This week has been progressing nicely, although I have to laugh at the surge in global equity prices and the sharp drop gold/silver miners following the French election. Populism is still strong and politicians are doing stupid things. Take the US’s institution of a 20% (average) tariff on Canadian lumber this week. Will that make US lumber companies more competitive, perhaps slightly. Will Canada, one of our largest trading partners and a country with which our trade is pretty balanced, retaliate. Yeah, most likely they will. I think US consumers are the ones who will lose on the back of higher costs and likely additional tariffs. I also see the American agricultural industry being a target, because America exports so many food stuffs to our neighbors……or perhaps I should say that we have historically exported lots of agricultural products (grain, meat, etc) to our neighbors. Instead, by pissing off Mexico and pulling out of the TPP we have exacerbated a supply glut in this country. American farmers need to export those products, because we harvest far more than we consume. I think a lot of American farms will go bankrupt over the next couple years because the cost of production has exceeded market prices for many products, like grain specifically, for two years running. Real farm income has declined four years in a row according to the USDA. That’s the longest decline since the 1970s. All the while, debt loads on the farms have risen as farmers try to buy time. I know markets will balance themselves eventually, as large amounts of acreage is pulled out of production, but I don’t like to see it happen on the backs of the American farmer. The next target appears to be the dairy industry. Stay tuned for the trade war…….
A quick note about family activities this week, and then I’ll get to the stock trades. As you know, we have a lot of flexibility in our schedule…..and we try to use it in the most productive/practical way. That’s what flexible independence is all about, right?! Well, I was surprised to notice a new class offered at the gym last week. It was called Kids Zumba, and I thought the Little Man would love it. (Note: Zumba is a trademarked fitness program that is basically fast paced dance type exercises set to pop or hispanic music.) Anyway, the Little Man loved it…..as we expected…..but I didn’t think Mrs. IS and I would have such a good time. I’m not a big fan of exercise classes, but picture 8 three and four year olds, the two of us, and an instructor. I only wish cameras were allowed in the gym, because it was too cute. The kids danced, hopped, and followed along with the exercises pretty well. Forty five minutes later, they were all smiling…..and so were we. That class a regular part of the Little Man’s weekly routine now, and it really helps him work his wiggles out Continue reading