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December 2008

December 16, 2021

Banking on you and me

by Deirdre McMurdy, Sympatico / MSN Finance

Go figure.

Brokerage profits are expected to be off about 31 per cent (or $1.5 billion) for the first nine months of this year, hitting the apparently shocking levels last seen only in 1998 - a paltry $3.37 billion. This dreadful state of affairs has jolted chartered banks - all of which have been greatly enriched by both their brokerage and investment banking arms - into re-focusing on a long-neglected part of their business: you and me.

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Load up on stocks when you're young

by Gordon Powers, Sympatico / MSN Finance

Those starting to save for retirement are often told to start out with most of their money in stocks, then wind down into a more balanced portfolio as they leave the work force.

But that’s way too tame a strategy, suggests Yale professor Ian Ayres.  Not only should you have all of your money in stocks when you’re young but your total exposure should likely be closer to 200%, he argues.

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December 15, 2021

The year of living precariously

by Deirdre McMurdy, Sympatico / MSN Finance

Interesting piece in this morning's Globe and Mail about a Canadian executive who is being hassled at the border about his frequent trips to upper New York state. Seems U.S. officials suspect that in his work to salvage a small, local paper mill, Scott Travers may be taking work away from an American.

It seems preposterous but it is, arguably, evidence that the U.S. is turning sharply inward as the economic crises deepens. Even as President-elect Obama talks about the coming stimulus program he intends to use to revive the domestic it seems increasingly clear that Americans will try to capture every penny of it.

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Solidarity for now if not forever

by Deirdre McMurdy, Sympatico / MSN Finance

The latest from the economic front pretty much confirms what we already know anecdotally: the volume of house sales is way down (almost 10 per cent this November compared with a year ago)- as are prices.

This dramatic drop is a reality check that speaks to the contraction of consumer credit, rising unemployment, consumer confidence and the deflation of what was, in many markets, a speculative and over-heated market.

It's becoming increasingly clear that the "new normal" is a pretty stark place with clear winners and losers.

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December 12, 2021

Who's in net?

by Deirdre McMurdy, Sympatico / MSN Finance

It's a little bit like the lyrics to the current Katy Perry song: You're hot, then you're cold, You're yes then you're no, You're in then you're out, You're up then you're down.

We are referring here to the CRTC and the issue of internet speed for small service providers who buy pipe from large players like Bell, Telus and Rogers.

A few weeks ago, the federal telecom and broadcast regulator said that it would not intervene in allegations that certain companies moved some data at slower speeds than others. It did, however, agree to hold hearings into the regulation of the internet next summer.

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Smart Cookie 101

by Dawn CuthbertsonPigbank_money, Sympatico / MSN Finance

When a friend told me that 2009 was the year she was determined to get a handle on her finances, I sympathized.

I, too, am trying to save more and spend my money more wisely.

At a potluck dinner I hosted at my apartment last night, the same friend asked if I got around to reading The Smart Cookies' Guide to Making More Dough, a book about five young Canadian women who banded together and swapped strategies in an effort to erase their debt and obtain their financial goals. The Smart Cookies have appeared on Oprah, have a television show and released a book. My copy was collecting dusk on my bookshelf.

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Watch out for year-end fund distributions

Investorblog121008 by Gordon Powers, Sympatico / MSN Finance

With the stocks trading at multi year lows, somebody must be thinking of getting back in. But, if you’re going the fund route rather than buying individual stocks, you may want to hold off just a bit longer.

Fund companies will be making their year end distributions over the next couple of weeks. And, if you’re not careful, you could get stung with an unexpected tax bill by buying in too soon.

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The my little pony school of government

by Deirdre McMurdy, Sympatico / MSN Finance

These days it seems that everyone is asking for a pony.

The Canadian auto sector has been clamouring for a multi-billion dollar government bailout to salvage an industry that produces vehicles that no one wanted even before the economy went into a death spiral. And just as it is with kids, the fact that government types haven't actually given them an outright "no," means they're going to keep whining for their pony until they get - if not a pony - a dog.

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December 11, 2021

Personal debt: the elephant in the room

Houseforsale by Deirdre McMurdy, Sympatico / MSN Finance

Ok. So the Bank of Canada has finally come out and said that it looks like there's an elephant in the room. It has a colourful blanket over it and someone has tried to disguise it as a wing chair. But, says the BoC, it seems to be otherwise.

The elephant is record high personal debt among Canadians.

For several months now, all manner of respected and influential people - including the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister - have firmly assured us that Canada's economy is "different"  and that we don't have the same problems or the same exposure to risk in our financial system. It certainly was a familiar refrain during the last election campaign.

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For whom the Bell (BCE) tolls

Bell by Deirdre McMurdy, Sympatico / MSN Finance

So all the uproar over the $52-billion sell-off of BCE was all for nothing. The deal is now officially dead and even before the body is cold, the relatives are fighting over what remains: a $1.2 billion breakup fee.

For anyone who's ever really followed the tortured corporate history of BCE, this latest debacle for shareholders isn't really a big surprise. Although the dividend yield has historically been a selling-point, BCE has always had a disturbing reputation in Canada as the blue-chip safe haven stock, ideal for "widows and orphans."

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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...