On Friday, when we heard about a torrent of new jobs in Canada, this blog attempted some context. After all, the economy reopened a lot this summer. Patios bustling. Airplanes full. More traffic. Normality is creeping back – albeit slowly (GTA commuter train traffic is still 80% below pre-pandemic levels) – and this will continue.
For investors, or anyone just trying to grow their TFSA a little, the times have been extraordinary. Bay Street is up almost 30% in a year. Low-vol balanced portfolios have added double-digits in 2021. Money borrowed at 2% has returned 10%, plus tax-deductible interest. It’s just one of those times when it’s hard to miss. The reopening trade is probably only starting. Only a fraction of the world is vaccinated, so the rebound in global GDP will be taking place over the next few years. More commodity demand. Higher prices. Good for Canada.
That’s the context. And with 400,000 jobs added in the last three months there’s much to be confident about, despite the country’s balance sheet. The repopulation of downtowns as WFH fades into history during 2022 will bring commerce and employment. Remember that periods of expansion are long and contractions are short. The Covid crash was, we now know, not much more than a temporary blip. Market gains since the bottom in March of 2020 have been spectacular. Those who sold and hid in cash will long regret their fear.
Now, back to Friday. The point was simple. Vaccinations breed growth. That feeds the markets. It’s why you should maintain a good Canadian exposure (20%) in your portfolio. Our national fully-vaxed rate is 77%, considerably above the US (54%) or the world in general (29%). As Vaxports are rolled out in most provinces over the next three months, our numbers will increase. So will economic activity. So will financial assets.
The idea of the passports is simple. By removing social (and often employment) privileges from the unvaccinated, the doubters and hesitators are encouraged to become inoculated, corralling the virus and easing the health care load. It may be a crude tool, but short of mandatory jabs for the entire population, this is the best way of accelerating the path to a pre-Covid world.
It will happen. And ironically – with a week left in this federal election campaign – the vocal and increasingly militant anti-vax lobby may be ensuring their choices narrow and that their arms may soon be jabbed.
Fact: Mad Max Bernier is the Canadian champ of the vaccine deniers. He’s refused to take the serum. He’s been arrested for breaking public health rules. His supporters have trashed Trudeau, tossed gravel and profanities at him, and made the current PM look more courageous and stalwart for standing up to their adolescent tirades.
Fact: Bernier’s support in the polls has grown as the anti-vax campaign has strengthened, as more employers have mandated inoculation of employees and as the vaccine passports are adopted by provincial governments. The guy is now at something between 6% and 12%, depending on the pollster. That has eclipsed the Bloc and left the Greens in the dust.
Fact: MPs get elected by having a concentration of support in a single electoral district. This is why the Libs garnered a majority in 2019 even though the Cons received more votes. It’s all about distribution. Math. In no riding are there enough ani-vaxers to push a PPC candidate over the finish line. Max may win his own seat – it’s possible – but he will lead nothing. Ever.
Fact: Every Max vote is one less Erin ballot, since there’s little doubt the give-me-liberty crowd (of fearful, selfish people) are rightists. If the PPC sucks off 10% of available support, or even 5%, that’s enough to ensure Mr. Trudeau is prime minister for four years. Even if it’s minority, the NDP will gladly keep his party in power, augmenting its influence and accomplishing its agenda.
Fact: A Liberal win is the green light for an extended, enhanced program of mass vaccination. Trudeau has made it crystal where he stands. It would be only a matter of time before the Vaxport was national and the non-immunized would be seriously impacted in most workplaces and communities. With eight in 10 Canadians having taken the meds, sympathy for the non-believers and their inevitable rallies and protests would be scant. With no election for years, they would have no clout, no champion, no options.
Make no mistake. Mr. Market is not enthralled with Liberal spending, deficits or government creep. But he thrives on the steady re-emergence of a pre-Covid world. Ironically, Conservatives would also deliver, even with tolerance for the vaccine timid. But, alas, we may be beyond that.
Stay invested. The die is cast.
About the picture: “Hi Garth, meet Presley (named after Elvis) who has become a big celebrity in your old hood of Oakville,” writes Alvaro. “Presley rides a zero emissions SOCO British e-motorcycle around town and wears the coolest biker’s glasses. I am sure he will become a social media sensation one day.”
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