Matthew Lekushoff |


With two trading days remaining in September, it has been a good month for global equities. Most international indices are trading higher than at August's end. 

However, as is often the case, commodities reacted differently. Gold's value is currently two per cent lower on the month (still higher on the year to the tune of 18 per cent, or almost $250 an ounce). This has been the yellow metal's best performance in eight years. 

But the real story has been the energy sector. On Saturday, September 14, drones attacked the Abqaiq plant, Saudi Arabia's largest facility. The attack knocked out almost half of the kingdom's oil production, or five per cent of the global daily output. The next day, oil prices surged by 13 per cent, with energy stocks following in kind. Prices have since abated due to news that repairs will take less time than originally feared. As it stands, energy prices have risen five per cent on the month, while Canadian energy stocks are 11 per cent higher. 

Moving forward, what can be expected from energy prices? This remains complicated. Reduced production levels and increased tensions in the Middle East should continue to support prices over the short- to medium-term. However, considering it's suspected that Iran was behind the attack, tensions could escalate, meaning retaliation is within the realm of possibility. 

That being said, the status of the U.S.-China trade talks and the global economy are still the main factors affecting the long-term price of energy. If a trade deal begins to look promising, or, heaven forbid, an agreement is actually signed, this will be bullish for energy prices. Normalized trade between the U.S. and China should be good for global GDP, which in turn will increase the demand for oil.

Lastly, in relatively recent news, the federal House of Representatives in the U.S. has begun the process to impeach President Trump. The issue at hand is his seemingly inappropriate July conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. In response, the markets have softened somewhat, but I suspect this will be an ongoing issue for months to come.


Deep Work  by Cal Newport: Deep Work, in part, is a response to the ubiquity of social media and the emphasis placed on multitasking in today's society. It argues that deep work-----  the ability to focus on cognitively demanding tasks-----  will be like a superpower in the economy of the future. The book is written in two parts. The first discusses the reasons why deep work is important, and the second section explains how to make deep work part of your lifestyle. Newport's book was well received when it came out, and for good reason. If followed, its principles can dramatically help improve productivity and quality of work. I've already seen results.
Oathbringer (The Stormlight Archive #3)  by Brandon Sanderson: What a ride this fantasy series has been so far. It's well written and filled with interesting characters, storylines, and worlds. I can't wait for  the fourth book  to come out next year! But, be warned-----  if you're thinking about starting the series, it's already exceeded 3,600 pages and it's rumoured it will be 10 books in total. It's quite the time commitment.
Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life  by Anne Lamott: Bird by Bird is a funny kind of book. It's filled with life advice, tangents, and the author's stream-of-consciousness. Yet, it's also about becoming a better writer. It helps that Lamott is funny. It also helps that she's vulnerable, empathetic, self-loathing and more than a little mischievous.  What doesn't help is that she is such a beautiful writer. It's like having Arnold Schwarzenegger tell you he understands what it's like to be pudgy...while he juggles oranges with his pecs. 

It also doesn't help that she is wise, insightful, brave and usually right. And that she's not the least bit pompous. At least when someone is talented and pompous, you can hate them a little, and pretend it's not due to envy... But just when you start getting perturbed, Lamott makes you laugh. And though you may not want to, you smile, and remember why you like her and this wonderful book again.

Neil Gaiman Teaches the Art of Storytelling  by MasterClass: MasterClass is a relatively new educational company, known for securing the most successful people in their field to teach courses for the masses. For example, Steph Curry teaches basketball and Natalie Portman, acting and screenwriting. Given the buzz these classes have garnered, I signed up for the one-year unlimited course package.
It should come as no surprise that the first course I signed up for was Neil Gaiman's on storytelling-----  was another instructor even an option? I thoroughly enjoyed this course-----  the production quality was great, each module well thought out, and the master himself was enlightening as always.
The Story of US  by Tim Urban: I have some exciting news-----  it's been over three years since the last post, but Wait but Why is back! The blog's writer and graphic artist (I use the term graphic artist generously here) has been wrestling with a really big topic. Now, more than three years later, he's ready to write about it, and he has a lot to say.
This blog series (currently seven long posts and counting) is about how humans came to be, who we are, why we do and say what we do, and why we have a devil of a time getting along with each other....I told you it was a big topic. As usual, its brilliant, funny, long, and the graphics are awful-----  just the way I remember it!


3-2-1 Thursday (August 29, 2019)  by James Clear: James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, recently rebooted his newsletter with the theme, "3 ideas, 2 quotes, 1 question." His intention is to provide the most wisdom per word possible. I think he's on target. I particularly enjoyed his August 29 letter.
Read The Best Finance Books, Blogs, Podcasts, and Other Resources  by Taylor Pearson: A collection of resources for those who love and want to learn more about finance.
The Economic Triangle  Part 1  &  Part 2  by Bill O'Grady: Bill O'Grady breaks the study of political economy into a triangle of interest groups: labour, capital, and consumers. He believes that these interest groups, and how they are weighted, determine a nation's political economy. It's an interesting read and worth considering.
Here's a Question You Should Ask About Every Climate Change Plan  by Bill Gates: Climate change is a big topic with numerous variables to consider. Bill Gates argues that although steel and concrete production emits a lot of greenhouse gases, these processes are rarely discussed. He also explains that although these materials are irreplaceable, there are ways they can be more ecologically friendly.
Negative Interest Rates And The Future Of Investing  by Jeffrey Kleintop: A short take on how record low interest rates are changing the investment environment.
People Don't Actually Know themselves Very Well  by Adam Grant: Most of us think we know ourselves better than anyone else. Though this may be true in some areas, there are others where our co-workers might actually know us better.
Canso Newsletter (August) : Another solid Canso newsletter, highlighting, among other things, how poor the U.S. fiscal situation has become since President Trump took office. The comparison chart of U.S. deficits and unemployment rates (page 7) was particularly interesting.
Visualizing the Snowball of Government Debt  by Visual Capitalist: Take a look at the debt-to-GDP ratios of all the countries in the world.


"What we choose to focus on and what we choose to ignore-plays in defining the quality of our life."
Cal Newport
"The task of a craftsman, they conclude, "is not to generate meaning, but rather to cultivate in himself the skill of discerning the meanings that are already there."
Cal Newport
"This, ultimately, is the lesson to come away with from our brief foray into the world of experimental psychology: To build your working life around the experience of flow produced by deep work is a proven path to deep satisfaction."
Cal Newport


Do n't look now, but everybody's favourite NFL team (okay, maybe just mine and the good people of Buffalo, NY) has started the season with three straight wins. Yes, the Buffalo Bills are 3-0! 

Fine, all three victories were over "bottom five teams," and yes, okay, one of their opponent's quarterback likely had mono and another team was riddled with injuries, but that's beside the point.
We may actually make the playoffs for the second time this century. What more could a Bills fan ask for?

  • I had no idea  this was   even a thing...

Matthew Lekushoff

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