Latest articles


Watching risk and interest rates

Guarding Wealth: There’s a gulf opening between the borrowing costs and what you can get on a GIC

Interest rates are rising in the U.S. and Canada. That brings opportunity to those putting money into savings accounts and guaranteed income certificates, but also pressure on those who borrow. Global politics, trade negotiations and the sheer risk of investing are separating returns on investments from the cost of borrowing. Trend setting government bond interest […] Read more


Investing risk and skepticism

Guarding Wealth: Investing with skepticism, not a crystal ball, makes for healthy off-farm portfolios

Investing, in the broadest sense, is about predicting what will be valuable in future. A century and a half ago, railroads knit nations together. Then came airplanes. Along the way, the greatest empires of central Europe — Germany and Austria — perished, China sank and rose again to produce dollar billionaires faster than any other […] Read more



Finding value in the stock market

Guarding Wealth: With soaring pot and cryptocurrency stocks, it can be hard to find value in the market

It has seldom been tougher to make off-farm investments. Markets for stocks have been combed for good values and apparent bargains snapped up. The best index of just how picked over is the S&P 500 CAPE ratio, short for the Cyclically Adjusted Price Earnings ratio. It is at 32 as I write this column, up […] Read more


Using annuities for an income stream

Guarding Wealth: They’re rock solid investments and eliminate market risk, but annuities are not cheap

Annuities are life insurance running in reverse. Rather than paying a premium for benefit at the death of the insured, an annuity stars with a lump sum and pays out income until the death of the person getting the money, the “annuitant” in annuity-speak. Payments will sometimes last longer than a lifetime, if there are […] Read more



stock market display

Analysts say bond markets may be foretelling bad news

Guarding Wealth: Economic trouble ahead if government bond long yields fall below shorts

From the back rooms of bond research departments comes the disheartening news that the yield curve for U.S. Treasury bonds is flattening and could invert next year, causing a kink where rates rise for a while and then drop. Somewhere between one day and 30 years, which is the usual span of the curve, the […] Read more


Choosing off-farm investments

Guarding Wealth: Stocks or bonds, the challenge is in finding value for your off-farm portfolio

Clint Eastwood captured the problem of finding value in stocks and bonds in his 1966 spaghetti western, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Three gunslingers go on a perilous trip to find a cache of Confederate gold left over from the American Civil War. There are bandits along the way. The gold is buried […] Read more



Index investing versus buying mutual funds

Guarding Wealth: To get diversification in your portfolio you have to pay for it, but not every mix works

There is an old saying that you can’t beat the market. Famed investor Warren Buffett has said, “Mr. Market always wins.” One school of investing agrees that, given you can’t beat the market, you might as well join it. That is the birth of index investing: the concept of buying index funds packed in exchange […] Read more


Stock market chart on LCD screen. Selective focus.

Global junk

Guarding Wealth: Scorned in the past, it’s become glamorous in a market driven by index funds

The investment market at times resembles a circus in which the strangest acts sell the most tickets. In the latest bit of acrobatics, sovereign junk bonds issued by national governments are turning in their best performance in years. For example, European sovereign junk returned 100 per cent in the nine years since the mid-2008 beginning […] Read more



Investing: taking risks in the new economy

Old economy, new economy. Finding safe off-farm investments in a perilous world

It is the question closest to the hearts and digestions of most investors: How long can the good times last? The tech-heavy NASDAQ Composite index was up 26.3 per cent for the 12-month period ending June 7, 2017. Canada’s S&P/TSX Composite Index rose a modest 7.7 per cent in the same period, restrained by flagging […] Read more


Guarding Wealth: Signs of future risk in the stock market

U.S. government initiatives are raising returns on government and corporate bonds

In the early days of the Clinton administration, Democratic Party strategist James Carville opined that, after death, “I’d like to come back as the bond market. That way, I could intimidate everybody.” Bond prices determine bond yields and yields determine the weight of public debt — how fast taxes can pay it down, how affordable […] Read more