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May 2009

May 20, 2021

Seven signs the economy is in repair

By Jason Buckland, Sympatico / MSN Finance

Okay, I’ll bite.

Everyone knows the economy sucks … and the media won’t let you forget it. God knows even I’ve been a part of the declaration of doom, decorating the web with stories of profits falling and unemployment blooming.

But, hey, why not throw this recession thing on its head for once, eh?

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May 19, 2021

Recovery or bear market rally?

By Gordon Powers, Sympatico / MSN Finance

While Canada took the day off, U.S. stocks rallied yesterday. The S&P 500 jumped 3% after positive news about the U.S. housing market, including an upbeat profit forecast from home-improvement giant Lowes.

Great news ... but investors are still divided as to whether the recent rise in global stock markets is the beginning of a sustained bull market, or just a bear market rally – meaning that these gains could be short-lived.

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May 18, 2021

How soon will plastic bag fees become the norm?

By Jason Buckland, Sympatico / MSN Finance

Once upon a time, your local university’s health clinic wasn’t the only place you could get your hands on free plastic.

But that was then, and now – in the midst of another major grocery chain announcing it will start taxing the use of its single-use shopping bags – you might not be able to find the material for free any longer.

Grocery giant Metro, which operates about 600 stores in Ontario and Quebec, has said it will charge five cents per bag at all checkouts starting June 1.

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May 16, 2021

Why your budget just doesn't work

By Gordon Powers, Sympatico / MSN Finance

Got that nagging feeling that you’re just not doing enough to manage your money? You’re probably right, which leaves you with two options. Keep writing cheques and melting plastic until your money runs out, or get a handle on things right now by establishing specific savings goals, blogger FiveCentNickel suggests.

Instead of setting up a detailed budget, complete with projections of how much his family is likely to spend in particular categories, he works towards predetermined savings goals and let's everything else unfold accordingly.

But it's hard to see how you can get there without at least a little bit of budgeting.

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May 15, 2021

Could going to the movie theatre be a thing of the past?

By Jason Buckland, Sympatico / MSN Finance

When Steven Soderbergh’s The Girlfriend Experience was released near the start of the month, not many people paid attention.

Forget that the Traffic/Ocean’s Eleven director has been behind a handful of the best 30 movies this decade, his latest flick was of the indie variety which – with Star Trek looming around the corner – generally gets swept up by blockbuster fever.

Yet the dichotomy between Experience and the Star Trek  prequel highlights an interesting and little-reported tug-of-war within Hollywood right now.

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May 14, 2021

My bid to become an airline executive

By Jason Buckland, Sympatico / MSN Finance

Shhh. My editors don’t want me writing this article. They really don’t. This one’s just between you and me.

While I’m gainfully employed by the good people of MSN, I’ve been secretly working with a hidden agenda this whole time. Each day, as I research the issues that piss off you, the consumer, I come across countless stories about airlines constantly screwing Joe Traveller, charging him outrageous fees for necessary services simply because they can.

And one thought keeps creeping back to me. Pfft, I could do that.

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May 13, 2021

Are you really a good investor?

By Gordon Powers, Sympatico / MSN Finance

Although you don’t see him as often now, Knight Kiplinger was often a no-nonsense guest on Wall Street Week, CNN and CNBC. Now editor of the Kiplinger Letter, the longest continually published business newsletter in the United States, he recently published an Investor Manifesto that goes a bit further than the usual “buy low, sell high” advice.

As credos go, you could do a lot worse. 

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French anti-piracy bill sets dangerous precedent for Internet users

By Jason Buckland, Sympatico / MSN Finance

French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced he will resign from his governing duties yesterday, stepping aside and conceding ruling power to a political trio led by Jerry Bruckheimer, Simon Cowell and three of the four members of Metallica.

Okay, not exactly, but that’s at least the sentiment of a new anti-piracy bill passed by France on Tuesday that should be drawing the ire of every Internet user, not just ones with baguette crumbs all over their keyboards.

Channelling its best impression of George Orwell, France passed a bill that would allow its government to shut off the Internet connections of users in the nation thought to be downloading movies and music illegally – while still making them pay for the service.

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May 12, 2021

If GM does move, where will it go?

By Jason Buckland, Sympatico / MSN Finance

On the list of “bonehead decisions made with zero foresight,” the $625 million General Motors purchase of a downtown, glass-towered headquarter building in Detroit last year might rank somewhere between April’s Air Force One photo op and Al Pacino choosing to star in movies after 1999.

Not only does the timing of the buy seem a little, uh, poor looking back, but it comes across as that much worse for the auto maker following CEO Fritz Henderson’s claim that GM is actually open to moving its headquarters out of the Motor City.

Now, you can take his refusal to ensure his company will remain in Detroit as a cautious PR move, but there’s at least an intriguing case being made that GM could actually bolt from its Michigan home.

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May 11, 2021

Attention shoppers! How grocery stores get you

By Gordon Powers, Sympatico / MSN Finance

People are eating out less, restaurants are hurting, and consumers, rather than frequenting multiple outlets, seem to be going to one-stop places like a Loblaws to buy food. And their bills are climbing as a result, MSN readers tell us.

All of which suggests it’s time for a review of grocery marketing strategies.

Grocery stores know just what to do to make you buy more. And, as far as they’re concerned, they only have two types of customers: Those who don't realize how much money can be saved or those who think they’re saving money already. Either one will do. 

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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...