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Martin Armstrong’s Take On European Bonds

The thing I like about Martin is his dispassionate analysis of economic events possibly learned through experience documented in the movie, “The Forecaster”. Although he provides a political backdrop in identifying the climate inherent to his analysis of international capital flows, he does so with an emotional indifference even tinged with sarcasm suggesting a deeper sense of abomination for the mismanagement of global monetary policy.

In contrast to other contemporaries of Austrian economic theory, Armstrong does not foresee an imminent collapse in the equity markets, nor a short term devaluation of the U.S. dollar.  Armstrong sees the rising interest rate environment and cracks in the European bond markets as potential sources of support for the U.S. dollar over the short term given that big money will have few places other than U.S. equities to turn.

Armstrong also differs from his peers in referencing a direct correlation between rising rates and rising equities in the current environment. He cites problems with European bond yields as reason to flee for quality in U.S. equities.

Over the long term however, Armstrong sees the monetary system start to unravel come 2021 once emerging markets come to the realization that debt repayment in lofty valued U.S. dollars will become untenable. Alas, Armstrong falls in line with others espousing ultimate trouble for markets of all sorts other that real estate, precious metals and other tangible assets.

On the contrary, P.H.D. of statistics Jim Willie, suggests that contagion associated with European banking default could become the prime driver of economic chaos. My sense is that Willie’s time frame is shorter than that of Armstrong’s.  Both gentlemen see problems such as hyper inflation, unemployment, and corruption in under developed nations masked from media view as seeds adjunct for the culmination an economic reset.

 

Do Public Debts and Deficits Matter?

Yes they do. Are there consequences to never ending increases in government debt? Yes there are. Do we care like we should? No, we don’t? The Olympics are coming and the Canadian Press has indicated that governments will be on hook for three billion dollars associated with the endeavour. Your governments mean you. 

Gary Mason from the Globe and Mail has pointed out that when the Notley government took control, the Alberta debt was a manageable $11.9 billion. Given the unwillingness of this government to shave expenses during the collapse of oil royalty revenue, the debt is now projected to balloon to $71 billion dollars by 2020. Think about that for a minute….11.9 versus 71. Yup, it’s a 6 fold increase and the mayor of Calgary is worried about who leaked a report regarding Olympics planning. 

Greece in 2015 came to learn about what it means to spend beyond its means. Banks went on holidays and bank machines got turned off.  The health care system in Greece went on hiatus and austerity measures went into full effect. If creditors to a governmental jurisdiction come to learn that their investment is in jeopardy, terms will change to the detriment of debtors. You are your government.  Your government will ask you to come to their aid in the event of hardship in making payments. 

Your country also continues to spend like drunken sailors. Politicians love to match debt to GDP as if they can rationalize their continued increases in spending. The fact is that your country’s debt increases at a rate of $50 million per day. The taxes you send to Ottawa help cover the interest on this ever increasing debt.  Take $660 billion in federal debt while compounding a daily growth of 50 million per day and then factor in an increasing interest rate environment. Now, think again if the Olympics are worth the risk to you the taxpayer.     

Message For Aspiring Guitarists

As a preface, I write this not as an “accomplished guitarist” worthy of offering tips, but one who has embarked on a learning journey over the past 20 months. Hopefully, the following will aid anyone in taking up the instrument. 

You know someone who knows someone that simply picks up an instrument and they can play naturally “by ear”. I say “good for them” and this is certainly not I and will not be the majority of aspiring players. In fact, even for those who are gifted with musical intuition, there will be short cuts they will encounter in orchestrating melody, resolving a phrase, or identifying an appropriate chord should they obtain some kind of training. 

The sixth and fifth strings as bass notes, interval distances between notes and between strings, higher and lower octave notes as designed on the fret board through pattern, the CAGED system utilization as a means of deploying different chord voicings, basic open chords, barred chord structures, and scales up and down the neck are all guitar elements that very few will be able deploy without becoming versant through some training.

I suggest that the most enjoyment will come from applying mechanical fret board principles with some music theory and one’s inner sense of discovery. However; relying on the inner sense alone will simply lead to unnecessary barriers given the intricacies of the instrument. 

The good news is that the task is not ominous. There will be some memorization which is absolutely tenable. There will be some frustration in getting the fingers to go where they need to go. However; with practice, the neural system establishes the pathways. There will be a question regarding the time commitment to improve. You’ll conclude that part of your spiritual sustenance flows from a pursuit distinct from family and career. You’ll be wondering where to turn for your next nugget of fret board magic culminating in the arrival of new like-minded friends. You’ll also become fascinated by the equipment and accessories which produce varying sounds from the same notes. 

The biggest take away….you’ll learn humility if to date it’s been elusive!

One Proud Sportsman Dismayed

I grew up on the sport field playing baseball. My dad taught me sportsmanship and he coached his fifth son part time whenever he was home early enough from the mine. The lesson was always simple….do your best, play by the rules, and bestow respect to your opponent and elders. In spite of your best, you will lose. Losses will inspire you to improve. 

Oftentimes, I reference a simple decision to terminate my cable television. This act has become so metaphoric in more ways than one. Thankfully, I did not witness the unfortunate turn of events at the women’s final of the U.S. Open today. The award ceremony and write up was enough.  The charade unfortunately reminds me of the unfortunate past of John McEnroe and his childishness of yesteryear. 

Elite athletes train throughout their youth to reach the pinnacle of their sport. Today, a new champion emerged but the euphoric sentiment of her biggest sporting achievement ever was simply hijacked from her today in the face of unsportsmanlike conduct of Serena Williams and the classless behaviour of New York spectators. To add insult to injury, Williams decided to become the protagonist in defeat by placating the crowd having sensed the void of joy in the hapless victor Naomi Osaka.

U.S. Open officials just couldn’t hold back by releasing a statement in the conclusion of the match referencing racquet smashing insult wielding Williams with the remarks “Serena at all times plays with class and makes us proud”.

Unfortunately, when the athletic arena is represented by narcissistic whining brats in addition to society’s other classless acts from which we’ve grown accustomed (I know who you’re thinking of), it’s disheartening. You simply hope to find virtue in sport. 

  

Staying Inspired

How are you staying inspired? Who has the best staying power? It’s those who complement their training with influences of those who have achieved. It takes a continual dose and then an expanded repertoire of sources. You know why? It’s because you’ll get stuck. You’ll hit a plateau. Your mind will wander off. Hence; if you’re committed to continual improvement, you can schedule in your exposure to influence. You can make it a priority. 

I had no clue what I was getting into upon stepping into a musical journey with the purchase of an electric guitar having experienced an introduction to music theory through piano. I sensed that those rock icons were high school dropouts with some finger dexterity learned through rudimentary practice.  Well, I was delightfully short sighted.  It’s true that rock guitarists may spend much of their soloing time in the pentatonic scale with fundamental chords derived from the Circle of Fifths. However; many other accomplished guitarists are in fact versed in music theory with ear training to facilitate improvisation. The instrument itself has the potential to extend into all genres of music.

Then there’s the concept of “what to practice.” There’s a propensity toward practicing what you know instead of building, switching, alternating, completing, stretching, expanding, and redirecting.  I’m thinking that my guitar journey’s pathway to development is no different than any other pursuit in developing competence leading to mastery. What if we document practice sessions for planned later date reinforcement? What if we engage interpersonally with those who can supplement ideas? What if we intertwine the learning experience from our hobbyist pursuit with other facets of existence? Staying inspired inherently means not only the act of interpreting a production which compels but also looking deeper into the person behind the piece.    

First of all, are you spending the time? Secondly, are you spending it the right way? Thirdly, are you manifesting enjoyment of your pursuit through applied education? If you don’t have the time now, will you be sufficiently inspired at ground zero with the onset of retirement?     

Canadian Trade Talks

Should Canadian farmers be selling wheat and barley to Saudi Arabia when Saudi Arabia has historically oppressed women and still does to this day? Does a country conducting international trade compromise its values if profiting from a country from which values conflict? Should politicians in high office frustrated by diplomatic overtures abroad turn to twitter to voice grievance? Should a Canadian confident in his /her position that we have a weak Prime Minister contend that all policy initiatives by the federal government will commensurately be weak? Is it fair to impact the livelihood of commercial operators because of international political grievance?

The above questions arise in the context of a spat between Saudi Arabia and Canada over this past week. It’s frankly unsettling to witness such weakness. My position is that Canada has been compromising its values over time with respect to trade and shouldn’t be surprised that a peculiar twitter remark should be received with outrage from an internet platform limiting in its communicative power from a nation bereft of bestowing respect upon women. What’s even more surprising is that Ms. Freedland seems like an intelligent woman who should have known better. She should have know that the incarceration of women’s rights advocate is a sensitive matter and that a frustrating social media appeal could actually undermine diplomatic efforts to liberate the woman.

Our country, Canada, has some soul searching to do with respect to trade policy in the context its values and protectionist sentiment arising from the U.S. New alliances are forming and Canada has a place at the tables but must affirm its position with clarity complemented with trade deals rooted in the fabric of cooperation with partners of whom it can look dead straight in the eye.     

Second Half 2018

Here you are. It’s summer and you think you owe yourself more idle time because the young ones are out of school. Wrong. It’s actually time to roll up your sleeves and show them what work is all about. There are those outstanding odd jobs around the house and the pet projects deserving of attention as well as the pursuit of continuous learning. Learning is growing and we should be doing some of it every day in order to keep the creative and inspirational juices flowing. We are inundated with stories of troubled minds through the media and at every turn there are references to chemical imbalances or hereditary predispositions when perhaps the biggest contributor to mental aberration is idleness.

The summer of 2018 will depart us and when you look back, let it be a time of productivity as well as play. Throw yourself into something worthwhile which will bring you pride. Capture memories of family adventure while incorporating engaging activities. Stimulate yourself intellectually because as the old adage goes, “leaders are readers”.

Additionally, I encourage you to reflect on your place within the economic system in the context of who you know you to be.  Nobody really knows you better than you. We fool ourselves into thinking that constructive feedback from those close to us should form a larger barometer of our being but this strategy is really rationalization for delay when in actuality the fear of execution persists.

If you are serious about taking a hard look at yourself and your current participation within the economic system, you may pick up a copy of my ebook, “Your Business Mind”.  

  

 

Signs of Erosion In Civic Health

 

1.       Fraud and corruption

2.       Dishonored contracts

3.       Property rights disrespected

4.       Rural crime frustrates farmers

5.       Civil suits backlog court houses to the benefit of lawyers receipts

6.       Littering and indifference to the infraction

7.       Brashness and deceit in politics as winning formula

8.       Inattentiveness to the elderly

9.       Pronounced tail gaiting at the speed limit

10.   Proliferation of public debt accompanied by perpetual deficits

11.   Rising pedestrian deaths

12.   Propensity to relax rules and regulations

13.   Quickness and inclination to judge others

14.   Isolation of children

2.      Police detachment with better things to do than respond to                        trespassers and bike thieves

16.   Closure of arts / music venues

17.   Graffiti

18.   Loitering and the ambivalence toward it

19.   Decline in volunteerism

20.   Usury and government’s perception and reaction to it

What Is Facebook Anyway?

Is it a platform which began as a place to share but has become more of a sponsored ad bulletin board? Is it a place for the voiceless to espouse political doctrine? Is it a place to promote unabashedly? Is it a place to put publicity into ones otherwise closeted past time? Is it a place to “troll” other’s opinions and activities for discovery in place of a phone call and meaningful relationship?

Although the platform continues to appeal to my curiosity and sincere interest in other’s lives as well as a place to share my blog and thoughts, I do marvel at its plasticity. I’m amused at how polite people can be in public but obnoxious and rude when on line. I’m perplexed by the degree of engagement by some in the context of actually making a living. I’m grateful for its convenience in connecting to relatives at physical distance. I’m exasperated by the vanity expressed by some.

There’s no question in my mind that “social media” has had negative consequences for the sociability of mankind. Net negative? Hmm. Reminds me of a story to share.

This past Wednesday, I headed down to McHugh House to take in some live music and witness first hand roots of the local music scene. To my disappointment, the band played excessively loud for the small venue and if one wasn’t equipped with ear filters (I was prepared), the discomfort would be intolerable. The most intriguing aspect of the performance was how transfixed these young people were to embracing the act instead of embracing each other. This was not an auditorium environment. It was actually a restored heritage home. As expected, on arrival prior to the opening number, folks stood silent with heads bowed over their phones.  I made it through one set and recall one relatively decent tune by this band called “Heavydive”.

Respectfulchild Plays Studio Bell

Harmonics, loops, original licks all layered in front of your eyes by this native Canadian lass demonstrating solo mastery over her violin. She’s taken pedals typical of the electrical guitar and applied them to this exquisite instrument.  She starts quietly by laying down a beat and then amplifies. The groove takes hold and she moves into a bass line all the while calculating the best portrayal of her unique style with the pentatonic follow on.  The mood is thick with anticipation. The venue is fitting for the swings in sonic amplitude. You’re with her as she carries you. I’m somewhere else ‘cause I saw her last year and I have her CD.  Friday night at the Performance Hall.