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business briefing

Whither the loonie

The rout in the oil market deepened today, bringing down stock markets and the Canadian dollar.

The loonie tumbled to below 74-cent range, an 11-year low, and analysts say it won’t stop there. In fact, it dipped below that mark today.

“The broader thrust of recent Canadian data reports - retail sales, manufacturing shipments, industry-level GDP, jobs, trade - have been disappointing,” Shaun Osborne and Eric Theoret of Bank of Nova Scotia said in a report.

“Expect the [Canadian dollar] to struggle in the face of lower energy prices and wide (or wider) U.S.-Canada interest rate differentials as the Fed nears liftoff and the [Bank of Canada] remains far away from raising rates,” they added, noting that “fundamental, technical and seasonal considerations are all aligning in [U.S. dollar]-bullish fashion.”

Scotiabank believes the Canadian dollar will sink to about 73 cents in the next month or two, before dropping even lower to around 71.4 cents.

“Seasonally, as we have stressed in the recent past, USDCAD typically trades quite positively around this time of the year,” the Scotiabank strategists said, meaning the U.S. dollar vs. the loonie.

“Even if the USD fails to make a more decisive move higher this side of the holidays, January still risks seeing the move up in funds accelerate. The tendency for USDCAD to gain ground in Q4 and Q1 is evident over the last 25 years, according to our studies, and has been especially pronounced over the last 10 years, according to Bloomberg data.”

Indeed, they noted, the U.S. dollar vs. the loonie climbed in January in eight of the past 10 years, for an average gain that month of 0.9 per cent.

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GE kills deal

GE has pulled the sale of its appliances unit to Electrolux Group in the wake of antitrust concerns from regulators.

It is entitled to a break fee of $175-million (U.S.), GE said.

“As previously communicated, on July 1, 2015 the U.S. Department of Justice ... sued Electrolux and GE to stop the proposed acquisition,” Electrolux said today.

“Electrolux has made extensive efforts to obtain regulatory approvals, and regrets that GE has terminated the agreement while the court procedure is still pending.”

What to watch for this week

It’s nothing compared to last week, but there’s still enough to keep investors going.

Among other things, Japan and Europe report economic growth numbers, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. reports on November construction starts, Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz speaks to a Toronto luncheon, and the U.S. government reports on November retail sales.

And the Bank of England holds its policy meeting this week.

There are a few quarterly corporate reports worth mentioning, too, including those from Costco, Laurentian Bank, Lululemon Athletica, Transat and BRP.

Bad bosses

Lousy managers come in all shapes and sizes, with different traits.

But what they all have in common is that they’re “bad freakin’ bosses,” as Second City Works so eloquently puts it.

Second City Works, the B2B arm of the famous comedy group, has produced a report unlike most studies that make the rounds of HR departments.

It’s insightful, but also fun, as you’d expect of an organization that bears the Second City name.

“Companies need a different formula,” Second City Works said in the study titled “Bad Freakin’ Bosses.”

“For starters, organizations have to embrace a culture of positivity,” it added, having found that 58 per cent of employees who aren’t fond of their bosses believe these managers are “idiots.”

“There must be less ‘No, but’ and more “Yes, and’ in order to create a space where employees don’t hide their best ideas in unsent draft emails.”

The September survey of 2,000 workers across North America turned up more than a few interesting tidbits, contained in the recently published report that makes for worthy reading for companies:

- Employees are happier at work, have a better work-life balance and are more productive if they’re fond of their supervisor.

- Employees who aren’t that fond of a manager are six times more likely to cite “inappropriate remarks” by the supervisor than those who do like the boss.

- Fifty-three per cent of those in the dislike camp say their supervisor “went rogue,” and is not in line with corporate goals.

- Fifty-six per cent note a “micro-aggression,” a verbal or non-verbal hostile exchange with an employee. Breaking that down, U.S. supervisors are almost twice as likely to do this than a Canadian boss.

- Those who dislike a manager are five times more likely to cite the fact that new ideas are rejected.

- Fifty-five per cent say their manager rarely responds to finished work.

- Fifty-three per cent say the supervisor doesn’t “communicate expectations” particularly well.

- Fifty-per cent of U.S. employees say their supervisor is a micromanager, compared to just 39 per cent of Canadian workers.

- And 47 per cent of those who don’t like their manager say they’ve been asked “passive aggressively” to work beyond normal hours.

Here are some examples, with illustrations that I simply copied and pasted from the Second City Works report (because it was a lot freakin’ easier that way.)

Fans of the movie Office Space will remember this guy. The “fix” for a Lumbergh type, the study says, is to delegate and give employees autonomy.

The bottom line here is that managers need to be in the office to connect and give feedback.

The answer is to be “yes, and.”

Second City Works went for the British version of The Office here, noting that valued workers need mentors, not friends.

A good boss will “defuse tension,” not add to it.

Rather than a Power Point, put this kind of manager in “contextual, interactive learning exercises” to show them how to adapt to situations.

For the record, Second City Works, which works with companies, did the survey so it could understand management-employee relationships and “pinpoint the specific bad boss archetypes that contribute to premature hair loss and drinking before bed.”

Video: Bank of Canada's mix of 'hope and concern'