Conference from the Man-Caves

Jan 15, 2021 | Mark Ryan


Business conferences are usually spectacular affairs, hosted in hotels plunked onto the most expensive real estate in the world. Presenters include rock stars, celebrity managers, university geniuses, and swarms of waiters and waitresses force-feeding attendees with delectables so scrumptious you feel like you’ve been unfaithful. Which is partly why, whenever possible, I ignore the strict rules of the event and fly my wife and 6 or 7 hungry children in using grocery store rewards points, then stuff them all in to the hotel room with strict instructions not to steal the bathrobes.

Confidence is critical when conference-crashing. To sneak a girl’s baseball team into the Ritz, act like you own the place. Accustomed to celebrity quirkiness, they won’t flinch when you ask for 23 extra feather pillows, which can be piled on the floor for the surplus children. On your coffee breaks, turn your name badge backwards and fill your pockets with French patisseries, load up on flavoured waters, exotic herbal teas, and maybe a dozen cute little jars of honey. Repeat at lunch and dinner. (You can usually get a couple of tenderloins into a briefcase.)

Pants jokes aside, although my conference this week featured all the usual brilliant minds, instead of fancy food and a main stage showered with lights and glitter, each of the analysts broadcasted from their COVID lockdowns in their extra bedroom. For the males among presenters, you could predict their marital status based solely on a screen shot.


Younger unmarried men: Blank white walls, gaming chairs. COVID peach fuzz.


Middle-aged married men: Well-decorated, homey decor. Fresh haircut. Family photos.


Divorced men: Cat trees, Conan the Barbarian posters. Bookshelf half empty. Unkempt beard.


Human Capital: To be sure, if their 10-month isolation has impacted the quality of their work, it’s improved it. This past year has been their moment to shine, and they have been easily our best assets in the business.


More income ahead for fixed income markets?

Fixed income investors will largely have to play defense this year as bond markets try to find a more normal yield environment. And while the outlook is a challenging one for investors, borrowers still have time to take advantage of record-low mortgage rates.

Regional developments: Canada’s business outlook hits an optimistic tone; U.S. small caps’ winning streak continues; Italian political turmoil likely to subside; State of emergency in Japan.


Read more here: Global Insight Weekly


Figure’n on Bigger’n: According to National Bank, rising home prices and rebounded portfolios resulted in an average growth of about 10% for Canadian household wealth in a year in which the federal government and central bank jumped in with both feet repeatedly. I’d like to take a moment to thank my unborn grandchildren, from whom we leveraged this advantage.



Enjoy your weekend!