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David Barron

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Thursday, 28 August 2008
The Biggest Issue Facing Barack Obama And John McCain

It isn't the Iraq war. It isn't health insurance. It isn't off shore oil drilling. Pure and simple, it's the mortgage/financial crisis in the U.S.

The destruction of personal wealth over the last two years has been enormous: Americans stand to lose $8 trillion (U.S.) in housing wealth, or $110,000 per household.

Take the gigantic U.S. housing agencies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which backstop about half of all U.S. mortgages. The two firms now are essentially illiquid and need a bailout only Washington has the means or will to provide. Their complaisant regulator allowed Fannie and Freddie to underpin a combined $5.4 trillion in mortgages and other liabilities with a laughable $54 million in capital. That 1 per cent reserve ratio compares with government-mandated ratios of 3.5 per cent to 9.5 per cent at commercial banks.

Hank Paulson, the U.S. treasury secretary, boasts of the "bazooka" granted him by Congress to rescue Fannie and Freddie, whose collapse could take down the U.S. financial system.

Some institutions have been fined for their participation in this fraud like Citibank and Merrill Lynch. However, the individuals behind it like the former Citibank CEO, Charles Prince and Merrill Lynch CEO, Stanley O'Neil, got off easy with multi million dollar severance packages. 

Shouldn't there be some individual accountability for these actions?

Shouldn't Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac be put to sleep as a private companies and resurrected as one public company like "The U.S. Mortgage and Housing Corporation".

Behind the rhetoric, personalities and ideologies where do Barack Obama and John McCain stand on this issue?


Posted by qualteam at 7:59 PM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 30 August 2008 9:56 AM EDT
Sunday, 24 August 2008
Isn't It Time To Retire Fannie Mae And Freddie Mac?

After 70 years of in the mortgage business, Fannie and Freddie seem to be losing their touch. They have insured over 1 trillion dollars in bad mortgages and their share prices have dropped to new lows.

Selling shares of a "Government Sponsored Company" is a bad idea. Nobody has ever suggested that shares in the U.S. Postal Service be made available.

There is a comparable service in Canada called "The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation". It has been around for over 60 years and is doing quite well. CMHC is a "Crown Corporation" owned by the Canadian Government. It isn't at the mercy of hedge fund managers and greedy speculators.

It obvious to me and many Americans that the number one issue, right now, is the housing/financial crisis and the resulting economic slowdown.

The next president and vice president of the United States will have their hands full with Iraq and these economic issues.


Posted by qualteam at 8:23 PM EDT
Monday, 18 August 2008
Making Sure Canada Post Delivers

Over the last few days, I have been giving and receiving e-mails with CPC President, Moya Greene, over different problems at Canada Post. These include casuals, part timers, modernization, new fuel efficient vehicles, bonus systems, shareholders, etc.

I've had a good living from Canada Post and I'm looking forward to receiving a pension from it for the rest of my life.

I don't take anything for granted in this world. Canada Post went 800 million dollars in debt when it first modernized in the 1970s. I wouldn't want to see that happen again which might imperil our pensions and benefits.

Look what has happened to other businesses with defined pension plans.

Another view of Canada Post on "This Hour Has 22 Minutes":

Posted by qualteam at 10:02 PM EDT
Tuesday, 12 August 2008
Filling Up An Ipod With Musical Goodies

Recently, I attempted to fill up a 4 gig Ipod with mp3s for a friend. While I have close to 2000 songs on my computer, I found it are hard to get 1000 great tunes for my buddy.

While my main musical interest resides in the 50s and 60s, I put all kinds of music in the MP3 player.

I managed to download quality songs from the 1940s to the 21st century. The genres included oldies, 40s jazz, ballads of any kind, classic country, modern country, hard rock, pop and R & B.

It's great that the internet exists and the vastness of popular music is only a link and a mouse click away.

Below are six of the tunes that made it to my "Top 1000 Songs Of All Time". Please enjoy:


Posted by qualteam at 10:25 PM EDT
Saturday, 9 August 2008
Goodbye Beavers
Mood:  sad

Frank and Gordon were the spokesbeavers for Bell Canada over the last three years. During that time, they were in every commerical for Bell from high speed internet services to cell phones products.

While they were stupid looking and the commericals very repetitive, they've endeared themselves to many Canadians  including myself.

I have a special place in my heart for beavers. Here's a website where you can see real beavers in action.

Other famous beavers that entertained me in in the past were "Little Beaver", the wrestler and  The Beave from the TV series, "Leave It To Beaver".

The Famous Molson Beaver Commerical


Posted by qualteam at 12:08 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, 22 September 2008 11:06 AM EDT
Monday, 4 August 2008
Becoming A Better Investor And Money Manager

I follow the TSX and the Dow regularly. Here are my insights into the wonderful world of investing and money management.

  1. Be patient and have a long term view on your investments.
  2. Don't compulsively waste money on gambling and things you don't really need.
  3. Save heavily if you can, contribute religiously to retirement accounts and pay extra on your mortgage.
  4. Learn to compare stocks and sectors against the index using relative trend analysis.
  5. Invest in "Green Technology", the next big thing.
  6. Always buy at a time of gloom and doom. Always sale when sheep investors think that the gravy train will never end.
  7. Pay off credit card debt first and put long-term debt in a lower interest rate "line of credit" account.
  8. Owning and improving a house should be part of anyone's financial planning. I have many blog entries on that subject.
  9. Bull markets are usually 36 months long while bear markets only last about 12 months. The present bear market is coming to an end, prepare to buy safe high dividend stocks through mutual funds, ETFs, or a discount broker.


Posted by qualteam at 11:33 PM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 5 August 2008 2:41 PM EDT
Saturday, 2 August 2008
Becoming A Better Poker Player
Mood:  lucky

Over the last few months, I've managed to accumulate $57,000 in play money from I played in the free "Sit 'N Go" tournaments because I wasn't good enough to play for real money. I read up and improved my game to a point where I was kicking the butt of every "Hold 'Em" greenhorn around, but I wasn't improving my poker playing.

I was still making the same mistakes over and over again, I was more lucky than skilled. Then last week, I won $40 dollars at a friend's place and a week earlier, I won $30. I liked playing poker for real money with live people in front of me. This atmosphere brought out the best poker player that I could be.

Online for a week, I've been playing poker for green stuff. I haven't won anything, but I haven't lost anything lost either, so I guess I'm doing just fine.

"Somewhere in the darkness, the gambler broke even and found an ace that he could keep."


Posted by qualteam at 3:11 PM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 2 August 2008 3:22 PM EDT
Wednesday, 30 July 2008
Movie Review 122: Hell Boy 2
Ron Perlman is terrific as Hell Boy and it's hard not to like this movie.
Basically, this film is just a comic book brought to life for the big screen. There's more fights, more action and more interesting characters than you can shake a stick at.
The movie suffers from an inferior bad guy that looks like he came out of a Bruce Lee movie. He fights well, but he's humourless and bland.
Hell Boy continues to develop into a loving family man and that's good, but his fish buddy should spend more time in the tank rather than on land.
The movie was well received by the critics at Rottentomatoes, but I'd have a tough time watching it twice and I'm a fan. Two and half stars.

Posted by qualteam at 9:48 PM EDT
Sunday, 27 July 2008
Changing The World With One Micro Loan After Another

Kiva  (a charity) was launched in the fall of 2005 by Matt and Jessica Flannery of San Francisco, after Jessica heard about Dr. Muhammad Yunus and the Grameen Bank.

Kiva has made more than $35 million in loans from about 311,000 lenders to more than 50,000 entrepreneurs in 43 countries. It has a 98.13 per cent repayment rate. All the donations to Kiva go directly to the entrepreneurs. The lenders can select the small business owners themselves and follow their progress. 

For instance, loans to women in Guatemala helped them to buy sewing machines to make clothes to sell in their community.

There are many different organizations and charities that support Kiva. You could start a group at your job or school and organize potluck dinners, bikerides and other events to help them.

This is a hand up and not a handout.


Posted by qualteam at 11:59 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 27 July 2008 12:25 PM EDT
Thursday, 24 July 2008
Top Ten Ways For Kids To Have Fun And Learn On The Internet
  1. Get connected to other kids and groups on Facebook. This is a great interactive website that allows teens and preteems of common interests to meet in cyberspace.
  2. Find all kinds of fun stuff at Safe chat rooms, lots of games, lots of new friends.
  3. Discover the different types of games that you can play on the internet.
  4. Believe it or not, casino games (like Poker) can be played with play money and you don't have to download them to your computer.
  5. Start a blog of your favourite videos and songs on "YouTube". This website has just about every video and song ever made.
  6. If you want to find out more about any subject or person, do a "Google Alert" with your e-mail address. The search engine Google does all the work and you get the results in your inbox.
  7. Start building a blog (Weblog and Diary) on Facebook or some other website. You can upload your pictures to it and even create a slideshow through a free service at
  8. By using search engines like google or MSN, you can find out more about advances in science like "Green Technology" and "Electric Cars".
  9. When you google something like "Classic Dolls", you not only find websites that write about classic dolls, but you can find pictures of classic dolls by clicking on "images" above the Google Search Box.
  10. Always use the internet to learn more about human/plant/mineral/animal life and always use the internet to find material that makes people laugh like the Ray Steven's video below: "Santa Claus Is Watching You". 

I'd like to thank Melanie Sparkes (my niece) for helping me think about great stuff for kids on the internet. Hopefully, this blog entry will help any teen or preteen who's starting out on "The World Wide Web".

Posted by qualteam at 6:02 PM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 24 July 2008 6:45 PM EDT

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