Monthly Market Commentary

“Trade wars are good, and easy to win”

March 2018

In an effort to protect domestic steel and aluminum producers, U.S. President Donald Trump recently announced his intention to impose tariffs on imports of the two materials. Trade wars are a contentious issue, so the pushback to the announcement was swift. In an attempt to defend his stance,...

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Stocks Go Up, Stocks Go Down

February 2018

Is it time to panic? On February 5th the Dow Jones Industrial Average index fell as much as 1,600 points, an intraday record. And the financial media lost their minds: Source: Bloomberg, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Globe and Mail As often happens when inflammatory headlines proliferate,...

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Consequences have Consequences

January 2018

Physics is a pretty straightforward field of study. Those who are well-versed in it can accurately predict the timing of a solar eclipse, map the path of a rocket, or design the voltage of an electrical outlet. Human behaviour, by contrast, is much messier to study. Trying to predict how humans...

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Bitcoin and Baseball: Evaluating the Quality of Decisions

December 2017

Moneyball is one of our favourite books. Written by Michael Lewis, it gives an insider’s view of how the Oakland Athletics’ front office made decisions about trading and signing players. As the book describes, the Athletics focused on improving their player evaluation process so...

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Equity Markets Checkup

November 2017

It has been a lucrative year to be an equity investor. Unless you’ve been invested in Canada. Or Australia. Or the U.K. But other than that it’s been great! As the following chart shows, equities in emerging markets, the U.S., and Japan have all posted solid returns. Owing to our...

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The Power of Incentives

October 2017

There are two ways you can get a mule to move: with a stick or with a carrot. You could punish the mule by hitting it with a stick until it moves. Alternatively, you could encourage the mule to move by dangling a tasty carrot in front of it. Either way, if you want it to move you need to provide it...

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Warm and Fuzzy Investing

September 2017

We like sports. We like investing. Which is why the recent sale of the NBA’s Houston Rockets caught our attention. The sale price of US$2.2 billion struck us as an awful lot of money to pay for a team based in only the tenth-largest market of the big four professional sports (NBA, NFL, MLB,...

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ETFs in a Bear Market

August 2017

Exchange-traded funds (“ETFs”) have enjoyed tremendous growth since the financial crisis. We’ve discussed this growth previously, but as a refresher, the following chart illustrates how passive investment funds have been stealing market share from funds that are managed actively....

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Canadian Household Debt: What’s Next?

July 2017

Canada turned 150 years old this month. Over this century-and-a-half, the country’s GDP has grown from under $400 million to over $2 trillion. From beaver pelts and codfish to bitumen and car parts, the face of Canada’s economic growth has changed considerably over the last 150...

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What is Risk?

June 2017

A question for you. Let’s say that you invested $100 in each of two different securities. Suppose you held both of these securities for five years before selling them. Over the five year period, the securities’ prices performed as shown in the following chart. Which of these two...

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