Thursday, September 20, 2007

Canadian educational arbitage

One of my best friends from college is up in Canada working on yet another graduate degree right now. This one will actually leave him with employable skill sets that should allow him and his wife to live pretty well. He chose to go to Canada for this degree on a combination of political whimsey, and the sheer fact that the headline price for his degree is roughly 40% of the headline price for an equivilant degree at an equivilantly decent American university, and the actual price that he'll be paying back is probably 20% of the expected actual price at equivilant American universities.

His wife is employed full time up there, and he works part time in Michigan, so their income is a mix of Canadian dollars and US dollars, while their pre-exisiting student loan debt is all US dollar denominated. So even being a poor graduate student, he is doing pretty well for himself for once. I'm bringing my buddy up because he has to be celebrating this article from Bloomberg today:

Sept. 20 (Bloomberg) -- Canada's dollar traded equal to the U.S. currency for the first time in three decades, capping a five-year run on the back of booming demand for the nation's commodities.

The Canadian dollar rose as high as $1.0008, before retreating to 99.87 U.S. cents at 4:16 p.m. in New York. It has soared 62 percent from a record low of 61.76 U.S. cents in 2002. The U.S. dollar fell as low as 99.93 Canadian cents today. The Canadian currency last closed above $1 on Nov. 25, 1976, when Pierre Trudeau was Canada's prime minister.

He and his wife are engaging in a massive piece of educational arbitage as well as currency speculation right now, and I am curious why more Americans are not travelling to Canada for either their bachelor studies or basic professional graduate work as the sticker and actual prices are far lower, and given the US interest rates divergence from world interest rates, and the probable increase in comparative inflation, buying Canadian education at a locked in dollar exchange rate while paying back that dollar denominated debt in the future with potentially devalued US dollars is not a bad bet. Throw in the fact that even in Canada, generic American accents are different if not exotic which makes meeting people a little bit easier, this seems like a decision more Americans should be making even if the exchange rate gets a bit nastier.

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