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Business

Investing In A Pandemic World

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6 minute read

Launching an investment column in the midst of the biggest economic meltdown in investment history is a peculiar thing to do, and yet, here we are. Actually, the timing may be excellent: given the parameters and objectives of this column – how not to invest, as much as how to invest – what better time to wade in? If you’re a seasoned investor, the past few months most likely have you huddled in the basement under the stairs, sucking your thumb and rocking back and forth. The market has been pounded, and justifiably so – the strategy of governments to contain COVID-19 involves essentially shutting down large sectors of the economy. One can easily surmise that industries like tourism, air travel, etc. will be in big trouble; the problem is determining how far the rot goes – if an airline fails, or many of them, what industries does it take down with it? In a highly interconnected world, the answers are not clear.

Rather than panic and throw in the towel though (as some investors appear to have done), it is wise to stop hyperventilating if you can and consider the landscape without the lens of panic. First, the pounding in the stock market simply erased the extraordinary gains made in the past several years. As of writing, the S&P 500 Index ETF (exchange traded fund, which invests in a basket of stocks that mirrors the S&P 500 companies on behalf of individuals) is now back at a level of two years ago. Today’s data point might look like a disaster relative to the value of the portfolio 4 months ago, but that paper gain to the end of 2019 was a bit suspect anyway and most expected a market correction of some kind. Not quite like this one of course, but of some kind.

Second, governments around the world now have an arsenal of tools with which to stabilize economies. Or, more like they have a variety of smaller tools and one really big one: a great big freaking printing press to crank out money and shovel into the economy’s engines. There are many arguments as to why this is a bad idea in the long run, and they may all be right, but over the past few decades these strategies have become the norm. Government-led monetary tinkering, on ever-larger scales, saved the financial world in the 2008-9 Great Recession by flooding the world with bank-stabilizing money, and that success convinced those central bankers that this tool has no practical limits. The world is now so interlinked and dependent on central bankers’ policies that shouting about how they will destroy the financial world eventually is like a dog barking at a car. We need to think and act as though these policies aren’t going away. Because they’re not.

Governments, in this consumption-based world, can see the perils of allowing huge swathes of the global economy to perish. We may sneer = at a consumer-based culture, but we wet our pants when we consider the alternative. We need to learn to do things as cleanly as possible, but nowhere in the world does anyone want to see tourism grind to a halt, or people stop buying automobiles, or cosmetics, or any other mainstay of our economy.

As a result, those central banks and governments won’t let it happen. They will pump in money, and they will ease restrictions as soon as possible to get things back to work. It is a challenging time to consider putting money in the stock market (if you’re lucky enough to have some, and a job to boot), but some great companies are on sale in a huge way now. We can see, for example, that anything to do with the food/medicine/distribution systems is of critical importance. Given the fact that governments will print money to shove at anything the general population can’t live without, it is safe to assume those sectors will pull through. Same as natural gas and other industrially-critical materials – the whole climate change narrative has been stuffed in a trunk for the time being. No one wants to face next winter with a natural gas industry that’s gone out of business.

There is of course risk that the markets would continue to fall, based on the fact that there is so much uncertainty in the world with respect to demand erosion and recovery timing. But if the big blue-chip companies that provide our industrial lifelines go defunct and irreparably damage your portfolio, well, we’ll all have much bigger problems to worry about.

 

For more stories, visit Todayville Calgary

Terry Etam is a twenty-five-year veteran of Canada’s energy business. He has worked at a number of occupations spanning the finance, accounting, communications, and trading aspects of energy, and has written for several years on his own website Public Energy Number One and the widely-read industry site the BOE Report. In 2019, his first book, The End of Fossil Fuel Insanity, was published. Mr. Etam has been called an industry thought leader and the most influential voice in the oil patch. He lives in Calgary, Alberta.

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Alberta

Edmonton triples venture capital investment in 2023

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Alberta’s tech sector continues its strong momentum, with Edmonton seeing its strongest growth ever, proof Alberta remains a hot tech market.

As global and national investment have declined, Alberta has remained a strong tech market and is showing continued leadership, as shown by Pitchbook ranking Calgary as the 12th fastest-growing tech ecosystem in the world and LinkedIn ranking Calgary as one of the best places to hire and recruit tech workers.

At the end of 2023, Alberta’s five-year growth rate for venture capital dollars invested reached an impressive 48.5 per cent, more than triple Canada’s compounded average growth rate of 13 per cent, according to the 2023 Canadian Venture Capital Private Equity Association fourth-quarter report.

The province’s growth rate means Alberta finished 2023 with $707 million invested over 86 deals, in line with Alberta’s 2022 record-breaking year. In contrast, Canada ended the year with a 31 per cent decline in investments. Over the past five years, Alberta technology companies have secured more than $2.7 billion in venture capital funding across 350 deals, creating thousands of jobs for Albertans.

“While Canada as a whole saw massive declines, Alberta has held steady. We are a major venture capital player in Canada, as technology drives growth across all sectors.”

Nate Glubish, Minister of Technology and Innovation

Alberta’s two largest cities continued to attract investment dollars in 2023, with Calgary and Edmonton coming in fourth and fifth respectively for number of deals, with $501 million invested in 64 deals in Calgary and $188 million invested in 21 deals in Edmonton. Edmonton saw a 324 per cent increase from $58 million in 2022 to $188 million in 2023. In total, Alberta captured 10.3 per cent of dollars invested in 2023 and 13 per cent of venture capital deals in Canada.

“Edmonton’s tripling of venture capital investment in 2023 underscores our city’s position as a dynamic tech capital within Alberta’s thriving innovation ecosystem, reaffirming our role as a powerhouse driving technological advancement and economic prosperity across diverse sectors. It is the local innovators’ relentless pursuit of solutions to real-world problems, with the continuing support of the Government of Alberta, which not only attracts significant investment but also propels our city to the forefront of Alberta’s tech revolution and fosters job creation for our community.”

Launa Aspeslet, interim chief executive officer, Edmonton Unlimited

“At Platform Calgary we are working with our partners to continue this momentum by linking up high potential tech startups with the investors that can help them take their businesses to the next level. The evidence is clear, Alberta is emerging as one of the most exciting and resilient tech ecosystems in the world. Together with our growing tech community, we can secure Alberta’s position as the best place in the world for anyone to launch and grow a tech business.”

Terry Rock, president and chief executive officer, Platform Calgary 

Alberta remains a growing market for the technology and innovation sector, and Alberta’s government celebrates its steady contribution to the Alberta economy, including in the fourth quarter of 2023. The end of last year saw venture capital investments in the province increase by 35 per cent for dollars invested and 19 per cent for deals closed compared with the third quarter. There were 25 deals closed valued at a combined $173 million in the fourth quarter of 2023.

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Economy

Taxpayer watchdog slams Trudeau gov’t for increasing debt ceiling: ‘Put down the credit card’

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From LifeSiteNews

By Anthony Murdoch

Canadian Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland authorized an additional $73 billion in borrowing this fiscal year.

After Canadian Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland gave herself and the government the authority to borrow an additional $73 billion this fiscal year, the head of the nation’s leading taxpayer watchdog group said the federal government needs to “put down the credit card” and return to common-sense spending.

Freeland, as per a February 15 cabinet order made under the Financial Administration Act, allowed the extra borrowing to take place.

The government has set “$517 billion to be the maximum aggregate principal amount of money that may be borrowed” before April 1. Before this cabinet order, however, the maximum amount was $444 billion.

Despite Freeland claiming that the increase in borrowing is “in no way a blank cheque,” Canadian Taxpayers Federation federal director Franco Terrazzano said the borrowing needs to end.

“The Trudeau government needs to put down the credit card and pick up some scissors,” Terrazzano told LifeSiteNews.

“The government should be cutting spending and balancing the budget, not racking up more debt for years to come.”

In 2021, Canada’s Parliament raised the federal debt borrowing amount by a whopping 56% under the Borrowing Authority Act. The amount went from $1.168 trillion to $1.831 trillion.

“What it does is set a ceiling for how much the government can spend,” Freeland said at the time.

Terrazzano told LifeSiteNews that the Trudeau government should be cutting spending and balancing the budget, not racking up more debt for years to come.

Terrazzano observed that in the coming year the Trudeau government will be spending “more money on debt interest charges than it sends to the provinces in health transfers.”

“In a handful of years, every penny collected from the GST (Goods and Service Tax) will go toward paying interest on the debt,” he noted.

Under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, due to excessive COVID money printing, inflation has skyrocketed.

Last month, LifeSiteNews reported that fast-rising food costs in Canada have led to many people feeling a sense of “hopelessness and desperation” with nowhere to turn for help, according to the Canadian government’s own National Advisory Council on Poverty.

Last year, the Bank of Canada acknowledged that Trudeau’s federal “climate change” programs, which have been deemed “extreme” by some provincial leaders, are indeed helping to fuel inflation.

Terrazzano told LifeSiteNews that Trudeau should “completely scrap his carbon tax,” which is making everything more expensive.

Conservatives blast increased debt

Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) MPs have been critical of the raised debt ceiling. “You’re simply saying, ‘Give me a blank cheque and then trust me,’” MP Ed Fast said.

Freeland claimed that the “characterization of the borrowing authority limit as a blank cheque is simply false.”

CPC leader Pierre Poilievre recently asked, “Is there a dollar figure to which she would limit the debt?”

She replied that the government is “mindful that limits exist.”

During a February 13 Senate national finance committee meeting, Budget Officer Yves Giroux noted how Trudeau’s cabinet plans in terms of spending are not clear.

“We don’t know exactly what the government plans on spending or doing in terms of new spending or potential spending,” he said when asked by Senator Elizabeth Marshall if the new borrowing limits are “still realistic.”

Marshall added, “As it stands now, do you think it looks reasonable?”

“It looks sufficient, but the government always wants to give itself some room to maneuver in case there are unforeseen events that require borrowing on short notice,” Giroux replied.

A report from September 5, 2023, by Statistics Canada shows food prices are rising faster than headline inflation at a rate of between 10% and 18% per year.

According to a recent Statistics Canada survey of supermarket prices, Canadians are paying 12% more for carrots, 14% more for hamburger (ground meat), and 27% more for baby formula.

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