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The nipper

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This is Fred.

Dave took the picture thirty years ago and sent me this scan from an old 35mm slide. “If you care to use it,” he said. I do.

After yesterday’s post and comments, the tearing-apart and shredding of each other, the online unreality of our lives, the bickering, insults, conspiracies, pathetic polarization and geriatric swaggering, I was calmed to read his note. So shut up and do the same:

Many years ago we had a dairy farm, and as all good cow-men should, we owned a Border Collie. For whatever whimsical reasons, he started out life as “Fred”. This dog had a penchant for posing whenever I had a camera with me.

Almost from the first day on the job as a pup, and with very little training, he had an inbred knack of being able to round up the herd of cows at milking time.  After a few weeks, I could stand at the barn door, tell Fred to “Go Get ‘Em!”, and wait patiently till he had herded the bovines back to the barn from one pasture or another.

It was uncanny watching him work the cows, quickly slipping to and fro, or giving forth with a menacing growl or bark every now and then to keep a reluctant stray in line.  Early on, when attempting to nip a wayward cow to prove his mastery over her, he suffered a swift kick to the chops….and that was the end of the cattle-nipping forever!

(Although the mud flaps on the milk truck acted as a surrogate and took one HELL of a beating….He would latch onto them and get himself dragged down the lane-way, snarling and chewing all the way…He did this for years, and more than once we bought a pair of replacement flaps for the truck driver!)

Fred, the cows and the farm are now decades-gone…. all sorely missed, but I still treasure the memories.

The cow-man also said he hopes the blog will help find “a bit of common ground between the radicals, both right and left.”

Cows. A barn. A faithful farm dog and family. The basics. Instead it’s a world of QAnon, BIPOCs, hydroxychloroquine, CERB, tweets, coronavirus and chaos. Social media could have connected everyone, but now divides us into smaller, angrier chunks. All it takes is a talented demagogue with a Twitter account to start the fire. People don’t know what’s real or truthful anymore when media filters have been labeled ‘fake news’ and Google dishes up whatever facts you fancy. The result is inevitable. Suspicion. Division. The arguments grow extreme and the labels worse. Socialists. Racists. Settlers. Supremacists.

Could things come off the rails next week? That would hardly be a surprise. If there’s no immediately clear outcome in America, the whole world will be impacted. The mess will be temporary since Covid will dissipate and growth resume, no matter who the leader ends up being. But a lot of mud flaps will die in the meantime.

Unless absolutely compelled by events, this blog will not talking again in the next six days about you-know-who or the other guy. Please join me. Hey, maybe we could buy some cattle. Who’s in?

$     $     $

So we now know just a titch under 800,000 families stopped making mortgage payments when the virus came. This was historic. Nothing in the past ever came close to the revenue hit the banks took from lost cash flow on $180 billion in loans. They will not soon forget.

Here are some consequences:

A poll by Forum Research finds that one in eight borrowers won’t be able to resume payments in the next 12 months. They’ll have to ask for a further deferral. Banks can grant that, but must record the loan as non-performing – with bookkeeping implications.

Meanwhile RBC figures up to 20% of all the deferrers are still unemployed. That suggests a deferral cliff continues to loom, and you should expect a little storm of listings in the coming months. Following that disruption, bond yields will start to rise and downtowns repopulate when the virus recedes in earnest a year from now. You may wish you’d bought a condo when they were cheap and regret purchasing in the boonies. (Unless you have cows, of course. And a collie.)

Finally, as deferrals end and jobs stay scarce, many people will want to refinance their homes in order to take equity out. “Unfortunately, there could also be more resistance from lenders to approve COVID-impacted applicants,” says “That’s especially true for those with a mortgage deferral on their credit report.”

Most whacked will be folks with jobs in “vulnerable” industries, like food service, entertainment or travel plus those whose total debt costs equal more than 40% of gross monthly income and, of course, the self-employed or anyone on commission.

Wait. Not paying your debt has consequences? Sounds fake.


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