sunshine And Lollipops" helped to define what the 1960s were all about. Three stars.

Please enjoy Leslie on YouTube: "You Don't Own Me".


Posted by qualteam at 7:56 PM EST
Updated: Sunday, 9 March 2008 9:34 PM EST
Thursday, 6 March 2008
Discovering What It's Like To Be Canadian
Mood:  cool

As a lad, I experienced record snowfall in my home town, Barrie Ontario. I got used to it because I could toboggan and make snowballs of it. Canada was "The Great White North" then and today, it seems to be again. Pass me a "Canadian or Moosehead Beer", hoser.

It looks like we're closing in on a record snowfall for the Toronto area. Check out these stats:

"We're already in record territory and this will only add to the record snowfall," Phillips said.

The previous record dump for February in Toronto was 66.6 centimetres in 1950.

This February has already seen 69.8 centimetres of snow fall.

In fact, Phillips says "it's entirely possible" that another major snowfall record could fall by the time winter packs up.

The most snow accumulation over a winter season came in 1938-39 when 207 centimetres of snow fell.

At 148 centimetres, there's still plenty of time to break that record, Phillips feels.

"There has never been a March without snow and there's been only two Aprils ever without a trace of snow," the climatologist said.

"So, we're not done with winter yet."

Another snowstorm is headed this way for Friday and Saturday.

Global warming hasn't caught up to Canada yet.

 


 


Posted by qualteam at 9:40 PM EST
Updated: Thursday, 6 March 2008 9:55 PM EST
Tuesday, 4 March 2008
Tax Filing Software Of The Year: UFile
Mood:  a-ok

For many years, I used Quicktax because it was easy and instructive. It had a pretty interface and I could always see in the upper right corner how much of a tax refund, I was getting. At $39.99, it was expensive, but "the easy to follow quicksteps" made me feel like a tax auditor.

This year Quicktax allowed only two refunds per customer. This ticked me off, so I checked out the competition and got UFile at Best Buy for only $19.99. You can do eight returns with this software and I've done two already. I finished both tax returns in about 30 minutes.

While UFile isn't as sexy as Quicktax, it's just as easy to use and to Netfile. Three stars.


Posted by qualteam at 10:00 PM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 4 March 2008 10:11 PM EST
Saturday, 1 March 2008
Pride In Home Ownership

For most Canadians, housing has increased in value. It has increased the most in the western provinces because of economic expansion in the oil fields.

Please note that a house in Canada is used primarily as a place to live rather than as a way to make a quick buck.

For many Canadians, "house appreciation" in done through renovations which improve the resell value of the home. You could also call this "Pride In Ownership" because it's a personal win to add value to something that didn't look that good in the first place.

With interest rates and house prices going down in the U.S., there are marvelous opportunities to obtain a bargain property that if cared for will appreciate with time. 

The products of get-rich-quick-housing speculators are run down empty buildings.  In the end, "the ownership papers" and their owners get trashed and burned.

A true real estate investor buys at a low price with a low interest rate and enhances the value of his/her property for resale or retirement without a mortgage.

There's a big difference between short range greed/stupidity and long range planning for the future.

The housing market in American is at a new beginning. The only place to go in UP.


Posted by qualteam at 11:01 PM EST
Updated: Saturday, 1 March 2008 11:18 PM EST
Thursday, 28 February 2008
Mike Smith Of Dave Clark Five Passes Away

Mike Smith (far left) on keyboards was the lead singer of "The Dave Clark Five". He will be missed.

The Dave Clark Five was the heaviest rock group in the 1960s that I ever heard: "Glad All Over", "Anyway You Want It", "Do You Love Me", Bits And Pieces", "You Got What It Takes" were powerful tunes in their arsenal.

The band is going to be inducted into "The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame" this March.

There's not that many good videos of Mike and the band, but here's a decent one on YouTube. The song is "Catch Us If You Can":

My favourite DC5 song is "You Got What It Takes"


Posted by qualteam at 9:45 PM EST
Updated: Thursday, 28 February 2008 10:14 PM EST
Tuesday, 26 February 2008
Thinking Outside The Mental Trap (i.e. The Box)

The mental trap or "The Box" as it is often called came  from "experts" and their followers on such subjects like religion, science, economics and foreign affairs.

"Thinking Outside The Box" is just another way of engaging in "Independent Thinking". Please check out those hyperlinks. There's  relevant material on those webpages.

These mental boxes are created by know-it-all authorities who probably do a great deal of debunking of other people's creative ideas. An outstanding example of this is the criticism levelled at inventor, Thane Heins,  with regards to his offbeat electrical motor.

"Conventional wisdom" and "expert opinion" often trys mold us into sheeplike victims of fate.

If we followed these "shamans", we'd probably still be hurling rocks at each other in caves.


Posted by qualteam at 3:06 PM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 26 February 2008 3:29 PM EST
Sunday, 24 February 2008
Tracking Lost Souls In The Afterlife

Our perceptions of the afterlife, usually come from religious mythology or paranormal psychics.

Many investigators and new age prophets have investigated this subject in depth.

Some people are more sensitive to paranormal activity and visions than others. I don't belittle anyone's research in this area. For human beings, life is full of frightening mysteries.

Personally, I believe that we are looked after by a powerful ancient civilization (i.e. "The Kingdom of God") where spiritual activity outside of bodies was and still is the norm.

The tracking, rescue and restoration of lost souls on Earth  is standard practise for this organization.

A cloaked space ship sends out light probes which contain all kinds of pleasant sensations and perceptions for a spirit. This light is also a powerful tractor beam which draws the being into the ship.

There are other malevolent aliens around this sector like the Grays and Marcabs who abduct humans for their own perverse experiments.

This is part of my cosmic viewpoint on this subject that goes beyond "The Star Trek Universe" and religious mythology.


Posted by qualteam at 3:52 PM EST
Updated: Sunday, 24 February 2008 9:26 PM EST
Friday, 22 February 2008
Blue Chip Companies With Many International Customers

Sure green stocks are really sexy these days, but how can you separate the winners from the losers? No doubt, green companies will become the next big bubble on the worlds' stock markets.

In the short term, there will probably be a flight to quality blue chip stocks by smart investors. The speculators can chase can chase gold and energy securities until the cows come home. Who wants to be another crazy in crazy sectors?

Here are my top ten old economy stocks with international exposure that I believe will do well in 2008. They are based in Canada and the United States:

  1. General Electric Co. ($34.37): It now derives 50 per cent of its sales of power-station generators, locomotives, lighting supplies and medical equipment from outside its home market.
  2. Caterpillar Inc. ($69.95): Despite its exposure to the troubled U.S. construction market, it is forecasting a rise in 2008 profits of 5 per cent to 15 per cent. Offshore orders for its heavy equipment, accounting for half its total sales, have more than compensated for softer sales growth at home.
  3. Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc. ($149.35): It's the world's largest potash supplier, accounting for roughly 15 per cent of global production. Increasingly, its output of fertilizers and related feed products is shifting to developing-world markets where rising incomes are bringing agricultural self-sufficiency within reach.
  4. Coca-Cola Co. ($58.76): The cola giant, which once insisted on peddling only Coke abroad, has learned humility in recent years, building market share in the Pacific Rim and South Asia by reformulating its soft drinks and juice products to local tastes, and acquiring dominant local beverage brands.
  5. International Business Machines Corp. ($106.16): It generated 65 per cent of fourth-quarter 2007 sales from outside its homeland and retains its near-monopoly on mainframe computers. These are much in demand from emerging-economy governments and corporations upgrading their computer networks. Lucrative contracts to service its equipment will further entrench IBM in its newest markets.
  6. Bank of Nova Scotia ($47.38 Canadian): The most international of Canada's Big Five banks. It operates in more than 40 countries outside Canada and the U.S. Over the past five years, BNS stock has outperformed all but Toronto Dominion Bank.
  7. Procter & Gamble Co. ($66.30): It long ago transplanted its vaunted marketing prowess overseas, and currently is threatening to push long-established rival Unilever PLC to the margins in the booming Indian market.
  8. Whirlpool Corp. ($88.49): The world's largest appliance maker (Maytag, KitchenAid, Amana, Jenn-Air), which we think of as a "household infrastructure" firm, enjoyed a 2007 payoff from its assiduous studies of how consumers in Mumbai, Singapore and Rio de Janeiro use its products. (For instance, washing machines are stored in the small kitchens of Russian and Central European households, and must be small enough to tuck under the kitchen counter.) In 2007, healthy overseas growth compensated for the weakening North American demand.
  9. United Technologies Corp. ($71.53): It's the world leader in elevators (Otis) and air conditioners (Carrier), and with big stakes in aircraft engines (Pratt & Whitney) and helicopters (Sikorsky), is a low-key infrastructure supplier with outsized performance, including a stock that bested the S&P 500 by a 2-to-1 ratio over the past five years, and boosted profits by 91 per cent during that time. UTC is largely insulated from the North America consumer economy, and its rising offshore profits have compensated for the U.S. housing meltdown.
  10. Bombardier Inc. ($5.53): As the world's largest rail-equipment maker, it supplies streetcars to Brussels and monorails in Asia. And the former stock-market darling, still recovering from the 2001-02 recession, continues to fatten its order book for private planes, despite the U.S. downturn, thanks to the recent proliferation of Russian and Asian tycoons.

In days gone past, experts in "new technology" were sometimes very wrong. Are you aware that Thomas Edison fought with Nicola Tesla over how electricity should be produced, "Direct Current Versus Alternating Current"?

Nicola Tesla won and the alternating current has lighted our homes and ran our appliances for the last hundred years.


Posted by qualteam at 10:16 PM EST
Updated: Sunday, 24 February 2008 10:49 AM EST
Thursday, 21 February 2008
The Benefits Of Early Retirement

Of course, if you love your job, you wouldn't retire from it, you'd just take a long vacation like the man above.

I've worked close to 35 years for Canada Post and I don't love my job. I don't hate it either, but I get the feeling that I should move on to something more creative like writing.

Having a pension will enable me to devote more of my time to writing and other creative pastimes like karaoke singing, basketweaving and religious myth collecting. 

More than a week ago, I added up my non income tax expensives from my pay stubs for 2007. They totalled over $7,000. This included CUPW union dues, Canada Pension Plan premiums, Canada Post Pension premiums, Unemployment Insurance premiums, Disability Insurance premiums, etc.

By next year at this time, I won't be paying into plans where I get nothing back. I'll be collecting from investments that I paid into for a long, long time. 

Part of this plan involves buying and paying off the mortgage on a well maintained house. You can then live mortgage free or sell the house and take every red cent as profit.(In Canada, you can do this.)

One, also, has to invest in a pension plan that's into the stock market. This will help pay off the mortgage and pay for an income distribution plan that you'll need in your golden years.

The long range view is that some risks have to be taken to earn some decent savings. Unless you inherit a great deal of money, your mental smarts have to be there in house buying/selling and in stockmarket buying/selling.

If you do the above, maybe you can obtain early retirement or a long, long vacation.

 

 


Posted by qualteam at 9:40 PM EST
Updated: Saturday, 23 February 2008 10:57 AM EST

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