Sunday, April 5, 2009

Lazy afternoons are so nice...

Just finished cleaning my little place and getting the laundry well underway and it is only just 1:30!  The day is sunny and just a bit cold, but warm enough to have the windows and balcony doors open a foot or more.  With so much window space in my apartment, the place does heat up on a sunny day.    I am in a happy mood and ready to plan some new projects for the coming months.  But first my blog!

Stock Market Bouncing Back Up or Down?
Firstly, let  me report on the state of the stock market which now is officially in a rally.  For those of you who don't follow such things the market has been steadily rising in this last month.   In stock market speak it is a rally meaning that the market (my favourite - the TSE for instance)  is now trading above its 50 day moving average - which is a fancy way of measuring whether the market is going up and then down or just up.  When the a market index (say the TSE 300) closes at a value above the average of the last 50 days then you can say it for sure is moving up.  When it reaches 20% above its previous low it is called a bear market rally.     

In case you are wondering, if it were to close above its 200 day moving average (which takes a long time) they would proclaim a bull market (which by definition is a rally) and we would be officially out of hot water, at least as far as the stock market is concerned.

The RBC common stocks I bought on Feb 23rd (mentioned in my blog of that date ) have gained 35% in value - up $10.11 a share.  In all my RRSP has recovered  23% of its high water mark value recorded Jan/08.   This is good, but are we out of the woods?  No, not by a long shot.  

 The next question is where will it go next?  Is the market in recovery?  Often during bear markets (that means down markets) the market rallies only to sputter and fall back into a lower position than when the rally started.  That is why it is called a Bear Market Rally.  And this rally may well die and the market will then seek new lows.  
 We need to see if the  “I want my money back people" (those who bought at a certain level are happy to get out once the market returns to that level and they can say at least they didn’t lose anything because they believe it is going to go back down) outweigh the "I want to make a killing people" (those that feel a need to buy so get in while prices are cheap because they believe it is going to go back up where it was and keep rising).  

Time will tell.  This is where hindsight is the only thing to go on.  Either the market will go sideways a while (that is up and down) or it will start moving down.   

The other thing to remember is that the stock market is a leading indicator - that means it will recover before the economy recovers.  The stock market will start to go up long before people start to feel that the economy is once again booming.  

Early Retirement an Unreal Expectation?

I just listened to a video on the Globe's Financial website which discussed retirement expectations and whether one can realistically retire early, at age 65 or whether one should keep working as long as they are able to (health wise).  The point that was being made was that we can expect to live a lot longer than our parents and the defined benefit pension (such as government workers have now) is giving way to more modest plans which may not keep up to our needs during a 30 year retirement.  The thought is that we should work as long as we can because most of us will not have saved enough cash to do otherwise.  Sobering thoughts.  

I am thinking that maybe an adjustment in my expectations is in order.  Perhaps  a number of 4-6 month sabbaticals in the period of my live as I move from age 55-70 might be just as good as out and out retirement.  There is a lot going to be said for keeping mentally active while earning some money to help finance the wonderful holidays I could have over that 20 year period.  Might not be so bad.   

Grand Canyon Bound - Joshua Tree Forest
I will finish with a bit more of a travelogue from my Vegas trip.

 We last left of at the breakfast stop and at that point we boarded our comfy mini bus and headed for the West Rim of the Grand Canyon.   We drove for about an hour and a half through a Joshua Tree forest.  Joshua Tree is the common name of at type of Yucca Tree.   This is a particularly slow growing tree - averaging only 1.5 inches per year if water fall is adequate.  Very long lived the forest we drove through was estimated as 900 years old.  Wiki says these trees can live for more than 1,000 years.   The tallest trees can reach a height of 15 meters. They thrive in the dessert grasslands but are not able to grow above the tree line at about 3000 sq feet above sea level.  They are native to areas in the south west mostly within the Mojave Desert. 

About the Grand Canyon
As we moved closer to the Canyon we started up the foothills of the toward the Grand Canyon West Rim.    The Grand Canyon is an fantastic gorge in Arizona cut out of the  surrounding rock by the Colorado River.  The canyon is 277 miles (446 km) long, ranges in width from 4 to 18 miles (6.4 to 29 km) and attains a depth of over a mile (1.83 km) (6000 feet). 

There are 3 main tourist areas within the Grand Canyon.  The South and North Rims lie within the Grand Canyon National Park.  The South Rim is the most commercialized and   The North Rim is not accessible by winter, it is 1,000 ft higher and is only serviced by summer roads.  You can descend the canyon and hike and camp within at both these areas.  I understand that the views from the North Rim give a better impression of the expanse of the Gorge, I would gather just because of the higher heights.

Interestingly, there is only about 10-12 miles distance between the South and West Rims.  However it would take 4-5 hours to drive between the two points because there is no way to travel directly from one area to the other.

Unlike the South and North Rim, Grand Canyon West is not part of the Grand Canyon National Park. It is located on the Hualapai Indian Reservation at the western Grand Canyon corridor about 120 miles east of Las Vegas and about 72 miles northwest of Kingman, Arizona. Because the West Rim is more easily accessed from Las Vegas than the South Rim, a great many tourists and tours originate from Las Vegas. 

My bus tour took me to the West Rim and into the Hualapai Indian Reserve.   In one of the coming blogs I will fill you in on the wonders that I saw there.

Incidentally, the Grand Canyon is not one of the 7 natural wonders of the world but is in the running for the New 7 Wonders of the World.  I just checked the "live ranking" at their website and it is currently placing #5 in the category of Caves, Rock Formations and Valleys.   The New 7 Wonders will be the result of a several year process where nominations and voting for the new 7 wonders is taking place via Internet.  You can see more about the New 7 Wonders voting and current results at this link.  And don't forget to cast your vote!

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