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December 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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December 31, 2021

AT&T; drops Tiger amid claim he caused $12B corporate loss

It’s the story that won’t go away.

Yes, many facets of Tiger Woods’ lurid tale do not belong on MSN Money. Like that he needed emergency plastic surgery after Elin whacked him in the face with a nine iron. Or that he’s now rumoured to be in sex therapy (sex therapy!).

But there is also a huge financial piece to his still-unravelling chronicle that's worth discussing, and that aspect’s interest level has hit a fresh peak with a few recent bits of news.

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Canada one of least corrupt nations: report

It seems that this was the year of the Ponzi scheme in North America. Nearly four times as many such scams unravelled in 2009 than 2008.

Unfortunately, it’s clear that no region of the world is immune to the perils of fraud and dishonesty, according to Transparency International’s 2009 Corruption Perceptions Index

The vast majority of countries score below five on a zero-to-10 scale measuring perceptions of public corruption, with zero the worst and 10 the best, according to the international watchdog.  

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December 29, 2021

Downturn or not, do you Coupon?

For shoppers, there always seems to be that fine line between “cash conscious” and “outright lunatic.”

People want to save money, but they’d rather walk through one of those full-body screening devices than dive into the dreaded, tacky, unforgivable world of Couponing.

Yet while a slumping economy is capable of some crazy things, could it really persuade seemingly normal consumers to take the coupon plunge?

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OMG! Teenagers cut back on holiday spending

Watching their parents lose jobs and worry about money seems to be forcing many teenagers to reevaluate their own spending habits. 

In fact, this younger group may actually be among the hardest hit, analysts suggest. 

"It is the most uneven recession ever. It's all young and working class for the most part ... In the labour and youth markets, I would call it a Great Depression," labour economist Andrew Sum told Reuters.

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December 26, 2021

How to handle those Christmas treats

Your ability to resist all that Christmas baking depends on how a big a threat you perceive it to be, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research.

Looked at techniques that enable us resist food and other holiday temptations, researchers at the University of Texas found that the best way to resist all those cookies was to make a mountain out of a molehill. 

“When consumers encounter temptations that conflict with their long-term goals, one self-control mechanism is to exaggerate the negativity of the temptation as a way to resist, a process we call counteractive construal,” the researchers say.

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December 24, 2021

Did you have to pay for your office party this holiday?

We’ve all heard the Scrooge-inspired horror stories that went down in Canadian office buildings this year.

They took away our water coolers. They don’t even give us pens to use anymore. We pretty much need an order from the Prime Minister to use the workplace printer.

But for all the crap you took, there was always that holiday office party, the one slot on the calendar where you could stuff your face and get liquored up on the company’s dime. It was only one night, but – damnit – you earned it. It made everything worthwhile.

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Recession forcing Snowbirds to leave retirement states

It’s been the rite of passage for Americans for years: get married, have kids, work hard and get the hell out.

Flying the coop hadn’t been so much an option as it’d become a lifestyle for U.S. retirees looking to leave their wintry hometowns for sunny locales.

It was the “other” American Dream. After a lifetime of cold weather misery, sixty-somethings wanted nothing more than to trade in snow shovels for shuffleboard cues and retire in peace. Warm, sunny peace.

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December 23, 2021

The quagmire of small business recovery

There may be no better barometer for our recovery from recession than the small business.

Save for shellacked labour workers, vendors operating their own modest company are often ravaged worst by the pitfalls of a downturn: vanished consumer spending, reluctance by banks to loan cash, etc.

But while data released Monday from Stats Canada suggests the small business is well on its way to a rebound, startling numbers out of the U.S. make you question how strong the return to normal actually is.

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Adult kids hurting parents' retirement plans

Younger workers have good relationships with their parents and their older counterparts, according to recent study from the Harvard Business Review.

58% of Gen Y’s say they look to boomers, rather than their contemporaries, for professional advice, and over three-quarters say they actually enjoy working with the over-50 crowd.

What’s even more interesting though is that a large proportion of Y's (42% of women and 30% of men) report that they talk to their parents every day – largely about money, it seems.

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December 21, 2021

A few outrageous predictions for 2010

Among other things, the price of gold is about to drop off the map, says Denmark’s Saxo Bank.

The Copenhagen-based online bank’s 10 economic predictions for 2010 form an annual what-if exercise that purports to predict rare but high impact 'black swan' events beyond the realm of normal market expectations.

Previous predictions have included Ron Paul being elected US president and crude oil prices crashing to $25 per barrel … and you know how those babies worked out.

High on its list for 2010 is the fact that the US Social Security Trust Fund will go bust.

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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...