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Cultural learnings and Snow jobs

snow (19K)

Calgary - We were home for the holidays, and yes, the world is turning upside down.

My home province Alberta is one of the biggest generators of greenhouse gases in the world, thanks to the honest business of oil extraction from the tarsands.

In spite of these efforts to warm the world and keep it moving, it is a bone chilling -28°C here as the plane touches down. It gets a little better over the next few days, maxing out at -19°C for a time, with brillant sunshine, crunchy snow, and conversations captioned in the clouds that billow from each breath.

Yes, it is beautiful in a way. I check the weather back in Holland - it's +8°C a and sunny! I smile for the camera. I think about brass monkeys.

It is a white christmas across Canada, the first in 37 years! While we personally manage to avoid most of the chaos, cancelled flights and lost luggage that so many other air travellers experienced, we were able to share in the simultaneous boredom and terror of driving on Calgary's extensive network of skating pathways, which, under more favorable weather conditions, serve as roads.

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Another trip

sandCastle1 (50K)

Wow, it has been a long long time between updates, the last being over six months ago.

We had an interesting trip to Armenia. I left that country pretty convinced that capitalism worked better than communism, as examples of the ugly sides of both systems are on display. Outrageous opulence within view of sprawling shabby Soviet-era apartment blocks.

A week after our return, I had a total wipeout riding my bike, and separated my left shoulder. 2½ months to recuperate from that setback and still some way to go.

Then in October the Canadian dollar dropped 20%. The stock market losses have been double that. Things continue to melt or freeze in the markets, depending on your perspective.

Today I go for an MRI and tomorrow we leave for Calgary. As I write this it is -28°C in Calgary. But this is set to improve. By the time we arrive, it should be a balmy -18°C. and sunny. Pack the sun-screen honey, we're going home!

I'm thinkin' 2009 is going to be a much better year!

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More Random Notes


Today is the last blog on ABCP, or more precisely, the Facebook group called Canaccord and other ABCP clients. It's been fun.

The new JAB pages, our version of a blog site, now offers new navigation buttons Prev blog and Next blog.

And a checkbox selection lets you see an optional 3 month calender of blog dates.

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Asshole Backed Commercial Paper

purdy2 (3K)

financial analyst This blog will (hopefully) mark the end of the series on Asset Backed Commercial Paper. It all started on March 4 with a blog file named Asshole Backed Commercial Paper, intended as a spoof on the ABCP fiasco.

That version started off with the words "Today's rant is about the Canadian Financial Establishment."

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ATM Bank Fees in Canada

Bank machine

Maybe I shouldn't complain. I don't own any ABCP, or a Blackberry, or even a car or a house. I travel light. But I do have a Canadian bank account. And I have used bank machines around the world.

We live in Holland now (and we ride bikes). We have lived in London, where everything costs more than it should; and we have travelled a bit - India, Equador, Norway, South Africa, Germany, France and more.

In all of these places we almost always succeed in obtaining money from an Automated Teller Machine (ATM) at one of the local banks. This is not a big challenge in most places.

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The cost of being Canadian

porsche-boxster-2007 (9K)

My good friend Brian applies this phrase to all things that cost more than they should for no other reason except that this is Canada.

Cell phone services was the first item on the list. He bought a Blackberry a couple of years ago, that wonderful device made by an equally wonderful Canadian company called Research In Motion (RIM). He wanted a plan and technology that would work from wherever he happened to be in the world.

The best service plans (technology and price) are offered in the USA. This has little to do with RIM, and much to do with a peculiar canadian market oligopoly.

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An ABCP legal conundrum


I have reprinted this column because I believe it to be one of the best. Jim Middlemiss was the reporter who first wrote about this curious Facebook group back in February. I was disappointed with the article because I thought it missed the point. But it definitely started the ball rolling. Maybe I missed the point?

This article was published before Justice Campbell gave his reasons for postponing approval of a plan that gave the banks blanket immunity to fraud. Mr. Middlemiss demonstrates here the same level of insight and nuance that Justice Campbell will need to stick handle this case to a reasonable conclusion.

An ABCP legal conundrum

fpLogo (3K) by Jim Middlemiss,
Financial Post
Published: Friday, May 16, 2008
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Hunter and the Hunted

purdy2 (3K) hunter2a (4K) A historical perspective
on the Facebook group

Canaccord and other ABCP Clients

This article appeared online today. Because online articles have a habit of disappearing with time, I have reprinted it here for posterity. The images here are from my archive, the text from Canadian Business online.

There were many media stories that appeared over the last two months, but this is one of the most detailed and lengthy reviews.

CanadianBusinessLogo (5K)

ABCP: Hunter and the hunted

by Thomas Watson
From the Summer 2008 issue of Canadian Business magazine
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Strength in numbers

brian (6K)

Congratulations to all of you for your accomplishment. Canaccord Capital has done what should have been done in the first place! Alone you were nothing, but together you are a force to be reckoned with.

The media heard from you, the politicians started listening, and ALL of those who are handsomely paid to ensure things work properly have reached a pivotal point in their careers.

The job is not done. You have not been paid yet. And trust is in short supply, just like the liquidity all the experts talk about.

This thing, this whole steaming pile of excuses financial taxonomists have labeled 'canadian non-bank asset backed commercial paper', will hopefully become a historical footnote.

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The Road Show is over

purdy2 (3K)

Ladies and Gentlemen, Purdy Crawford has left the building.

It's Love, Brother Love
Say Brother Love's Travellin' Salvation Show-ow (halle-halle)
Pack up the babies and grab the old ladies
And everyone goes, 'cause everyone knows, brother Love's show

from Brother Love's Travelin' Salvation Show by Neil Diamond



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