Views from the Crowsnest, September 2018

In this issue: adapting to today’s faster pace, Trump, Trudeau, voices of reason, keeping our eye on the financial ball, Socrates update, and Straight Talk for Retirement Success workshops.

Trigger warning: this newsletter contains sharp criticisms and politically incorrect opinion. The truth hurts when it ought to.

Adapting to today’s frenzied pace is challenging, lest we also become frenetic. The gap since my last full Views from the Crowsnest newsletter is the longest ever, as I’ve struggled with finding a balance. The inputs have been almost all positive (presenting workshops in 5 cities, improving nutrition & exercise habits, a little R & R, welcoming numerous new clients to our firm, walking my eldest daughter down the aisle, preparing for our fall workshops, etc.) but there’s been little time left to cobble together this missive.

I’ve also been struggling mightily with how to select, filter, decipher and integrate the “outrage tsunami” that is today’s news cycle. The vitriol in today’s media is profoundly disheartening, especially if you welcome vigorous and intellectually-honest debate of important issues. I’m deeply disturbed that the Left has degraded to the point where the typical response to an argument or person they find “problematic” is yelling, smearing, lying, de-platforming, and Twitter-mobbing. And some on the right go down there, too.

What ever happened to dismantling an erroneous argument with facts? This You Tube video is a great summary of why so many “classical liberals” have left the Left in favour of being part of the reasonable conservative center. Dennis Prager does an excellent job of distinguishing between the Left and liberals in this short video.

As someone with a lot to say about current events, one of the “outlets” I’ve adopted is posting frequently on LinkedIn, as well as starting a Facebook page for IWM. We’ll see how long it takes for me to get banned by Mark Zuckerberg for posting real news stories. I don’t wear gloves for these platforms, and take incredible pleasure in relentlessly pointing out the absurdity of the mainstream media narrative and their favored characters. I invite you to find and connect with us and FOLLOW me on LinkedIn (Andrew Ruhland) and Facebook (Integrated Wealth Management).

Twitter is too fast-paced, mean-spirited and left-leaning for me to even bother. Bare knuckle fighting is one thing, but fighting fairly isn’t the culture of Twitter… they’re more brass knuckles, bike locks and garrottes. I wonder how quickly Twitter would crumble if Trump found an alternative? Perhaps Peter Thiel might consider building a platform to rival Twitter, YouTube and Facebook?

Speaking of Trump, since everyone is doing so ALL THE TIME, he has become THE obsession of the Left. When people ask me if I’m pro-Trump or anti-Trump, my answer is “yes.” I hate false choices. Let’s face it, Trump does and says many VERY stupid things. Chief amongst the stupid things is his tariffs and trade war baiting. Politicians always think of tariffs in terms of jobs saved or created while ignoring the cost for consumers; after all, tariffs are collected by governments and paid for by consumers through higher prices. This is clearly Trump throwing red meat to blue collar voters in the rust belt swing states (Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin). Imposing tariffs is one campaign promise that Trump should NOT have followed through on.

Trump also does and says some VERY smart things, though every media outlet left of Fox News refuses to admit anything positive. Trump is “such an idiot” that he has managed to reduce the Unemployment Rate (3.9%) below their GDP Growth Rate (4%). With “idiots” like this in the White House, who needs fancy geniuses peddling ineffective policies? Could Obama maybe coach Trump on how to charismatically deliver an extremely well-written epic speech? I suggest you read it and think of someone else delivering it eloquently and skillfully.

Trump is really a centrist with blue-collar populist appeal, and the mainstream media hates the fact that he dominates almost every news cycle, so they have to talk about him…which makes them hate Trump even more. It’s kind of pathetic, actually. And it’s endlessly funny, but dangerous.

Trump dominates the center on most matters, and CNN – which used to be only slightly left-of-center – continues to crumble; MSNBC is picking up former CNN viewers who want a hard-core leftist filter on everything, and Fox News is growing faster than MSNBC. They ALL have their biases, and what irritates me is that you have to invest additional time to hear both sides of any particular issue and try to piece together a fact-based conclusion.

Given that roughly 70% of people get most of their news from Facebook, public perceptions are being aggressively pushed FAR left. Starting at age 6 all the way through Graduate Studies, students are being taught that socialism is good, that gender is a “social construct,” and your group identity is the most important thing about any person, we have “Trouble in River City.” This short video is excellent!

It will take time to reverse the decades of brainwashing, but it absolutely must be done. The continued stability – nay existence – of our prosperous, free, liberal, open western capitalist culture is at stake. That’s not hyperbolic, but it is scary, so we need to be practical, intelligent, articulate, and absolutely resolute in this ideological battle. The battle is to maintain an open conversation between the reasonable left and the reasonable right in pursuit of a certain homeostasis that I’ll call “The Reasonable Center.”

I’ve long been fascinated by the outrage culture of mainstream media and about 18 months ago started devoting some of my personal learning time to understanding this phenomenon. I’ve explored the works of many credible commentators, pundits, academics and philosophers. Here’s the Executive Summary: the tendency for those on the left – personality wise – is to be more expressive about their political views (conservatives tend toward practicality), to experience a much wider range of feelings (emotional lability) versus those on the right; and to prioritize group identity over individuality, whereas those on the right prioritize personal responsibility and the sovereignty of the individual. When conservatives see unequal treatment they want to stop it; those on the left wasn’t to reverse unequal treatment, which is the basis of their obsession with identity politics.

Those on the Left also tend to be easier to “trigger,” which I candidly admit is extremely fun to watch; it’s a hell of a lot funnier than almost every “comedian” out there. Trump does this every single time he Tweets. For those with time, this video is an excellent explanation.

Meanwhile, back here in Canada, we are seeing the catastrophic results of our electoral choices. “Rachel-come-lately” Notley and her merry band of adolescent socialists have worsened Alberta and Saskatchewan’s economic reality. They didn’t cause the plummeting oil prices that precipitated our current situation, but they’ve managed to make it MUCH worse by several orders of magnitude. They’ve hired massive numbers of provincial employees to shore up their union support…exceptionally stupid fiscal policy when Alberta is hurting so badly.

Only recently has the Premier’s office started acting like leaders who support those who fund government-delivered services. Prior to the UCP formation with the media-savvy Jason Kenney at the helm, the NDP bad-mouthed our core industry, demonized those who dare to disagree, and passively aided and abetted the B.C. enviro-radicals and their political pawns “running” the federal government. The NDP’s desperation is now on full display as they launch attacks on Kenney and the UCP related to all things “LGBTQIA…” Hopefully, Kenney is wise enough to NOT get baited by the Left on this one. The CBC cannot feature enough stories painting the UCP as homophobic, sexist, racist, transphobic, etc.

This brings us to Justin Trudeau. Argghh! Let me pause, catch my breath and distill what I think of him into a few words: embarrassing, narcissistic, intellectually shallow, immature, completely out of touch with reality, brainwashed (identity politics and socialism), and yet extremely “well managed” by his closest handlers, Gerald Butts primarily. Justin Trudeau makes me look back fondly on the bumbling Jean Chretien. At least we had Paul Martin running Finance.

For more revelations on Mr. Trudeau, please add me to your LinkedIn network (and FOLLOW me) or join our Facebook page. And then share our posts liberally, NOT Liberally. Trudeau has the CBC, Global, CTV, the Globe & Mail and the Toronto Star on his side…let’s get social media working for clear-headed governance!

Our Peter Pan Prime Minister and his team have awakened to the fact that they’ve mismanaged every portfolio under their control. In a curious but shrewd pivot, it looks like they’ve decided to wage their next campaign against Donald Trump, since so many Canadians hate Trump – and not many people know who Andrew Scheer is anyway…literally.

The federal Conservatives are raising lots of money, and starting some early campaign ads during sporting events. Hopefully some of their money will be used to help Mr. Scheer grow a spine before the writ is dropped. Canada is ready for someone who isn’t obsessed with every camera, someone with intellectual substance, and maybe a practical economic plan…as distinct from “budgets that balance themselves,” a series of obsessions with plastic straws and other red herrings, divisive identity politics gamesmanship, and just letting our “gender-balanced” economy “grow from the heart outwards.” The grown-ups in other countries openly mock our current Prime Minister, but their politically correct fancy people humour him by letting him sit at the adult table. Scroll down below the video of Trump’s UN speech

All of this acerbic pre-amble is actually relevant to your financial wellbeing, so hopefully you’re still reading. I don’t care if you hate Trump and love Trudeau, Notley and John “Horrible Horgan.” The fact is that you can ignore economics as much as you like, but economics won’t ignore you. The reality is that Trump’s fiscal and economic policies have strengthened the already stable US economy and their equity markets reflect that. Canada has terribly misguided political leadership and our country is living with the consequences of our leadership.

Europe is in turmoil from Brexit (or not) and facing the very real possibility of the end of the European (utopian) project: Italy, Hungary, Sweden, Czech Republic and Poland are all extremely unhappy with being forced to accept Merkel’s open borders policies. I’ll take the economic and geo-political substance of the inarticulate, bumbling and unfiltered Donald Trump over the clowns we have in power in Alberta, B.C. and Ottawa…8 days out of 7.

My primary near-term concerns are based on trade wars and the US mid-term elections, with the media in full-blown hysteria over anything and anyone that Trump has done or recommended. Have the Democrats leaned too far over their skis, thus awakening the Republican voters who could stop the flip of the House and Senate to the Democrats? Only time will tell.

Our job is to keep our eyes on the “financial ball” amidst all the chaos. And to be logical, patient, disciplined, wise, prudent and effective. We’re staying focused on what’s working and avoiding what’s not. It’s boring an effective. We bring order within the chaos, and we’re extremely good at it. I’d venture to say we’re radically competent; not perfect, but radically competent. And I’m much nicer in person, or at least I should be.

So, what exactly are you doing to protect your family’s nest egg from catastrophic loss in the next financial crisis (whenever that happens) and to grow your portfolio in the interim? It’s best to prepare well in advance…kind of like building a solid structure to store the annual harvest from the coming winter. I love teaching workshops, so I’m thrilled to get back in front of classrooms of great savers, business owners and professionals over age 50 in Calgary, Red Deer and Edmonton. We’re calling these workshops “Straight Talk for Retirement Success.” Through this newsletter, we’re giving all our subscribers an opportunity for early registration for these free 2-hour workshops BEFORE my next interview with Mike Campbell on Saturday Sept 29th starting between 9:52 and 9:55 am on Money Talks. Click here for more information and to register.

Oh yes, and we’re still waiting for the release of Socrates from Armstrong Economics. We’re ready at our end, and I’ll share more details during our upcoming workshops.

These are the voices of reasons that keep me sane: my wife, Martin Armstrong, Michael Campbell, Jordan Peterson, Jonathan Haidt, Dave Rubin, Dennis Prager, Thomas Sowell, Larry Elder, Christina Hoff-Somers, Heather MacDonald, Douglas Murray, Bill Whittle, Rex Murphy, Lorne Gunter, Anthony Furey, Candice Malcolm, Mark Milke, Joe Warmington, Laurie Goldstein, Tucker Carlson, Newshub Nation, and Brian Lilley. My guilty pleasures: Andrew Klavan, Ben Shapiro, Steven Crowder, Paul Joseph Watson, and Mark Steyn.

Patience and Discipline are accretive to your wealth, health and happiness so focus on these.

Cheers,
Andrew Henry Ruhland, CFP, CIM
Founder, Integrated Wealth Management Inc.

Object Lessons in Mass Psychology and Discipline

Humans are hard-wired for connection, and as such our very nature pre-disposes us to investment failure, because most people want to be part of the “In” crowd. That’s quite a mouthful, and an ominous one at that. Our current U.S. equity market environment provides object lessons in both mass psychology and discipline.

As I write on the morning of March 2nd it’s noteworthy that yesterday saw $8.2 billion go into SPY, the largest ETF on the S&P 500. That’s the biggest single daily inflow since December 2014 and the second largest in six years. Contrast that with recent reports from major institutional investment houses that state they’re either not increasing equity exposure, or they’re planning to actively decrease equity exposure in portfolios.

Since every trade has a buyer and a seller, there was also $8.2 billion worth of trades yesterday wherein “someone” is getting out. The only possible conclusion one can arrive at is that Institutional Investors are selling their positions to Retail Investors. Market tops are often referred to as those times when investments transfer from strong hands (Institutional, “Smart Money” investors) back to weak hands (Retail, Dumb Money” investors), and that’s what this smells like.

So, are you more comfortable investing with the masses – “hard-wired for connection with the crowd” – or are you content being a patient and disciplined contrarian whose investing behavior mimics or follows the smart, patient and behaviours of Institutional Investors? This is the object lesson in mass psychology: are you part of the “smart” money or the “dumb” money?

The stronger the mass opinion that “everything is positive and rosy,” the more likely we’re close to an interim top…one can almost smell the desperation of the recent buyers whose Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) has over-taken their Fear of Loss of Capital (FLOC), or perhaps their bias against Donald Trump. As Michael Campbell and others has recently warned, mixing your political opinions with your investment decisions is a recipe for disaster.

So, was yesterday’s retail buying panic driven by frustrated Democrats who had previously believed that the markets had to crumble because Donald Trump is (in their eyes) “the source of all evils soon to be perpetrated on America”…and whose February 28th address to a Joint Session of Congress was widely hailed (by 75% or more of viewers) as positive, strong, clear and, yes, even somewhat Presidential? Was yesterday the hard evidence of shy retail investors throwing in the towel, and proclaiming “Just get me into this market before it gets away?”

While I don’t believe this is a major market top that starts a major meltdown, history shows that buying frenzies like we saw on Wednesday March 1st usually immediately precede pull-backs. Only time will tell if history is once again our best guide…but that’s where our Clients’ (and my family’s) money is positioned. It’s boring, and relentlessly effective. If we get a dip in markets, remaining cash will get deployed, so we’d be completely okay with a sharp little pullback. It would be the pause that refreshes “The Bull”, whose lot in life is to always slowly climb the wall of worry created by the masses.

This begs a second important question for readers: do you have a clearly articulated Investment Policy Statement (IPS) that defines the framework for your portfolio? Is your minimum and maximum exposure to cash, fixed income, stocks, precious metals and alternatives clearly laid out as a guide for investment decisions? If you don’t have an IPS, why don’t you? If you do have an IPS, is it being followed by your investment professional or you – if you’re self-managing? This is the object lesson in Discipline…are you following a smart framework?

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

Cheers,

Andrew Ruhland, CFP, CIM

Founder, www.integratedwealthmanagement.ca

Calgary Cares: Healing with Compassion

Greetings!

Today, we remain a community in mourning. Calgary is well known for its clear running water; right now that includes the tears being shed in countless homes, offices, and classrooms. Water in all forms can cleanse and heal…if we allow it to by literally going with the flow, instead of resisting.

When a senseless tragedy like the murder of young people happens at the hands of a peer, with a motive yet unknown, it shakes all of us to the core. The closer we are to the victims or the accused, the more acute and profound the pain and grieving becomes. As time passes, many of us are learning just how close we were to being directly and intimately affected by the pain of one very frightened young man; this includes my family.

About a year ago, the Boston Marathon bombing happened. The motto that emerged, “Boston Strong,” expresses the civic resiliency and unity that emerged from their galvanizing tragedy. I’ve seen a few “Calgary Strong” bumper stickers since our epic floods in the summer of 2013, but the Calgary Stampede’s spontaneous adoption of the brilliant “Hell or High Water” motto captured our hearts as THE expression of our own community spirit, teamwork and dedication…quite literally defiance in the wake of widespread destruction.

[Read more…]

2014 Annual “Forecast”

Greetings!

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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Party with a Purpose

Integrated Life Management

Have you ever been in a situation where everything you’ve dreamed about just “flows” and wish you could repeat this at will?

Have you ever wanted to connect with a dynamic, diverse tribe of other intelligent professionals and practitioners who “get it” and can enrich your life?

Have you ever wished for a simple, low-cost, effective solution to attracting only ideal clients to your business…and that this could actually be fun?

Have you ever imagined that your business and personal lives could both be in complete alignment with the authentic you, with no B.S. or pretense?

Are you open-minded, collaborative and willing to give and receive wisdom, joy and abundance, so you can share it with your inner circle?

If you answered “Yes” to one or more of these questions, then we request the pleasure of your company at a lively, meaningful and exceptionally productive get-together early in 2014. You may also bring one other person who fits the criteria above, and first priority will be given to direct recipients of this note.

I’ll send a reminder with more info before 2014, and then you can ask your big questions at the party…there’s a very good chance you’ll love the answers

Friday January 10, 2014 7:00 to 9:00 PM
At Self Connection Books 4611 Bowness Road NW
(Next door to NOtaBLE Restaurant)

Please RSVP as soon as possible to
Lisa@integratedwealthmanagement.ca

Can we finally start learning and changing from Remembrance Day?

Remembrance Day is always highly emotional for me, increasingly so as I mature, reflect back on my youth and gain new perspective from these memories. So here is my question for readers: Can we finally start learning and changing from Remembrance Day? Yes.

Before anyone tunes out because they think this article is unsupportive of our Canadian Armed Forces, let me first share with you exactly where I’m coming from.

My parents were born in 1927 and 1934 in small‐town Holland, each part of large Catholic families whose fathers were skilled craftsmen. My grandparents had dignity, made enough to support their families, and wanted exactly what most parents want today: to help their children grow up healthy, strong and responsible with the best of what each parent and their community had to offer.
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Our new blog has launched

Our new blog has launched. Stay tuned for news from Integrated Wealth Management.