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No need for oxygen yet…but be a little wary

Alan SteelIt’s a while since I wrote anything about Canada. Thought it would be a welcome change from all this Brexit navel-gazing. And as luck would have it I’m just back from a 23-day trip there. Part of my odyssey over the last couple of years scouring the globe for signs of this recession they keep talking about on the telly.

So we’ve tried New Zealand, North and South Islands. All the way across Australia from Perth to Sydney ensuring we popped into the Barossa, McLaren Vale and Margaret River wine areas along the way to add to our five a day for sustenance. We’ve checked out Ibiza and the Canaries, dropped into Jersey and Cumbria, had the odd scouting trip to Florida, and passed through too many airports en route. No sign of slow down so far.

Canada seemed a decent bet, we thought. Especially the “poorer” Maritimes like Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, given that we’d heard everybody there had hot-footed it to Alberta and Vancouver where you can’t buy a hoose for love nor money (according to my Auntie Irene over there who studies these things via the TV News)

So off we went via Glasgow Airport on a Westjet six-hour direct flight to Halifax. First time there for a couple of years and then on to Newfoundland where we last visited 10 years earlier in June were stuck for days thanks to freezing fog! Nae wonder, I hear you say…. flying away up there. Which brings me to a favourite question I’ve found valuable when it comes to separating fact from the fiction spread by daily TV news: “What do you believe to be true that’s actually false?”

Take Nova Scotia for example. When we bought a holiday home on the South Shore there over ten years ago, people kept asking why we’d bought a house “away up there for?” Go check a world map and you’ll discover that its capital Halifax is on the same line of latitude as Toulouse and Turin. Which may explain why summers there are typically 25C to 30C highs , and why humming birds arrive for their holidays from Mexico.

And the Nova Scotia you see on your atlas is not the right way up thanks to the real life curve of the planet. What seems to be East is actually South. Yes really.


‘A packed Glasgow Airport and a full plane to Halifax gave the game away’


The flight out was a hoot thanks to the senior stewardess’s sense of humour. Best laughs came from her safety demonstration… “In the event of cabin pressure failing , oxygen masks and clean underwear will fall from a panel above your head”…..”and now I’ll repeat that en Francais, which is French for French.”

So what did we find? Well, perhaps a packed Glasgow Airport and a full plane to Halifax gave the game away. Follow that with a bustling St John’s in Newfoundland with its suburb “Paradise” the fastest-growing in Canada. Not sure why other local spots Cupids, Conception Bay and Dildo aren’t growing as quickly. South Shore Nova Scotia was packed with tourists, more than half of which were from the US (maybe they were visiting before Trump builds his walls).

So, no recession here, folks. Neither was there any signs on our trip across Canada to Vancouver via Toronto. But while I was there, any time you switched on the telly, all you got was doom and gloom. No Brexit mind, but “the Tech Bubble is over”, “Inflation in the US is about to explode” (they’ve been spinning this for nine years) and “Interest rate hikes are imminent”. Though since when was a one four hundredth increase a hike?

Don’t worry folks about recession appearing any day soon over in British Columbia folks. It’s manic over there. Then you come home, and it’s announced that the US, which was supposed to be at death’s door, posts its biggest increase in economic activity in years, and Apple, which was supposed to be struggling, becomes the first one trillion dollar company.

Mind you, in my career all the way back to the early 1970s I’ve learned to be a bit wary when things look a bit too good to be true. Investor sentiment numbers currently show there’s little sign of exuberance right now (a good sign) but when you remember this current economic expansion is now the second longest in history, and you remember what can happen when they end, while there’s no need yet for oxygen or clean underwear, it’s not a bad idea to loosely fasten your seatbelt. For your comfort and safety.

Alan Steel is chairman of Alan Steel Asset Management

Alan Steel Asset Management is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. This article contains the personal views of Alan Steel and should not be construed as advice. Do check your individual circumstances with your advisers.

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