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February 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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February 27, 2022

Pay toilets coming to an airline near you?

By James Havers, Sympatico / MSN Finance

Air travellers were thrown a curve Friday when Ryanair boss suggested that future passengers might be obligated to insert a British pound coin before using their toilets.

“One thing we have looked at in the past, and are looking at again, is the possibility of maybe putting a coin slot on the toilet door, so that people might have to actually spend a pound to ‘spend a penny' in future,” Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary said, using slang for relieving one's self.

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Time to outsource your life?

By Gordon Powers, Sympatico / MSN Finance

The offshore shift of skilled workers has long been portrayed as the killer of good-paying North American jobs. 

But that’s not stopping any number of individuals from turning to a vast talent pool in India and elsewhere for jobs ranging from web design to math tutoring. Thing is, they're also outsourcing some surprisingly small tasks, including booking hotel rooms, finding a plumber and looking for lost luggage. 

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The Water Bottle Ban: Continued

By Jason Buckland, Sympatico / MSN Finance

Thought it might be a good idea this morning to continue the debate on the ever-growing water bottle ban after we received a ton of great feedback on yesterday’s post. Thanks to everyone who wrote in.

A lot of people wondered why the harassment was against only bottled water, when presumably that would leave plastic bottles of Coke, Pepsi and Gatorade as the unhealthy alternative.

That initially was the case, but it’s not likely to stay that way.

When Niagara Falls, the latest municipality to ban the plastic water bottle from city-owned facilities, voted on the issue this week, it moved the initiative along beyond what we’ve seen any other Canadian region do yet.

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February 26, 2022

Is buy and hold dead and gone?

By Gordon Powers, Sympatico / MSN Finance

Given that we’ve never seen a 10-year stretch as bad as this one, it’s not surprising that so many people feel that that buying and holding stocks is a mug’s game.

In fact, according to Jeff Macke, the loudest of CNBC’s strident Fast Money crew, 2008 will go down in history as the year that long-term investing died altogether.  

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The Water Bottle Ban: Coming to a municipality near you

By Jason Buckland, Sympatico / MSN Finance

Not since the era of Free Love and unabashed promiscuity has there been this big of a hate on the use of plastic.

This week, Niagara Falls jumped on the eco-bandwagon and became the 25th municipality in Canada to ban the use of plastic water bottles in its city-owned facilities.

And with about 40-plus other Canadian regions – across six provinces – considering the same ban soon, the message is becoming pretty clear: the plastic water bottle is soon to be kaput.

“Within 5-10 years, you will not see them in Canada,” says Trevor Hess, founder of SkyTrax stainless steel water bottles, one of the leading alternatives to the now seemingly endangered plastic bottle.

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February 25, 2022

Book publishing: the last frontier for big-ticket deals?

Deirdre McMurdy

No question that pretty much every business is feeling the squeeze these days. That said, there is one corner of the world that is unscathed by the global economic collapse - it could even be argued that it's aggressively bucking the trend to reduce costs and pull back.

We're talking here, however improbably, about book publishing.

Since the beginning of the year, there have been a remarkable series of multi-million dollar book deals inked. It's all the more remarkable given the fact that newspapers and magazines are folding in part because people now gather their information on-line and not from the printed page

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Hey that's my beach house!

Wallet By Dawn Cuthbertson, Sympatico / MSN Finance

I've always wondered what Wall and Bay Street bankers did with their multi-million dollar salaries.

I envision secret vaults in their homes bursting with mountains of crisp dollar bills. Or private jets whisking them away to exotic places like Bora Bora for the weekend

Then I read an article in the NY Times and my bubble burst.

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Job hunting proves tougher for older workers

By Gordon Powers, Sympatico / MSN Finance

Retired folks are rushing back to the workforce, either because of the current economic crisis or a simple desire to reconnect with the world. Some retirees really need the money while others are simply looking for ways to pursue passions long denied them.

Employers often say they value older workers’ experience, maturity, and strong work ethic, but many worry about higher salaries and benefit costs, combined with potentially declining abilities or out-of-date skills.

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February 24, 2022

Investor trauma will delay market recovery

Deirdre McMurdy

Most of us have someone in our extended family - a grandparent, great-uncle or aunt - who remembers the worst days of The Great Depression. These are the resolutely frugal people who eat every leftover, save wrapping paper, and take very little risk when it comes to spending, debt or investing.

As we grapple with the dimension of the current economic collapse, arguing whether it's a recession or a depression, the example of these folks has become an important forecaster of what sort of long-term damage the financial system may be incurring. That's because research shows that financial decisions are heavily and permanently influenced by past experience. In other words, there's a good chance that the children of those who've lost their homes or jobs, had their savings wiped out - or any related financial trauma - are likely to be extremely cautious about everything in future.

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Are we headed for another Depression?

By Gordon Powers, Sympatico / MSN Finance

The Dow and S&P 500 tumbled to levels not seen in nearly 12 years, raising more fears that we’re sliding right off the deep end.

All this talk of an impending Great Depression is, well, a bit depressing. And, according to Yale professor Robert Shiller, it could easily end up as a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy.

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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...