Friday, November 8, 2019

Short Takes: Future of ETFs, Canadians’ Debt, and more

Here are my posts for the past two weeks:

Now We Know What Followed the Lost Decade for Stocks

The Clash of the Cultures

Here are some short takes and some weekend reading:

The Rational Reminder Podcast looks at the future of ETFs in a very interesting interview with Dave Nadig, founder of Nadig also has some pragmatic ideas for how to pay for financial advice.

Robb Engen at Boomer and Echo says Canadians have an income problem, not a debt problem. This is undoubtedly true for some people. However, there are others who are going to outspend whatever income they get. The question in my mind is how is viewing the problem this way going to help? Probably the biggest effect is that it allows people with big debts to decide the problem is someone else’s fault. This is more likely to trigger giving up than solving anything. On the positive side, it might spur some people to seek higher income. I find the change in expectations since I was a young adult interesting. Houses and cars are expensive today. When I was young, it wasn’t unusual at all for young people to rent an apartment and not own a car. This was common, even for married couples with young children. Fortunately, the standard of living has risen since then. But living standards apparently haven’t risen enough yet for every family to have a house and two cars.

The Blunt Bean Counter explains the tax implications when a spouse dies.


  1. Hi Michael, there's a generation that wants to wag their fingers at young people for borrowing, and they get worked up over bogus surveys like that MNP one saying half of us are on the brink of insolvency (not even close to being true).

    The situation is highly nuanced and I just think we need to move past sweeping generalizations and look at some more systemic issues that are prevalent today. High cost of housing, post-secondary, and child care are all issues that weren't around a generation ago. And while I agree that people need to live within their means, I'm trying hard to understand (as a guy from low cost of living Lethbridge, AB) what families must be going through in Vancouver and Toronto.

    Meanwhile we also have an older generation criticizing the younger generation for their "failure to launch", living at home or renting into their 30s. But we can't say "live within your means" in one breath and then "get out and be an adult, buy a house, and get married" in the next breath. If they stay at home or rent, they get branded a loser, and if they go out and overextend themselves on a house purchase, or have kids early, they're reckless spenders. You see what I mean?

    1. @Robb: Yes, I do see what you mean. Complaints about "young people today" have been around for at least hundreds of years (Jason Zweig put together an amusing compilation going back 25 years at a time for 5 or so centuries). My generation was lazy and useless apparently because of too much TV.

      Even in the face of unfair criticism we have to try to make good choices, not to please our parents and grandparents, but to live decent lives ourselves. Getting into too much debt hurts people regardless of how they got into debt.

      It's important to recognize that some of this debt arose because we try to meet our parents' expectations, but much of it comes from effective marketing. I never told my sons to buy a house or car or get a credit card, but they still feel they need them to be seen in the world as successes. That's effective marketing.

      My earlier comment may have seemed like just more criticism of young people, but I really meant to just focus on what was "going to help." We can complain about the system, but in the end, we have little choice but to make better choices despite the problems with the system.