Category Archives: Free Enterprise

Calgary’s Plus 15 System Nowadays

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.   

Crossroads For Tech Behemoths

Are Facebook, Google, and Twitter here to stay? Dumb question? Is there a barrier to entry for new players? What happened to MySpace? USA Today reports that Florida Governor DeSantis will be drafting new legislation to impose significant fines for “deplatforming” ( never used to be a word right?) users without cause. You bet – DeSantis is a Trump supporter.

Frankly, I’m confused why the tech behemoths have not faced some competition. It would appear that there are some intellectual property rights facilitating their market monopoly along with a fickle public way too docile in accommodating unsolicited non-friend / follower posts through their feeds.

Of course there is the issue of impersonal  customer service and “no-reply” emails associated with all tech companies’ conduct which have become the industry norm. Individuals no longer put their names in signatures of email correspondence. Other companies have taken heed. Anonymity is the name of the game while taking your money should you decide to “partner” with them.  

It seems that these tech behemoths had an appealing offering at first and have worked their business systems so poetically that they are now completely estranged from users behind a partition cloaked in indifference. 

Now a legislator has stepped forward with a bill in conjunction with a disgruntled ex-President looking for redress which ironically despite the persona inciting the motion could benefit consumers if stamped with a consumer advocacy complement.

Canada In trouble “UBI”

If you value work for pay instead of a government handout….you may now be a minority in Canada. This is how things seem today as federal liberals gather online to debate a “Universal Basic Income”.

When I left my home to go to work today, I took a look at the full parking lot at my residence and speculated what percentage of my complex is receiving some form of social assistance. Given the demographic of my neighbors –they are not the kind of folk to fire up computers and logon to Zoom. They are more of the marginalized class of Canadian. 

Why shouldn’t the marginalized want “Universal Basic Income” if they’ve failed to meet the test of capitalism? They’ve come to believe that they deserve a free lunch so of course they’ll be looking to you to keep them mummified in their thumb sucking ways.

Yes…that’s the term I’ll use – the “marginalized class” because it’s less likely to get me in trouble with the politically correct. You see in Canada….it’s become fashionable to get a government cheque because with a government job…governments still have this old “defined benefit pension plan”.  Parents in a practical sense may not fathom entrepreneurial pursuit given the risk reward profile matched against the comfort of government bureaucracy. 

Somehow within the equation of this “UBI” debate someone from the nosebleed section may just rise to the occasion and ask where governments think they are going to get the money. Someone may be astute enough to ponder whether those in business who can execute are going to be willing to continue to subsidize a lazy Canadian populous. Virtually every natural resource project in Canada is gobsmacked with regulatory hurdles in getting approved with debt financings contingent upon layers of red tape much of which is unreasonable. Factor in the mountains of government debt already needing servicing and we see a nation in trouble.        

Canada is already a country fully entrenched in socialism. My confident characterization of our culture took place during the first term of the Trudeau era when the federal government began fully subsidizing the rearing of children through the lucrative “Canada Child Benefit” program. This direct subsidization of parents has apparently become the envy of any special interest groups and such program has likely had much to do with the onset of a Universal Basic Income proposal.   

Wishful Thinking Versus Accountable Action

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.     

Favre Speech Money And Lessons Learned

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.     

Kaepernick Debacle

Colin Kaepernick had a very good 2013 season with the San Francisco 49ers. It’s been tough to miss him through the news cycle since. Kaepernick rightfully latched onto the civil rights issue associated with the Rodney King incident and other precursors galvanizing support toward the Black Lives Matter movement. Unfortunately, he decided to use his celebrity as a football player on the sports field as a means for showing his support for the cause while connecting the matter with disloyalty toward his country. He got black balled and he should have seen that coming.  You see, employers in a free capitalist society have the right to hire based on their variables deemed important for success. Disloyalty toward country makes a character statement and potentially correlates with potential behaviour when it comes to “team interest”. When the going gets tough, are you going to fold up tent or fight within the means available to you under a constitution? He chose to whimper in the easiest form of protest conveniently available to him. I wish him well. He seems sharp and I suspect he will be able to translate his sporting competitiveness into another avenue of success.     

Is Canada Corrupt?

Is Canada corrupt? You go to work every day and pay your taxes. Your taxes are intended to provide services which benefit the public good. Naturally, human resources are required to administer such services. Your government also assesses your country’s standing in the world and maintains relationship with other nations in the context of preserving freedom and quality of life for citizens. 

Then we have a system of commerce which operates under the guise of “capitalism”. In a capitalist system, small businesses and large businesses operate with particular reasonable regulations relevant to their industries and such regulations are imposed also in the context of the “public good”. An inherent trait associated with “free enterprise” is the right of business to “fail” due to whatever underlying factors are confronted. It is not the business of governments to pick and choose winners and losers through political bias, personal relationships, or preferential treatment due to the geographic jurisdiction of stakeholders. If such a landscape was permitted to exist, free enterprise would lose its appeal as a viable commercial system to engage with freewill unencumbered by systemic bias. 

Today, as learned through an ethics report – your country has failed you because in spite of you playing by the rules, you’ve come to learned that your federal government has a interfered in the legal process of a defendant charged with improprieties in the name of “picking winning and losers” in the capitalist system.  One must ask, as a nation, are we any different from third world countries which make ever day habits of conducting affairs on such terms?    

Mid Tier Gold Companies Since June 11th 2019

Yamana Gold, $ 1.92 USD to $2.55 USD for a 32 per cent move

Eldorado Gold (EGO), $ 4.11 USD to  $6.22 USD for a 51 per cent move

New Gold (NGD) went from $0.72 CAD to $0.94 CAD for a 30 per cent move

Detour Gold (DGG) went from $13.25 CAD to $16.58 CAD – 25 per cent

McEwen Mining (MUX) went from 1.39 CAD to $1.82 CAD for a 30 per cent change

Argonaut Gold (AR) went from 1.71 CAD to 1.84 CAD  for 7 per cent

Royal Nickel (RNX) – yes a gold company  went from $0.50 CAD to $0.64 moving 28 per cent

….and how much did the price of gold change from Jun 11, 2019 to July 3, 2019? Well, 9.6 per cent.

As you can see, a premium has been offered to companies with moderate market caps compared to the majors. Risk capital would have been well served with positions here. 

Venezuela Right Now

  1. Hyperinflation rate so astronomical you won’t believe it
  2. Water shortage
  3. Food shortage
  4. Civil strife
  5. Rolling black outs
  6. Russia installs military presence taking sides with Nicolas Maduro
  7. U.S. contemplates aid and incidentally has sided with declared President Juan Guaido
  8. Journalists arrested
  9. Socialist policy since Chavez leaderships in 1999

If you eliminate incentives for business to produce goods and services, they will stop. If you pay people not to produce, they will not produce. If you do not sanction poor behavior, people will continue to behave badly. If you overregulate the ambitious, they will turn elsewhere for a market. If you condone corruption, you will get more of it. If you sense injustice and fail to acknowledge it, you will subscribe to the status quo. If you witness crime and fail to report it, you are complicit. If your leadership is ambivalent toward justice, your society is regressing.

Governments Giving To Business

Here we go again with government “investments” in business with a $100 million nest egg courtesy of you the taxpayer for new technologies (artificial intelligence) which apparently is such a sought after space that the private sector isn’t interested.

This is what’s happening. Very poor decisions were made regarding the construction of new office towers in the downtown core of Calgary leading to a 30 per cent vacancy. Obstructionist policy from governments in the oil and gas sector has impeded business from expanding into these new commercial spaces. Now, you the taxpayer are going to pay the price for “malinvestment”. That’s right. Governments have historically been poor investors because politicians don’t personally have any skin in the game. Politicians cater to special interest groups and are amenable to influence from effective lobbyists.

When was the last time your government presented you with a performance statement in lieu of a benefit to you arising from their investment decisions in the private sector? You guessed it – never. There is no accountability.

The unremarkable thing about “capitalism” is that people and businesses fail because of poor investment decisions. The backdrop of a failure potential has the effect of scrutinizing capital carefully for its most efficient deployment.

This decision made by bureaucrats with your money is not sound but there is desperation in the corridors of governments because pension funds with equity interests in Alberta office towers are clamouring.