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California: Better weather than Ontario, and much less debt. So what are you waiting for? (SANDY HUFFAKER/AP)
California: Better weather than Ontario, and much less debt. So what are you waiting for? (SANDY HUFFAKER/AP)

The Week’s Highlights

Ontario, you’re the tops (in debt) Add to ...

Every day ROB Insight delivers exclusive analysis on breaking business news and market-moving events. Streetwise offers news and analysis on Bay Street and the world of finance. Inside the Market delivers up-to-the-minute insights on market news as it develops.

Here are our editors’ picks of some of the best reads available to Globe Unlimited subscribers this week.

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Ontario dreamin’

California has not only the distinction of being America’s largest state, it has also held the unenviable title of being the country’s biggest financial basket case. So residents of Canada’s most populous province would no doubt be dismayed – and shocked – to learn that a recent study from the Fraser Institute reached the conclusion that Ontario is in worse shape by any yardstick, writes David Parkinson in ROB Insight. The province’s debt is double that of the Golden State, and its much smaller economy means the job of digging itself out of the hole is that much harder. So, what to do? The study also weighs in on how Ontario can meet the challenge, and after the Drummond report, it’s one more reason the province needs to wake up and smell the coffee.

These U.S. stocks are set to pop

U.S. corporate investment is surging, providing an unambiguously positive sign of corporate profit growth, with total commercial and industrial lending advancing at a 10-per-cent clip, up from a 7-per-cent rate in December. Where those funds are being deployed offer a signal as to which companies are set to boost their profits as a result, Scott Barlow writes in Inside the Market, as he searches out the sectors and individual stocks most likely to benefit.

Measuring risk in Arctic waters

The establishment of a trade route off Canada’s most northerly shores is looking more viable by the day, as changing environmental conditions produce warmer, ice-free seas capable of allowing passage to vessels. A great uncertainty hovers over the commercial realities of insuring those ships, with very few precedents to enable companies to adequately assess the risks involved. In Streetwise, Jacqueline Nelson sets out on her own exploration, examining not just the physical challenges, but also those faced by insurers who will underwrite what could be considerable traffic plying the Arctic Sea.

Trouble in Europe’s breadbasket

The humble wheat sheaf has become a flashpoint in the continuing turmoil in Ukraine. Geopolitical considerations aside, the country’s weather and soil conditions closely resemble the northern corn belt of the U.S., and Ukraine is one of the world’s leading grain producers, feeding both Russia and European nations. The fallout from Russia’s annexation of Crimea and threat of further military action has sent wheat futures, until recently expected to slump, to 10-month highs. In ROB Insight, Carl Mortished examines the market as well as the crisis’s ramifications for world prices and agricultural companies.

The Contra Guys jump aboard

Inside the Market welcomes new contributors The Contra Guys, also known as Ben Stadelmann and Benj Gallander. The duo co-publish the Contra the Heard investment letter and focus on finding turnaround situations and stocks that currently out of favour but poised to regain their lustre. This week, Ben looks at an energy stock flying below the radar that has the potential to double.

A regulator guy

Has a national securities regulator’s time finally come? Departing Finance Minister Jim Flaherty championed a single national regulator, and his successor, Joe Oliver, has long been vociferous about his deeply-held conviction that forming such a body is overdue. The former OSC executive and head of the Investment Dealers Association of Canada has been a staunch lobbyist and outspoken proponent of a national regulator to replace the fragmented system of 13 provincial and territorial authorities, and pledged to seek reform during his first campaign for federal office. Now that he’s in the driver’s seat, he’s widely expected to redouble his efforts. In Streetwise Janet MacFarland looks at the progress Mr. Flaherty managed to make and the challenges Mr. Oliver faces to carry the ball across the finish line.

 

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