It’s quite the conundrum for musicians spawned by the era of virtual streaming and Napster’s foot hold. My reading of Johnny Cash’s autobiography has been inspired by the “Life In Music” series of Canadian bluegrass / folk guitarist J.P. Cormier. It’s been interesting to learn of dysfunction and cronyism behind the recording industry. The Neil Young disconnect with Spotify and Joni Mitchell’s follow on weaves its semantic influence of my perception on the consumption of music. Context is such that my own musicianship has been on the rise of late.
I never understood the Napster appeal. I never understood why folks surmised that they deserved good music for nothing. Never have and never will. The Spotify membership is affordable for all and this was a business model which obviously generated mass appeal and has consequently led to a monopolistic landscape for music consumption. It’s the reality and what is often the case for the masses generates hesitation by yours truly. The general sentiment for those with some semblance of taste is that music on the radio right now is uninteresting yet somehow the business side of radio has come to learn that this style of music aligns with advertisers. CDs and vinyl are now becoming tougher to access. Musicians are not necessarily adept at the distribution side of their own work. Production runs on vinyl require minimum orders which may exceed demand.
The consumption model for receiving music may be under scrutiny right now. That’s not to say that the Neil Young / Joni Mitchell spat with Spotify has initiated such but the egregiously low streaming royalty rates have not been sitting well with artists for some time. Undoubtedly times are changing and musicians such as blues comer Samantha Fish who seems savvy around business may start becoming the instigators of a modern form of the “label”.
It was quite the walk through today making my comparative to the2004 pulse as an example when I’d regularly spend time in the Calgary Plus 15 system for lunches and walks in the winter time while working downtown.
For those not local, the “Plus 15” system encompasses passage ways connecting buildings in the downtown core at 15 feet in theory from ground (second level). Some of the passage ways are more elaborate and buildings will host space allocated for merchants on level two.
At 3:30 in the afternoon on a Wednesday, half the shops and closed up and half are open and then there’s the deluge of “For Lease” signs. Very few people were around. Security guards are chatty ‘cause they’re so bored in spite of what should be increased demand in their duty associated with vagrancy. You see, in addition to their week day chores, the city has apparently passed a plebiscite requiring Plus 15s to be open now during weekends as a place of refuge for the homeless (could Calgary be the next Seattle?).
Back in ’04 people were dressed for the executive suite and corridors were jammed during lunch. There was excitement and people were poised for their next promotion. The middle management competitive ire was palpable. I remember thinking to myself back then as someone not making their salary….you just wait – these good times won’t last. I was right.
The Cenovus takeover of Husky has emptied the Husky building and in viewing the concourse and centre square within, the view of emptiness is breathtaking. Apparently, the fine lunch counter on the third floor remains open just for the lunch hours. The Nexen building still seems empty as well.
What will come of all this office space? The largest vacancies will be in the A Class space and rest assured that the pension funds as large owners won’t be as flexible as they should be in the short term.
The government benefit programs are all at work subsidizing merchants. In fact, when everyone else is open for business in Calgary with few restrictions….these plus 15 merchants for some reason or another still have their hours restricted. It’s bizarre but not surprising given what I’ve seen of political leadership in Calgary and Ottawa.
I’m not hearing enough about incentives to drive commerce to the downtown core. The new world wide initiative to impose a minimum corporate tax on corporations irrespective of headquarters could be a significant setback for office uptake in Calgary. Taxpayers should not be bailing out pension funds in lieu of malinvestment and ill thought urban planning.
Why would the Alberta provincial government spend $ 1.1 billion of money that it doesn’t have to fund a pipeline that had a strong probability of not being finished due to the political position of the U.S. Democratic Party? Well of course there was this small matter that your federal government would have been endorsers of such a plan given that it had bailed out a private corporation to pick up an equity stake in the pipeline industry due to their mismanagement of policy in context of a private corporation’s investment. It’s bungling. It’s a fiasco and as tax payers you should be outraged.
Governments have forgotten their role of being stewards of monies appropriate for disbursements applicable to specific services only they can be provide due to variables not deemed of interest to private for profit business. The construction and maintenance of roads, bridges, water treatment facilities, air traffic control towers, weather stations serve as examples whereby business would have no interest but society as a whole would be benefactors thereby warranting government support.
When oil runs through a pipeline, capital interests are poised to profit. However; interested for profit parties in the pipeline industry require good faith from land owners and governments to ensure that contracts will be honoured. This of course is where things get sticky and it is precisely why no government should ever invest in pipelines given their power to expropriate and nullify contracts through statutory law. They are their own worst enemy when investing in pipelines but apparently once again needed to learn the lesson the hard way with Keystone XL. Federally, a deal was struck to appease shareholders certain that otherwise government officials would be embarrassed in court.
Five years ago, it wasn’t fathomable to me that the U.S. electorate would have nominated a deceitful, tawdry, classless boor to lead the Republican Party. Not only did this man receive the nomination but he became the U.S President. This man’s party represented the position reflecting support of Keystone XL and it stands to reason that someone of Trump’s character should lose the office at the first opportunity. Under this guise, the $1.1 billion investment in Alberta by you the taxpayer was deployed. It’s a real head shaker.
Words matter but action speaks volumes. There is enough apathy circulating with respect to the conduct of public officials that we could soon be reaching a point in time in first world countries when behavioural patterns lose respect for the public good. That my friends would not be good.
In the U.S. federal game of politics, the public has become simple pawn in a game of power. Special interest groups of wealth rule the halls of congress. Within the era of the Trump administration, I deduct from four years of conduct that should a sitting senator / congressman (woman) have dared step out of line to vote with conscience, retribution would be in order. The political climate was not always like this. There was an era of progress in the U.S whereby respectful negotiation resulted in well crafted legislation. Trump was an overt liar with a warped sense of political strategy in feeding the public a mirage to suit his purpose. Oftentimes it worked. His ploy counted on naivety and ignorance of the U.S. populous and its orchestration hadn’t even ended with the casting of the last ballot in the 2020 election. It was pathetic demonstration of demagogy and the consequences have been real and deathly
In Canada, Canadians elected a left leaning liberal. There’s no disguising the fact the Justin Trudeau is implementing his ideology of social policy which has much to do with spending money that his government doesn’t have. As I write this article, Canada is on a spending binge and financing it’s spending by printing money. They don’t like to tell it like it is over at the Bank of Canada. They like to tell you that they are “purchasing bonds” in order to stimulate the economy. Of course they print money to purchase the bonds thereby risking inflation.
So, if a politician is “whipped” into voting the party line instead of conscience, would this not represent a modified version of democracy? Whipping votes is nothing new. It’s been around for decades but the difference now versus then was that retribution was not necessarily assumed should a vote not fall in line.
What kind of damage has been inflicted on the moral compass of North America due to the Trump era? Canadians after all have watched it all unfold. Public finance is in shambles on both sides of the border. The question now is whether the debt burden is sustainable or whether there’s going to be collapses in currencies. Will the U.S. dollar lose its reserve currency status and if it does, how does the financial landscape unfold? Will precious metals and / or crypto currencies emerge as the only viable units of monetary value? Oh yes….it’s only once per year that the Bank of Canada does its assessment of the stability of our financial system. Perhaps, they should meet more often in the context of the meteoric rise in crypto.
Whenever I click an editorial on line and am prompted for a news subscription trial I come away thinking, “fat chance you’re going to get me to pay for this second rate opinion”. I harbour no ill will toward editorials in lock down and news outlets needing to fund their reason for being. I’ve just taken the opinion that since the internet company is taking a material payment from me monthly and I expose myself to the deluge of advertisements, I simply will not subscribe to one news outlet. Have you ever been frustrated by having cancelled a memberships with precise administrative protocol but then see the charge show up the following month? Exactly.
At the same time, it’s important to underscore the contribution which journalists make to society. Journalists ask questions which you don’t have time for because you are at work and tending to kids. Journalists serve you in that they isolate problems with government decision making which impact you. Journalists also expose injustices of humanity which would go otherwise unnoticed by those who can intervene.
There has been a new phrase coined recently – “fake news”. While there are degrees in quality of journalism largely because of the profit motive and stakeholder’s potential for bias, standards in journalism still exist and are being executed. To subjectively paint all journalists as compromised is simply irresponsible.
In fact, there has never been a larger role for journalists during this time in history when democracies are being administered more like “elected dictatorships” with ultra party partisanship and fear of voting ones’ conscience in elected houses as the new norm. Under these conditions in particular, the diligent reporter’s industrious efforts should be emboldened. In this light, I suggest to the journalism industry to lift your lock down of editorials for those of us suspicious of monthly credit card auto charges and appeal to us differently for your funding.
It’s a talking point I trumpet often with my clients. Your
money is yours and you must know what you are doing with it and where it comes
from. Somebody apparently forgot to share the message with Brett Favre. He will now return 1.1 million dollars to the
U.S. welfare system for money received for speeches that he did not give.
Investment advisors have been wrong often. Bankers are not
investment professionals and typically don’t deploy investment analytics as
they should in recommending investments. Nor, do they necessarily have a feel
for the economic pulse. Yes, they did
not anticipate a “Black Swan” event in the context of a risky political
environment. Portfolios have lost money and investors are assuaged with the
mantra that they are in for the long term.
It may be unfathomable to you that somebody can receive 1.1
million dollars and not know that it hit their account. I can actually believe
it when the numbers get big and individuals don’t have the right financial
professionals in place to question financial transactions. In fact, the
accounting profession had lost its way ten years ago in the context of
derivative books getting out of control while off balance sheet obligations
went unscrutinized. When internal controls get loose during times such as
these, temptations of the morally weak are incited. The environment right now
is really interesting and I’m paying special attention. Governments are
spending money like drunken sailors. The U.S. federal government just fired a
watch dog responsible for overseeing disbursements from the federal treasury in
the context of pandemic relief. There’s never been a more acute time in your
living history to be educated in finance.
While Canadians turn to twitter and laude the public
relations campaign by Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer, Deena Hinshaw, let me
remind fellow Canadian regarding the disparity of pay between her, and care
aides tending to the elderly.
You see, The Canadian Medical Association for decades has
ensured that Canadian doctors hit the gravy train right out of school with
automatic jobs because of ridiculously tight spots in medical schools. Entrance
standards at medical school have been set artificially high in order to serve a
market demand favouring doctors. Having
come to grips with the problem, the importation of doctors from abroad became
The Edmonton Journal reports that Canadian doctors earn
$349,655 per year. Many care workers tending to the elderly have been earning
minimum wage. Do you see a problem here? Okay. Who do you think has the bigger
voice when negotiating pay? You guessed it. Doctors. Mostly, front line care
aides don’t actually have representation.
The health care budget in Alberta is near the 45 per cent range. Think about that for a minute. You as the taxpayer are so interested in your public health care system that you are willing to spend $0.45 of your provincial tax dollar to fund public medicare – yet today your Prime Minister has announced that the salaries of these aides for the elderly are going to be need to be topped up and you guessed it….there will be not mention of where this new money will come from.
Is Vancouver teetering on the edge of bankruptcy? Are you old enough to remember the federal immigration policy instituted by Brian Mulroney which encouraged capital investment from abroad via the immigration system? Come to Canada and invest a sum while guaranteeing to employee a few. This was the start of the of the real estate growth wave in Vancouver. The program was only loosely monitored and became the conduit for infusing money into the lower mainland thereby ousting those native born without ancestral ties access to the market.
The demographic of Vancouver changed dramatically in a short
time frame and there was a definite cultural shift amidst a policy of “multiculturalism”.
This was new vocabulary established partly to challenge the xenophobe while
complementing robust immigration policy. When we look around at the cultural
mosaic today in lieu of the government message, we see some success but greater
failure. The greater failures were middle aged and older Asians not really
making the strong effort to immerse along with a white contingent who was not overly
welcoming. So, there was a contrast between the government’s ideal and the
urban reality. When we look around today, we can give strong marks to the
immigrants of millennial and younger generations for gravitating toward their
own Canadian destiny.
The capital infusion into B.C.’s lower mainland didn’t stop
with the economic immigrant. Banking regulation in Canada has been lax.
Imported capital has not been scrutinized. Dirty money has been making its way
into Canada for decades and politicians have turned a blind eye. Bankers liked
it. Bank shareholders have liked it. It’s only been as recent as four years ago
that money laundering activity at casinos in Vancouver became targeted by
These two sources of capital have been substantial in the
real estate market in Vancouver. As of this writing during the COVID-19
pandemic, the City of Vancouver has suggested bankruptcy as an option in the
context of 65 per cent of Vancouverites missing their April 1, 2020 property
tax payment. Fifty-five per cent are projected to miss their May 1st
2020 payment. What’s the correlation between a hypothesized artificial rise in
real estate valuation and the failure of the city to collect taxes amidst the
COVID crisis? I suggest that the city’s budget and historic spending grew in
tandem within the context of a property tax system built on a weak structure of
property valuation and hence the house of cards is now teetering amidst a black
Canada is facing a large increase to the money supply in the context of new social programs associated with COVID-19. Your government in conjunction with financial news outlets do not want to use language like “increase the money supply” because it may be deemed alarming or inflationary. Instead, it refers to the monetary system in bankers code.
In essence, government securities are floated for
distribution to commercial banks via the country’s “central bank”. The creation
of this “security” (example would be a treasury bill or bond) in effect
provides the directive for printing press operators to flip the switch. However;
in advance of the creation of the new security, the central bank will check its
“reserves” to ensure that the “vaults” are sufficiently equipped with an “asset”
to merit the production of a new “security”. This is where things get
It used to be the case that gold characterized the reserve
asset. However; gold lost its lustre as a reserve asset when President Nixon
took the U.S. off the “Gold Standard” in 1971. President Roosevelt Roosevelt in
fact ordered Americans to return gold for dollars as a mechanism to cope with
The Great Depression.
So now, we have the creation of new money without a tangible
assets being served as its foundation for existence. Furthermore, we are
presented with ever increasing national debts represented by the apparent financing
of governments by holders of such securities which will stretch way beyond ledgers
of domestic commercial banks. We also have the vast majority of economists
supporting such a system and special interest groups professionally organized
to acquire government funding.
What can happen when a Black Swan event such as COVID-19
compels governments to inject new money in the hands of consumers in the
context of a monetary system which has no tangible asset at its root? Inflation
or deflation of course. This is the great debate. Logic dictates that prices
should rise with a larger monetary base. However; when social conditions
deteriorate, a hoarding impulse may compel folks to store their cash thereby
producing deflation. Every economist will tell you that the worst economic
scenario is one of “deflation”.
any exposure to “Austrian Economic Theory” will naturally defer to “Keynesian”
(flooding market with currency during demand drop) doctrine of mainstream
economic thought. Will next generations be contented with paying interest on
seemingly unsustainable national debts or will there be a consolidation at some
point? Author Jim Rickard has referenced the “Special Depository Right” as a
new unit of currency established by the International Monetary Fund.