MOI Numbers

There were 13,574 active listings in the REBGV at September 30, 2007.  During September we sold 2,932 listings.  Thats 4.62 months of inventory. 

What’s that mean? In some US areas they have 10+ months of inventory.  4.62 is still good, right?

It is good, but counting back the MOIs were 2.74 (August), 3.32 (July), 3.18 (June), 3.10 (May), 3.78 (April), 3.32 (March), 3.92 (February), 4.89 (January), and 6.2 (December). 

Seasonal? Structural?  Either way I bet a lot of bears see the value in MOI now 🙂



Filed under Monthly stats

42 responses to “MOI Numbers

  1. BearClaw

    Edmonton has almost 10 MOI. It seems like Edmonton is worse technically (Inventory, sales price weakness) even though Vancouver is worse fundamentally (P/E, affordability, employment). Does that even make sense?

  2. jesse

    “Does that even make sense?”

    It could if people buying real estate in Edmonton are mostly local residents. Vancouver likely has more foreign ownership that can smooth the market a bit (a sort of diversification).

    Oh yeah. The Olympics, most liveable city, etc. Whatever you want to argue.

  3. Anonymizer

    “With the U.S. dollar falling,” we heard this morning on NPR’s Morning Edition, “Canadian pot exporters are seeing their profits surge. And pot smokers in [the US are paying the price: 50% more for Canadian bud.”

    “But fear not, potheads,” the jokesters at Morning Edition point out. “Thanks to the weak Mexican peso, the Mexican-grown stuff is pretty cheap.”

    For someone trying to get into the RE market here in YVR, I can only hope those Yanks start buying Acapaulco Gold by the tonne.

    But just watch the local growers hire serious publicists in LA and NY to start a whisper campaign…

    “Did someone say paraquat?”

  4. paulb

    Thanks for the “bear friendly” post Rob.

    The bottom line is we are still in good shape. We cannot keep at ‘er like this for many years to come but were still in a bull market.

    I find it obnoxious that prices are so out of wack with fundamentals. They have been for a while,and could be for a while longer.

    When things start to “soften” ….and they will this will be a dramatic end to a tremendous run. No flattening of prices but an angry correction…..

  5. fish


    Nice to see the MOI..thanks for that Rob.

    Ok back to Cameron Muir. He could and should say ‘ could put your 5% deposit down by credit card, “but that would be a totally foolish thing to do, based on the interest rates normally charged for credit card debt”…what is missing -is the second part.

    The illustrations about docs in politics or detox centres is irrelevant.

    Imagine a well know doctor coming out and saying you could stop all your heart pills and see what happens…or a well known accountant saying ‘you could NOT pay your taxes and see if they come after you or not’…without the second part …. ‘but that would not be a good decision’ ….it would open them up to all sort of actions against them.

  6. News Flash

    “but that would be a totally foolish thing to do, based on the interest rates normally charged for credit card debt”…

    Just checked September numbers. Another sizzling month. The benchmark greater Vancouver home is up another $7405.

    That should compensate for the credit card interest payments plus some.

  7. fish

    News Falsh I wont bore and repost but look back at why ‘benchmark’ is not realiable.

    House price trends are tough to call.

    I sure dont know the answer , but i do know it over-estimates it on the way up and under-estimates the drop on the way down.

    Will explain it again if folks can;t get to sleep one night!

  8. Anonymous

    “I find it obnoxious that prices are so out of wack with fundamentals.”

    The fundamentals regarding the economy is excellent right now. BC’s economy is doing great & many Canadians (and others outside Canada) want to be a part of it. Western Canada is sizzling, while the East is not. Obnoxious or not, the West is the best right now.

    Is the “fundamentals” you are refering to the difference between the cost of owning versus renting? For some reason when someone talks about “fundamentals” of Vancouver, that’s the only that is conveniently cherry picked by the bears. There’s several factors that comprise real estate fundamentals.

  9. coco

    Canadian job numbers came in four times higher than expected.

    Canadian dollar took off to almost $1.02, based on these overheated job stats. The dollar rose higher on expectations there could be an interest hike if this job creation pace keeps up.

  10. coco

    Subprime defaults fastest in decade

    (bulk of subprime loans reset 2008, highest levels coming due between January – April)

  11. coco

    Vancouver – High housing prices and highway congestion….the plot thickens

  12. coco

    A weak U.S. dollar and a firesale American housing market are punishing the B.C. Interior forest sector.

  13. abc

    The MOI numbers are quite interesting. I’m not sure how much of the jump is simply seasonal. I suppose some is, but perhaps not all since the jump was bigger than any other month-to-month change. But I’m guessing. Anyone care to try to separate out the different effects?

  14. Anonymous

    Rob has 2006’s inventory – can we determine the MOI for last year and see if there is a similar seasonal trend?

  15. Grin and Bear It

    Anonymous, I think when people mention fundamentals they refer to several factors. One of the points I like to consider is when stats tell us BC residents save less than any other Province. We’re over extending ourselves. Not all RE buyers in this town hail from parts unknown as many may think. Many buyers are, indeed, locals that have over extended themselves so they could own their homes. It’s sad to see but it’s happening. Many of my friends have become house poor and I think it’s more common than many realize.

    The times…they will be a changin’….

    Beware of Bears!

  16. jesse

    “The MOI numbers are quite interesting. I’m not sure how much of the jump is simply seasonal.”

    MOI is very seasonal. You should at least look at year-over-year comparisons. Another method is moving average.

  17. robchipman


    You’re stretching. On the one hand you have two professionals explicitly advocating a course of action that will have negative effects on everyone (I’m assuming the doctor is talking to people who actually need heart medication). On the other hand you have someone issuing a press release that does not advocate any course of action, period.

    Your argument is that the course of action that isn’t advocated might create a negative outcome for someone, sometime (it may equally create a positive one) and you’re equating that with explicit recommendations that will do damage to specific people (anyone who follows the recommendation).

    I think you can see the problem. To make Muir equivalant to the doctor and accountant you have to add quite a bit to Muir’s statements and you also have to create a recipient for the advice (that Muir didn’t give) and that recipient has to be in the position to suffer from following the advice that Muir didn’t give.

    Newsflash’s point is pretty valid. Your argument could have been made (and probably was) last year and two years earlier. Are benchmarks and trends so unpredictable that we can’t assume that people have made money in RE over the last 2 years?

    The place for disclosure is face to face, in writing, signed, and required by legislation, not in press releases.

  18. /dev/null

    Newsflash said: “The benchmark greater Vancouver home is up another $7405. That should compensate for the credit card interest payments plus some.

    How? Seriously, is that a deliberate red herring or did you not think it through before posting? How does a benchmark rise help a young couple who charged a down payment for a condo to live in? Isn’t that like filling up your car at $2/L then seeing the price drop to $1/L and claiming you saved money that week?

    Maybe it’s just me that is missing the logic in a lot of these arguments…

  19. Dave

    Anybody want to comment on the FVREB stats for September? There are some wild fluctuations. SFH average prices are up 1.6% mom, 8.5 yoy, median is down 0.2% mom, up 7.6% yoy. But White Rock *year over year* is down over 4%. Wuzzup with that? WR townhouses are down YO too. Can anyone provide some local insight? N. Delta apartments are down yoy more than 20%. Are those numbers for real? Are small sample sizes to blame?

    FV MOI looks to be at 6.3, about like last fall.

  20. robchipman


    Its simple math. You buy a $100,000 property today, and it costs you $100/month to hold, net. You’re losing $1200/year. But, the property goes up in value 5% over the year. You’ve got a cash flow loss of $1200 and an equity gain of $5,000, so you’re $3,800 ahead.

    Lest somone misread my comment as a recomendation that an unemployed dog or dead person get a credit card, put a huge downpayment on it and then embark on a road to ruin, back the truck up now.

    What I’m saying is that investors can take advantage of leverage and buy with low down payments, or even no downpayment, and get fantastic returns. Interest costs can be irrelevant, since they’ll become tax write offs against higher profits. It can and does work. Interest only loans, neg cash flow purchases, etc. Its all arguably a variation on buying an option. Not in all markets, and not for all people, but it can and does work.

    Newsflash is simply pointing out that the negative downside that Muir didn’t hammer on has not yet happened. The market move the other way. The young couple could have put the downpayment on a credit card last year, gotten the airline points, paid the mortgage with their double income, and sold last month for a tax free gain in equity (God forbid that Muir points out that possibility hand in hand with the downturn scenario).

    Pointing out that a positive can happen illustrates that the complaint isn’t that Muir fails to speculate on what the future may hold. His crime is that he fails to speculate in a specific direction.

    To close the circle, buying options are a fantastic way to make huge money….if the trade goes your way 🙂

  21. /dev/null

    I understand the math, Rob. I don’t understand how the numbers work for someone looking to buy a home. From the article:

    “There is also a strong mix of housing stock. This variety is helping buyers at the lower end get into the market.”

    “Six out of 10 sales are multiple-family dwellings [such as attached houses and apartments]. There are also more financing options. Down payments are down to five percent, which can be put on a credit card,” said Muir.

    He’s says “get into the market”. To me that means someone who wants to own and not rent. Then you say:

    The young couple could have put the downpayment on a credit card last year, gotten the airline points, paid the mortgage with their double income, and sold last month for a tax free gain in equity

    So to me, you’ve just shown that this situation only works for a (IMHO “speculative”) investor. They need to sell to realize the equity gain. If they’re buying a home to live in all they realize is that they’re eating KD every night for dinner.

  22. robchipman


    Let’s keep a few things straight. Muir offers an explanation of why the market is still strong. He does indeed say “get into the market”, but not as an imperative. Its an explanation of the effect of lower priced options.

    Fish and some others complain that Muir is recommending a course that is going to lead to disaster.

    Newsflash points out that if someone used a cc to buy last year they have profited, not experienced a disaster, and he’s right, even if its a principal occupier. They can sell and realize equity, and considering they concievably started with nothing (using a cc for the dp) they’re ahead of the game. Since they had nothing in the beginning they were probably eating KD anyway, right?

    However, Muir never recommended that anyone do anything.

    Neither did newsflash.

    I’ve shown that the system works (and you don’t argue that it doesn’t). You point out that the buyer has to be a speculator, and to a certain extent that’s true. They can also be principal residents, as well. Is it a trade off? Buy now, build equity and eat KD every night? Sure it is. Is it risky? Sure it is. Can it turn ugly? Sure it can. Can it turn out fine? Also very possible.

    Who didn’t scrimp and save and count the pennies in the beginning? I know I did. When I think back on how I used to cut corners to make a buck stretch it makes me smile.

    So, are you saying buying is bad if you have to sacrifice? If so, I think that’s crazy talk.

    Are you saying, on balance, buying right now might be too much of a sacrifice? If the latter, how can you say that without knowing the individual’s circumstances? You could obviously be right. Prices are very high. But the simplistic bull arguments have been made for several years now. Check out doubter’s take on that. He has a point. Where would he be now if he had bought 3 years ago?

  23. CC


    You obviously have gorged on Realtor bathwater.

    You point to what Muir literally said and didn’t say, but you ignore his clear tone (don’t make me refer you to treatises that explain that literal meaning is only part of communication) and you downplay the one-sided nature of his piece.

    I am certain the vast majority of sophisticated and unsophisticated people would read Muir’s comments as encouraging people to buy, without reservation. He is a shill and he is shilling. Of course, he is a mouthpiece for the industry and is entitled to do so. Of course, the more he does so, the more he (and his employer) will lose credibility as an objective voice. This is all fine as far as I am concerned. I only take issue with you implying that his is a credible voice that should be given credence.

    As an aside, I think that Muir comments are both more dangerous and more closely scrutinized (and criticized) because of his former role with CMHC.

  24. robchipman


    I said he works for an organization that has an iron in the fire. I said that his statements are true. I won’t deny that he’s credible, as far as his sttement go. I don’t think anyone can. We are witniessing strong demand. There is a variety of product. The lending industry has come up with lots of new ways to borrow. All true things, and all contribute to a strong market.

    What I take issue with is the method of villification. You can’t disagree with what the guy says, so you take issue with his tone, and his implied meaning. That’s pretty subjective, in more ways than one.

    First, the implication can depend a lot on the recipient, and I find it curious that the same recipient can read two implications into a statement. Here’s an example: Muir points out that a buyer can put a downpayment on a credit card, and someone says a) there’s proof that this is a bubble, and its unsustainable, and b) Muir is encouraging people to buy without reservation. Now, when that recipient later says to a fellow bear “This market is continuing to cook in part because you can put a downpayment on a credit card” does the fellow bear conclude that the recipient is advising people to buy without reservation, or that the market has shaky underpinnings, or both? After all, the recipient has said the same thing as Muir, right? (Of course, there’s always the possibility that Muir is guilty before he even opens his mouth, and that what he says is irrelevant, because let’s face it, the intelligent among us know what he is and what he’s up to).

    Second, who was doing the communicating? Muir? Or the Sun? And if the latter, was it the big bad corporate MSM company, or the reporter who wrote the piece and decided which Muir comments to share? Is there no blame to attach there? Isn’t the Sun shilling as well? All in the name of filthy advertising lucre?

    Third, when I opine that a lot of you are shooting the messenger for giving news you don’t want to hear, you accuse me of implying that Muir’s implied meaning is credible! I don’t buy the implied meaning in the first place. I advise sticking to what he’s actually said and critically evaluating it in light of other information. I reject the implied meaning that you attribute to him. How can I imply that a thing which I deny exists is credible? (Unless, again, it doesn’t amtter what I say, because, like Muir, I’m one of the usual suspects).

    Fourth, you decide Muir is a shill and is shilling for the industry becasue he works for BCCREA. Why would that matter? Even if he were a shill, and your perceived implied meaning was there, has BCCREA and its spokespeople somehow become super effective? Because let’s face it: BCCREA predates the current market by several decades. Why didn’t they get this shilling thing going before if its so effective (I mean, dangerous)?

    My point is that you see the evidence of the truth because you’ve already decided what the truth is. Its your right to do that. but don’t fool yourself. You’re villifying someone for sharing honest opinions based on facts, and justifying it on the basis of your pre-held opinion.

  25. coco


    Your not dreaming, some FVREB prices are actually falling. A lot of the prices peaked May/June and have been falling since then.

  26. coco

    Have a Happy Thanksgiving everyone. See you on Tuesday.

  27. Anonymoose


    Would you ever recommend a client to use his CC to make a 5% DP on a property?
    Could you enlighten us with a hypothetical situation where this WOULD be an acceptable course of action?

    I’m assuming this debt wouldn’t be paid off before the grace period (assuming it wasn’t a cash advance in the first place; I can’t image you can actually charge a DP and get the points for it).

    Would you recommend having another CC handy ‘just in case’ (ie. roof leaks, foundation leaks, dishwasher leaks etc.)?

    Would you not be better off with a zero down mortgage, or is this idea for people that can’t qualify for that type of loan?

  28. CC


    Communication is, in part, the art of emphasis. This includes tone. And it includes the decision on what information to share and not share. Muir’s tone, as I said, would be read by the vast majority as pro-market (i.e. now is a great time to get in and it is really really easy). I don’t know why you read it another way and I don’t care to speculate. Suffice it to say that I think you are in the minority.

    The short answer to your hypothetical bear making the same comment is that how it would be interpreted would depend largely on the context. If the speaker was an avowed bear, then it might be taken to have what I would argue is the far less obvious meaning (the fact that you can put a down payment on your credit card is evidence of a bubble).

    Re your second point. The Sun is also culpable, though I doubt Muir would complain that he was misquoted or quoted to skew his emphasis. In fact, I bet he sent them a nicely-written press release that gave the Sun the idea for the article. Don’t be naive. The journalists at the Sun (and most MSM) do very little of their own legwork.

    Re your third point. You may not buy the implied meaning, though I find it difficult to understand how any clear thinking person would not see it. I don’t question your motives on this. I suspect it has more to do with your outlook on real estate and life in general (somewhat right of centre).

    Emphasizing what someone “actually said” while ignoring tone, context, nuance, etc. represents a particularly empoverished understanding of communication. Clearly, what someone “actually said” encompasses such things. For example, if in a heated argument, I said to my adversary, “hey, there is a gun. it is loaded. i could kill you with it.” Everything I said could be true and i didn’t “actually say” I was going to shoot the person but…

    Re your fourth point. It doesn’t really matter whether Muir’s shilling works for the BCREA. What matters is that he has put himself forward as a voice of reason and that, I suspect, people may listen to him. Given that, I think he should be roundly criticized when he spouts garbage.

    You are right, Rob. I confess. I think it is a terrible idea to buy property with 0% down, financing 95% with a mortgage and the remaining 5% on credit cards. In the vast majority of circumstances (personal and market), it is a bad idea. In fact, it is such a very bad idea that it shouldn’t be mentioned as a viable strategy without strenuous caveats (such as a monster cash flow that will be stable for the foreseeable future). At best, Muir put it forward as a viable strategy without the caveats. In my view, he encouraged it.

    If you think Muir was simply “sharing honest opinions based on facts”, then it is you who is being foolish.

  29. robchipman


    Speaking of implications and tones, are you implying that being in a minority is the same as being wrong? 🙂

    You admit that Muir didn’t say “Buy now”; you admit that its your view that he encouraged buying now, but that is an admission that the implication is a matter of opinion, not a matter of fact. If you are indeed implying that I’m wrong because I’m in the minority, can you explain how I can be wrong on a matter of opinion?

    The honest opinions that Muir was sharing were his opinions of why the market is currently strong. We both know you agree with what he said: the economy is strong, there is a wide mix of housing, and financing practices have become much more liberal.

    You’re upset that he pointed out that a buyer can use a credit card to make a purchase. You take him to task on an implied meaning that you admit is a matter of opinion. That’s fine. I’m just astounded about why you’d worry so much about Muir, and not, for example, the Sun, or the guys who grant the mortgage, or CMHC, or the guy who sells to the buyer with the credit card.

    Are you seriously afraid that “people” may listen to him? What if they do? Are you afraid they’ll be smart enough to pick up on his implied meaning, and smart enough to qualify for both a credit card and a mortgage, but too stupid to be trusted to use those resources without your guidance?

    You’ve got a bad analogy and a couple red herrings. Whether I’m in the minority or not isn’t important. That’s a red herring. Whether Muir complains about the Sun publishing his comments or not isn’t important, and is another red herring. You’re cherry picking who you villify based on a difference of opinion. And the analogy with the gun is flawed. Muir didn’t say “The market is hot. There’s credit card. You can use it to buy.” He said” The market is hot. Financing is liberal. People can even use credit cards for down payments”. The gun analogy, to be accurate should be “There is a lot of killing going on. People are angry with each other, and there are lots of ways to kill. There are even loaded guns lying on the table”.

    In terms of clear thinking and whether a right winger is capable of it, don’t even worry about Edmund Burke, and whether he was a clearer thinker than, say, Marx. Just review your own statement:

    “It doesn’t really matter whether Muir’s shilling works for the BCREA”


    “What matters is that … people may listen to him”.

    If the first statement is true, how can the second statement be a problem?

  30. abc

    Using a credit card to finance part of an asset purchase superficially appears foolish *for the seller*. Credit card companies companies charge percentage fees of the sales. Some quotes I saw on the internet (USA, not Canada mind you) were 1.75percent and in some instances up to 2.8percent!!!

    Now assume that the seller is not a fool. If he is accepting credit card, then he is a weak seller or the price is not sharp. The buyer will use this information to his advantage to get a better price. I surely would.

    While credit card sales might give some individuals an advantage, I nonetheless dislike the idea. It introduces new fees, and new costs into the transaction. Not good. The cc fees may not be transparent and certain buyers might overextend themselves as well. The latter would be most unfortunate.

  31. Strataman

    “Now assume that the seller is not a fool. If he is accepting credit card, then he is a weak seller or the price is not sharp. The buyer will use this information to his advantage to get a better price. I surely would.” I kinda doubt the buyer runs his credit card thru the seller! More likely he/her/them use the cash advance feature and use it as their downpayment!

  32. abc

    More likely he/her/them use the cash advance feature and use it as their downpayment!

    Wow, that is a scary thought.

  33. CC


    I never said your interpretation was wrong, just that you are likely in the minority (i.e. most people would understand it differently). I am saying you are wrong if you think your interpretation of Muir is in the minority. So, to recap, your interpretation of Muir isn’t wrong but your opinion about the interpretation of others is wrong IMO.

    Maybe I haven’t been clear enough. I do think that Muir effectively communicated the “BUY NOW” sentiment. That is the whole point of my tone, context, etc. discussion. Moreover, I think this is the sentiment Muir was trying to communicate (and encourage).

    I’m worried about anyone who makes irresponsible comments (or publishes them). Right now, we are talking about Muir and he should be called on his bullsh*t.

    I am worried that people make decisions on real estate based largely on emotions such as fear. Pointing out a way to purchase with zero savings without pointing out the considerable risks of such a strategy gives people who are scared of being priced out more rope to hang themselves.

    My guidance is not the issue. I have made dumb financial decisions (such as buying NORTEL at $35). That people (including me) are influenced by the media (and vested interests) is clear and that people often make very poor decisions regarding investment and debt is also clear. Haven’t you heard any of the tragic human interest stories about the recent US meltdown?

    Actually, re my analogy…Muir did say “The market is hot. People can finance 95% and put the rest on their credit card.” I fail to see a material distinction between this and your characterization “The market is hot. There’s credit card. You can use it to buy.” “People” being able to do something naturally implies “you” could do it.

    re my two statements…We, most likely, can’t prove whether Muir’s statements work for the BCREA but they may work and therein lies my concern.

  34. robchipman


    You’ve been as clear as you can be, and I understand you. You don’t understand my two beefs. You keep trying to answer the wrong complaint. This isn’t about what Muir implied or didn’t imply (we can’t determine that. We can only hold a vote on it, and votes don’t determine truth).

    When you villify people on the basis of their implication, rather than what they actually say, you’re villifying them for what you think, not what they think.

    Second, we enjoy an agreed upon level of freedom and equality. When you act as a self-appointed referee, and base your decisions on your opinions rather than the statements and actions of others, you’re undermining that and aggrandizing yourself.

    You’ve said:

    -You recognize that the implied meaning is a matter of opinion.
    -You recognize that opinions vary, depending on the holder.
    -Opinions aren’t wrong or right.

    Bottom line: you’re criticising Muir based on your opinions, not on his. That’s half ok, and half not ok. You don’t know what his opinions are, but you’re making an assumption that he a) thinks its good to buy real estate right now without reservation and b) that buyers who don’t have a downpayment should use a credit card, and c) consequences be damned.

    He may actually feel that way. On the other hand, he may not. And you don’t know which way he feels.

    What’s that add up to? You deciding to criticise the guy for no valid reason. Its a common practice, and it’s lazy analysis. Whether its Natalie Maynes or Stephen Harper, implied meaning is trumpeted as proof all the time in order to villify a person. And you have to ask: is villification of the person the primary goal, or is it just a tool to trumpet our own opinion? Does that person just become a sacrifice to a larger argument?

    I’m not going to get into the whole part about people being grown up and responsible for their own actions. You can vote, drink, pay taxes, serve on a jury and join the Army and get shot in Afghanistan, but watch out for Muir: he may get you to do something that might cause you some money, depending on what your opinion is.

    Aside from that, you’re jumping around a bit. Shilling either works or it doesn’t. It doesn’t have to be 100% to work. And if Muir was shilling, why did he say “You can use a cc”? Why not just “You can get 100%plus financing, walk away from the pruchase with cash in your pocket, and it costs less than using a cc”? More effective shill, no?

  35. crasher


    Every time when it looks like cc has responded convincingly enough to score some well deserved points, you keep coming back with a lengthy version of the same old.

    What’s the point of raising questions and inviting opinions when it’s obvious that you’l challenge every bearish arguement, regardless of credibility, while never respoding to even the most ludicrous bullish bs.

    We know it feels good to get in the last word, but any attempt to reduce the pain with fewer words would be appreciated.

  36. robchipman


    Its not a bear vs. bull argument.

    If you think cc’s identification of Muir’s implied recommended course of action is good, how’s this:

    “Crasher doesn’t want debate. He wants conformity. And he recommends that while people are free to share opinions, disagreement with other people’s opinions is a privilege reserved for bears. Anyone identified as a bull should be muzzled”.

    The implication was clear to me. Do you want to deny that you’re making that argument? You can’t. I define the implied meaning, not you.

    You can see where I’m going. You didn’t really say you wanted thought police to shut anyone down, but once we say implied meanings are equal to actual statements it becomes pretty tough for you to escape my attack. And frankly, my attack isn’t very fair for precisely that reason.

    My point is simple: there are better ways to get your point across than to attack people based on their implied meanings. Implied meanings are generally assumptions. That’s neither bearish not bullish.

  37. CC


    Again, you are wrong. This is about what Muir implied. Why can’t you grasp that?

    Your understanding of communication is pathetically simplistic. Apparently you don’t understand the basic point that communication inescapably involves both literal and implied meaning. Linguists, psychologists even lawyer (see Dicey’s rules of legal interpretation) admit of this view of communication. You stick to a literalist meaning, because it serves your purposes I suppose.

    When one communicates, one is (at least partly) responsible for how it is interpreted. I am criticizing Muir for “what he said”. Muir communicated in, at best, an irresponsible way as it was easy to foresee how his comments would be understood (I assume you accept the concept of reasonable foreseeability and negligence). For what it’s worthh, I think he intended the implication.

    Yes, Muir is free to express his opinion. And I am free to criticize his opinion as irresponsible. This is entirely in line with the “freedom and equality” you trumpet. I don’t know why you would characterize this as aggrandizing myself. And frankly, that isn’t a word I would throw around if I were you. Your sense of self-importance appears quite robust.

    My aim in not to villify Muir as a person. But if a person pursues a course of conduct, he or she can and should be judged on that. Muir is, in my view, often a shill, irresponsible and not objective.

    Beyond thinking that buying a house with 95% mortgage and the rest on credit card is a very bad idea for most people in most markets (including this one), what do you know of my opinion or “larger argument”. In raising this, you are attempting to win the argument by besmiching my motives. A very weak tactic, and entirely unsubstantiated in this instance.

    Another tactic you attempt is to undermine my position by pointing out that people are adults and can choose to serve in Afghanistan, so anything Muir says is irrelevent. This, of course, is totally irrelevent itself. I haven’t identified Muir as a grave threat to humanity. I have merely opined that he can be an irresponsible shill and that he should be criticized for it. He may have influence, I don’t know. Shilling obviously works to some extent.

  38. LesserApe

    It’s obvious to most people, and the law, that implied meaning counts. If a male manager were to say to an attractive female employee, “I really like your outfit today. Come play with me at my house. I’ll make it worth your while. Satisfying me is the best way to get ahead in your career”, I’m pretty sure that it would be considered sexual harassment. But really, if you only use what was actually said, it shouldn’t be harassment, since the sexual subtext is only implied.

    So, any argument that says that implications don’t count is plainly ridiculous. So the only real argument is about whether or not Muir made the implication that it was somewhat reasonable that people buy real estate on their credit cards. I think he did, a bit, but I think it can be debated, particularly if the quote was only a partial quote.

  39. robchipman


    You think Muir implied one thing, and I disagree with you, but I’m not arguing about that.

    I’m saying that criticising people based on implied meaning is not a very fair way to go for several reasons.

    Its not a case of me not grasping or not understanding that communication involves implied meaning. My argument pre-supposes the concept of implied meaning. How could I, for example, argue that your dependence on implied meaning isn’t worthwhile if I didn’t grasp that implied meanings exist?

    We’ve agreed (unless you were actually implying that I’m not a clear thinking person) that different people may decipher different implied meanings. To quote you: “Rob, I never said your interpretation was wrong, just that you are likely in the minority (i.e. most people would understand it differently)”. I have a different interpretation of Muir’s implied meaning than you, but its not wrong, just different. One statement, possibly more than one implied meaning. Which is the correct one? (BTW, did you notice that right after you said I was in the minority you actually said I was in the majority? 🙂 )

    My point is that I understand that implied meaning exists, but that they are not definitive, and they depend as much (if not more) on the recipient as on the sender. (Again, describing the characteristics of something presupposes that thing’s existence, so stop acting like I deny the existence of implied meaning, ‘kay?)

    We’re all free to express out opinions. We’re all free to disagree. Criticising someone based on your interpretation of their implied meaning opens you up the the charge of prejudice. I think that what Muir says is immaterial to your opinion of him. Your implied interpretation is nothing but opinion. If Muir wanted to implicitly recommend irresponsible buying he could have picked many better ways. You’ve seen what you wanted to see. And that’s the danger of depending on implied meanings.

  40. CC

    OK Rob, I (like you, I am sure) am getting tired of this. Where we disagree, as I take it, is the merits (or not) of criticizing someone for their implied communication. Unlike you, I think it is perfectly acceptable and, in fact, necessary since so much of communication is implied/not explicit or literal. Most form of substantive criticism opens one up to the charge of prejudice. There is no prejudice at work on my part – what Muir says is the only material aspect of my opinion of him (or his statements). Whether Muir could have picked better ways is irrelevant. He chose to communicate the way he did and I see it as irresponsible. The implication was obvious and direct to most people. This effect, clearly, transcends my opinion.

  41. robchipman


    “Where we disagree, as I take it, is the merits (or not) of criticizing someone for their implied communication. ” Agree. That’s been my argument the whole time.

    “Unlike you, I think it is perfectly acceptable and, in fact, necessary…”

    Yeah, I got that. That’s why I was asking who died and made you arbiter. The guy doesn’t actually say something, you decipher the meaning, and go on a crusade. I say you’re over-reacting, and attacking Muir based on what you think, not necessarily on what he thinks. I say there are better ways to address the issue. You say “No, you’re wrong, and so is Muir, and you don’t even know what subject you’re arguing about”.

    “what Muir says is the only material aspect of my opinion of him (or his statements)” – the obvious problem is that Muir didn’t say what you criticise him for. He may have implied it, or he may not have implied it (you’ve agreed that implications can differ, depending on the recipient), but as far as you’re concerned it seems that if you decipher the implication, it exists.

    “Whether Muir could have picked better ways is irrelevant.” I never said Muir could have communicated better. I said you could have dealt with teh criticism better. Confirm the implied meaning rather than deciding that if you hear it, its true. That’s why I say it doesn’t matter what the subject is. Implied meanings are used to hang people from evey walk of life, depending on the recipient’s point of view.

    “The implication was obvious and direct to most people.” And so I have to ask: is truth determined by majority vote? If so, let’s bring back capital punishment.

    Figure it out. You say “In my opinion he meant something bad, whether he said it or not. That’s enough to villify him. I’m not even going to look at other ways of reading the statement or try to confirm what he meant.” That’s prejudice.

  42. CC


    Obviously, the strength of any criticism based on implied meaning rests in part on the nature of the implication. The implication in his statement was so painfully obvious that it could only have been deliberate. Yes, you could do mental gymnastics and interpret Muir as just “offering his opinion that the market is strong”. It isn’t that I didn’t look at other ways of reading the statement. I rejected them as unlikely in the context. This isn’t prejudice. It is expressing a considered personal opinion.

    Nobody died and left me the arbiter. Last I checked, I was entitled to an opinion. Others (including you) are free to agree or disagree. References to me appointing myself the “arbiter” are both misplaced and ill-advised coming from a highly opinionated sort such as yourself.

    Again, like any public pundit, Muir is responsible for how his comments may be reasonably understood. See Bruce Allan’s recent radio foibles (not that I think he said anything that offensive, just that he had to answer – and rightly so – for comments that implied racism).

    The fact that implied meanings may be used “hang people” from every walk of life does not invalidate reliance on implied meanings in any particular instance. Sure implied meanings can be misconstrued and abused. They can also be insightful and highly relevant. Again, I refer you to reams of academic commentary on the nature of communication.

    What is with the bizarre references to “crusade”, “capital punishment” and “prejudice”?

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