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January 2009

January 24, 2022

Starbucks to serve beer and wine at some U.S. stores

Let’s brainstorm together: if there is one place on earth where people linger too long, where is it?


Indeed, there are few social meeting spots as cliché as the coffee chain, yet still it persists, Starbucks being the  place you want to be if your desire is to be seen in public typing on your laptop, studying for an exam or wearing a cashmere scarf with glasses absent prescription frames.

Business-wise, having people spend incredible stretches of time in your outlets is a big money maker for Starbucks, though in the U.S. the franchise has found a way to lure customers in for even longer.

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January 30, 2022

Throwing out the capitalist baby with its bath water?

By Deirdre McMurdy, Sympatico / MSN Finance

Ok. We get it already. Capitalism sucks and we should all be ashamed of ourselves for being greedy or at least for enabling all the greedheads who've been running around stuffing their pockets full of cash over the past few years.

It's human nature to react strongly when things like an economic crisis blow through our lives and it's even more predictable that everyone starts spinning around pointing fingers and laying blame.

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Budget improves income splitting opportunities

By Gordon Powers, Sympatico / MSN Finance

In the U.S., married couples are allowed to file taxes jointly or individually. The choice is theirs, depending on which way will save them the most money. Most people file together.

Canada's tax system, on the other hand, requires each of us to report and pay tax on our own — which is why couples with disparate incomes simply have to split their earnings wherever they can, moving money from the partner in the higher tax bracket to the one in the lowest bracket. And this week's budget changes just gave this strategy a nice little boost. 

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January 29, 2022

Stock market to pick up in 2009

By Gordon Powers, Sympatico / MSN Finance

Although I wouldn’t bet the farm on it, the Super Bowl has been a relatively successful predictor of how the stock market will perform going back to the big game’s inception in 1967.

According to this theory, a win by a team from the old National Football League means stocks will end higher for that year, while a win by an old American Football League team means the bears reign on Wall Street.

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January 28, 2022

An expert influence on the budget

Deirdre McMurdy, Sympatico / MSN Finance

As a minority government in turbulent times, the federal Conservatives have made ample use of a series of "expert panels" to advise them on tricky policy and strategy initatives. It's a smart move for a relatively young government with limited bench strength and it also allows them to place their policy direction into the hands and mouths of respected business leaders like Red Wilson, Purdy Crawford, Murray Edwards Carole Taylor and many others who've been deployed since 2006.

Most recently, when putting together the poltically-important federal budget of January 27, the Tories - you guessed it - created a new expert panel.

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Lower-income families feel a chill

By Gordon Powers, Sympatico / MSN Finance

Cash-strapped families will be able to earn an additional $1,894 before seeing their federal child benefits start to disappear, yesterday’s budget proposes.

Changes to the National Child Benefit Supplement and the Canada Child Tax Benefit translate mean that low-income families, particularly those with a single parent, get a bit of relief. But what does it mean to struggling families trying to get ahead in the worst downturn we’ve seen in a long time?

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Some older investors come out ahead

By Gordon Powers, Sympatico / MSN Finance

While yesterday’s budget didn’t target retirees specifically, older investors will certain benefit from the adjusted tax brackets, a reduced bite on RRIF payments and the increase in the senior age credit -- a small consolation for those who saw their savings vaporize in 2008. 

The biggest change is the 7.5% increase in the lowest income tax brackets, which will jump to $40,726 and $81,452 respectively, allowing retirees to withdraw a bit more income without sliding into the next bracket.

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January 27, 2022

A question of confidence

By Deirdre McMurdy, Sympatico / MSN Finance

There's no question that the Federal Budget was designed with a very close eye to building confidence among two critical constituencies: individual consumers and small businesses. Both generate a significant amount of economic activity and their rattled confidence carries a steep price.

The Tories made a bold attempt to appear "in charge," to create the sense that their tsunami of spending will skate the country's teetering economy back on side. Things like enhanced Employment Insurance benefits, we were assured in the budget, are just temporary measures. Considerations to get us all over this hump.

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NDP, Bloc won't support Conservative budget

By Sympatico / MSN staff and Reuters

Jack Layton, leader of New Democratic Party, said it would not support the Conservative government's budget -- a position that was widely expected.

Bloc Quebecois also said it would vote against the Federal Budget unveiled on Tuesday.

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Credit card fees under scrutiny

By Gordon Powers, Sympatico / MSN Finance

U.S. credit card companies are working hard to ensure that customers keep up their payments, clamping down on payment deadlines, fees and grace periods, says the Baltimore Sun. The grace period is the time between your statement date and when a payment is due.

That’s because the Federal Reserve decided to revamp rules governing penalty fees and rates starting in 2010. Card issuers will then be required to send a bill at least 21 days before the due date giving card holders more time to make payment before getting hit with a late fee. And vendors won't be able to raise rates on existing card balances until a payment is more than 30 days late.

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January 26, 2022

Taxing the system 2.0

By Deirdre McMurdy, Sympatico / MSN Finance

Anyone who doubts the severity of the economic downturn - and the political importance of tomorrow's federal budget - only has to consider the following: The Conservative Party is pro-actively communicating with Canadians.

While it's been common practice for years to manage expectations around budgets and to flag any fundamental policy shifts, the usually-reticent Tories have aggressively telegraphed chapter and verse of every new regional spending program, every tax cut, every consideration that has crossed their mind. They've appointed senior ministers to fan out across the nation to help "pitch" these measures in various jurisdictions. It's bordering on TMI - Tory style.

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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...