Friday, April 26, 2013

Here is why parties should not stay in power too long...

They think that a mail-out a smear campaign should be paid for by tax-payers.

The whole point of tax-payer funded mail-outs is to allow MPs to communicate with their constituents about important matters, and smearing a new opposition leader  for his youth or apparent lack of experience, doesn't seem to be to be one of them.

It is interesting that the main point of attack seems to be that he is a teacher. Mislabelled as a drama teacher- though he mostly taught math and french and it is doubtful there was a family more steeped in politics than Trudeau's from both his father and mother's side.

Anyway would it be so bad to have a PM who was a teacher?

I thought I would look at the professions of our previous PM's from Sir John A. MacDonald onwards:


Contractor and Editor
Lawyer and Educator
Lawyer and Editor and Civil Servant
Lawyer and Educator
Diplomat and Professor
Lawyer and Professor
Lawyer and Corporate Executive
Businessman and Lawyer
Economist and Lecturer

Seems like one profession may be a bit over-represented and others need to get a foothold.

PS- away for the week-end, though I will put up the numbers this evening.  We will be back to RE next week.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Another interruption...

As you know what real gets my gall is the Government trying to cut sweat deals out of our pocket for their media cronies.

The Harper Government are masters of this ruse. They keep trying it...and we fought back. Remember when they tried to bank-roll the Canwest/ Global network of the Aspers which was floundering as they were sooo biased. We stood strong and they backed down.

Well now here goes another attempt. I wont go into details but just paste the e-mail I got from Avaaz which is a progressive organization well worth joining IMHO. If you do not want to subsidize a right-wing corporate elitist outfit, now is the time to say so.

For those of you who will point at the CBC and Knowledge Network as examples of our subsidies at work. Thank goodness for them- is all I can say... or we would be fed a constant diet of US sit-coms and reality proper news, no analysis of Canadian events, no Nature of Things, no programs which the advertisers will take offence to.

Our great media which was so biased and right wing they called one of the greatest Canadian ever, taliban Jack, funny how they pulled the article off line now.

Anyway here it is:

Dear friends, 

On Monday, a CRTC hearing will consider whether Canadians want to subsidize Sun News or "Fox News North"- a media outlet set up with the help of a top Harper crony. Both Sun News and Avaaz will appear before the hearing. We won this battle last time, but now Sun News has worked nonstop building a petition of 53,000 people over the course of months. Let's blow that out of the water in just days, with double that number saying no to paying for crony-media that corrupts our news and poisons our democracy:

Sign the petition
In days, the CRTC could decide whether Canadians should be forced to pay for Sun News or 'Fox News North'. Both Avaaz and Sun News have been asked to appear at the hearing, and Sun News has built a petition of 53,000 over months. We have just a few days to blow it out of the water.

After Harper and his top spin doctor Kory Teneycke met secretly with Rupert Murdoch, Teneycke was involved in modelling Sun News after Murdoch's Fox News, the political propaganda network that has poisoned U.S. politics. It's Canadian crony-media -- run by a political crony, pushing a political agenda, and now seeking to be funded by a government handout, asking the CRTC to force it onto our basic cable packages.

Sun News have been pushing their petition non-stop for months. If we can double it in a few days, it will send a powerful signal to the CRTC about where Canadians stand -- click below to sign and share this email with everyone who cares about Canadian democracy:

The CRTC is the government agency that implements and enforces Canada's broadcasting laws. Among other things, it has the power to require all Canadian cable providers to carry certain channels. But it rarely does this because it would prefer to let consumers choose what channels they want. Canadians aren't choosing to pay for Sun News, and it's losing millions of dollars. So Sun is asking the CRTC to order all cable providers to carry Sun News and pass the cost on to us -- even if we don't want it!

In 2010, tens of thousands of us banded together and helped stop "Fox News North" from getting a similar deal -- even contributing to Harper's aide, Kory Teneycke, resigning as head of the network! But then, the network sneakily hired him back and now they are launching a similar application, hoping we won't speak up while they try and recoup their $17 million in losses from our pockets!

Fox News fuels hate. While constantly claiming to be “fair and balanced,” it has allowed hysterical anchors like Glenn Beck to compare President Obama to "Hitler." Bill O’Reilly, another anchor, has threatened to boycott Canada, and Anne Coulter has said on its network that Canada is lucky the US allows it to "exist on the same continent.” The network has cunningly fuelled the tea party movement in the US, a mobilisation of the fringe right with members who threaten violence upon its opponents and wear guns to political rallies.

This is a fight for the soul of Canadian democracy. Our media is not perfect, but a ‘news’ network that slavishly serves a political agenda through mass manipulation and fear threatens the fabric of our democratic society.  And while such a network has the right to offer its views, it doesn't have a right to demand we subsidize it.

Canadians don't like watching "Fox News North", which is why they are losing millions and need a sweet government deal to survive. But we can stop the CRTC from taking money from our pockets to pay for right-wing news. Click below to stand with Avaaz's representative at the live hearing and help us build a big enough call to hammer home our best legal arguments:

"Fox News North" threatens to make the country we love look more like the U.S. Thankfully, the CRTC and their public process stands in the way -- let's use this chance to be heard and stop Sun News's grab for our dollars for good.

With hope,

Jeremy, Ari, Emma, Ricken, Mélanie, Laryn and the entire Avaaz team


Sun News Must-Carry Application: CRTC Sounds Skeptical About News Network's Bid (Huffington Post)

Sun News On Basic Cable? CRTC Opens Hearings As Channel's Losses Widen (Huffington Post)

Hating the Jew, hating the ‘gypsy’ (National Post)

Sun News Network viewership lags on first anniversary, controversies continue (Canadian Press)

Sun Media breaches Code of Ethics (Canadian Broadcast Standards Council - CBSC)

Investigation into alleged racist comments against blacks (CBSC)

Warning: This column contains scary Sun News scenes unsuitable for some readers (Globe and Mail)

Sunday, April 14, 2013

What's up in the Okanagan?

Not a lot...except for MOI.

High MOIs based on the latest March numbers.

Central Okanagan has a sales inventory ratio of 10.02%. ie 10.02% of the houses listed got sold...or a MOI of 10

Shushwap/Revelstoke has a sales/inventory ratio of 4%. MOI is 25

North Okanagan 7%. MOI is  14.

Now for the Ok sales grind to a halt in late fall and winter. We are however coming into peak buying season, so if the MOIs do not drop down soon, I would expect even more pressure on their market.

The sales are well down from last March as you can read from the rather sombre President's comments. The only thing that saved them from critically high MOIs was the fact that inventory declined 5% from last March.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Royal Bank

Royal bank is in a PR catastrophe. It wants to outsource the IT Dept to an off-shore company and wants those who will be fired to train those who will take over!

Of course record profits never stops a company from looking for new ways to cut costs, but this one may have been a step too far. I suspect the Royal sees the end of the RE/HELOC/CHMC feeding frenzy, and is looking for some quick savings to try and shore up earnings. The executive suite have a lot of  their compensation tied to the earnings and stock price. 

The CEO owns $33 Million of shares in the company and the rest of the executive suite isn't hurting:

G.M. Nixon
President and Chief Executive Officer 
2009- $12 Million 2010 $11.8 Million 2011 $$11.1 Million and 2012 $12.6 Million

J.R. Fukakusa
Chief Administrative Officer and Chief Financial Officer 
2009 $4.4Million 2010 $3.4Million 2011 $4.5Million

D.I. McKay
Group Head, Canadian Banking 
2009 $3.6 Million 2010 $4.3 Million 2011 $4.8 Million

A.D. McGregor
Co-Group Head, RBC Capital Markets 
2009 $12.9 Million 2010 $10 Million 2011 $8.2 Million

M.A. Standish
Co-Group Head, RBC Capital Markets 
2009 $14 Million 2010 $10.3 Million 2011 $8.3 Million

This does not include severance or pension benefits which will run into many Millions for each of the above.

A few things that I find interesting:

The CEO is not even the most highest paid executive. It is always the head of trading that garners the biggest pay-cheques. In fact there may be RBC traders that make even more that these folks and are not on the reporting list.

In 2009, the executives got the highest pay 12 + 4.4 + 3.6 + 12.9 + 14 = $46.9 Million for the five of them. You remember 2009, the year of the fiscal crisis. 

That was the year that the Government came to the rescue of the big banks, big time. Interest rates where slashed, and CMHC was doubled (I believe late 2008) allowing banks to pass off risk to the tax-payer, and portfolios of consumer debt were purchased to free up bank funds.

SO...while $47 Million is not a huge sum in the self-entitled corporate world, were a single US CEO will pay himself that much in a bad year, the Canadian banks are different. 

Public policy is changed so that they CAN make huge profits, even if that means the risk is moved off their balance sheets to that of the Government (ie us!), so they have some degree of social responsibility. That means not pushing debt to the degree that Canadians are in trouble. It also means not going for the cheapest option at every turn, if it effects the incomes of ordinary employees. I would say they have failed in both capacities.

If things are THAT bad at the bank, how about the capping everyone's salary and benefits at say $3 Million. I mean that is a good chunk of money, unless you are trying to build a dynasty. Then the recipients of pink slips might feel less violated. 

BTW the way all the Executive suites justify their income, is to say.."we have 76,000 employees and so we run highly complex organizations"

For comparison:

The PM of Canada earns about $317 K
The President of the US $450K
The Head of the Salvation Army $130K

Fraser Valley


20% less sales than last March

11% less listings than last March

3% less inventory than last March

MOI  is  8.4

Benchmark, the number that keeps on giving...  up a fraction of a % for SFH and Apartments and DOWN 1.7% for attached.

I suspect the criticism of the cannot-go-down-benchmark must have reached the Top brass. 

The President says in his statement..“Inventory levels are not as high as they need to be to put significant downward pressure on prices of the benchmark, or ‘typical’ home. These are homes that have characteristics most common to houses in a given community."

Hmm..with an MOI of 8.4 and sales 70% of the typical March I would suspect there is some downward price pressure. Any Fraser Valley readers out there wanting to comment on what they have seen?

The details are here.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Who has the money to buy?

Lots do!

The median Van West home is a cool $2 Million now. There is a misconception that only wealthy Chinese or those with 'hot' off-shore money can afford these prices.

There are lots of people locally who have an income big enough, say $700K, to be able to afford buying even at these lofty levels.

Some are business owners, but many are professionals who may even be paid by the tax-payer. Eg while the average doctor makes a lot less than this, I hear from my medical buddies (and in fact you can check on-line) that some Cardiologists , Opthalmologists and skin docs are well into this bracket. 

There are many high prices lawyers in this range too, and I am sure the lawyers who got to take the tax-payers largesse in this case and never get audited are in the exclusive club.

In fact the top producing Realtors probably have membership too and there are quite a few stock-brokers who run large 'books', pushing them easily to this level.

My point is there is enough local money power to keep buyers coming in alongside our off-shore arrivals. Not enough however to eat into the 7-8 MOI.

And don't even get me started on some of the over-paid padding that goes on in parts the corporate world. 

This has little to do with RE but humor me please, I lost a good chunk of money on it...

Yellow Media....

The CEO Marc Tellier is leaving after 12 years. He will get a $4.3 Million package, and $450,000/ year retirement pay on top of that when he turns 65 (he is 45 now). Last year his salary and bonus added up to over $1.4 Million. So he is a wealthy man.

Ok you say that's not a big deal. 

A CEO is God's anointed on this earth, they walk on water or at least they think they do, and the Rogers and TD CEOs who are retiring will likely get 4-5X MORE than this guy. 

Also compared with some US or European CEOs who rape their companies, this is loose change!

However I was a share-holder in Yellow media, and I know what happened. Since 2002, Yellow Media has seen it's share-price decimated from several dollars to a few cents. Even the BNN staff reporting it yesterday could hardly contain their shock and amazement at the package.

The Chairman put out a semi-apologetic news release saying they had to pay it per the contract that was signed at the time. There was apparently no clause that stated..'if share-holders are completely whipped, abused and trodden into the dirt, then no severance will be payable to you Mr CEO."

I have a better idea...why don't the Board of Directors who agreed to the contract and the lawyers who advised the company dig into their deeep pockets and pay it themselves.

As for Mr Tellier, this sums it up best

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Whistler Downhill Slalom

We know Whistler has been in bad shape for a long time. Americans left a long time ago, Chinese are not interested yet, and baby-boomer demographics are working against the lofty prices.

It is a great winter resort but there is no reason to pay $1000/foot to get a few two-by-fours there.

Well things have gone a lot further downhill than I had thought. MINUS 11% , 12% and 43% are the 5 year benchmark returns according to the REBGV stats for detached, attached and apartments.

The media has also woken up to the carnage:

Whistler real estate prices plummet up to 68 per cent from CTV (hat tip Sothseacompany on Vancouver condo)

Interesting that they go to Tsur Sommerville for analysis and commentary and explanation. Why the media go to the same few names baffles me. Did Tsur say Whistler is going to take a big fall? Maybe he did and I missed it and I stand to be corrected.


If a guy didn't call the big fall, then how valid is his opinion? Much more valid to contact a David Madani or Garth Turner who have been calling for this, than the guys who have taken the other side IMVHO.

This is how it ends:

Whistler realtors told CTV News they’re seeing momentum in some areas, and Sommerville said there could be a resurgence in prices as the U.S. economy picks up steam.
“If we’re having this conversation in a year or two from now it would be a different dynamic,” he said. “We would be talking about Whistler’s recovery rather than Whistler being in the doldrums.”

OK Tsur, we will revisit this annually and see if your prediction is right and I for one am willing to eat humble pie if I am wrong.