The Globe and Mail

Go to the Globe and Mail homepage

Jump to main navigationJump to main content

Report on Business

ROB Insight

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

Entry archive:

The art of the CEO apology

CARL MORTISHED

A new skill has just dropped into the job description of the perfect CEO. It’s not good enough to be a great leader, manager or business strategist; deft social skills are now essential and the one that has moved to top of the list is how to say “sorry.”

We should consider the cautionary tale of Thomas Cook, the venerable Victorian travel company that chose to soldier on rather than apologize for the death of two children from carbon monoxide poisoning caused by a badly maintained boiler at a hotel in Greece.

More »

Improved carbon pricing could make socially-conscious investing easier

CHRISTOPHER RAGAN

Interest in “socially responsible” investing is growing quickly, and it’s often driven by concerns over climate change. The movement to divest from fossil-fuel companies is sweeping university campuses, foundations and institutional investors, with the latest high-profile announcement coming from a leading British newspaper. The calculus needed to drive such investment decisions is difficult – but it would be simplified considerably if carbon pricing were as common as income taxes.

More »

B.C. First Nation will accept LNG project – on their terms

BRIAN LEE CROWLEY

What a brave new natural resource world it is that has such players in it.

What else but the Bard’s Tempest could be brought to mind by the storm of consternation and controversy surrounding the decision by one B.C. First Nation to turn down more than $1-billion for their agreement to a liquefied natural gas project on their territory?

More »

Dear millennials: some of the boomers are struggling too

ANDREW JACKSON

Andrew Jackson is an adjunct research professor in the Institute of Political Economy at Carleton University and senior policy adviser to the Broadbent Institute

There has been a great deal of recent media commentary on inter-generational unfairness, much of which misleadingly argues that affluent older Canadians are benefiting from current economic and social arrangements at the expense of youth.

More »

Why investors should avoid the Bombardier IPO train

SEAN SILCOFF

It’s hard to find much to cheer for in Bombardier Inc.’s attempts to turn around its dreary fortunes. This is a company that is now engaged in its second ill-timed turnaround attempt in 12 years, having recapitalized by selling stock at rock bottom levels (as it did in 2003) and assessing its stable of chronically underperforming assets for something valuable to sell.

More »

Services exports: Canada’s quiet growth engine

GLEN HODGSON AND DANIELLE GOLDFARB

Many Canadians and much of the world continue to view Canadian trade through the rear-view mirror, focusing on exports of natural resources and advanced manufactured goods, such as autos and airplanes. These traditional export sectors have struggled recently. However, there is an important but underappreciated bright spot in Canada’s trade picture. Canadian companies have been quietly and steadily increasing their international sales of services.

More »

Fareed Zakaria: China and Russia set the tone for global stability

BRIAN MILNER

Bestselling author, columnist and CNN host Fareed Zakaria has used his access to the world’s movers, shakers and policy thinkers to help him burrow beneath the surface of geopolitical developments patrolled by less ambitious pundits.

Mr. Zakaria’s hope is that Americans will become less parochial and more open to the ideas and solutions that come from other parts of the world. But when he outlines his thoughts on some of the biggest global risks, his listeners could be forgiven for ignoring his essential optimism and sticking to their isolationist tendencies.

More »

Independent agency needed to manage Ontario’s cap and trade

CHRISTOPHER RAGAN

A few weeks ago, Ontario’s Premier announced her government’s intention to introduce a cap-and-trade system to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Although many have applauded this announcement, there are still many critics – and they are only now beginning to gather their forces. Kathleen Wynne should recognize that the political road ahead will be anything but smooth.

More »

McDonald’s stock slide should be food for thought for all investors

IAN McGUGAN

You have to feel a twinge of sympathy for Steve Easterbrook, the British executive who has been handed the daunting task of turning McDonald’s Corp. back into a growth stock. On Monday, a mere nine weeks into his tenure as CEO, he announced a clutch of new strategies – and the market reacted as if it had bit into a day-old Egg McMuffin.

More »

Strong U.S. dollar will help corporate America in the future

KEVIN CARMICHAEL

If Caterpillar Inc. chief executive Doug Oberhelman wasn’t paid some $17-million (U.S.) in 2014, you’d feel sorry for him. His company is taking it from all sides and there apparently is nowhere to hide.

“We are seeing a very competitive marketplace right now,” Mr. Oberhelman told analysts on a conference call after the release of the company’s first-quarter results. “I will tell you, with a yen that’s off over 50 per cent in three years, euro, Brazilian currency, pound currency off 20 per cent to 30 per cent in the last year; you know all of our competitors aren’t in the U.S. So it really is a competitive environment out there …”

More »

A weak British government spells uncertainty for business investment

BRIAN MILNER

This week features two of the most dramatic elections in years, both of which could have far-ranging economic consequences. The first is in Alberta, where the once impregnable provincial Conservatives will find out Tuesday if a disgruntled electorate lets them retain their faltering grip on power.

But it’s the British election on Thursday that is capturing the world’s attention.

More »

Income splitting is a welcome path to tax fairness

BRIAN LEE CROWLEY

Andy Pedersen is a pretty unusual guy.

Mr. Pedersen works in the communications division of a trade union. He got my attention because he wants his family to be treated unfairly by the taxman and he thinks Ottawa can spend his money better than he can himself. Clearly an original thinker.

Okay, he might not have characterized his thinking in quite the way I have, at least on the first point. Mr. Pedersen discovered he had the option of refusing the income splitting the recent budget introduced for working couples. He got in the media spotlight by posting his intention on Facebook to turn this tax break down, despite it being worth $1,500 to the Pedersens.

More »

Land grab likely to continue in big cities

CARL MORTISHED

If we wonder whether the value of our homes has been pumped up in a bubble of cheap money, no such worry is troubling global real estate investors who have amassed almost half a trillion dollars of new capital to sink into land and buildings. Some of it is heading for Canada’s big cities and, likewise, Canadian pension funds are scouring the world for acreage that produces income. Even as the prices climb, new buildings reach for the sky, oblivious of any concern that interest rates might turn sour.

More »

More and more, Apple ties its fortunes to Chinese market

BRIAN MILNER

Everyone knows how much resource producers and luxury goods makers have come to depend on the Chinese market for growth and profit, leaving them increasingly vulnerable to any slowdown in demand. Now, mighty Apple is putting itself in the same wave-tossed boat.

Apple’s sales to what it calls “greater China” – a category that includes Taiwan and Hong Kong – jumped slightly more than 70 per cent in the latest quarter to $16.8-billion (U.S.) from the corresponding period a year ago. That vaults China ahead of the whole of Europe as the company’s second-largest regional market; and it’s closing fast on the Americas. Just five years ago, Apple’s sales in China totalled $2.8-billion for the full year.

More »

Don’t buy into the misplaced optimism of ‘Sunny Stephen’

LUKE KAWA

After deeming first-quarter economic growth to be “atrocious,” Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz has reclaimed the mantle of “Sunny Stephen,” a title bestowed on him by The Economist in 2013.

Pavilion Global Markets, however, believes that this “Canadian optimism is misplaced.” Strategists Pierre Lapointe, Alex Bellefleur, and François Boutin-Dufresne advise investors to avoid the loonie and Canadian equities.

More »

Pressure rises on Japan to tackle debt with Fitch downgrade

BRIAN MILNER

Global bond rating agencies have long fretted about Japan’s stratospheric public debt level and serious structural weaknesses. And for just as long, investors have largely ignored the barking of the watchdogs.

When Moody’s Investors Service downgraded Japan’s credit rating by a notch in December to the equivalent of single-A-plus, government bonds actually strengthened. The yield on 10-year debt hit a record low later that month and kept on breaking records – reaching 0.195 per cent on Jan. 20 – as the Bank of Japan vacuumed up huge amounts as part of its war on deflation.

More »

Oil’s harsh bite on the economy not yet felt: CIBC economist

LUKE KAWA

How long will lower oil prices leave the Canadian economy reeling? The question, to be sure, is an open one, and a matter of contentious debate.

Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz has been unequivocal: He believes oil prices will serve as a severe drag on activity in the first quarter of the year, with the economy failing to expand.

More »

Week of economic forecasts is variably cloudy

IAN McGUGAN

This Friday is May Day, the time when European peasants once danced around maypoles to celebrate the return of the growing season.

Now, if economists and central bankers could just get into the spirit of the occasion.

Several countries, including Canada, will publish estimates this week of how fast their economies are expanding. Investors have their fingers crossed, hoping the numbers will beat expectations and usher in a fresh season of renewed growth.

More »

Foreign investor tax grab shatters faith in Modi's pledge to open up India

KEVIN CARMICHAEL

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised a war on the “tax terrorism” practiced under the previous government. After a year in power, some investors are wondering if Mr. Modi has acquired a case of Stockholm Syndrome. That’s because the Prime Minister appears to have grown sympathetic to India’s notoriously capricious tax collectors.

More »

Small companies the main casualties of higher corporate taxes

TODD HIRSCH

In the world of public finances, political land mines can blow up in a politician’s face. High on the list of topics to avoid is corporate income taxes. The right wingers hate them and the left wingers love them. No matter what you do with corporate taxes, you’re sure to infuriate someone.

But as with most topics in economics, raising taxes on corporations cannot be boiled down into a simple left versus right debate. It’s more complicated than that.

More »

Time is ripe to tackle deficit – but Ontario doesn’t do it

DAVID PARKINSON

With Ontario’s economy poised for its best run in years, the time is ripe for the province to tackle its chronic deficit problems. Instead, with its 2015-2016 budget, it remains content to nibble around the edges.

Finance Minister Charles Sousa tabled a budget at Queen’s Park Thursday calling for a deficit of $8.5-billion this year, the smallest since 2008-2009. It’s $400-million lower than Ontario’s ruling Liberals projected in last year’s budget. The government now anticipates that it will whittle down the deficit to $4.8-billion next year, and will return to balance in 2017-2018 – precisely a decade after its last balanced budget.

More »

Oil-based budgets are a roll of the dice

CARL MORTISHED

If you were concerned about which way the oil price is heading, you can stop worrying because Finance Minister Joe Oliver has the answer. According to the government’s 2015 budget, the price of a barrel of West Texas Intermediate crude oil will average just $54 this year but it will rise to $67 next year and reach $75 in 2017. No reason to pop the champagne’s corks but it looks like things are looking up, if you believe a word of it.

More »

Video »

Sign up for our newsletter

Contributors

Most Popular