Matthew Lekushoff |


Things were looking up last week with the TSX at an all-time high and most markets trending upward. 

However, trade fears reached new heights earlier this week as rumours surfaced that the U.S. would prevent some Chinese businesses from investing in American technology. As a result, global markets fell more than 1% on Monday, with some approaching a 2% decline.
Oil prices have also been volatile. They weakened when OPEC said it would increase its daily production, but strengthened with uncertainty over Libyan exports and news of a production shutdown at Syncrude Canada's oil sands complex. While oil prices are more than 10% higher on the year, energy stocks continue to lag, trading marginally higher since the beginning of 2018.
Preparing for trade wars
The most frequent question I've received lately is how the pending trade wars will affect global markets. Unfortunately, very few people likely know how far President Trump will take his protectionist policies-----  not even most in his administration, possibly not even him. Should he continue to increase tariffs on trading partners, it's reasonable to expect markets to react negatively and inflation to increase. Should he back off, it's possible a small rally will ensue.
We remain positioned for either scenario. Our fixed income, gold, real estate income trust (REIT), and deep value positions will buffer a downturn and position us to take advantage of lower prices. We also own emerging markets, U.S., Canadian, and international indexes that will benefit nicely from a rally. As always, we remain on watch for opportunities and continue to rebalance our portfolios to protect our gains and take advantage of short-term losses.

On behalf of everyone at the Raymond James Canadian offices, happy Canada Day weekend to those here and abroad! Have a safe long weekend everyone!


Brainstorm: The Flaws in the Science of Sex Differences  by Rebecca M. Jordan-Young: For years, people have debated the differences between men and women, and when these differences start to form. Some of this debate has focused on how, or if, prenatal hormones affect fetal brain development. Brainstorm dives into this argument.
One of the book's main tenets is that much of the field's historical research has used questionable methodologies and classifications, thus influencing many stereotypes that prevail in society today.
It's a compelling argument. However, Jordan-Young's conclusion that virtually all of the field's research should be ignored seems to throw the baby out with the bathwater. 

Her research almost exclusively focuses on prenatal hormones, so if you're interested in a study of the differences between males and females that includes the effects of post-natal hormones, societal influences, and evolutionary psychology, you won't find it here.
Brainstorm was a tough slog, in part due to the immense research required to write it. Unfortunately, it read like a dull university textbook.
Delusions of Gender: How Our Minds Society, and Neurosexism Create Difference  by Cordelia Fine: Delusions of Gender approaches the same debate as Brainstorm, but from a different perspective. Fine focuses on how human behaviour, abilities, and outcomes are influenced by society. Through numerous studies, she effectively shows how social norms influence males and females, from the toys we play with as children to the under-representation of women in science and technology.  
Although it sidesteps fundamental biological differences between males and females, such as, why males (human and  tournament species ), are always, on average, more aggressive than females, I would highly recommend Delusions of Gender to anyone interested in this debate. It is well researched, readable, and provides a valuable perspective. 
First Principles: Elon Musk on the Power of Thinking for Yourself  by James Clear: Elon Musk is one of the smartest people on the planet. Although he has a higher IQ than most of us, his process of using first principles is something we can all use to make better decisions.
Make Two Lists  by Seth Godin: When life becomes overwhelming, sometimes making two lists is what we need most to regain clarity.
Billionaire Ray Dalio: You need to quit these 2 bad habits to succeed  by Ali Montag: The title sounds like click-bait, but this short article carries some sage advice.

"It's worth remembering just how much society can change in a relatively short period of time. Precedents are still being set. Could a society in which males and females hold equal places ever exist? Ironically, perhaps it is not biology that is the implacably resistant counterforce, but our culturally attuned minds. No one knows whether males and females could ever enjoy perfect equality. But of this I am confident: So long as the counterpoints provided by the work of the many researchers presented in this book are given an audience, in fifty years' time people will look back on these early- twenty- first- century debates with bewildered amusement, and wonder how we ever could have thought that that was the closest we could get to equality." 
-----  Cordelia Fine
"The simple, brief experience of imagining oneself as another transformed both self-perception and, through this transformation, behavior. The maxim "fake it till you make it" gains empirical support."
-----  Cordelia Fine


It's been a tournament of unexpected results, upsets (ahem, Germany...), and, of course, some beautiful plays. But who's the team to beat? According to surprisingly accurate result predictors, EA Sports, this year's top prize will most likely go to Les Bleus

Check out SB Nation for a daily breakdown of the day's highlights.

Matthew Lekushoff

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