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ROB Insight

Fresh, focused analysis of today's business news
available exclusively to subscribers of Globe Unlimited

Entry archive:

Can infrastructure replace the export-led recovery that never came?


Exports have been at the heart of Stephen Poloz’s narrative for the Canadian economy since he took the helm of the Bank of Canada.

Everything good starts with exports, Mr. Poloz explained in his first speech as governor of the central bank in June, 2013. The former head of Export Development Canada confidently predicted that a growing foreign appetite for everything Canada produces – particularly from its No. 1 customer, the United States – would put the country on a solid path to recovery.

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Tips for the next guy: How to be a Rogers CEO


Dear Joe Natale,

As someone who welcomes the ‘To Do’ list of household tasks my wife occasionally leaves on the kitchen table, I appreciate how helpful it is to be given a road-map to happiness.

In that spirit, here is a list for you, sir, the future CEO of Rogers Communications, perhaps very soon, perhaps next summer – no one is quite sure yet. We know you must wait until a non-compete agreement with Telus Corp. expires or is renegotiated before you can start the job. But it’s never too early set priorities.

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Laurentian Bank’s ‘measured approach’ to wading into the oil patch


Nobody wants to be the one lured onto the bandwagon to start up a business at the very top of a market. There’s only one direction from there: down.

Quebec-based Laurentian Bank of Canada can’t be accused of that as it makes its first foray into investment banking in the downtrodden oil patch.

The veteran energy banker leading the effort says it’s countercyclical. Boy, he’s not kidding. The move has raised a few eyebrows in energy and finance circles.

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Goodbye, Guy: Why Rogers' visionary CEO failed

Derek DeCloet

Guy Laurence arrived promising a revolution at Rogers Communications. He leaves behind a company that is vastly changed, but still suffers from legions of unhappy customers and confused employees.

His sacking is proof that you can’t violate the two immutable rules of the Big Red Machine. One, don’t cross the Rogers family. Two, you must produce results. Mr. Laurence did too much of the former and not enough of the latter, and that is why he’s gone.

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Recalls part of a global pattern of more, and ever-larger, product failures


As far as product failures go, it’s hard to imagine a more nightmarish scenario.

Brian Green of Indiana had just boarded a Southwest Airlines flight in Louisville, Ky., earlier this month when grey-green smoke began wafting from his pocket. Terrified, he grabbed his smouldering Samsung Galaxy Note 7 smartphone and flung it onto the ground, where it burned through the carpet and scorched the subfloor, forcing the evacuation of the aircraft, according to an account in The Verge, a technology website.

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Future for oil brightens as geopolitical chips start falling into place


Oil climbed out of the basement in January, when it was below $30 (U.S.) a barrel, and began a slow, lurching walk just past $50. On Monday, it went into a sprint, rising more than 3 per cent at one point, taking it above $53, its highest level of the year. It may go higher if the Saudi Arabian oil minister gets his way.

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U.K. business warns of cost of PM’s ‘hard Brexit’ plan


A growing chorus of British business leaders and organizations are raising concerns about Prime Minister Theresa May’s approach to Brexit and immigration, with some calling her government “anti-business.”

On Monday more than 100 business leaders signed an open letter to Ms. May, slamming a government proposal to require companies to compile lists of foreign workers. “The Prime Minister cannot claim to be open to trade whilst demonizing workers from other countries, nor can she claim to be pro-enterprise when her ministers issue such anti-business rhetoric,” the letter said.

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Canada, U.S. poised to reignite softwood lumber war


Canada and the United States are about to find themselves in a very familiar place – quarrelling over softwood lumber.

The U.S. lumber industry will be in a legal position to file a potentially damaging trade case against Canada at midnight Oct. 12, when a decade-long truce between the countries ends.

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'Asset recycling’ must prioritize public good


Remember this phrase: asset recycling.

It’s a favourite buzzword circulating in the halls of power in Ottawa and many provincial capitals.

And the concept could reshape what governments do, and what they don’t do, in the future.

Asset recycling is essentially privatization with a hip new name. Because it’s 2016.

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Demonizing Nestlé won’t help develop a wise water policy


What is it with Canadians and their water?

We have more fresh water than any other country in the world.

And yet a lot of us aren’t convinced there is enough to go around.

Witness the furor over Swiss multinational Nestlé’s purchase of a small commercial well near the historic mill town of Elora, Ont., 100 kilometres northwest of Toronto. Nestlé, which recently outmanoeuvred the township of Centre Wellington for the well, plans to draw up to 1,364 litres per minute to help supply its nearby water bottling plant.

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Forget OPEC – demand is oil’s top risk


You have to love those oil traders and their ability to shut out reality in the name of small pops and drops in crude prices.

Anyone who’s followed the machinations of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries even moderately closely knows there was never any real prospect that its members would show up at an informal meeting in Algiers and hammer out new production limits to lift prices out of a two-year funk.

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Deutsche Bank rebuilt Germany. Now it must get its own rebuild right


When you think of sick European banks, you think of the Italians and their groaning portfolios of dud loans. You don’t think of the German banks. The German economy is powering ahead and its stolid banks are going along for the ride.

The reality could not be more different. Deutsche Bank (DB), along with Italy’s Monte dei Paschi di Siena, are the least healthy banks in Europe. But DB is a lot bigger than Monte dei Paschi and its overhaul could inflict enormous damage on the German, and global, economies if it does wrong.

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Corporate Canada has a courage deficit – and it’s costing us


Maybe you’ve seen clips of U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren ripping into Wells Fargo chief executive John Stumpf.

During a 10-plus-minute interrogation at a Senate banking committee hearing last week, Ms. Warren lambastes Mr. Stumpf for failing to take personal responsibility for a scandal involving two million bogus bank and credit-card accounts set up without customer approval.

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GM, Canada Post contracts expose gap between pension haves and have-nots


Recent contract settlements at Canada Post and General Motors of Canada expose a widening gap between the pension haves and have-nots in Canada.

The post office, a federal Crown Corporation, tried and failed to close the company’s traditional defined benefit pension plan to new hires.

Meanwhile, GM won a historic concession this week to freeze the auto maker’s defined benefit plan to all new unionized employees – continuing a steady erosion of private-sector pensions. Members of Unifor, the company’s union, are slated to vote Sunday on a new contract that will set the pattern for looming bargaining at Ford and Chrysler in Canada.

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The solution to poisonous banks is a non-toxic public bank


What’s too good to be true is generally too good to be true. So it was with Wells Fargo, which last year displaced China’s Industrial and Commercial Bank as the world’s most valuable bank. With a market value of about $300-billion (U.S.), the San Francisco bank was worth a lot more than mighty JPMorgan Chase, a lot more than Citigroup.

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