To The Pointwith Boris Bozic
Commentary, Opinions, Thoughts and Discussion on Current Events, Politics and The Mortgage Industry

0 Comments Trudeau’s State Dinner at the White House – One Expensive Photo Op

Article written by on the 14 Mar 2016 in Canada,Current Events,Politics,US Politics

“I’m great!  Okay, enough but me. So what do you think of me?” In my mind that’s how the conversation went between President Obama and Prime Minister Trudeau at last week’s State Dinner at the White House. I’m sure trade issues, environmental concerns, and Canada’s military support in the Middle East all came up in conversation; but I can’t help but think that at some point the two leaders exchanged winks and knowing head nods. The body language spoke volumes, like, this is really cool. Sure, we might have economic issues to deal with, a refugee crisis, security concerns, an obscene amount of national debt, but that should never get in the way of having a good party; and what a party they had.

In fairness, a state dinner at the White House is not a common occurrence for Canadian PM’s. If I’m not mistaken the last time the head of state from Canada was the guest of honour at the White House was in 1997. President Clinton warmly welcomed Prime Minster Chretien for an evening of Pomp and Circumstance. Let’s see, Clinton and Obama, Democrats; Trudeau and Chretien, Liberals. I find it deliciously ironic that the intelligentsia always campaigns on helping the impoverished, working for the middle class, saving mother earth, but would never dare using photos of a state dinners when campaigning to the masses. That would be too difficult to square. The all-knowing and chosen ones are best fit to suspend reality. There’s no point trying to square the lavishness because it is too complex for simpletons to understand.  It’s something that’s always done, and that should be enough. Oh wait, Prime Minister Harper never had a state dinner in his honour. I’m sure it was simple oversight and had nothing to do with political ideology. (more…)

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2 Comments The Traveling Circus – Donald Trump and the US Elections

Article written by on the 07 Mar 2016 in Current Events,Politics,US Politics

This has gone from improbable, to doubtful, to laughable, to now possibly feasible.  Go ahead, say it out loud: President Donald Trump.  As I’ve written in the past, I’m somewhat of a political junkie, and for some inexplicable reason I find politics interesting.  Following politics today requires a sense of humour as well, because laughter beats the alternative, crying (unless of course the tears are a result of busting your gut from laughing).  Following the shenanigans today, the Republican and Democratic Primaries, can’t help but make you laugh. Yes, I include the Democratic Primary as well. On one side you have an elderly communist, I mean socialist, if I’m not mistaken he served with Abraham Lincoln as his Secretary of State, and on the other side you have a candidate where the majority of her own party doesn’t trust her. She’s also being investigated by the FBI. In fairness, the Democratic Primaries are the opening act for the wonderful vaudeville act playing nightly, the Republican Primary.    

Never, in my wildest dreams did I think that Trump had a chance.  I firmly believed that this was nothing more than a publicity stunt for him, and that Republican Party would do whatever was necessary to put a stop to him. Well, it hasn’t worked out that way. Donald Trump now believes he can become the president of the United States of America, and why wouldn’t he? His candidacy has now become a movement.  The more outrageous his claims become, the more his popularity grows. The more he changes his positions, on a daily basis, the more people lineup up to hear him speak. The angrier he becomes, the more American’s say “he’s our guy”. His road to the White House still has many miles to go. The American political system is a little convoluted. It’s not about the number states he wins, but rather the number of delegates he receives in each state. In many States the delegates are distributed by the proportion of votes the candidate received in the primary election. In other words, if you finish in second, you still win delegates.   To become the republican nominee, Trump would require (more…)

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0 Comments A Nice Stocking Stuffer – A Rate Hike

Article written by on the 14 Dec 2015 in Current Events,Economy,Interest Rates,US Politics

It looks like our neighbours south of the border will get something “special” this holiday season; like an interest rate hike. After almost nine years the U.S Federal Reserve rate is about to be increased.  Chairwoman, Janet Yellen, has been itching to raise rates for a while now, and the latest economic data from the U.S. gives her an opportunity scratch that itch. A rate hike is a signal to Americans, and the global economy, that worst is behind them, and the need for government to stimulate the economy is in the rear view mirror.

Or is it? The U.S. November job report indicated that over 200k jobs were added to the work force, their dollar is soaring, the unemployment rate has been cut almost in half to where it stood in 2008, so what’s not to be giddy about? Well, there is data to support that consumer spending, housing starts, and job creation have flattened. So the question is what happens if their economy has flattened, while at the same time the overnight lending rate is going up? Some pundits are actually suggesting that raising the rates now gives the Fed some wiggle room if they have to lower rate, yet again, to stimulate the economy. It’s not as if this hasn’t happened before.  Like back in 1930′s, a rate hike, followed by a quick rate drop, all the while knee deep in the Great Depression. Yeah – that little historical nuisance.

So what does the Fed’s move to increase rates mean for us here in Canada? For the time being, not much. We normally walk in lockstep with the U.S. Fed, but we’re about to decouple from that standard practice, and continue on the path we are on today. The reality is that our economy is still too fragile to mimic the Fed’s move. The oil sector in this country has been hammered, and the fallout has been far reaching. Some are suggesting (more…)

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1 Comments Bright Lights

Article written by on the 10 Oct 2014 in Business,Canada,Current Events,Merix Financial,New York City,US Politics,World Business Forum,World Events

Just coming back from New York, and I’ll spare you the cliché.  New York – bright lights, the city that never sleeps, blah, blah.  All true, but the bright lights I’m referring to is a select group of loyal supporters of Merix Financial.  We  had the pleasure of hosting a number of mortgage brokers in New York to attend the World Business Forum.  The event is held over  two days and attendees at the conference are leaders and executives from around the world.  The lineup of speakers have diverse backgrounds and experiences.  It’s the diversity of the speakers which provoke thought and critical thinking.  The two day event allowed all of us to exit the echo chamber that we all find ourselves occupying.  That is a critical element of professional development.  Thought provocation forces you out of your comfort zone.

Our invited guests embraced the opportunity to listen and learn from speakers whose subject matter expertise may have appeared to have only a subtle correlation to their daily actives.  But, they came open minded and prepared to see where the experience takes them.  I got a big kick watching our guests as the event evolved.  Here was a small group of people who for the most part were strangers to each other or know by name only.  However, in a short period of time small micro groups were formed to talk about issues that each individual faces each and every day at work.  It’s remarkable how quickly trust was built among the group, and it was a safe environment to say “I got a work problem, and I don’t have an answer”. Assistance and suggestions from peers was immediate, and no one held back for competitive reasons.  I can’t tell you how cool it is to watch a team come together. Make no mistake, this is a team.  As of today they know they can pick up the phone and reach out to one of their peers from across the country to help them solve a problem.  Sometimes business can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be lonely.

In my humble estimation, the event was a success, and here’s why.  First and foremost, our guests wanted to be there.  That was demonstrated by their support of Merix to ensure they were invited. Also, our guests are all focused on building a business, and not just a job. That’s an important distinction. Secondly, Merix set the right expectations.  It was learning first, party second.  Don’t get me wrong, there was time to have fun.  Like the night we all went to Madison Square Gardens for a Fleetwood Mac concert.  Our seats we on the floors and we were swept up by the music and the New York audience.  Even though there was bit of a “generational” gap for some of our guests, all danced, had a few libations, and allowed themselves to be swept up by the event and the masses.  But come 8:30 am the next morning, all were ready to begin a new day.

An extraordinary amount of time and effort is put into planning one of these events.  I can never really be sure if our guests will find a benefit in attending, while leaving their business for a few days.  After the wrap up dinner we hosted on the final night, one of our guests sat next to me and gave me a book.  She wanted me to have the book because she thought I would enjoy the read.  She mentioned that she wrote a note on the inside of the cover but asked me not to read it at the table.  She said she didn’t want to become emotional.  I smiled and said I would respect her wishes.  After three hours of the book being by my side, I finally made it back to my hotel and I read her note on the inside of the cover.  It was heartfelt, genuine and so sincere.  It was right then that I knew the effort in putting this event together was worth it.

So to Gerry, Tim, Scott, Shawn, Karen, Richard, Brenda, Tracey, Sandy, Paul, Sarah, and Elisseos, if you don’t mind…let’s do it again.

Until next time.

Cheers,

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0 Comments Interpreting The Numbers

Article written by on the 16 May 2014 in Business,Canada,Current Events,Economy,Merix Financial,US Politics,World Events

Is the glass half full or half empty?  Are the measures that we’re taken to modify the real estate market balanced or have policy makers over reached?  Numbers are supposed to be black and white.  Shades of grey come into play depending on the side of the argument you’re on.

The Canadian Real Estate Association, (CREA) released data this week which will make all sides of the Canadian real estate market argument happy.  Example, according to the MLS Home Price Index, home prices have increased by 7.6% from a year ago.  Now if you take Vancouver and Toronto out of the equation, the increase was 4.6% on a year over year basis.  So are we on the cusp of a potential real estate bubble or is it simple supply side economics?  The number of homes sold came in slightly lower than a year ago.  So is demand outpacing supply, causing prices to increase?  And oh my god, condo sales increased in Toronto as well. Red Rover, Red Rover, Doom Sayers come on over.  There’s a little something for everyone. The teeth nashers and those predicting Armageddon are fist bumping each other.  Others, justifiably so, are saying it’s a balanced market.  Should the price of a real estate never rise? If that we’re the case we would all be squatters, living in tents.  The commentators I love are the ones that sit firmly on the fence.  An economist for one major bank said their analysis suggests that we all experience a 10% decrease in home values, and there could be further risk if sales activity was to increase. They were so concerned with the “risk” that they matched the 2.99% five year rate that one of their competitors came out with.  That fence post must really be uncomfortable to sit on.

Sifting through all the commentary can be confusing, and let’s be honest, depending on the amount of skin you have in the game will influence the argument and opinion you support.  To combat human nature it’s important to seek contrary opinions, and I force myself do that, almost daily.  It takes some effort to find commentary which is not self-serving, like those selling newspapers, hedge funds that are shorting the Canadian economy or politicians playing politics.  Here’s a couple names to look out for when you want broader viewpoint, economists Nouriel Roubini and David Rosenberg.  What’s their bona fide? They predicted the financial collapse of 2008. So what are they saying today?  According to Rosenberg, “Nattering nabobs of negativity – stop knocking yourself out. First, there are a host of reasons why I see inflation rising moderately, and the wage process is but one of them. There is a very interesting development taking place that is not garnering a lot of attention. The U.S. commercial banks are loosening their purse strings. As for the U.S. economy, it is looking as though Q2 real GDP growth will come in close to a 4% annual rate. Why I turned bullish on the U.S. consumer.”  Clearly he’s refereeing to the U.S. Economy, but like it or not, when America sneezes we look for a tissue.  In good times and bad.

Until next time!

Cheers,

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1 Comments U.S. Election – What Does it Mean for Canada?

Article written by on the 08 Nov 2012 in Current Events,US Politics

“Maintaining the status quo for America is not an option for the global economy, more specifically for Canada.”

Now that Americans have decided to maintain the status quo, high unemployment rates, mounting debt, failing economy and political gridlock, the only question remains – How does the election result impact Canada?  Unfortunately the American Presidential election is not something we can simply dismiss by saying “it’s their business, not ours”; our business is impacted by who and what party America elects.

In Canada, the Harper government did what it was supposed to do, they, stayed out of it and keep their opinions to themselves. Not easy to do considering how intertwined our economies are but we’re the junior partner in this relationship and we have to tread lightly.  It didn’t take long for both Prime Minister Harper and Finance Minister Jim Flaherty to issue statements that maintaining the status quo for America is not an option for the global economy, more specifically for Canada.  Here’s how Prime Minister sugarcoated it, “The U.S. has taken many aggressive and ambitious measures on its financial system but we’re now facing the fiscal cliff situation in the American political system in the next couple of months. That’s a big uncertainty.”  Finance Minister Jim Flaherty was more direct, “Of course we’re worried because it would mean — were the entire fiscal cliff risk to come to reality, there would be the effect on U.S. GDP — according to the Americans themselves — would be four to five per cent, which would put the U.S. economy into recession quite quickly, and the Canadian economy would follow shortly thereafter, and would have significant effect on the global economy.  So this is all very serious, and we hope our American colleagues move forward to a resolution promptly.” No ambiguity there.  The stakes are high and it’s hard to imagine that both Democrats and Republicans would be willing to drag their economy, and subsequently ours, into another recession for ideological reasons. Then again I wouldn’t bet on them doing the right thing for the greater good either.

Obama’s reelection probably means that Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke stays on the job when his term expires.  The Republicans made it very clear they were displeased with Bernanke, and the role that the Treasury plays as it relates to monetary policy.  Bernanke willingly or unwillingly helped Obama out during the campaign with the introduction of QE3, quantitative easing, which helped to boost economic data over the last two months of the campaign.  If Bernanke stays on the job we can expect rates to stay at historical lows until Q3 of 2014.  As I’ve stated before, if you want some indication as to where rates are going in Canada, see what the Fed Chairman is doing.

So, our government is concerned about the fiscal mess the Americans are in, rates are not going up in the mid-term,  no indication if Obama is going to change his position on the Keystone Pipeline, looks like not much has changed.  For our sake let’s hope the President is willing to move to the center and work with Republicans on the “Bush” tax cuts and budget.  The pragmatist in me believes it may happen given the President doesn’t have to pander to his base anymore; he’s never running for office again. The pessimist in me takes over when I consider the President has never made an attempt to move to the center, even after the Democrats lost their majority in Congress in 2010.  That should be worrisome for all of us because we all have skin in this deal.

Until next time,

Cheers.

 

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0 Comments There’s Something Special About NYC

Article written by on the 02 Oct 2012 in US Politics

I have the distinct pleasure to be in New York City over the next couple of days to attend the World Business Forum.  For those of you who have been you know all about the cities vibrancy, pace, attitude and frenetic energy.  Walking the streets you can just feel it. You either keep up or you better step aside. There’s no middle ground when it comes to New York, people love it or hate it.  Put me down in the infatuation column.

New York always finds a way to make the headlines.  Most recently is was the squatters who protested on Wall Street.  Remember them?  They ended up being just another footnote in New York’s long history.  Ah, but today there’s even juicer headlines in the Big Apple.   New York Attorney General filed a lawsuit against J.P. Morgan Chase & Co on Monday for fraud over faulty mortgage-backed securities packaged and sold by the former Bear Stearns.  That’s right; they’re being sued for something allegedly done by Bear Stearns before J.P. Morgan Chase & Co was forced to buy them by the U.S. Government back in 2008.   It was the critical first days of the sub-prime mortgage meltdown and the heads of the major banks were summoned to Washington, and they were told in no uncertain terms by then Secretary of the Treasury,   Henry Paulson, that before anyone goes home deals would have to be cut to ensure banking stability.  That’s the Readers Digest version of how J.P. Morgan Chase & Co ended up buying Bear Stearns for $2 USD a share.  It appears now that they ended up buying a whole lot of headaches.  I’m sure the timing of this lawsuit is all coincidental and it has nothing to do with the upcoming U.S. Presidential election.  Sure, the sub-prime mortgage meltdown first came to light in 2008, and the first lawsuit just happened to be filed just prior to the election; a mere coincidence.  It took the Obama administration close to 4 years to create the Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities Working Group to investigate the selling and pooling of risky mortgages.  Better late than never, I guess.  Does someone deserve to pay dearly and possibly go to jail for nearly bringing down the global economy? Damn right, and long overdue; but to do it now reeks of politics and not justice; coincidence? As a New Yorker all I want to say is, “coincidence this!”

Until next time,

Cheers.

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2 Comments Bank of Canada still locked with the US Fed?

Article written by on the 25 Sep 2012 in Canada,US Politics

Leave it to bureaucrats to come up with an acronym which acts as camouflage for the truth.  QE3, Quantitative Easing Part Three, is code for bail-out.  Politicians and bureaucrats are loath to use that term for fear of negative press and political ramifications.  If it looks like a duck, and it quacks like one, it’s a duck!  US Federal Reserve Charmin, Ben Bernanke, announced a couple of weeks ago that the Fed would inject $40 billion a month through purchases of mortgage back securities.  This move by the Fed is viewed as being dramatic in that it is a two pronged approach.  Firstly, there’s no defined time limit and they will not deviate from this policy until they succeed.  What does Fed deem to be success?  Full employment.

Rarely has the Fed exercised its authority and flexed its muscles in a such a manner.  This is a sign that the Fed has little confidence that the Whitehouse, Congress and Senate, will put their bickering and their campaign posturing aside to do what’s right.  This move has put Bernanke into the Republican crosshairs, we can use that reference in Canada because we Canadians wouldn’t take that term literally.  Being so close to the US presidential election, it’s odd that the Fed would make this move now.  Say what you will about Bernanke, he’s injected himself into this political campaign.  I believe his motivation was not political but of necessity.  Managing the economy has not been president Obama’s stronger suite, and the Republicans wouldn’t agree to anything today that Dem’s might suggest.  Fixing the US economy has been put on hold for over a year now because of the length and nature of  presidential campaigning.  Maybe Bernanke was willing to roll the dice because he has nothing to lose.   His tern as Chair expires in 2014.  The Republicans are questioning the need for a Federal Reserve Chairman, and maybe Bernanke has already decided that if asked he will not accept reappointment.  If he does step aside it would be a challenge for whoever replaces him as Chair, given no defined end date for QE3.  It is always easier to make bold decisions about the future knowing that you may not be subject to the consequences of that decision in the future.

The reverberations of QE3 will be felt here in Canada.  Bernanke has stated that the Fed is committed to leaving its target interest rate close to zero until 2015.  A few short months ago the prediction for a rate increase was 2014.  Clearly the Fed believes interest rates are too high in the US to encourage investment and mortgage borrowing.  I am not sure how enamored the Bank of Canada is with this decision.  Up until now the Bank of Canada has been in lock step with the US Fed.  Will they deviate from that?  I highly doubt it.  So, an overnight lending rate increase may have been pushed out for another 12 months in Canada.  That’s good news for consumers, especially for borrowers renewing their mortgages over the next 24 months.  The not so good news is that if you’re a first time home buyer, don’t expect the government to reverse the most recent changes to mortgage rules anytime soon. 

Until next time

Cheers

 

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2 Comments U.S. Election: Too Close for Comfort

Article written by on the 13 Sep 2012 in Current Events,US Politics

Copyright: CBS News (www.cbnews.com)

Most polls show the race for the oval office within the margin of error.  Stunning considering the economic mess our friends to South are in. What’s more staggering is the incumbent may perform the greatest slight of hand trick ever known to man. To be reelected based on today’s economic data would be Houdini like, straight jacket and  all.

For all intent and purposes the presidential election campaign begins post labour day weekend.  Up to this point all the primaries and conventions have been but a mere warm up.  From here on both parties will resort and say to whatever it takes to win.  The nastiness will begin in earnest, and for the president it’s imperative that the focus is diverted away from the facts.  The fact is that unemployment rate in the U.S has been understated for some time now.  The latest numbers has the U.S. unemployment rate at 8.1%, down from 8.2%.  The decrease is a function of people who have stopped looking for work, and no longer count.  Over 60% of people in the U.S. now believe their children will not be better off than they are.  Over 50% of people believe the economy is getting worse.  The latest job figures came in less than what was expected, and yet according to a new poll by Reuters, the president has actually widened his margin since the Democratic Convention.  Me thinks those who were polled must have all lived in Ontario at some point because that is the only explanation I can come up with for the bump in the polls for the president. Why let facts get in the way of a good story?

Like the millions of people outside of the U.S., I really wanted this president to succeed.  He represented change and his election was a signal to the world that race will not play a part in determining the leader of the free world.  But simply being cool is not enough to get elected.  Then again millions of Americans disagree, and to them I say, you deserve what you elect.

Until next time,

Cheers.

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6 Comments US Politics: State of The Union (The Real Speech)

Article written by on the 26 Jan 2012 in Current Events,US Politics

“I stand here before you as a lame duck president.  There’s a very good likelihood that I won’t be reelected.  I’m a pragmatist and the numbers don’t lie”

obama-2012-US-politics

So on Tuesday night I watched President O-Blah-ma give his State of The Union address.  Why?  I’m a political junkie and I’ve always been fascinated by American politics.  In Canada we only really pay attention during an election campaign.  In the US, politics is a blood sport.  The US Presidential election cycle is all day, every day.  If you watch Fox News, CNN or god forbid MSNBC, it’s all about politics, all the time.  Watching the news from the US is like watching The Young and the Restless.  I can change my viewing habits, come back a month later, and nothing’s changed.  There’s comfort in that. (more…)

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0 Comments Protests, A Fundamental Right – #OccupyTogether

Article written by on the 13 Oct 2011 in Canada,Current Events,Economy,US Politics

occupy toronto

“If the protests in Canada are here to draw a direct comparison to our circumstances and that of the U.S., I don’t get that.  The protestors in Canada have right to have their opinions heard.  But there are millions of people around the world who would gladly trade their problems with those protesting in Canada.”
Freedom of assembly and speech is the underpinning of a democracy.  The respect for these principles were instilled in me at an early age.    My parents were born and raised in country where freedom of speech was a theory.  In their country of birth, freedom of speech would only  be tolerated if it supported the governments communist propaganda.  Any opinion to the contrary would lead to reprisals, including imprisonment.

(more…)

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0 Comments Pay Attention, You Might Learn Something!

Article written by on the 27 Sep 2011 in Canada,Current Events,US Politics

Of course I’m not talking to you.  The shout out goes to our friends south of the border.  I’ve always been a huge supporter of the US.  Their ingenuity, their spirit of entrepreneurship, their commitment to country and flag has historically set the example for others to follow.  Yet today, this once great nation seems hell-bent on imploding. They spend so much of their time looking inward; they fail to see that others may have the answers, if they would only care to pay attention.  It’s not like they have to look far to get the answers.  As the Friendly Giant would say – for those of you under 40 google the show the Friendly Giant – “look up….look way up”, to Canada. (more…)

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    "I work in a world of numbers, process, execution, risk mitigation and all kinds of other sexy stuff. To share my thoughts, opinions and personal tidbits does have some creative appeal for me. It will also push me to do something that I am not totally comfortable with, writing. Get me in front of a room full of people to do a presentation and I'm on. Writing a story that others may actually be interested in reading sounds like a challenge to me. The reality is that I enjoy a good challenge and if it ends up that mom is the only reader of my blog so be it."

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