October 2016 Update

I just wanted to drop a note as an update to my newsletter from Sept 26th….the springs continue to tighten.

As we approach the Nov 8th U.S. elections, there are several other important “weather systems” converging and which, taken collectively, we believe could trigger some short-term equity market volatility.

The three most significant systems are:

1) the sabre-rattling between the U.S. and Russia in Syria, with the potential of war contagion; both of these nuclear powers are benefitting from the promotion of an external enemy to distract from domestic challenges. Yesterday, Russia urgently recommended that Russian students abroad return home as soon as possible;

2) instability in the Eurozone banks orbiting around Deutsche Bank, stagnant GDP, an immigration crisis that is overwhelming their already stretched welfare systems, and the uncertainties created by a departing U.K and federal elections in France and Germany…and a potential Italian catalyst, and

3) desperation and frustration in Japan stemming from the futility of over 26 years of ineffective monetary and fiscal policy, choking Debt:GDP and an aging population.

We’re in ongoing contact with our Portfolio Managers as part of normal operations, and I’m happy to report that our managers already shared these concerns and had been taking defensive actions within client portfolios as a result of their own internal risk management processes. They have some dry powder after harvesting recent gains, and are patiently awaiting key support levels to get fully long again. If these support levels don’t hold, portfolios can be quickly de-risked even further.

Given how they handled the early 2016 market volatility and the post-Brexit “market zigzag” I am very comfortable with their positioning. With the added benefit of Martin Armstrong’s Socrates(TM) system to provide confirmation, I’m sleeping soundly knowing our Portfolio Managers are vigilant and pro-active, but there will be some short-term volatility that it would be wise to simply tolerate.

Over the summer, we worked on refreshing our website to coincide with beginning to provide editorial content to Michael Campbell’s Money Talks blog. I’ll be posting these articles on our new homepage, including an audio recording of my live radio interview with Mike on Saturday October 15th around 9:53 am Mountain time.

Over the last several years, both long-time and more recent clients have been discussing issues in a few key areas. Many people are starting to see global tensions rise and chatting within their social circles about the potential financial fall-out, and numerous clients started asking us how we’re prepared to deal with these rising risks. To that end, I created this special video to explain what we do and how we do it.

Patience, discipline and compassion are accretive to your wealth, health and happiness – so focus on these.

Andrew H. Ruhland, CFP, CIM
Founder, Integrated Wealth Management Inc.

From the Crow’s Nest – September 2016 Edition

Welcome to Views from the Crowsnest. Surprisingly little has been happening in broad equity markets in North America since my previous missive in July. That is noteworthy, per se. In several ways, this feels like the calm before the storm, so we’d better enjoy it while it lasts.

The same cannot be said for the political landscape in Europe and the U.S., where everything seems to be pushing further and further, reaching hitherto “impossible” levels of bizarreness, bloodiness, and willful blindness – believe me!

Leading up to the Brexit vote, the establishment warned the great unwashed (that’s us) that a “Leave” vote would bring about the destruction of the UK economy. While our managers were vigilantly on their screens in the aftermath of the historic “Leave” decision, and were able to take rapid defensive measures, they quickly had to shift gears as markets declined sharply for under three trading days, then reversed quickly. Predicted doom and gloom turned out to be a tempest in a proper teapot. Bloody hell, those Oxford & Eaton chaps were wrong – possibly a first for many of them!

The absence of a meaningful downward summer swoon in stocks has been a welcome relief from the usual seasonal patterns, but has many folks wondering when we’re due for a pullback or even a correction. Concerns about this are NOT irrational, given the market valuations, the state of the global economy, etc. The longer we go since the last notable downward move in equities (January and February 2016), the more likely the next air-pocket comes along sooner.

From our vantage point high in the Crowsnest, we certainly see a gathering storm, but it’s mostly behind us rather than blocking our planned journey. The developing storm is primarily in the government bond markets, which our clients have had very little exposure to, except for a smattering of very short duration positions. Avoiding major capital destruction in the “safe” long-term government bond markets is a critical part of our forward-looking investment thesis.

The waters ahead show some “moderate swells” in the near term, followed by smoother waters and strong tailwinds. Our managers are mindful of the potential for a sharp drop in stocks over the coming weeks, and are prepared with their defensive measures should the realized volatility be greater than the anticipated volatility. Marty’s Socrates system is already extremely helpful; as of this writing, major indices have not violated any major support or upward trend channels…but we continue to watch carefully.

In investing, there are periods of volatility that simply need to be tolerated as part of generating a better return than a GIC, and there are periods when it makes sense to take significant defensive actions so that your ship doesn’t get swamped. Discernment between these two types of volatility is one of the most important “intangible” qualities of great portfolio managers. Patience and discipline are a big part of the value that our team of money managers provide.

We’ve been delighted with their judgement so far, and they’re not resting on their laurels, either: 3 of our Portfolio Managers have been learning on the Socrates Preview for several months, and are committed to acquisition and utilization of the full version of Martin Armstrong’s Socrates system, which is expected to go live by mid-October 2016. One of our managers (so far) has also committed to attending the next World Economic Conference in Orlando with me. We’re looking forward to the insights at the Institutional and Technical Analysis conferences on November 10 and 11.

In Continental Europe, markets are not quite so rosy. While broader equity markets are about flat since the Brexit vote, their banking sector is still lower, with German mega-bank Deutsche Bank (DB) plummeting to fresh new lows today – down over 30% since the Brexit vote, and down over 60% in the last 12 months.

With a U.S. style bail-out apparently not forthcoming from embattled Angela Merkel’s very unpopular government, I cannot help but wonder if DB will be the Lehman Brothers event for Europe. Their entire banking system is too fragile to withstand its largest player getting into real trouble. A crumbling European financial industry would likely accelerate the flight of capital from Europe to the U.S. and (possibly and ironically) the U.K. as well…and we’re ready for it.

Earlier I mentioned bizarreness, bloodiness and willful blindness. First things first: the bizarre and surreal U.S. Presidential Elections, with the much anticipated first debate set to kick off tonight…complete with marching bands and pep rallies at Hofstra University. Be on the look-out for baseball players eating apple pie with their moms.

The nonsense, deception, prevarication and re-direction coming out of both campaigns, combined with the constant on-air spin, half-truths (on a good day), and bombast are a recipe for headaches and nausea – literally. The threads of credibility previously attributed to mainstream media have been shorn. There’s not even a pretense of objectivity or fairness from the networks, major cable news channels, mainstream print or Facebook.

Despite these major headwinds, the unthinkable is happening: Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are essentially in a dead heat, with Trump currently enjoying the all-important momentum, with a path to 270 Electoral College votes starting to take shape in the very early dawn. Who knows what sunrise will bring?

I stand by my previous published comments in respect of the winner being the candidate whom the majority of US voters fear and hate the least. Whoever wins, one thing is certain: America loses. I don’t relish the dilemma of American voters, charged with the unenviable responsible of picking the flavor of their poison pill. Is it any wonder that confidence in government is in free-fall? If I had to choose the flavor, it would be orange…similar to the hue of Mr. Trump’s spray tan.

The bloodiness is much more distressing. Europe is being overwhelmed by wave after wave of small-scale violent attacks including rape, beheadings, shootings, machete attacks, arson and rock-throwing. Mysteriously, the vast majority of these attacks are perpetrated by young to middle age men who are “new to the area.” Victims are being targeted for such horrible behavior as being young and female, wearing shorts in public, practicing their religion inside churches, and now for being blonde in Sweden.

The willful blindness amongst the mainstream media, the PC academic-classes, pandering politicians and Social Justice Warriors who troll social media (apparently full-time) defies belief. It’s even in the European court system. Specifically in respect of the media, to deliberately avoid reporting of material facts related to the motivations of these jihadists is to play into the hands of the perpetrators.

Being a truth-teller is not racist, xenophobic, bigoted, or Islamophobic. It’s unpleasant, unpopular, and impolite (to some) but it’s also very necessary. I don’t know how much good my mentioning this issue will actually do, but I know for certain that evil prevails where good people do – and say -nothing.

How do we start a reasonable conversation (see video at the BOTTOM of this link) here in western Canada focused on solutions, so we can preserve our safety and security, freedom of speech and our social fabric? As a father of four daughters and uncle of many more, including 3 members of the LGBT community, I am profoundly concerned. Are we going to wait until the violence reaches Europe’s level before this becomes an honest mainstream area of discussion? Ignoring this reality has deadly consequences. I’m writing this calmly, but I feel like yelling.

And then when we look south at the escalating violence, it’s so very easy to become discouraged and frightened. The frequency of violent deaths in the U.S. is highlighting the deep rifts in their society, pitting economically-desperate communities against themselves and against law enforcement when inevitable situations arise.

Again the mainstream media fails to address the core issues, preferring the circus of hysterical commentators and graphic video. It’s pretty obvious that a great many of these violent outbursts end up being the government against the citizens…with both sides being heavily armed and trigger happy. With recent civil unrest, it’s pretty easy to envision a full-on break-down of their fragile social order. Again, it may not make any difference, but we can’t all remain silent and simply hope the trends will change.

Given all that is happening in the world politically, economically, and socially, our team is extremely grateful for the great team of Fiduciary Portfolio Managers we have working for our Clients. Between their patience and discipline and the new tools like Socrates that are becoming available, we are quietly confident that we are on the right path to protect and grow our Clients’ financial wealth.

Patience, discipline and compassion are accretive to your wealth, health and happiness – so focus on these.

Andrew H. Ruhland, CFP, CIM
Founder, Integrated Wealth Management Inc.

From the Crow’s Nest – July 2016 Edition

Welcome to the July 2016 edition of Views from the Crowsnest.

So much has happened since my previous newsletter and June 24th post-Brexit message that I’m going to get straight to business.

Ignoring economic realities and financial market movements and getting caught in the adolescent drama of mainstream media’s obsession with modern politics produces only negative results, including but not limited to the following: frustration, outrage, feelings of powerlessness, and a re-direction of time and energy that is more productively deployed in matters where we can make a difference for those we serve professionally.

Brexit was just the start of the Age of Consequences: a global economic daisy chain overshadowed by a shrill political farce. This is the reality of our current public discourse, at least in the mainstream media: Crisis du Jour + Hillary & Donald + Entertainment “News” = Squirrel!

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From the Crow’s Nest – April 2014 Edition


Welcome to the April 2014 edition of Views from the Crows Nest. A lot has transpired in the interval since our 2014 Annual Forecast Issue, and it appears that market action is now heating up again. Are you prepared to dance to “The European Shuffle?”

The last six months have been extraordinarily busy for our firm, with a focus on transitioning clients to the Portfolio Managers that we approved and hired in late 2013. While making major changes of any kind is never easy, early success (solid investment performance) following the transition has confirmed the prudence of our decision to hire new investment partners. I like it when the first steps taken together are in a positive direction.

It’s really quite remarkable how easily one can discern lower stress in hindsight. The proverbial frog that boils to death in a slowly warming pot cannot adequately perceive its own peril simply because the change is gradual, not unlike Jim Dines’ laser-focused expression, “Those inside the bubble cannot see the bubble.” Thank goodness for those who care enough to pop our own bubble when they see what we cannot or will not perceive.

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2014 Annual “Forecast”


Welcome to the 2014 Annual “Forecast” edition of Views from the Crows Nest. One of the many challenges with publishing a document that is intended to cover a one year period is that so much can change in a year.

Another challenge is choosing a theme, especially now when my creative faculties are wide open to receiving wisdom from countless sources. It’s not always this easy, so I’m deeply grateful when I am blessed with an almost embarrassing abundance of ideas, opportunities and new connections.

The most obvious challenge, though, is getting the actual forecasts themselves accurate enough to actually be useful and helpful to readers. The reality is that high-quality forecasts and advice are only as useful as they are timely, so forecasts that are too broad can actually be counter-productive.

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Views from the Crows Nest: December 2013 Issue

Welcome to this edition of Views from the Crowsnest. It’s been many months since I sat down to peck out my newsletter. We’ve been busy with important AND time-sensitive matters, as our Client Families always come first. It’s good to be back.

My wife and I love to watch comedy as we relax before bed, and one of my favorite stand-up routines from the Montreal Comedy Festival is a rant from a humorist whose character is a bombastic pub owner from GREAT BRITAIN! In answer to the question about why Brits and Canadians don’t have their own dream, like our neighbours with “The American Dream,” he answers quite poignantly, “It’s because we’re awake.”

The Renaissance Era in western civilization took place following many centuries of tight control of the scientific, creative and philosophical communities by the Catholic Church. The severity of this centralized control was a significant factor in the scope and force of the eventual bursting of the shackles…not unlike compressing a spring that cannot be permanently constrained.
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Views from the Crows Nest: July 2013 Issue

Welcome to the July edition of Views from the Crows Nest.

Calgary summers are short, and so this edition will be, too.

Too much of almost anything is bad for us, including essential elements of a healthy lifestyle. Food, drink, sunshine, and exercise in moderation are excellent, but in excess they can be destructive.

The same holds true of information consumption. In respect of our investment portfolio, the mainstream financial industry would have us believe that more information is always better. The typical hooks that broader media use include: conflict (very polarized market opinions), celebrity (what the richest and famous Wall Street types are saying), fear of missing out on gains (greed), and fear of losing capital (this is the big hot-button).

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Views from the Crows Nest: June 2013 Issue

Welcome to the June edition of Views from the Crows Nest.

There are certain times – like now – when investment markets appear to be in a state of “suspended animation.” And it’s extreme times like these when the disconnection of markets from common sense, logic and rational valuation puts our Patience and Discipline to the test in an almost overwhelming way. Rest assured, a major tipping point is coming soon, perhaps even before the next edition of this newsletter.

Since the equity markets hit their crisis bottom in early March 2009, many investors have been waiting for the second half of the global debt hurricane to hit. This bias, based on then-recent experience, makes it difficult for many to ride an uptrend with patience…after having been burned significantly by market declines that mainstream “experts” said were simply not possible. It’s also incredibly difficult to forget the emotional and financial pain caused by the 2008-9 financial crises.

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Views from the Crows Nest: May 2013 Issue

Welcome to the May 2013 Views from the Crowsnest.

The great gold trader Jessie Livermore is credited with saying “The biggest profits are in your patience.” This wisdom rings true whether you are still invested in US equities which continue to rise seemingly incessantly, or you are waiting to play the downside in equity markets.

And if you’ve already exited most or all of the equity positions in your portfolio, you may find yourself feeling rather impatient while waiting for the current market euphoria to end. Patience, indeed.

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Views from the Crows Nest: April 2013 Issue

The interval since my last Views from the Crows Nest

has been longer than usual. When one is faced with a family member in a health crisis, financial markets don’t graciously pause while we deal with these priorities. Thus we still need to attend to markets with a calm focus, which left no time for writing.

After a surreal and determined rise in the face of ever-growing fundamental risks, broad U.S. equity markets appear to be nearing the end of seasonal strength. Defensive measures will be taken for any current stock-based positions once the markets confirm the upward trend has been broken. In the meantime, there may be some more upside left to capture. Market tension is high but that doesn’t  preclude a continued rise of prices for a week or two. Eventually we’ll get to that tipping point when bad news begins to get priced in again.

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