Kiera and I hang’n out at Point Pelee, the southernmost tip of mainland Canada. (Middle Island is actually the Southernmost point in Canada.)
The point I’m trying to make (yes, there actually is one!) is exactly what I wrote last year, i.e., personal resources (time and money) directed towards experiences as against “stuff” are the keys to both short and long term happiness. This is one of the reasons we feel so good when we are engaged in acts of giving through its many different levels – not just money, but also time, friendship and, most important … love.
MAR 6, 2023
Time to feed the goose
BY KEITH THOMSON
Please find below two CI Private Wealth tax resources which may assist you in dealing with your 2022 and 2023 tax reporting.
CIPW 2023 Personal Tax Calendar
CIPW 2022 Personal Income Tax Organizer
As we prepare for this year’s “plucking” perhaps the article below will help minimize the “hissing”. The article, written by Ryan Holiday, is directed towards an American audience (with a Stoic bent). However, if you change the date to April 30th, the message is no different for us Canadians.
The Taxes of Life
Daily Stoic - Ryan Holiday
"April 17th is the day that Americans pay their taxes. It’s a day of mixed reactions depending on your outlook and politics. Some choose to focus on the good things their taxes pay for and have paid for since Roman times—the roads, the armies, services for the poor. Others focus on the waste (tax corruption and waste is also as old as Rome) or question the morality of the system altogether. Last year when we posted a note about taxes, a number of comments wrote angrily that “taxation is theft!” while others angrily responded to those commenters with defenses of their own. (All this anger being somewhat ironic for Stoics.)
In a way, this misses the point. What we should be doing is zooming out and looking at the larger picture: People have been complaining about their taxes since the beginning of civilization. And what has become of it? Taxes are higher than ever and they’re dead. Death and taxes. There is no escape. So let us waste no time and create no misery kicking and screaming about it. Let us not add to our tax bracket the cost of frustration and resentment.
Taxes are an inevitable part of life. There is a cost to everything we do. As Seneca wrote to Lucilius, “All the things which cause complaint or dread are like the taxes of life—things from which, my dear Lucilius, you should never hope for exemption or seek escape.” Income taxes are not the only taxes you pay in life. They are just the financial form. Everything we do has a toll attached to it. Waiting around is a tax on traveling. Rumors and gossip are the taxes that come from acquiring a public persona. Disagreements and occasional frustration are taxes placed on even the happiest of relationships. Theft is a tax on abundance and having things that other people want. Stress and problems are tariffs that come attached to success. And on and on and on.
There’s no reason or time to be angry about any of this. Instead, we should be grateful. Because taxes—literal or figurative—are impossible without wealth. So what are you going to focus on? That you owe something, or that you are lucky enough to own something that can be taxed."
Taxes are our way of feeding the goose that lays the golden eggs of freedom, democracy and enterprise. Someone says, 'Well, the goose eats too much!’. That’s probably true. But better a fat goose than no goose at all.
FEB 22, 2023
The grand unifying theory for successful investing
BY KEITH THOMSON
Over the last few years I have found myself increasingly attracted to living a life based on the tenants of Stoicism. This school of philosophy was founded over 2,000 years ago and is currently enjoying a huge renaissance. One of Stoicism’s fundamental principles is the concept of control. Or as Epictetus, arguably the school’s most famous student, once wrote:
“To achieve freedom and happiness, you need to grasp this basic truth: some things are under your control, and others are not. Within our control are your own opinions, aspirations, desires, and the things that repel you. We always have a choice about the contents and character of our inner lives. Not within your control is literally everything else. You must remember these things are externals, and none of your concern.”
Delineating between what is “in your control” and “out of your control” is also critically important when it comes to the school of investing. To that end, I share with you below the Stoic influenced graphic which I refer, somewhat ambitiously, as … “The Grand Unifying Theory for Successful Investing".
With investing, as with most things in life, knowing what to ignore is more often than not the key to success. Ignoring the things you can not control (i.e. stock market, inflation, corporate earnings, interest rates, etc.) is the first step towards a lifetime of investment success.
Step two is focusing on what you can control (i.e. your asset allocation, behaviour, media consumption, taxes, etc.). The good news is that only two of these “in my control” items (i.e. your behaviour and asset allocation) account for the overwhelming majority of your long term investment returns. Specifically, making sure your behaviour is governed by your head and not your heart and that your asset allocation is heavily weighted towards a diversified portfolio of profitable companies.
And there you have it, “The Grand Unifying Theory for Successful Investing”. Easy to comprehend … but actually quite difficult to do.
P.S. If you are interested in learning more about Stoicism I can not think of a better introduction than Marcus Aurelius’ book, “Meditations”.
The single most important variable in your quest for equity investment success is also the only variable that you ultimately control: your own behavior.
JAN 16, 2023
What we believe
BY KEITH THOMSON
If you are a client reading this, I trust you are a long-term, goal-focused, plan-driven equity investor. We believe that lifetime investment success comes from acting continuously on our plan. Likewise, we also believe substandard returns, and even lifetime investment failure, come from reacting to current events. The unforeseen and indeed unforeseeable economic, market, political and geopolitical chaos of the three years since the onset of the pandemic demonstrates conclusively that the economy can never be consistently forecast nor the market consistently timed. Therefore we continue to believe that the most reliable way to capture the full return of equities is to ride out their frequent, but historically always temporary, declines. These will always be the bedrock convictions that inform our investment policy, as we pursue your most important financial goals together.
Unrelieved chaos continued in 2022. The major drama of the year—and, it seems likely, of the coming year—were the central bank’s belated but very aggressive efforts to bring inflation under control. After rising seven times in the nearly 13 years between the trough of the Global Financial Crisis (March 9, 2009) and January 3, 2022 the U.S. equity market sold off sharply; at its most recent trough in October, the S&P 500 was down 27%. (Bond prices also swooned in response to sharply higher interest rates.)
It seems to me more than a little ironic that, after the serial nightmares through which it's suffered since the onset of the pandemic early in 2020, the mainstream equity market managed to close out 2022 somewhat higher than it was at the end of 2019 (3,840 versus 3,231 for a gain of 19%). Not great, but not at all bad for three years during which our entire economic, financial, political and geopolitical world blew up. If anything, this tends to validate our core investment strategy over these three years, which—simply stated—has been: stand fast, tune out the noise and continue to work your long-term plan. Needless to say, that continues to be my recommendation, and in the strongest possible terms.
The burning question of the hour seems to be whether and to what extent the U.S. Fed and the Bank of Canada in its inflation-fighting zeal, might tip the economy into recession at some point—if it hasn't already done so. Over the coming year, the way this plays out may determine the near-term trend of equity prices. My position continues to be that this outcome is quite simply unknowable, and that one cannot make rational investment policy out of an unknowable. That said, I continue to believe strongly that whatever it takes to put out the inflationary fire will be well worth it. Inflation is a cancer that affects everyone in our society; if recession proves to be the painful chemotherapy required to destroy that cancer … then so be it.
Although this may be hard to remember every time the market gyrates (and financial journalism shrieks) over some meaningless monthly economic datum or other, you and I are not investing in the macroeconomy. Our portfolios largely consist of the ownership of enduringly successful companies—businesses that are even now refining their strategies opportunistically to meet the needs and wants of an eight billion person world. I like what we own. As I always say—but can never say enough—thank you for being my clients. It is a genuine privilege to serve you.
Recessions and bear markets are very easy to predict, except for the timing, cause, magnitude, duration, location, and policy response.
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