Bob's Steak and Chainsaw Hut

Jun 02, 2021 | Mark Ryan


It takes a bit of a leathery soul to scratch out a living in the BC interior. I’ve cashed a pay cheque for a businessman whose employee, the payee, used a shoulder tattoo as ID. I had a toothless 85 year-old fishing client whose half-rotten boat was held together with roofing tar. His cat steered the boat while he checked the nets. I’ve accepted loan payments in grocery bags filled with damp cash.


While eating at a steakhouse, one client witnessed an overheated argument over chewy beef. Unsatisfied, the complainer stormed out and came back revving up his chainsaw. He tore through the steak, plate, and the table, quipping: “Yee-hah! Cuts like butter!”


Not far from the Steak-and-Chainsaw-Hut, a disgruntled man was turned down for a loan, and responded with a death threat to the bank manager and his young family. The police swooped in immediately. The children were plucked that hour from school and the family was permanently relocated without so much as packing a single coat.


I’ve had bomb threats, robberies, and attended a daughter’s dance recital sitting next to a guy I could only communicate with through lawyers. (The lawyer was sitting behind me, so... yeah, no.)


When you balance a person’s livelihood on the tip of your pencil, a loan approval is like throwing him 30 birthday parties. (Waivey dream sequence here.) “He’ll build me a bronze statue – Me at my humble desk, rubbing my chin. Wise. Trusty calculator in hand. They’ll write songs about me! Name their children after me. Puppies will show up on my doorstep!”


But declines, no matter how gently you address them, how carefully detailed, or how tenderly given, (think Norm from Cheers, crying) you can see it in their eyes: “You useless, disgusting, keyboard-pushing eraser-fluff-snorting bag of a garbage! Why?! Why do you hate me and my children and my children’s children? Why I oughta...”


But if I’m truly honest, it was mostly a wonderful banker’s life – far more George Bailey than Mr. Potter, and I wouldn’t change a thing. Most of my clients were and are brave overcomers of harsh business cycles, resilient innovators, and some have become life-long friends. And now, with their financial worries behind them, today my clients are more likely to bake me a cake than throw eggs at me. Phew!


Weekly Update:


European renaissance: Upgrade equities to Overweight The European economy is reviving faster than most observers expected— which sparked a debate about when the European Central Bank should take its foot off the gas. Yet we think they’ll stay loose for now. We European equity, which tends to outperform in cyclical upswings.


Regional highlights: Bank of Canada highlights mortgage debt in Financial System Review; UK launches Emissions Trading Scheme; Asian equities recovered from early May slump. (pages 3-4)

Full bedtime reading here: Global Insight Weekly




No dip in Chips: This chart reminds me of the lightning storm that shorted out our minivan computer and left us stranded on vacation with 4 little kids. By the end of the 2020’s, about 45% of a car’s manufacturing cost will be computer-based hardware.


Quite Enough. Who’s buying QE? Quantitative Easing is when the US Federal Reserve floats oceans of T-bills and then buys a bunch of them back in an effort to keep interest rates low. This chart shows just how much of their own cookies they bake and eat. About half, with U.S. pension funds (green) a close second, and foreign demand hovering somewhere around… zipitty doo dah. Zippity eh?




Looks like May has showered us with flowers!


Enjoy your weekend!