From the Crowsnest November 2018

Welcome to the November 2018 edition of Views from the Crowsnest. Despite less than six weeks elapsing since the last edition, a tremendous amount has happened. Markets, politics, and economics have dominated our various screens.

The civility of public discourse has reached new lows, equity markets appear to have established some interim lows, and the noise from the US mid-term elections have reached 150% of tolerable levels. Thank goodness tomorrow is Election Day. Perhaps we can return to some level of normalcy, or am I too optimistic?

Just before every major election, the hysteria reaches deafening levels, and this undoubtedly unsettles those involved in capital markets. While the US economy remains in juggernaut mode, broader US stock valuations were a little stretched – and some sectors, especially big tech, were very optimistically priced.

Canadian stocks were much more reasonably valued prior to the mid-October volatility, yet still declined with US indices. Capital is flowing out of Canada, at least as it relates to major investments in our resource sector, thanks to our exalted political leaders. That’s not a political statement; it’s a summary of current reality.

Pullbacks within uptrends always challenge our fears. As we climb the proverbial wall of worry, stumbles and setbacks are inevitable; they’re also necessary and downright helpful for patient and disciplined investors. Though unsettling, declines like the one we recently experienced allow our portfolio managers to buy back into full positions they had previously trimmed during strength. Sometimes entirely different and better upside opportunities arise, and pullbacks/corrections provide the cover for our calm portfolio managers to buy these companies from panicked sellers. It’s all about temperament.

While we certainly didn’t plan it this way, the timing of our Straight Talk for Retirement Success workshops was serendipitous. The theme was how to bullet-proof your retirement plan in advance of the next financial crisis, and still generate solid returns in the interim. I focused on a series of very specific strategies that help to generate incremental positive returns AND reduce downside market volatility, as well as how to create a contingency plan in advance of the next financial crisis. It was all about how to avoid being the bug on the windshield yet again.

These workshops were very well-attended, and based on numerous requests from our newsletter readers and the MoneyTalks audience, we decided to record the last session here in Calgary.

You can Click here to watch the recording for free.

I encourage you to download/print the self-assessment form and to realistically assess your current strategies versus those I speak to in the workshop. If you’d like to request a confidential review of your current portfolio and retirement plan, simply reply to this email.

You’re also welcome to forward this note onto others who may have been asking you what you’re doing to protect and grow your portfolio. We know that many people are unsettled by the current environment and are looking for practical and realistic solutions, so perhaps our workshop might be helpful for them?

Speaking of unsettling, the current hyper-partisan screeching around the US mid-term elections is almost over. Thank goodness. Will the “Blue Wave” of Democratic dominance actually manifest itself? Earlier in the year, those on the Left were chortling about taking back control of both Houses of Congress. Not much mention of anything positive they might do with that power, curiously enough. They’re sounding much less confident in recent weeks, though.

Today it appears much more likely that the Republicans will hold – perhaps build – their slim Senate majority, and the Democrats look poised to tip the balance in their favour in the House of Representatives. If memory serves me correctly, the Democrats need to pick up 23 more Congressional seats to gain control. This is really only ever about control, i.e. power. It’s the same for both sides.

Many of these “toss-up” seats are within the “normal margin of error” for pre-election polling, so who knows? And who really knows what the true margin of error is for polls anymore? Does the obvious social stigma of voting for Trump (being smeared as racist, misogynist, homophobe, Islama-phobe, bigoted redneck, white nationalist, transphobe, etc.) cause some people to conceal their voting intentions from pollsters?

Given the level of smearing, it wouldn’t shock me if many people would prefer to publicly disassociate from Trump. He’s now seemingly responsible for all political violence in America – at least according to every media outlet left of Fox News, which is to say > 80% of media. Decent people (i.e. most of the population) abhor the ideas that Trump supporters are accused of espousing, so why risk being labelled as one of these “Deplorables?”

The 2016 election of Donald Trump surprised all the mainstream pollsters, and stunned the mainstream media pundits on election night. Did social stigma contribute to the polls being dead wrong? The pain of losing an election that was supposedly easily won was on full display in the weeks afterward. And apparently these are still open wounds for those on the “Loud Left” as evidenced by their vitriol. Losing power when you were already making plans must have been devastating.

Naturally, the folks on the “Loud Right” are matching or exceeding the rhetoric on the Left, generating their own talking points – some accurate and others caustic and/or incendiary – and the vicious circle of partisan politics continues its escalation. Neither party impresses me, despite the fact that I am a small-c “conservatarian.”

In my September newsletter, I mused about whether or not the Democrats had overplayed their hand with the accusations of then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanagh. It felt like a carefully planned last-minute bombshell to both derail the confirmation process itself and to also gain the upper hand in tomorrow’s mid-terms. They failed on the first objective. Jim Dines famously said, “Over-efforting creates countervailing forces,” and that’s what it felt like to me. No one is ever right 100% of the time and only time will tell if my intuition was accurate on this subject. We’ll know shortly.

Whatever the electoral outcomes are, my deepest hope is that we can get back to reasonable conversations about important subjects that require actual solutions. I know that many politicians would rather perpetuate the problems (as galvanizing issues) than find and implement effective solutions. If there are no problems left to solve, then how to attract votes? The current discourse is socially toxic and has become quite literally deadly. Real leadership on this matter is necessary to re-stabilize volatile America. Leadership from everyone involved.

I’m looking forward to attending my fourth World Economic Conference in Orlando. Martin Armstrong’s insights and his computer’s unbiased analysis will be very helpful in the volatile times ahead. Hopefully we’ll also hear some good news in respect of the full Socrates system getting launched. Everyone’s patience has been tested by the delays, and it would be nice to be able to move forward.

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

Cheers,

Andrew H. Ruhland, CFP, CIM

Founder of Integrated Wealth Management Inc.

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.