Great Cross Border Banking Plans for US & Canada

If you are a Canadian living in the US or an American living in Canada, you may have encountered the same problems I have, how do you cheaply and easily transfer funds to pay bills you may have on the other side of the boarder?

In my situation, I am a US Citizen living in Canada. I have life insurance plans and therefore bills in the US that I can’t pay via credit card. I imagine there are similar situations if you are a Canadian living and working in the US or perhaps you are just a snowbird.

Things I have done in the past for this:

  • When visiting home in the US, deposit a Canadian funds cheque into your US account.
    Downside: Very inconvenient and with my bank, I got horrible exchange rate and have lost 100s of dollars for the currency exchange rate on the transaction.
  • Doing a wire transfer from my bank in US Funds.
    Downside: Better currency exchange rate, but I am hit with about $20-$30 fee on each end of the transaction. So, the cost is about $40-$60 and I have to go to a bank to do this.
  • Mail a Canadian funds cheque to my US bank with a deposit slip request.
    Downside: More convenient than driving to the US, no wire transfer fee, but I still was getting killed on the currency exchange rate by my US bank.

Here is the solution I found that is working great for me.

Step 1: Open a TD Canada trust account.

Step 2: Add a US Borderless plan to your TD Canada Trust account. This will allow you to deposit US funds (cash or US funds checks you may receive) into your bank with no currency exchange fee. The fee for transferring from your Canadian funds accounts to the borderless account is very reasonable. If you keep over $3,000 in this account, there is no fee for this account.

Step 3: Get a TD US account called TD Convenience Checking. This account is located in the US and you will have to pick a branch in the US. I picked one in Queens NY. You will get a US Funds VISA Debit card, a US banking routing number and account. This will allow you to pay bills that require a US checking account with US bank routing numbers. You only need to keep $100 in this account.

Step 4: Transfer funds from your US Borderless plan to your TD Convenience Checking for only $15 per transaction and no currency exchange fees! You can transfer $2,500USD per day.

Bonus: You are able to link your US Convenience Checking account with your TD Canada trust account via the Canadian portal Easyweb and easily transfer funds from the web portal and also check the balance of your US account. You don’t need to drive to a branch to do your wire transfer and you don’t need to do annoying phone banking. You can’t see your US Convenience Checking account from your TD Phone app, only on the Web portal.

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Sweden COVID-19 Update

As new COVID-19 cases and hospitalization rates spike in many US States, I thought I would check in to see how Sweden is doing.

Sweden is the country many Red States want to model. These Red States, for the most part, think asking people to wear masks, social distance, and closing businesses are unnecessary. We even heard the Texas Lieutenant Governor said, if some old people have to die to save the economy, well, they were going to die anyway.

Comparing Deaths / Million for Sweden and it’s unemployment rate to it’s neighbors and other prominent EU countries shown below:

CountryDeaths / Million
as of June 13, 2020
Estimated Unemployment Rate
Projected June 2020
*Source tradingeconomics.com
Sweden4839.1%
Denmark1035.4%
Finland598.5%
Germany1066.6%
Norway455.2%
France4508.5%
UK6116%
Spain58017%
Italy56610%
US (For reference)35315%
Canada (for reference)21514%

Sweden’s total deaths compared to its neighbors is very high.

Summary: It seems the people that said countries need to focus on solving their public health crisis first and then do what they can to improve their economies are probably right. A country’s economy isn’t going to recover and “go back to normal” just because the government lets restaurants and salons re-open.

I am very worried that the US is going to get much worse given their haphazard approach with no central leadership on this crisis. https://www.vox.com/2020/6/12/21288090/covid-19-coronavirus-us-cases-update-texas-arizona-florida

Sweden is facing their worst recession since World War II, Swede’s confidence in their government has plunged 20%. Perhaps there is still hope they will achieve herd immunity quickly and recover faster than other countries. We will have to check back in a few months to see how this experiment is going.

More reading:

  1. https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/sweden-says-covid-strategy-was-never-about-shielding-the-economy-1.1447675
  2. https://www.bangkokpost.com/world/1930748/sweden-didnt-lock-down-but-economy-to-plunge-anyway
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The reason for stay at home was to slow the spread so that our Hospitals would not get overwhelmed. Since our hospital’s are not overwhelmed, why are we still doing stay at home?

TL/DR: They aren’t overwhelmed YET. The reason they didn’t get overwhelmed was because of stay at home.

Longer Read:

Starting in late March, the  US and Canada started to institute stay at home measures. Because of this, the increase in the rate of  new cases and deaths due to COVID-19 has decreased significantly.  The rate of doubling the number of new deaths went from about 3-4 days in early April to 15 days or more by the end of April.

May1-death rate increase.jpg

If the death rate remained about the same as it was at the beginning of the month the number of people that would have died would have been close to 1 Million. This was a number that President Trump indicated at one of his Task Force update meetings back in late March or early April.  However, because of stay at home measures, the rate of increase dropped and 63,000 died instead. You can see how the projections for April 30 continued to drop as the rate of increase dropped in the logarithmic chart below. US Deaths Projected May 1.jpg

But, if we are doing so good, why don’t we remove restrictions? 

Well, as you can see from all the charts, the amount of virus in the population his MUCH higher today than it was in late March or early April.  This means any change in the rate of increase of new cases will have a much bigger impact on the number of new cases and new deaths throughout the month of May.

If the US were to jump from every 15 days for doubling the number of deaths to every 7 days for the number of deaths, you can see from the chart below what will happen. The difference is very large! You can see we are quickly back to over 1 Million dead again vs may 200,000.

May Logarithmic.jpg

May Linear.jpg

So what do we do then? Stay locked down until there is a vaccine?

No! We don’t want to be locked down until there is a vaccine. That is too long. I think we need to take the advice of the experts and reduce the amount of virus in the population  so that the number of new cases is dropping, vs continuing to increase as it is now. Then we can start to go back to normal. If we try to go back to normal too soon, we will have to have another lock down and it will take longer to resume a more normal life. We shall see what is happens as so many states start to reduce restrictions.  There will be a lot of data available by the end of May.

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COVID-19 US&C Mortality Model Update

Updated April 25, 2020

The rate of increase of deaths due to COVID-19 has leveled out at about 0.05 (or 5%) per day for the last 4 days.  This means the exponential growth rate of deaths in the US is about 15 days. This is a huge improvement from the start of April when the doubling rate was about every 3 days. Almost a 5x improvement and the curve is flattening!

US Changing Rate April 25.jpg

Models the US Government is using has been predicting 66,000 deaths August 4! At the moment, I don’t understand why the end date is so far away. We have been on target for at least 66,000 deaths by the end of April for the last few weeks now.  We have been averaging about 2,000 deaths per day for the last 7 days and with the curve still increasing and not flat. It looks like the rate should stay at 2,000 PER DAY for the rest of the month.  The US ended April 24 at 51,949 deaths and with 6 days left (or 12,000 deaths) left in the month, that should put the total at about 64,000. If the US models are right, we should see a significant decrease in the number of deaths this week. The US has to drop from an average of 2,000 deaths per day this week to no more than 1,000 per week starting next week for the next 13-14 weeks.  This just doesn’t really seem possible, does it?  You can see the flat part of changing rate curve has been really flat for 5 days in a row now.

Because the changing rate has flattened so much, the difference between projecting the number of deaths as “If nothing changes after today” vs a “If the rate continues at this rate model” are almost the same. You have to go back to April 18 to see much of a difference.  The April 30th curve accounts for the changing rate of deaths.  You can see the 21st (69,233 deaths), 24th (69,226) and 30th (72,269) are all on top of each other and all end at about the same point.

US Deaths April 24.jpg

Meanwhile, in Canada, the number of deaths are about 5% of the deaths compared to the US, even though they are 10% the size of the US. So, Canada is doing twice as good as the for the number of people that are expecting to die from COVID-19.

However, the US is decreasing the rate of death increase faster. It is interesting that both countries experience a sharp drop in the rate of deaths starting around the 16th or 17th of April and then started to flatten out.  I am guessing this happened as part of a lag of both countries putting strict social distancing measures in about the same time. Death Rate increase US&C april 25.jpg

If the rate of increase in deaths for Canada stays about flat at around 0.74 for the next 5 days, they are on target to lose about 3,600 to COVID-19.  A huge improvement for where they could have been if no action was taken and they were on target for 77,000 deaths by the end of the month. The doubling rate of deaths for Canada has increased to about 10 days. Much better than the 4 days at the start of the month.  Canada has a lot of room to improve in the impact of stay at home measures with the US doubling rate is at 15 days and Canada is at 10 days.  You can see that Canada has continued to drop over the last 4 days while the US has been flat.

Canada  projected deaths April 24.jpg

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Should Georgia “Open Up” This Week?

The news I am watching is making a big deal about Georgia “Opening Up” and if they  should do it or not. But, they aren’t really talking about any facts. Just ranting, asking people for their opinion. The smartest opinion seems to be “It goes against the recommendations”.

So, I had to do my own research.

It seems the number of confirmed cases and deaths due to COVID-19 are quite low in Georgia. However, it is also true that neither the number of  confirmed cases or the number of deaths in Georgia have gone down for 2 weeks in a row. Which is what a “Phase 1” recommendation is. 

Below is a chart of Number of confirmed cases for the largest counties in Georgia that account for 50% of the population of the state.  The most impacted county is Fulton (Atlanta) with  2,208 cases.  If you look at the rate of doubling,  Fulton county is impacted the hardest, but the the doubling rate is 14 days! That is really good compared to the rest of the country, which is currently around  a 7 day doubling rate. A few weeks ago the entire country average for the US was closer to 4 days for a doubling.

The % of people that require hospitalization is about 10% of confirmed cases. So, it seems about 221 people might require hospitalization in Fulton. If there are enough ICU beds, perhaps that is manageable.

Georgia Confirmed.jpg

The chart below shows the number of deaths for the largest counties in Georgia that account for 50% of the population of the state.   The most impacted county is Fulton (Atlanta) with 82 cases.   The simple death rate is around 4% if you look at confirmed cases compared to deaths.  This isn’t a good measure, but you can see from the 4th largest county and smaller, counties are at 30 deaths or lower.

Georgia Deaths.jpg

Perhaps this is acceptable and manageable when you compare the impact on lives vs the impact to the economy. I am not sure. I am worried that the growth rates of confirmed cases and deaths will rise sharply when  restrictions are loosened.  Clearly there are quite a few people in some parts of Georgia with COVID-19 and it would be awful if the doubling rate for confirmed cases and deaths increases.

We shall see what happens in the next  few weeks. What happens to Georgia’s economy. What happens to the # of confirmed cases and deaths.

 

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Impact of Stay at Home Measures in US & Canada – Updated Model

Updated April 21, 2020

I have a new and improved model for projecting the number of deaths in the US from COVID-19. I have added a prediction based on the decreasing rate of increase of deaths.

decreasing rate.jpg

Figure 1: Changing rate of Deaths – US

Using a best-fit trend line, you can make a best guess at what each days death rate will be. I chose a power function because it clearly won’t be linear since it won’t drop to 0, but level off asymptotically to some steady state value.  I don’t think the rate of change is exponential, but perhaps it is.

Using this model,  you can plot the number of deaths on the logarithmic chart and see how the new model is improved from the old model. The old model being, “Assuming the rate of change remains the same as today, how many people will die?”. This isn’t a very good model because the rate is changing and dropping. But, it does show you what could happen if stay at home measures weren’t having an impact.  The new model projects about 80,500 deaths by April  30, vs the old model which was about 125,000 deaths.

The chart below shows Mar 28 – Apr 18 using the “Old  Model” and the curve labeled April 30 uses the “New Model”

April 21 US Death Rates.jpg

Figure 2: Actual and Projected Deaths – US

April 21 US Death Rate.jpg

Figure 3: Rate of increase of deaths in US and Canada (Actual)

April 21 Canada deaths.jpg

Figure 4: Canada Project Deaths by April 30: 3,714

Figure 4 is using the “Old Model” I  haven’t done the work yet to incorporate the New  Model for Canada numbers.

METHOD: The method I used to was to look at the daily number of deaths over a 3-day period and calculate that rate. Then using that rate of growth, predict how many people will fall victim to COVID-19 by the end of April. The equation I used is  Y = ln(X+3)/X)/3.

My model predicts, “From this day forward, if the rate of increase stays the same, this is how many people will fall victim to COVID-19”

Government agencies are make more optimistic predictions because they also build into their assumptions FUTURE impacts of stay at home on the rate of growth.

Results: As shown in the US chart. You can see that on March 28, the rate of growth in the increase number of deaths per day was 0.25. If that rate of change continued, my “model” predicted we would lose about 3.6 million people.  This would approximately be the number President Trump cited when he said, “If we didn’t do anything”

However, the stay-at-home efforts are working, the rate of growth keeps dropping as shown in Figure 1.

You may find the Y-Axis scale used for Figure 2 and Figure 3 to be unusual. They are logarithmic scales. They need to be log scales so you can see the data and see a the trend line since the rate of grown is growing exponentially.  If you are curious, below is what Figure 1 would look like in a normal linear Y-Axis scale.

April 15 Linear.jpg

You can see all the information before April 15 looks about all the same. They all look about zero. But, that isn’t the case when using a log scale.

 

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The Fallacy of Open Up America

Many (not all) people in the “Open America Now” crowd seem to think that if we “open up” things will go back to the way they were before the pandemic hit. At least that is what one might be lead to believe by listening to them.

This won’t happen for a long time.

Just because you CAN go to a movie theatre, doesn’t mean people will. My local movie theatre was nearly empty the two weeks before the government closed it. Two weeks before the government closed restaurants, you could see the empty parking lots. This is BEFORE people were dying in large numbers.

I know of a store in a local mall that normally does $20,000 to $25,000 revenue in a day that was only generating $500 in a day back when the number of deaths in the US were only 63!

Also, many in the “Open Up America” crowd point to Sweden as a model that the US should be doing. It is true that Sweden isn’t as strict as most other countries in how they deal with this situation. But, that doesn’t mean Sweden is functioning like it was before the pandemic and their economy is humming along.

  1. Many restaurants are open, but patronage is way down.
  2. Some movie theatres are open and attendance is 90% down
  3. Tourism in the country is down 96%
  4. More people in Sweden filed for unemployment financial support in the last few weeks than they did during the great recession of 2008 – 2009.

Also, Sweden’s death rate compared to the surrounding Nordic countries is much higher. That is the price they are paying. If the hospital system can handle this and people aren’t being denied hospital care for other reasons, such as cardiovascular, cancer treatments, etc perhaps it is an acceptable price to pay.

Nordic.jpg

I am not saying what Sweden is doing is right or wrong or opening America as soon as possible is wrong. I am just saying, don’t expect our businesses to go back to the way they were in early February just because government restrictions are eased.

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Impact of Stay at Home Measures in US & Canada

Updated April 16, 2020

Back in March different agencies were making different predictions for how many people might die from COVID-19. I started to track this on my own so I could  keep my own records and track how our collective stay-at-home efforts are progressing.

I found on Github where you can download the raw data for confirmed cases, deaths and recoveries globally. This is the same data the Johns Hopkins site is using if you have visited that site.

Executive Summary: The good news is that everyone’s sacrifice is having an impact! As you can see the rate of deaths is still increasing exponentially, but it is slowing a lot for both the US and Canada. However, the last 3 days, the growth has not only slowed, but increasing slightly again for US and Canada.

Figure 1: Rate of increase of deaths in US and Canada

death rate increase US&C.jpg

Figure 2: US Projected Deaths by April 30: 94,903

April 15 US Deaths.jpg

Figure 2a: US Projected Deaths by April 30
(April 15 Data only)

April 15 only US Deaths.jpg

Figure 3: Canada Project Deaths by April 30: 5,160

April 15 Canada Deaths.jpg

Figure 3a: Canada Projected Deaths by April 30
(April 15 data only)

April 15 only Canada Deaths.jpg

METHOD: The method I used to was to look at the daily number of deaths over a 3-day period and calculate that rate. Then using that rate of growth, predict how many people will fall victim to COVID-19 by the end of April. The equation I used is  Y = ln(X+3)/X)/3.

My model predicts, “From this day forward, if the rate of increase stays the same, this is how many people will fall victim to COVID-19”

Government agencies are make more optimistic predictions because they also build into their assumptions FUTURE impacts of stay at home on the rate of growth.

Results: As shown in the US chart. You can see that on March 28, the rate of growth in the increase number of deaths per day was 0.25. If that rate of change continued, my “model” predicted we would lose about 3.6 million people.  This would approximately be the number President Trump cited when he said, “If we didn’t do anything”

However, the stay-at-home efforts are working, the rate of growth keeps dropping as shown in Figure 1.

You may find the Y-Axis scale used for Figure 2 and Figure 3 to be unusual. They are logarithmic scales. They need to be log scales so you can see the data and see a the trend line since the rate of grown is growing exponentially.  If you are curious, below is what Figure 1 would look like in a normal linear Y-Axis scale.

April 15 Linear.jpg

You can see all the information before April 15 looks about all the same. They all look about zero. But, that isn’t the case when using a log scale.

 

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My COVID19 Q&A Cheatsheet

I have a lot of questions about COVID19. It isn’t being reported very well in the news media. Should I be worried? Should I not be worried? Is the media over-hyping this? Is the US Media in particular over-hyping this to make the disease partisan?

I spent a few hours last night trying to answer question probably a lot of you have. This is what I discovered:

Also check out the cool website to help you freakout! LINK

Q: If COVID19 is like the flu, then why aren’t we freaking about the flu every year?

It is true the flu kills between 12,000 and 60,000 people every year in the US. COVID-19 is sort of like the flu. But …

  • There is no vaccine for COVID19, so our “herd immunity” is basically zero for COVID19.
  • The flu has been around forever, so most of us have some immunity to it. COVID19 jumped from animals to people, so we have little natural immunity to it.
  • COVID19 transmits easier than the flu
  • The death rate for flu is around 0.1%, but the death rate for COVID19 is somewhere between 1 and 3% so 10 to 30 times more deadly.
  • So, if 30,000 people will die from the flu this year, we should expect at least another 30k to die from COVID19. Probably more since it transmits easier and the death rate is 10 to 30x higher. I have no idea what the forecast might be.
  • Below is a table as of March 9 of how many confirmed cases by country and what the death rate is in that country. It isn’t a perfect calculation.
    No photo description available.

Q: “I am an American and I saw something that said only X people have been confirmed positive or only Y people have died. So why should I be worried?”

  • In the US there has been almost no testing. So of course the number of confirmed cases in the US will be very low.
  • If someone died of COVID19 in the US, we wouldn’t know it because there are almost no test kits available.
  • Here is an interesting chart showing how many people around the world have been tested as of March 2. You can see it is VERY low for the US. 1 in a million. So, of course confirmed cases will be VERY LOW. LINK

Q: I am an American and I think this is a US Media propaganda effort to hurt Trump. Why isn’t it?

If you think that, then that doesn’t explain:

  • 30M people living in quarantine in China
  • All of Italy is under some sort of quarantine
  • Many flights in Europe are being canceled or being flown almost empty
  • France has banned all gatherings over 1,000 people.
  • COVID19 seems to be out of control in Iran and the death rate there seems quite high.

Q: Why are people freaking out about Coronavirus, but they didn’t about SARS. 

SARS effected more than 8,000 people and about 800 died.

  • The difference with SARS was you got severely sick very quickly and so you would automatically self quarantine.
  • Because of the symptoms people knew it was SARS, that isn’t true with COVID19. In the US there have been basically ZERO available test kids available for the last few months.
  • Because COVID19 is milder than SARS, people who think they have a cold or just the flu could be walking around asymptomatic for weeks before they even know they are sick infecting a much larger number of people. This wasn’t the case with SARS. If people aren’t hit too hard and are infecting others, as stated in the first question, COVID19 transmits easier than the flu and has a higher death rate. So, it should spread faster and farther than SARS, thus killing more people.
  • Because of the obvious symptoms and how quickly people got sick, SARS was easier to contain. COVID19 will be nearly impossible to contain without extreme measures in being used in Italy and China. And do those even work? I don’t know!

Q: What about MERS, that had a 40% death rate.

  • Like SARS, people got sick very quickly and would have to self quarantine immediately because they were so sick.
  • The death rate was so high, the disease would burn out quickly. Which means people are dying too fast for it to spread very far. So, it is easy to contain.
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How to hide Newsletters and other low value email from your phone

Why do you want to do this?  
Often your phone gives you notifications when you have new email. You don’t want it disturbing you every time you get new email from Amazon, or some company trying to get your attention about “new savings that are about to expire!”  Also, if you use your email for important things, it is easier to know something is important waiting for you if you have 2 unread emails vs 1,523 unread emails. The difference between 0, 1, 3 are very easy to comprehend. But, 1523 vs 1463 vs 1528 are basically all the same number!

Using Outlook  / Hotmail with Windows (Mac instructions might be slightly different)

  1. Log into your email
  2. Create a folder in your email for all your newsletters. It doesn’t really matter where it goes. I make it a subfolder of my Inbox.  Here is what you do
    1. Right Mouse button click on your inbox and a menu will pop up (Don’t know how this Is done with a single button Mac mouse)
      one
    2. Select Create new subfolder, call it Newsletter. You can call it whatever you want. You can create different folders for different reasons. Like, Newletters, Job Search, Weather, Google Alerts, FromMom, etc. You will make a rule later on and the rule will put the mail for your rule in this folder.
      two

Create a Rule from an Email

  1. Open the email in Outlook via your web browser
  2. On the upper right, look for the three dots … to the right of Categorize, click the three dots and select Create Rule
    create-rule
  3. When asked, select the folder you created already!
  4. Done, you just created a rule to move this email into a folder.

Create Many Rules at Once

  1. Click the gear icon upper right near your profile photo
    three
  2. Scroll down in the settings menu to View Full Settings
    four
  3. Click the Rules Link, then click the Add New Rule
    five
  4. Here is a simple rule to move everything from BedBathAndBeyond to my Newsletters folder. Just type the email from the sender of the newsletter. They usually don’t change
    six
  5. Click save
  6. From now one, all your email should go to this subfolder. Since it is in this subfolder, your phone inbox won’t show this email as unread and you shouldn’t get a notification on your phone that Bed, Bath and Beyond has a new 20% coupon for this weekend only!
  7. You can make more complicated rules that do all kinds of things. Examples:
    1. Automatically put email in the trash
    2. Forward email to your work email account
    3. Copy the email to a folder, but leave it in your inbox too
  8. Here are some of the rules I have setup
    seven
  9. If you really want to see email from this sender on your phone, its there. you just didn’t get a notification. It isn’t in your Inbox main folder. Open your phone email and you should be able to see your “Newsletters” folder, or whatever you created. Just click on it to see what is in there!
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