Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The new face of real estate development in Toronto

Move over Bratty and Muzzo and Del Zotto.

There's a new sheriff in town.


Yup, Google's "Sidewalk Labs" is touted as the saviour of the portlands. They're gonna put fifty millions into their new development on the Toronto waterfront.

Ironically, this announcement comes hard on the heels of another announcement that three levels of government are combining to sink 1.25 billions into an infrastructure upgrade for the portlands.

Hmm... the taxpayer is putting in one and a quarter billion.

Google is investing fifty million.

Who do you think will walk away with the profits?

We're setting the stage for Google to "disrupt" the development industry the way Uber "disrupted" the taxi industry.

That is, they'll break all the rules and then put the onus on their victims to prove wrongdoing. And, like Uber, they'll get away it with because, after all, they've got a bottomless pool of off-shore capital that's locked and loaded to blow the traditional legal bulwarks off the zoning maps.

Some of the locals may have deep pockets, but they've got nothing compared to the Googlistas.

Surrender now!

Resistance is futile.

Dan's Republic of Congo, Marc Faber's (career) suicide note, and the Alzheimer highway

I've been trying to make sense of Faber's harikari.

I simply can't.

None of it makes any sense. Unless...

Unless Faber is motoring carefree down that Alzheimer highway with not a worry in the world.

Thank God America was colonized by white people?

Well, he's got one thing right; America certainly was colonized by white people. No doubt about that.

But he seems oblivious to the fact that it's also white people who have totally fucked America up.

Was it brown people who decided to teach those gooks a lesson in Viet Nam?

Was it brown people who decided America should intervene in Grenada and Panama and El Salvador and Nicaragua and Honduras?

Was it brown people who made the decision to invade Iraq? Afghanistan? Syria?

Are brown people pushing America into war with Iran? Russia? China?

I think not.

And who is pushing the never-ending wars in the DRC,  also known in some circles as "Dan's Republic?" Sure, there's Museveni and Kagami, but who do you think the enablers are?

It's the interminable wars against brown people the world over that are destroying America. The more America bombs, the more people hate America.

It's not rocket science.

Or perhaps we can call it Political Rocket Science. Polyrocketsci for short.

The Marc Faber who made a stellar rep for himself by being a savvy analyst of what's going on in the world would know all this. He's been around for a long time. He's basked in oodles of mainstream adulation. He's always known where to draw the line in terms of crossing the line, if you know what I mean.

The fact that he's lost it tells me one thing; he's lost it.

He's careening down the Alzheimer Highway with the pedal to the metal and no place to go...

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Marc Faber implodes his career

In a Quixotic tilt against political correctitude, investment guru Marc Faber told it like he truly believes it is. Thank God us white folks are over there in Africa getting the gold out of the ground for the darkies, who are just not up to the task on their own...

Those were not his exact words, but I have a hunch that would be the gist of the mindset in the boardrooms wherein he was well paid to share his insights.

That's why it's so funny to see all those other board members being shocked and appalled and peeing their pants over Faber's way-out-there racist commentary.

They had no idea?

Get outta here!

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Who's afraid of George Soros?

That's the title of a less than insightful three-pager in the Insight section of the Sunday Star today. (not to be confused with a story by the same title in the Times of Israel from a few months ago, which pretty much plowed the same ground.)

According to Emily Tamkin, a lot of your up-and-coming populist despots in Eastern Europe are deathly scared of George Soros. They're anti-Semitic of course, as populists tend to be. It's just a thing with those populists.

The take in Israel is a little more nuanced. The Likudniks and everyone to the right of them (and shocking though it may be to fathom, Likud are now "moderates" in the Israeli political spectrum) consider Soros one of the greatest anti-Semites of our time!

So who is George Soros? Anti-Semite extraordinaire or victim of anti-Antisemitism?

That's why I think the Star might have done us more of a service if they introduced us to the guy first. Nevermind who's afraid of George Soros... who IS George Soros?

When I google that out here at Falling Downs I get about 14 million responses in .85 seconds. You probably get more in less time if your working from an urban area. And what do you find there?

Well, it looks to me like about thirteen and a half million of those sites (not that I actually looked at that many) belong to hard-core conspiracy types who are hot on the trail of New World Order; ya, the Illuminati and all that shit.


Of course they are...

Here's why I have grave reservations about George Soros, and it's got nothing to do with his ethnicity. The Open Society shtick sounds good on the face of it. Who's not for open societies? Open societies are a beautiful thing!

But what does it mean? Open to who and to what? What I find profoundly disconcerting is that time and time again Soros "philanthropy" aligns itself seamlessly with the National Endowment for Democracy and similar US government sponsored and funded "Non Government Organizations."

That's always been a bit of a mind-fuck for me; how the hell are you an NGO when you get all your funding from the US government?

But anyway, the fact that Soros and the US State Department have had many joint ventures across decades should be a giant red flag, at least to my way of thinking.

Then there's the question of how Soros makes his money. He's widely touted as one of the world's most successful investors. There are investors and there are investors. Some invest in socially positive initiatives that do more than enrich the investor. Other investors are out to loot and pillage and the public good be damned. (Which reminds me; when is somebody going to write a book about Gerry Schwartz's investment adventure in Husky Injection Molding?)

What kind of investor is George Soros? The kind who makes billions in the most sophisticated currency speculation schemes imaginable. And he's really really good at it!

Alas, that does not quite bring the same suite of benefits to humanity as, say, being a really really good brain surgeon or scientist or school-teacher. But it does keep George rolling in billions, which he can then dole out to "democracy activists" in various states where he could conceivably, some day, find himself betting against the currency of that sovereign state in order to make even more billions!

But that's just my theory.

If you've got a better one, let me know.

The looting of Sears Canada

In yesterday's Globe and Mail business section, "retailing reporter" Marina Strauss offers yet another it's-all-over-but-the-crying insight into the slow and painful death of Sears Canada. This paragraph caught my eye;

 Sears's insolvency came after years of declines and red ink at the retailer amid shifting strategies and leaders. At the same time, its major U.S. shareholder – hedge fund manager Edward Lampert – profited from Sears Canada's asset sales over the years in the form of generous dividends while leaving relatively little money to invest in the chain.

That's the only mention of Edward Lampert. So he arranged for some generous dividends for himself, did he? Just how generous were they? Don't the folks at the Globe and Mail think that might be a relevant bit of info? I'd sure like to know!

This seems like an unfortunate oversight from an outfit that never tires of reminding us how great their professionally trained journalists are, how they speak truth to power, and blah blah blah... Anyway, since Marina won't tell me, I decided to look it up for myself.

According to, in the ten years before Sears Canada fell into the clutches of Ed Lampert, the company paid a modest dividend of .24 per share per year. That's $2.40 over ten years. Then our brilliant American hedgie gets his hands on the wheel, and the good times get a-rollin'!

First thing over the side is the Sears Canada credit card unit. That was considered the most valuable part of the company according to news stories of the day. It fetched almost three billions at auction! At that point, the company could have chosen to reinvest in the business, but who are we kidding!? That's not generally the business model that hedge funds pursue, so instead, within months of Lampert's arrival, there's a special dividend of $18.64 per share to spread the loot to the shareholders, especially himself! 

That's about 750% more paid out in the first year of King Eddie's reign than was paid out in the previous ten years combined!

Is this guy a genius or what!

And the special dividend gravy train had barely left the station. There followed special dividends totaling $7.00/share in 2010, another 100 million out the door in 2012, and yet another ten bucks/share in 2013!

The company that paid out a dividend of twenty-four cents/share per year before Eddie, paid out an average of $4.50/share/year over the first eight years after Eddie. 

In other words, over ten years before Eddie, the then profitable company paid out about a quarter of a billion dollars in dividends. In the ten years after Eddie, the now money-losing company paid out close to four billion dollars in dividends. And as the biggest shareholder, Eddie Lampert was the biggest beneficiary of these "special" dividends!

Ain't that special!

So now the game is over. Twelve thousand employees have an opportunity to find more meaningful work, and who needs a pension anyway?... 

But that's a small price to pay for this great system that brings so much prosperity to all of us.

More to some than to others.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Fallish weather at Falling Downs

I remember walking into the wee cottage inhabited by my old pal Robert and his wife Lisa some thirty years ago and remarking on the "fallish" weather.

Robert was a serious dude toying with a master's degree in English Lit at the time, and he wasted no time in correcting my grammar.

"It's not fallish, Neumann. It's autumnal."

I am functionally illiterate in several languages, but I took that lesson to heart. I can't help but think of Robert every time the weather turns autumnal. My old pal Robert never completed that degree, but he did turn out to be a guy who has managed to eke out a living as a writer and artist, and even got an invite to the Junos on account of one of his creations.

Not sure what he would have done with that "master's" degree. Marcus Gee has a goodly take-down of the corruption of language in his column at the Globe today. Gee is sufficiently genteel to avoid any references to "snowflakes," but he's more or less on board with my assessment of the Massey College brouhaha I wrote about two weeks ago.

That "chief" thing at the Toronto School Board is quite the exercise in political correctitude, is it not? I'm guessing it's only a matter of time before the title of CEO is erased from our vocabulary. It's derogatory to indigenous Canadians, so we are told. Stop using the word "chief" and everything will be cool.

If we don't use the word "chief," potable water will miraculously appear on reservations nationwide, and the horrendous suicide epidemic will be curtailed overnight...

Ya right.

Just like the way black folks started going to college instead of prison when we stopped calling them the n-word.

That's the problem with political correctitude. It allows well-intentioned (mostly) white folks to imagine that they're doing something while they're doing nothing.

But it is definitely turning fallish here at Falling Downs. Every day we see the geese tighten up their flying vees. In mid-summer those vees more often than not looked like W's or Y's or god knows what. There was interminable honking as the boss goose reprimanded the newbies.

Honk honk honk... fall back, Brucie, move up, Betty... and what the hell are you doing over there?... we're supposed to be a fucking "V"...

Lately they've got their shit together. Their overflights look a lot less like misshapen letters of the alphabet and a lot more like the proud Canadians who will imminently head off to beshit the beaches of the Carolinas for the next six months.

My old pal Robert is now my pal Iris. Lisa is long out of the picture. Ya, shit happens, I guess. At least I think she's still my pal, although I've not heard from her for a spell.



Who cares?

A friend is a friend is a friend...

And the weather has turned fallish here at Falling Downs.

Doug Saunders' nostalgia for a pre-Trump era

If you're a regular Globe and Mail reader you're no doubt well acquainted with Saunders' opinions re: POTUS 45. In Doug's world, 240 years of peace and freedom and progress vanished on the morning of January 20 into a massive flush heard 'round the world.

Doug's become a little obsessive about warning us of the dangers of Trump, to the point where he's reluctant to allow facts to get in the way of his obsession. Obviously, everything was better with Obama, whether it actually was or not. Or with Bush, or Clinton... and it goes without saying that America would be better off today if we had Hillary reading the teleprompter instead of Trump having unsupervised access to Twitter.

While we may never know what might have been, we should be able to agree on the historical record. Therefore I decided to do a little research after my bullshit detector spun a bearing as I was reading about the "Obama-era manufacturing renaissance in the United States..." in my Globe and Mail this morning.

What? There was an Obama era renaissance of manufacturing in the US? How did I miss that?

In actual fact, there was a net loss of some 300,000 US manufacturing jobs during Obama's tenure. Don't take my word for it; here's the Washington Post weighing in on the matter.

Enough with the fake news already, Doug!