Friday, November 7, 2008

Short Takes #4

1. The Wealthy Boomer reports that Canadians are dumping mutual funds but buying ETFs (the web page with this article has disappeared since the time of writing). This is encouraging news if Canadians stick to low-cost ETFs. High-cost ETFs exist, and more are likely to pop up. Much of the financial industry is willing to call their products anything as long as they can continue to collect fat fees.

2. The Big Cajun Man debates what to do with his pension after getting laid off from Nortel. He can either take the lump sum and put it in a retirement account or leave it where it is and draw a pension when he is old enough. An actuary can crunch all the numbers, but this will ignore the most important consideration: will the money still be there to draw a pension? Nortel’s pension plan is hopelessly underfunded right now, and business prospects aren’t good.

3. For fixed-income investors who want higher returns, two possible strategies are to choose higher-risk bonds or to choose longer bond maturities. Preet explains that adding equity exposure gives better returns for the amount of risk compared to higher-risk bonds, and that longer bond maturities don’t give a good risk-return payoff.

4. Larry MacDonald shows that Canadian bank stocks are undervalued based on comparing their dividend yields to Canadian bond yields.

5. As I’ve explained before, Bell’s internet service just doesn’t work at my house. Yet another mailing arrived this week imploring me to “come back to Bell.” For only $17.95/month plus some fine print details that would roughly triple this price, I could get wireless home networking that would then fail to connect anywhere outside my house.


  1. Frickin Bell. They are still sending us bills for $0.00 two years after cancellation. I've asked them to think of the environment ... no dice. I think they may literally be the worst company in the western world to deal with.

  2. Thanks for the mention, I still have not heard about my pension which always makes me nervous, stay tuned!

  3. Guinness416: I've had some frustrating dealings with Bell, but never a bill for $0.00. However, I still get statements from a cleaned out Royal Bank RRSP that was left with $0.58 fifteen years ago. For a while I tried to get them to give the pennies to charity or charge me some sort of fee to close the account. Now, I just look at the nice pie chart of my 100% cash allocation and laugh at them. I suspect that they use it as a way to keep me on the mailing list. The statement always comes with lots of marketing material.

  4. Thanks for the links Michael James - have a great weekend!