On the pandemic front, there is mixed news. COVID-19 cases reach troubling rates in many countries. Thankfully in Canada, although every death is tragic, the mortality rate is much lower than during the first wave. While our infection rate has been lower than many other countries, we still have our challenges. On Monday, the Toronto and Peel regions entered a 28-day lockdown period in an attempt to reduce the spike in numbers. Let’s hope it's successful!
However, there is good news. Two companies recently announced the vaccines they created are more than 90 per cent effective against the virus. Although regulatory approval is still required, there is talk of distribution in the U.S. commencing my mid-December. Should this happen, life could begin returning to normal in a few months.
The markets responded to this news in jubilant fashion. Most international indexes have risen between seven to 11 per cent on the month, while Canadian REITs are 16 per cent higher. As always seems the case, commodities are the outliers. Although gold remains one of the year’s best performers (21 per cent higher) with stocks rallying, the yellow metal has fallen almost five per cent this month.
Canadian energy stocks, on the other hand, remain 38 per cent lower on the year, but have risen an incredible 37 per cent in November! This is one of the largest monthly increases I’ve seen for a sector. Given they still trade near their 20- 25-year lows, I believe they remain very cheap and should continue rising as life begins to return to normal.
After a particularly strong month of returns, it’s especially important to remember that a high degree of uncertainty remains. It’s possible next month may be equally grim. Due to this, I continue to recommend a diverse portfolio that is designed to withstand most any investment environment.

Over the last few months, I’ve returned to writing. Below are some of the pieces I’ve been working on. Hope you enjoy:
If you’re looking for more timely articles and thoughts from me, as well as other blog posts, you can find them on my Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn feeds.
The Speed of Trust by Stephen Covey Jr.: Trust is a topic I think about a lot. I’ve long felt it’s the glue that binds strong relationships and cultures together. The Speed of Trust takes a deep dive into the various types of trust, the benefits that arise from having more of it, and the high cost of not having it. This is an important book, and well-worth perusing. However, it could benefit from some thoughtful pruning.
Absolute Sandman (Volume III) by Neil Gaiman: Issues 40-56 of this epic graphic novel series is about family, entropy, and growth. Another captivating whirlwind of adventures.
Letters From a Stoic by Seneca: In his later years, Seneca, the famous stoic regularly corresponded with his mentee, Lucretius. This book is Seneca’s side of the conversation. The topics range, but largely focus on issues, such as virtue, courage, philosophy, and, of course (because it’s from a stoic), how to prepare for ruin and your ultimate demise.
Is this an important book? Yes, it’s filled with wisdom and good advice. However, I found it dragging in parts. If the book’s premise appeals to you, Resilience by Eric Greitens, is a modern take, both in format and theme, while being considerably more readable and useful.

On Economic Growth, There is Much We Can Learn From Our Past and From Pakistan by Amartyia Lahiri: An interesting comparison of India and Pakistan’s economic policies and growth rates since their separation. Spoiler alert: Periods of economic liberalization dramatically outperformed the state-run intervals.

First Principles Twitter Thread by Shane Parish: “First principles thinking is one of the most effective mental tools you can have in your toolbox. It also explains why some people are far more innovative than others. Here’s what it is, why it matters, and three lessons.”
Is Technology Actually Making Things Better? by John K. Davis and Jason Crawford: A short debate on whether technology is helping or hurting us. I tend to agree with Crawford’s optimistic outlook on the topic.
Bob Dylan as Richard Wagner by Alex Ross: I’m not very familiar with Bob Dylan or Richard Wagner, but I’d never have thought of the former as a modern version of the latter. Interesting take by New Yorker music critic Alex Ross. See below (under podcasts) for more on Ross.

Beware Mass-Produced Medical Recommendations by Slate Star Codex: A great reminder of how hard it is to know something, especially when it comes to diet and nutrition.
The Year is 118 A.A.C. (After Air Conditioning) by Vaclav Smil: “Fewer than 10 percent of the nearly 3 billion people who live in the warmest places now have air conditioning in their homes, compared with 90 percent in the United States and Japan. If air conditioning were provided to the more than 200 million inhabitants of Uttar Pradesh, a single state in India whose average summer temperature is far higher than that in Florida, this would require at least twice as much electricity as the cooling demand in the United States, with its 330 million people.”

The U.S. Money Supply vs. Precious Metal Production So Far in 2020 by Visual Capitalist: This visual illustrates why some believe precious metals will have another meaningful increase in the future.

History of the 90's (sitcoms) by the Ongoing History of New Music: Remember ’90s sitcoms? I certainly do. However, I failed to recognize that many of them shared an important similarity - they often featured stand-up comedians. A nostalgic and educational trip back in time.

Conversations with Tyler with Alex Ross: A good podcast entertains and teaches you something. A great one inspires you to explore a topic further. This conversation with The NewYorker’s music critic Alex Ross did all three for me. Since listening to it, I’ve become interested in controversial composer Wagner (as you’ll notice under the documentary section) and Bob Dylan (also below).
Radiohead - A History (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3) by Alan Cross: If you like Radiohead, this three-part history is a must-listen.

Wagner and Me by Stephen Fry: Writer, actor, and humorist Stephen Fry has endured a lifelong conundrum. He absolutely loves Richard Wagner’s music, but, given his Jewish heritage, is troubled by the composer’s anti-semetic sentiments. This documentary is about his attempt to resolve that tension.
Blood on the Tracks by Bob Dylan: In his interview with Tyler Cowen (see above), New Yorker music critic Alex Ross declared that Bob Dylan’s album, Blood on the Tracks, is the greatest pop album of all time. Based on that high praise, I made a point of listening to it. Greatest ever? I wouldn’t go that far. But there is little doubt of Dylan’s talent, especially when analyzing the lyrics. It also seems the type of album that could improve with each listen.
Update: Since writing the above, I’ve listened to the album a second time, and specific songs a few more. It’s really growing on me.
Night on Earth: Shot in the Dark by Netflix: Shot with ground-breaking night vision photography, this documentary was beautiful, eerie and fascinating. Seeing the full grace of cheetahs at night is magnificent.  
Dave Chapelle Interviewed by David Letterman: I’m a huge Dave Chapelle fan, so I really enjoyed this conversation with David Letterman as they discussed Chapelle’s life, career and the small town in Ohio he lives in.

"People who have trouble coming up with good ideas, if they're telling you the truth, will tell you they don't have very many bad ideas. But people who have plenty of good ideas, if they're telling the truth, will say they have even more bad ideas. So the goal isn't to get good ideas; the goal is to get bad ideas. Because once you get enough bad ideas, then some good ones have to show up."
Seth Godin, on having good ideas

"If everything you do needs to work on a three-year time horizon, then you’re competing against a lot of people. But if you’re willing to invest on a seven-year time horizon, you’re now competing against a fraction of those people, because very few companies are willing to do that."
― Jeff Bezos

Here It Goes Again by Ok Go: One of my favourite music videos, and also a pretty good song.
A gift idea for the holidays.

Matthew Lekushoff

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