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These are stories Report on Business is following Thursday, Nov. 27, 2014.

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When OPEC holds the line
The Canadian dollar fell today in the wake of OPEC's decision to hold firm on oil production, and could sink further still.

West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark, tumbled below $70 (U.S.) a barrel, after OPEC decided at a widely-watched meeting to hold its ceiling at 30 million barrels a day.

"OPEC has decided to keep oil production unchanged and the spot oil markets have subsequently collapsed as the template of oversupply and weak demand keeps the pressure on energy prices," said analyst Alastair McCaig of IG in London.

"The sound bites that came out before this meeting all inferred that Saudi Arabia was happy to maintain its market share," he added.

"Historically, when it comes to altering supply levels, it has fallen on the Saudis' shoulders to make the changes, and without their leadership few OPEC members were likely to go it alone."

As The Globe and Mail's Eric Reguly and Shawn McCarthy report, prices have already collapsed by almost 35 per cent since June.

And thus the hit to the loonie, as Canada's dollar coin is known, given the "direct tie-in with the economic outlook," said Ms. Sutton, Bank of Nova Scotia's chief currency strategist.

The loonie marked a high point just shy of 89 cents today, tumbling as low as 88.08 cents, but sitting at 88.23 cents by late in the day.

The Russian and Norwegian currencies also took it on the chin.

According to Société Générale, the general view now is one that "oil prices fall further and stay lower for longer," but at some point that will change to predict a rise sometime next year.

The falling price of oil, of course, will give consumers some relief.

"It is positive for global economic activity," said Kit Juckes, Société Générale's chief of foreign exchange.

"CAD and NOK are the fall guys, while EUR may find some relief," he added, referring to the Canadian and Norwegian currencies, and the euro, by their symbols.

And it's not just the broader economy that's affected, but government revenues, as well.

Just yesterday, The Globe and Mail's Carrie Tait reports, the Alberta government suggested it may have to cut spending to keep a budget surplus.

And today, our reporter Bill Curry writes, federal Finance Minister Joe Oliver said his government has already made "conservative" adjustments to take into account the oil price collapse.

(Editor's note: An earlier version of this item incorrectly said the loonie sank as low as 83.08 cents, rather than the correct 88.08.)

Haves and have-nots
Unemployment is going to be ugly everywhere east of Manitoba for at least the next two years, a new study suggests.

At this point, Canada's jobless rate stands at 6.5 per cent, but it's the east-west divide that's stark.

According to the Conference Board of Canada today, national unemployment will average 7 per cent this year, 6.8 per cent next year and 6.5 per cent in 2016.

Jobless levels will be lower than the national rate from British Columbia to Manitoba, and higher from Ontario to Newfoundland and Labrador, for the next two years, the group projected.

Here's the rundown:

  • British Columbia, 6 per cent next year, 5.7 per cent in 2016.
  • Alberta, 4.6 per cent and 4.2 per cent.
  • Saskatchewan, 3.9 per cent and 4.1 per cent.
  • Manitoba, 5.3 per cent and 5.2 per cent.
  • Ontario, 7.2 per cent and 7 per cent.
  • Quebec, 7.6 per cent and 7.3 per cent.
  • New Brunswick, 9 per cent and 8.2 per cent.
  • Nova Scotia, 8.7 per cent and 8.2 per cent.
  • Prince Edward Island, 9.7 per cent and 9.4 per cent.
  • Newfoundland and Labrador, 11.8 per cent and 11.4 per cent.

Over all, the Conference Board expects Canada's economy to expand by 2.6 per cent next year, and 2.2 per cent in 2016, led in 2015 by Newfoundland and Labrador, Alberta and Manitoba.

"We are already seeing signs that the lagging provinces are performing better and will continue to make progress in the near future," the group said.

"The main factor behind the renewed growth is the strength in exports that will continue going forward," it added.

"The stronger U.S. economy is raising demand for many industrial goods and Canada is not missing the boat."

Diamonds are … Canada's best friend
Rio Tinto PLC is pumping some $350-million (U.S.) into its Canadian diamond mind over the next four years.

The mining giant said today it approved the project for a fourth pipe, which it calls A21, at the "remote subarctic" Diavik site.

Rio Tinto owns 60 per cent of the mine, and is the operator, while Dominion Diamond Corp. holds the rest.

"Our decision to invest in the Diavik A21 project reflects our strong confidence in the diamond sector and in our ability to compete effectively in the industry," Alan Davies, the chief executive officer of Rio Tinto's diamonds and minerals operation, said in a statement.

How to manage your insecure manager
The authors of a new study suggest you coddle and stroke the ego of an insecure manager, rather than saying or doing what you probably really want to say or do.

To be sure, the researchers say corporate leaders also have to take responsibility by "establishing norms" to make bosses feel more secure in their jobs.

But their main point is that employees need to be heard, to help better an organization, and that can't happen if a manager is insecure and, thus, doesn't seek out or want the input.

Many bosses, the researchers write on the Harvard Business Review website, "actually work hard to avoid voice" by not seeking ideas and/or punishing employees who give their views.

"In short, they feel threatened by people asking for changes to be made and send signals that opinions aren't welcome or actively discourage employees from speaking up as a way to defend their egos," say Nathanael Fast, assistant professor of management at the University of Southern California's Marshall School of Business, and associate professors of management Ethan Burris and Caroline Bartel at the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin.

The researchers studied an unidentified "large multinational oil company," surveying 41 managers and 148 employees, the result being that bosses who "didn't feel competent" weren't as likely to seek out the views of their workers.

They found this surprising because the bosses in question were "highly educated, highly trained" pros in their science fields and in the operational aspects of the business.

They followed this up, and found that the bosses behaved differently if given the chance to "self-affirm," or ponder and write about their core values, by which they "validate an important and valuable aspect of their personal identity" and, thus, don't feel as threatened.

It's a fascinating finding and one that could help guide corporations the world over.

Here are three other things they suggest:

1. Instead of speaking out in a group setting, perhaps you should do it in private, allowing your boss to "save face."

2. Boost your manager's morale before giving "constructive criticism." Yeah, I know it's supposed to be the other way around, but the researchers say that pointing out the strengths of your boss is an ego boost.

3. Talk about improvements by pointing out how the company could benefit, and "avoid implying that the situation that needs improving is your manager's fault."

Here's something we haven't seen in a while …
Okay, I'm wrong. The U.S. isn't the only place shut down today. Greece has another strike on its hands.

The one-day walkout to protest austerity measures has crippled airlines, commuter services and government operations.

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