Showing posts from May, 2005

Even Saddam was holding US Dollars

when they found him in his hole. As George Gilder points out recently, Soros and Buffet would have had him convert to Euro.

Bottom line is that the panic over foreigners holding US financial assets is overblown and misunderstood. There are many reasons to like US $ and, for the record, Buffet is going to loose money on his short USD position (unless he is really smart and covered it recently).

Some other useful numbers from David Malpas, chief economist at Bear Stearns. During 2004 US households added 590 Billion of financial assets. Against that, the total stock of credit card debt is 800 Billion. On a per capita basis Americans hold $89,900 each of financial assets which is more than the Japanese, the biggest savers in the world, with $76,900 per capita.

Only in B.C. #1

This is the first in what will be a series of posts about issues that come up in B.C. that to anyone who is not familiar with this part of the world might seem as if they are from another planet.

Today it is about the unions, which in B.C. have managed to enforce even a particular special terminology over the discourse. A "strike" is not that, it is a "job action" or a "work action". How about a "non-work action"?

Recently, there were ads running on the radio in which the union representing workers at Telus, the local phone company, was urging Telus customers to call and cancel value added services such as call waiting and call display in a show of support for the workers. The workers of the company telling customers to diminish revenue of the company and nobody finds that odd?

Even more recently, the issue of a possible teachers strike has emerged. The issue is that the current provincial government wants education to be considered an "essent…

Economists don't know margins

For some time it has been bothering me that when I look around there is a lot of prosperity but if you read the newspapers, it's all just a house of cards - all about to come down when the "kindness of strangers" has run its course. What I was seeing was not what those people who write about "twin deficits" were describing.

So finally, at long last, I came across somebody else who believes in "follow the money" - Andy Kessler whose book "Running Money" I have just finished. Although many of the things he writes in his conclusions I've had in my head for a while, I have certainly not been able to come up with as simple and self-evident examples of why the economists don't really get it.

The fundamental problem is that economists don't know (or don't care) about profits. As a consequence, they don't look at relative numbers such as a profit margin and instead look only at the absolute numbers such as imports and exports. The…

There will be a "nuclear event"

There is absolutely no question that in the next 3 - 5 years there is going to be a "nuclear event" of unspeakable horror. I don't know if it will be North Korea or Iran or perhaps even India and Pakistan getting off track in their recent warming of relations.

The thing is, your regular North American, European and in particular Canadian citizen is totally incapable of contemplating such an event. Much like 9/11, it will be something that forever changes the way people think of the world but unlike 9/11 it is much more predictable. People are simply not paying attention and have the usual "people are inherently good bias". Most people are completely unable to fathom the way a leader like Kim Jong Il thinks.

If there is a silver lining to it, it is that once it happens, the pre-emptive action against any such country will be much more morally acceptable. A pre-emptive strike against North Korea, which has demonstrated in every way a country can demonstrate that it…