« August 2009 | Main | October 2009 »

September 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.

Continue reading »

September 30, 2021

VoIP calling is fair game on planes, but should it be?

What hypothetical, aside from ‘Should The Informant! be classified as a comedy?’, would warrant reactions like these?

-“NO ahhhhh!!!!!NO!!!!”

It would have to be a situation people feel pretty strongly against, right?

Continue reading »

Job hunters look for help

The recent increase in online job postings may mean that the worst of the recession is behind us, says the Conference Board of Canada.

The Board’s help wanted index, which measures the number of new jobs posted online, jumped in every province except PEI last month. It had dropped nearly 30 per cent over the past year as the number of new online job postings plunged during the recession.

That would be the good news.

Continue reading »

September 29, 2021

Canada: the third-best nation for business

As the old saying goes: you can only do so much business in Armenia.

In Canada, we’ve been looking for a sliver of hope in this economy for a while. A flicker, even. Anything will do.

Well, how’s this?

As bad as we thought things had gotten, hopes for Canada’s quick recovery received a nice stamp of approval recently, our nation ranking third on Forbes’ annual Best Countries For Business list.

Continue reading »

September 28, 2021

In a recession, parents rule back-to-school shopping

Back-to-school shopping has followed the same trend for generations.

Parents, especially in times of economic prosperity, give their kids money and they go out and spend it. It’s a simple process on the surface, but has also led to yearbook photos that look like this, this and this.

Regardless, that was then. Now? Well, as you’ve probably noticed, the same rules don’t exactly apply anymore.

Continue reading »

Oil prices to derail recovery?

The red ink hasn’t yet dried on the deepest global recession since World War 11 and oil is already trading at over $70 per barrel. If that strikes you as a bit odd, consider the statement from Saudi oil minister at the recent OPEC meeting to the effect that $70 was a ‘fair price for both consumers and producers”. Today’s fair price, in the aftermath of a brutal global recession was only three years ago an all time high.

To understand just how much the goal posts have moved for world oil prices consider that last year was the first in a quarter century that world oil demand actually fell. That’s how severe the recession was in the major oil consuming economies of the world. The last decline, in 1983, ushered in a flood of new relatively cheap oil supply from the North Sea and Alaska. Today, the only new supply we can count on is over five miles below the ocean floor or trapped in tar-like bitumen.

Of course, its always easier to find culprits that to face facts. Congress will blame the speculators, customers will blame oil companies for price gauging, oil companies will blame government for restrictive drilling policies, and traders will blame the falling value of the greenback. But at the end of the day all will have to face the simple fact that conventional oil supply (i.e. the type of supply you can afford to burn), has not grown since 2005 and may never grow again.

Continue reading »

How to avoid getting taken for a ride

You’re exhausted, in a strange country, don’t really speak the language and you just know you’re about to get ripped off by a fast-talking taxi driver.

Be calm. Help is at hand.

The more tourists know the going rates, scams, and how to identify off-the books operators, the better off they’ll be, maintain Edmonton-based travellers Todd and Steve Romaine. 

Continue reading »

September 25, 2021

How will we spend this holiday season?

I guess the question now becomes: at what point is zero considered a good thing?

For many Canadians last year, the holidays sucked. They really did.

Lay-offs were being sprayed across the country, mortgage payments were falling behind and the visceral grip of the recession had just started to take hold. It wasn’t exactly holiday lights and snow ball fights.

Continue reading »

Ontario native leaders slam HST

Judging by the vitriol on our messages boards, just about everyone hates Ontario’s new HST – which would combine the currently separate eight per cent provincial sales tax and the five per cent GST into one tariff that would cover previously tax-exempt items – but they’re not sure what to do about it.

Here’s one approach: Ontario native leaders say they’ll turn their reserves into tax-free shopping zones rather than let the HST strip them of tax breaks that status Indians enjoy in the other provinces. 

Continue reading »

Update: Woman beats bank with angry YouTube video

Well, she did it.

Last Thursday in this space we discussed Ann Minch, a California woman who had taken to recording an angry anti-bank YouTube video to protest Bank of America jacking her credit card interest rate from 12.99% to 30%.

Minch started quite a sizzle online, her rant getting attention from MSN and the Huffington Post and turning her into a kind of William Wallace to unemployed debtors.

Continue reading »

September 24, 2021

The enormity of bank overdraft charges

Banks are smart, they really are.

They know that, no matter how many times they rip out our hearts, we all have to come crawling back somehow.

Oh, you like our smiling tellers and cushy leather chair mascots, huh? Good to know. How about a massive hidden fee while you’re here?!

Continue reading »


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...