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ROB Insight

Fresh, focused analysis of today's business news
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Entry archive:

Who got a free ride? Bankers, not auto executives


Who deserves to go to prison more, the bank executives who almost destroyed the global financial system in 2008, rigged markets and broke sanctions or the auto executives whose diesel cars were stuffed with illegal software designed to falsify tailpipe emissions?

The sensible answer is, of course, both – both groups deserve to be charged, tried, fined and sent to jail. But in the often surreal world of American crime and punishment, the bosses and managers of some industries seem to get off a lot easier than those in others.

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Early oil-market exuberance quickly fades as reality sets in


It didn’t take long to be reminded that there’s more to crude oil prices than OPEC.

Hours into the first trading day of 2017, oil tumbled, with prognosticators blaming the steam-roller strength of the U.S. dollar, which hurts buying power. That’s a harsh reality in a world where economic growth is already tepid.

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Big cities are much more unequal than Canada as a whole


It is no secret that big, global cities such as London and New York are highly unequal and display harsh extremes of wealth and poverty. This is increasingly true of Canada’s largest cities, as shown by recently released Statistics Canada data on the geographical distribution of high-income earners.

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Shaw cuts executive salaries, but pensions remain plump


If you’re a shareholder of Shaw Communications Inc., there’s some good news for you where executive compensation is concerned. CEO Bradley Shaw and other top executives took a 20-per-cent salary cut last year as their company shrank with the sale of its media division. To recognize that a smaller company should equal smaller salaries is a good thing.

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Canadian broadcasters need to get with the program on Super Bowl ads


Bell Media thinks Canadian consumers should be grateful to it for ensuring that the ads we see during the Super Bowl are for products we can actually buy here. Because, you know, otherwise we might be forced to watch U.S. commercials for Budweiser, Skittles, Snickers, Doritos or Hyundai.

Of all the arguments Bell has made as it to seeks to save its bacon – in the face of the federal broadcasting regulator’s order to force it to stop substituting Canadian ads for U.S. ones during the Super Bowl – the contention that it’s got viewers’ interests at heart is the hardest to swallow.

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The Liberals’ cash-for-access scandal pales next to the gusher of U.S. campaign money


Cash for access.

The phrase suggests corruption, and mischief. It conjures up images of politicians taking cash from lobbyists in dark alleys in exchange for illicit favours.

Rona Ambrose, Conservative interim leader, has fed that perception by attacking Liberal Party fundraisers as “hidden and … secretive” events where rich donors get to cozy up to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other cabinet ministers.

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Carbon-cost debate finds a ready stage – the oil sands


There is plenty of movement in the oil sands all of a sudden, and a common theme of the approvals, cancellations and sales of projects is Alberta’s carbon policies.

Two players that backed Premier Rachel Notley’s sweeping plans last year, Cenovus Energy Inc. and Canadian Natural Resources Ltd., have taken major projects down from the shelf and are poised to pump hundreds of million of dollars into developing them.

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Lagarde's conviction is a stain on the IMF, but dumping her would cause bigger problems


The conviction of Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, for negligence puts another stain on the IMF. If she had any dignity, she would resign even if doing so would leave a few crucial files, notably the third bailout of Greece, dangling. But it seems highly unlikely she will leave.

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