Weekend Reading: Dirty Money Edition

Weekend Reading: Dirty Money Edition

I recently binge-watched a six-part documentary series on Netflix called Dirty Money. Each episode digs into an egregious example of corporate corruption, from cars that cheat emissions tests, to crippling pay day loans, to the great maple syrup heist in Quebec a few years back.

All six episodes are worth watching (unless you don’t feel like raging afterwards), especially episode three: Drug Short. This episode investigates the rise and fall of Canadian pharmaceutical giant Valeant, including how it shockingly marked-up prices for life-saving drugs to increase profits and how two short-sellers discovered the whole operation was a house of cards.

‘Pharma Bro’ Martin Shkreli was sentenced to seven years in jail for fraud, but even though Valeant executives were hauled in front of U.S. Congress to explain their actions, drug prices continued to increase or remain at criminally high levels.

Just this week, Canadian families stunned by 3,000% increase in price of life-saving drug:

“Dozens of parents are shaking their heads in disbelief that Health Canada is making them switch their sick children to a drug that costs more than $300,000 a year. Especially when they’ve been happily using an older version of the same drug that costs a fraction of the price.”

I appreciate this kind of investigative reporting that helps expose corporate greed and protects consumers from this kind of wrong-doing. Sadly, so much more has to be done.

This Week’s Recap:

On Monday I shared five strategies to enhance your retirement and stave off crisis.

On Wednesday Marie wrote about managing your cash flow when preparing for retirement.

And on Friday I used a restaurant menu analogy to look at engineering better outcomes for investors.

Stay tuned next week for a look at the misguided belief of financial advisors. I’ll also share some insight into a new comparison topic I’ve been working on this year that might help you sleep better at night.

Finally, thanks to all of you that voted in the Rockstar Rumble competition. My post, How to trick your lizard brain into saving more money, got knocked out in the Sweet Sixteen – losing by just five votes. Thanks for helping me keep it close!

Weekend Reading:

One of those clickbait headlines got my blood boiling this week. An article from Vice titled, “It’s time for Canada to get rid of the RRSP“, seemingly blamed the savings vehicle for everything from early withdrawals, high mutual fund fees, and the decline of workplace pensions.

These countries have the world’s most generous pensions, with pensioners receiving more than 100 percent of a working wage when they retire.

Morgan Housel shares some of the biggest ideas that changed his life:

“Your personal experiences make up maybe 0.00000001% of what’s happened in the world but maybe 80% of how you think the world works.”

A look at the LIFE proposal, a national voluntary program through which Canadians could purchase longevity insurance through a deferred annuity at a specified age (e.g., 65), with the payout also starting at a specified age (e.g., 85).

Jason Heath explains why topping up your RRSP in retirement could cost you.

Des Odjick at the newly redesigned Half Banked blog honoured International Women’s Day by sharing four real-life ways to build confidence about money.

A throwback to the 1950’s, here are 46 tips to save you time, money, and trouble.

50-year-old Kristine Hayes pens a cautionary letter to her 18-year-old self. Worth a read.

In another great episode of Common Sense Investing, Ben Felix explains why market experts can be the source of some of the worst financial advice:

MoneySense shares five books that will transform how you think about money (and help you avoid money mistakes).

DIY investor John Heinzl explains how to keep on top of your portfolio of stocks.

Costco workers reveal store secrets including best products you should buy and the customers that drive them insane.

The rough patch that hit stock markets in February might awaken investors to scrutinize account fees.

Finally, a judge ordered the Canada Revenue Agency to pay more than $1 million in damages for maliciously prosecuting a Nanaimo couple for alleged tax evasion.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

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  1. Frito on March 11, 2018 at 10:22 am

    I too was angered by that anti-RRSP article. A 72 year old who is angry (and surprised) because he’s “forced” to start taking his pensions and pay high taxes because he’s still working is ridiculous. First of all, being uninformed about basic financial rules is on him. Second, maybe it’s time to step aside and let someone younger have the job. Not saying he has to go off to a retirement home or anything but seriously…. let’s get rid of RRSPs because he can’t envision a life past going to work everyday? Lots of ways people can stay involved and contributing on their own schedule. Sounds like his financial situation is sound without being an employee (DB pension, RRSP, bonus OAP and CPP). Many would love his problem.

    • Echo on March 11, 2018 at 10:54 am

      @Frito – Agreed on all accounts. As one follower pointed out on Twitter, the only truly accurate information in this article is that the RRSP was introduced in 1957.

      • Wes on March 12, 2018 at 10:30 am

        Hi Robb,

        I read that Vice article as well. The author was telling it as it is…in the end the Federal Government will be the Winner of the RRSP tax scheme. I don’t think they will ever abolish the RRSP, not when they will lose the billions in tax revenues if they did.

        I am a retiree with only CPP, OAS and RIF as sources of my retirement income. I’ve done due diligence on what ‘investments’ I put in my RIF to make sure that I will not outlive my retirement money. It has so far done well even with market crashes along the way. If I and spouse ( beneficiary ) were to die prematurely today, our estate will have to close our RIFs and sell all investments and the Feds will collect 50% of the proceeds…6 digit number!

        So no, the Feds will not scrap RRSP as their smart accountants working for them will tell them NOT to do it. My 2 cents blah, blah.

  2. Ryan on March 11, 2018 at 4:18 pm

    Robb! What a relief to see you post about that VICE article! I actually had seen it earlier this week and written a strongly-worded letter to the author suggesting he do a re-write talking about high MERs instead. And he completely represented Jack Bogle’s POV on investment costs (my blood = boiled). Thank you!

  3. Dr. Networth on March 12, 2018 at 6:10 am

    Started watching “Dirty Money” on Netflix as well. I’ve found it fascinating so far, but it does make me rage afterwards and during the show! 🙂

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