Dentists and Financial Meltdown

Yesterday afternoon I braved the dentist’s chair for the first time in over a year. My dentist is Dr. David Scott, a professor at the University of Alberta, Faculty of Dentistry, who has a small private practice that he is encouraged to run out of the Faculty. He is also an old family friend, having been one of G.’s first employers (as a nanny, I think) when she first came to Canada… I’ve never been really clear on the history there… but he has looked after me for over twenty years.

The hygienist, Cheryl, was complaining that now that she’s hit 50, her sight is failing. The receptionist, Pat, was whining about ‘the change’. Both were quite astounded at how good I look. They’ve seen some really ugly stuff come through the doors there; I am not one of the ugly ones. Woohoo!

Apparently my teeth are in good shape, with the exception of a broken/cracked filling that is probably the byproduct of the cancer surgery rather than my eating habits of late. My gums are in good shape, with only one area of concern to the hygienist. And that concern is minimal. David and company did warn me that I must continue to rinse my mouth regularly, because of the diminished saliva production. David phoned a periodontist friend while I was there and asked him about the salagen/pilocarpine which I mentioned in a previous post. Because I have asked my surgeon to look into it, David won’t write the prescription, but the periodontist friend advised asking the pharmacist for artificial saliva, and Prevident (I hope I got that right… I left the note on my dresser). And Cheryl, the hygienist, suggested that I start using something like Plax twice a day, carry a Sulcabrush with me, and gave me new Sulcabrush heads with the obligatory toothbrush

They are such nice people!

Now, on to the Financial Meltdown;

I’m really not sure what the hell the politicians are up to with regards to the stock market meltdowns! All we’re really getting is baffle gab from all of them! Harper sounds like he’s on a double dose of anti-depressants (he almost giggled at one point!), and the other two majors are alternating between the good ‘ol Uncle with the well-if-I-had-my-way speech and the slightly frenetic why-doesn’t-someone-do-something lament.

My take on the subject is really quite simple: the majority of pension/rrsp money is tied up in mutual funds which is under the control of fund managers, or the mythical ‘institutional investor’. Their job is to manage those funds. They get paid for doing it. They get bonused for doing it well. They get promoted for doing it really well (although somewhere in that part of the equation the Peter Principle does play a role). If your pension/rrsp has been doing reasonably well until these past couple of weeks, just try to relax… the players (fund managers) are just as concerned as you and will work hard to bring the value of your investment back up as fast as they can, according to the mandate of the fund (aggressive vs. conservative). Now, you may (which translates to “I may”, dammit!) have to shift that retirement window by a couple of years, and it may be chromed rather than gold leaf, but you will be able to retire comfortably.

I heard on a panel discussion this morning that a number of the institutional investors had already started to shift the composition of their funds before this mess started because of the indicators in the market that something was about to happen. Some of the players have 40 to 55% of the funds they manage in cash or cash-equivalent instruments (bonds, T-bills, debentures, piggy banks). This should give them a head start in building back the funds as the market begins its recovery.

All is not lost.

And from a completely selfish point of view, I’m kinda hoping that a short term ‘fraidy cat tightening of spending will free up a couple of windows of opportunity to get our kitchen renovated!!!

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