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ROB Insight

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

For new media, the old rules of social responsibility don’t apply


Carl Mortished is a Canadian financial journalist based in London.

If McDonald’s decided to pull their advertising from a major TV network because its programs were promoting racism or were linked to child abuse, you might think the broadcaster was in serious trouble. At the very least, you would expect bosses to lose their jobs and shareholders to pay a high price for the management failure.

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McKenna: Canada's big banks are no angels, but have any laws been broken?


You’ve probably seen the media reports about high-pressure sales tactics at Toronto-Dominion Bank and other Canadian financial institutions. Stories of tellers signing up customers to high-fee accounts and credit cards without their knowledge. Loan officers pushing clients to take on lines of credit they don’t want or need. And financial advisers selling unsuitable mutual funds to vulnerable investors.

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Distance doesn’t blur oil sands focus for Canadian Natural’s Murray Edwards


Murray Edwards moved across the pond for a change of scenery, but he can still make a splash back in Alberta.

The chairman of Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. – who relocated to London from Calgary last year – has a made a career of hunting down oil and gas assets when they are out of favour, snapping them for a good price and transforming his company in the process.

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Trump’s Goldman Sachs duo can’t pull off a miracle


In investment-banking circles, there’s grudging respect for the folks at Goldman Sachs. Even arch-rivals acknowledge the Goldman team works hard, and admit Goldman nourishes an enviable partnership culture.

But no one who works with or at Goldman believes the firm’s executives can walk on water, spin straw into gold or perform any other miracle of financial alchemy.

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Why a shift to cleaner marine fuels could hurt Canadian oil


Cast your mind back to that holiday moment on the rear deck of a cruise ship. Did you notice the trail of greasy black smoke under the azure sky?

Ocean liners and almost every other working vessel on the high seas are burning the dirtiest fuels on the planet. So bad are the emissions from marine fuel oil that just one of the larger cruise ships is reckoned to emit five tonnes of nitrogen oxide, 450 kilograms of ultrafine particles and more sulphur than several million cars in a single day.

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Canada should stick to its own path in clean tech


Since American voters saw fit to elect Donald Trump as President, a chorus in this country has called for sharp pullbacks in spending and policies directed at advancing green technologies. It is off-key.

Mr. Trump is not the environmentalist’s friend, but that is no reason for Canada to follow his path. In fact, the opposite is a better bet. Competitiveness in energy and environment won’t be achieved by reverting to 20th-century ways until the United States changes its political mind again.

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New Torstar CEO: What we’re hearing so far


The protracted search for a new chief executive at Torstar Corp. is complete. The company said Wednesday morning that it will make an announcement on a new boss “very soon” and current CEO David Holland will retire at the end of this week.

Rumours in the market have suggested that two top external candidates are people more notable for their abilities to work with family owners than for track records of turning around fading newspaper publishers. There is also an internal Torstar candidate well versed in digital media. It’s entirely possible that none of these three executives will be named CEO, and a dark horse candidate will emerge with the job.

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Taxing labour-replacing machines could have consequences for jobs


Donald Trump is convinced that building walls and raising tariffs will bring back factory jobs.

We know, of course, that automation is a far more significant job killer than trade. By badly misdiagnosing the problem, Mr. Trump is doomed to fail.

So let’s assume automation – robots, artificial intelligence, data processing and the like – is destroying good-paying middle-class jobs, not trade.

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Sure, Tesla burns rubber – but it also burns cash


A Tesla Model S sedan can accelerate from 0 to 100 kilometres an hour in just over three seconds – almost as fast as the fastest Ferrari. Of course, Tesla owners who are also Tesla shareholders – and many are – are used to pleasingly outrageous performance. Fast cars, fast shares.

The company’s shares have climbed from about $180 (U.S.) in early December to $252, a gain of 40 per cent in less than three months. With a market value of $41-billion, this niche car maker is worth only $8-billion less than the mighty Ford Motor Co. and three times more than Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA).

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