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bob adamson

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  • Canadian Housing: It Actually Is Different This Time [View article]
    The Bank of Canada today lowered its benchmark interest rate from 1% to .75% which is having the intended effect of encouraging the current slide of the Canadian dollar exchange rate to around 80 cents US$.

    This will help decrease the domestic cost of production for global marketing purposes for many manufacturing and commercial sectors across Canada (including the Canadian oil and NG sector), but it will add unwanted stimulus fueling domestic consumer debt and the housing market.

    Arguably this will stabilize the domestic real estate market and consumer spending in the short term (i.e. Through the 2015 Canadian Federal General Election), but increase the attendant problems going forward unless the Canadian Government, CMHC and BOC can lean upon the Chartered Banks and other private sector lending institutions to tighten mortgage and other lending requirements sufficiently. Whether, this will happen before the election (scheduled for the Fall) is doubtful.
    Jan 21, 2015. 12:52 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • German Outrage Could Queer Deal [View article]
    R P

    Travelling down memory lane last week were you?

    All I was saying in May of 2010 was that the EU member States had at that juncture avoided the immediate crisis and therefore had a basis for carrying out the protracted and messy (and therefore very difficult) measures needed for reform and recovery.

    Clearly the necessary but difficult choices were not sufficiently taken and further geopolitical problems since that date now make the way forward for the EU even more dangerous and difficult.
    Oct 25, 2014. 05:57 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • How An Independent Scotland Could Become Prosperous [View article]
    Happily the SNP realizes that it already will have many serious challenges to face if it becomes responsible for guiding Scotland through the extremely difficult transition to independence. Adding to these difficulties by seeking to play Russia (which would avoid like the plague adding to its difficulties by participating in this game) off against NATO (which would treat Scotland like a pariah) leaving Scotland isolated and judged by the international community to be incompetently governed.

    International relations are played by different rule than would apply when two companies are in a bidding war for control of a third company.
    Sep 14, 2014. 05:36 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Did Mark Carney Derail Scotland's Dalliance With Independence? [View article]

    As a Canadian reflecting upon four or more decades (and two Québec Sovereignty Referendums and one pan Canadian Referendum) concerning whether certain major changes to the Canadian Constitution should be adopted, I have reached two conclusions about referendums of this sort that might be of interest in the context of the current referendum.

    The first is that an advanced, large, multinational, democratic State like the UK or Canada (or the US?) cannot exist for long and thrive in the 21st century through rigid and sterile maintenance of the constitutional status quo; the balance of central government jurisdiction and that governing national groups and regions within such a State needs to be flexible and periodically re-balanced to keep the component interests working in reasonable harmony in the best interests of all concerned. Viewed objectively, it would be very surprising if the many social, cultural, historical, economic and geopolitical issues, all of which are in flux, could be adequately managed by an unchanging constitutional system over time.

    The second follows from the first and is that referendums like that now in Scotland don’t in themselves resolve the existential issues they purport to address; they do, however, draw into sharp focus the pressing need for countries such as Canada and the UK (i.e. complex multinational societies) to give ongoing attention to the relationships between its peoples and the government structures that institutionalize these relationships. It is wise and focussed attention to finding and implementing creative and viable improvements after the dust of a referendum campaign settles where real solutions can be found.

    A rigid status quo is a sterile dead-end and total independence is impossible in the modern world. The deeper question for both the larger jurisdiction (i.e. the UK or Canada) and the disaffected component nation (i.e. Scotland or Québec) is how a better balance between the central government and the government of that national group and also amongst all the component groups groups or nations can be gained and be reflected in jurisdictional arrangements that work well for all concerned. Even if this means that the larger union is dissolved, much mutual dependence continues and needs to be formalized if both the successor States are to prosper and get on with their futures in a healthy manner, but much can be done productively to reform a Union thereby avoiding the added stress and transition adjustment entailed in even the most benign dissolution of a political union.

    In short, the Scottish Referendum, regardless of its outcome, will only be the beginning and not the conclusion of the quest by national groups within the UK, regions within England and the UK as a whole to redefine their place within the British Isles, Europe and the world generally. The current constitutional structure of the UK (i.e. essentially a unitary parliamentary democracy with its dominant political centre at Westminister) is creaking seriously under the strains of centrifugal forces generated by demands within the UK for new power centres outside London and within the EU for greater European political integration. It will be a long and difficult struggle for the UK and its constituent nations and regions to find and institute a new constitutional balance they will find to be adequate; a struggle further complicate by the fact 85% of the UK population is centred in England and many English believe they remain best served by the constitutional status quo.
    Sep 14, 2014. 05:20 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • TransCanada mulls rail bridge if Keystone delays continue [View news story]
    Keystone arguably makes the most sense as a conduit for bitumen for existing Gulf Coast refining capacity than for exclusive transportation of light sweet crude such as that from Bakken.
    Dec 22, 2013. 12:20 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Enbridge's Northern Gateway pipeline approved [View news story]
    Enbridge and the Canadian Federal Government, both of which really wanted this project to proceed, handled the consultations in British Columbia very badly from the offset. Whether justified or not the impression created was that the project would proceed as proposed, the consultation and review process was merely a formality and reservations or concerns that might be expressed were prima facie without real merit.

    Belatedly Enbridge undertook serious negotiations with First Nations groups and other interested groups and began revising the details of their proposal to address the special circumstances entailed in running a pipeline across 7 mountain ranges and exporting bitumen by tanker through some of the most challenging coastal waters of the North Pacific. This delay was fatal to the possibility that the majority in BC would have trust in the intentions of both Enbridge and the Federal Government with regard to the project proposal however presented.

    Arguably, if Enbridge and the Federal Government had from the offset proceeded in a less ham handed and arrogant manner there would have been a better reception, even within First Nation circles. The contrast between the later rollout of and reception to ambitious LNG development proposals in north west BC and the Northern Gateway fiasco make my point.

    Both the BC Provincial Government and the Federal Government implicitly would like some modified version of the Northern Gateway project to proceed but each is distancing itself from Enbridge. The project is simply too toxic politically at present.
    Dec 22, 2013. 12:09 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Canada, EU to sign free-trade deal [View news story]
    The following three articles outline the nature and scope of the proposed Canada-EU trade agreement in some detail.
    Oct 20, 2013. 01:12 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Canadians soon to see a la carte TV packages [View news story]
    There may be unintended (at least by the consumers) consequences however.

    The range of quirky but interesting channels of cultural, wildlife, historical, regional, political and the like interest might likely shrivel. Free market purists will retort to this by saying that if such channels can't generate enough subscription revenue, then they should fail.

    Fair comment but a TV universe consisting of sports, crime, vampire, reality, broad comedy and similar shows will be a vapid place.
    Oct 18, 2013. 09:10 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • House scraps vote; deal now in Senate hands [View news story]
    Say what you will, under the US Congressional System of Government one often sees in times of serious disputes over public policy an overt and unvarnished example of what Count Bismarck meant (paraphrased: It's best not to see sausage making or law making in action - it spoils the appetite).
    Oct 15, 2013. 09:11 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • President still at odds with House Republicans as Senate negotiates [View news story]

    I'm sure the illustrations I gave could be duplicated or exceeded by ones focused upon the innovation contributions of many other countries.

    My point is not that the US has not generated a large portion of the medical innovation for many decades, that other countries are somehow intrinsically better at this or that much of that innovation has really been ground-breaking. I was simply suggesting that the economic model within which US medical innovation works
    (a) favours a focus upon the hopes and fears of the affluent members of a more affluent society,
    (b) one consequence of this focus is that marginal improvements (or a least changes) in the drugs and procedures related to diseases and conditions of interest to this segment of the population (erectile dysfunction, aging, sleep and mood disorders etc.) receive a disproportionate attention while basic public health measures and research (which often address these issues more efficiently and effectively) and research into common diseases of the broader global population (but also of low income members of the US population) does not receive due attention, and
    (c) research in the US tends to be, relatively speaking, high cost because of the forgoing.

    This is not exclusively a US phenomena but it is noteworthy in the US context.

    I make these observations for you and others to consider. It is clearly not possible for either you or I to fully explore this topic within the confines of these comments and I suggest we each have now already given a summary of the way we each view matters.
    Oct 15, 2013. 05:43 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • President still at odds with House Republicans as Senate negotiates [View news story]

    A million dollars (adjusted for inflation) worth of steel production in one country is roughly comparable to a million dollars worth of steel production in the following year in another country. A million dollars spent on research may prove totally unproductive or productive only in the development of an innovation of little ultimate value while one hundred thousand dollars of well or fortuitously targeted research might lead to an epoch changing medical improvement - further, the spending of these sums might lead to quite different outcomes in one country or on one team of researchers as opposed to others because of the talents, unique resources and experiences of the individual researchers.

    Here's a rough analogy. The research budgets of IBM or Xerox were undoubtedly much greater annually in the early1980s than they were for Apple or Microsoft.

    Here, by the way, is a further report today of potentially productive research by an international collaborative effort:
    Oct 15, 2013. 01:08 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • President still at odds with House Republicans as Senate negotiates [View news story]

    I don't see a way of calculating 'the amount of innovation' of one country vs. another. To my mind innovation lacks a common denominator and a common unit of measure for purposes of comparisons whether they be the innovation entailed in two different inventions or the rate of innovation between two countries.

    Two other complicating factors are that:
    1. Much research today involves cooperation between researchers and research institutions located in several countries.
    2. Likewise, many of the corporations that scale up and bring innovated products to market are international in scope to an extent that it becomes largely artificial to ascribe an innovation such a corporation brings to market as the product solely of the country where that company is headquartered.
    Oct 15, 2013. 12:05 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • President still at odds with House Republicans as Senate negotiates [View news story]

    Here is a quickly assembled and rather random list of recent activities involving Canadian research:
    Oct 14, 2013. 05:37 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • President still at odds with House Republicans as Senate negotiates [View news story]

    I'm sure that there is blame to go all around concerning the current impasse. My only real point here is that the US Constitution, though it has many fine features, doesn't currently provide a timely avenue for recourse to the electorate (or to the threat of going to the electorate) to promote resolution of impasses.

    You might think at first blush that giving the executive the capacity to force an election tilts the system in favour of the executive over the legislative component of government. Consider, however, what would happen to the executive if it forced an election and the electorate voted significantly to elect those who opposed the executive - the executive becomes lame duck.
    Oct 14, 2013. 03:52 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • President still at odds with House Republicans as Senate negotiates [View news story]
    curls -

    There are good features to the US health care market scene, one being the impetus it gives to innovation in drugs and devices. That said,
    (a) arguably a disproportionate portion of this impetus focuses upon the cosmetic (ex. Botox) and high cost intervention (ex. imaging, stents and end of life) at the expense of public health and low profit cures and remediation, especially of diseases and conditions that generally don't target affluent people, and
    (b) you'd be surprised how much innovation occurs in countries other than the US.

    The general picture doesn't fit neatly into any ideological box.
    Oct 14, 2013. 03:40 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment