« May 2012 | Main | July 2012 »

June 2012

June 29, 2021

Nervous Euro investors loading Swiss bank vaults with cash, gold

Europe is a bizarre place right now, a continent full of both unbridled joy and unmitigated economic disaster.

Stock-photo-7833839-safe-isolatedSo it goes, then, that even as the bright light of Euro 2012 casts a shadow on the debt woes of several key nations, nervous investors do what they can to protect themselves.

How do you do that in a time of market uncertainty, depreciating assets and general economic unease?

You take to Switzerland and fill up safety deposit boxes with gold, cash and jewellery.

Continue reading »

June 28, 2021

Securities fines rarely paid in Canada: report

If there can be anything positive to take away from securities fraud, anything at all, it must be that violators are punished.

For scamming or duping or whatever it may be, financial advisors or crooked portfolio managers are dinged for their missteps. Their licenses stripped, their wallets lightened.

But a new investigation into securities fines throws that last point in dispute, and suggests Canada’s securities penalties are a “farce,” as one source says.

According to CBC News, nearly two-thirds of fines levied by provincial securities regulators in Canada over the past five years have gone unpaid.

Continue reading »

Despite landlords' objections, Ontario caps rent increases at 2.5%

To ease the squeeze on tenants facing big rent hikes, residential rent increases are now capped at 2.5 per cent starting in 2013 under legislation passed last week by the Ontario government.

Click here for a historical view of previous rent increase guidelines. The average from 2004 to 2012 was 2 per cent whereas it was 3.1 per cent from 1993 to 2003.

Landlords started to howl about this ceiling months ago, of course: “The government is unilaterally imposing a cap without any discussion with an entire industry and is initiating a policy that will be particularly devastating for small landlords," according to Vince Brescia, president of the Federation of Rental-housing Providers of Ontario.

Landlords are concerned that such price caps could replicate the devastating housing market conditions seen in Ontario 25 years ago, when fixed rent controls were out of whack when compared with rising housing costs. 

Continue reading »

June 27, 2021

The economic impact of 'Fifty Shades of Grey'

The greatest products or services, like a rising tide that floats all boats, have been able to spark business success in its orbit.

50shadesofgrey_bookcoverThe iPhone, for example, hasn’t just boosted Apple and changed the consumer tech landscape, it’s also spawned countless cottage industries, like lucrative markets in cell phone cases and app design.

But could a book fawned over by horny housewives really do the same?

As it turns out, Fifty Shades of Grey  is having some kind of economic impact.

Continue reading »

Do you really care where 'Canadian' wine actually comes from?

If you think the phrase "cellared in Canada" means you're buying Canadian wine, you're not alone.

A recent Canadian Food Inspection Agency report found that only 38% of wine buyers claim to be somewhat familiar with the term. And among those who are, 42% think it refers to wine stored in Canada, made in Canada (28%) or bottled in Canada (15%).

In fact, most "cellared in Canada" wine isn't really Canadian wine at all.

In Ontario, wine sold under that designation can contain up to 60 per cent foreign-sourced content. In B.C., it can be made 100 per cent from imported grapes. And by 2014, Ontario will also allow Canadian wineries to sell cellared in Canada wine containing no domestic grapes at all, the Ottawa Citizen reports.

Continue reading »

June 26, 2021

Are retiree health benefits on the way out?

According to recent research from Fidelity Investments, roughly two thirds of those approaching retirement say rising health care costs is getting higher on their list of financial concerns (outliving savings and inflation being the other worries).

AdAnd, with people living longer and the number of retirees increasing each year, it seems their their employers feel exactly the same way.

Ten years ago, 62% of employers offered medical and/or dental retiree benefits to new hires. In 2011, that number dropped to 49%, according to Aon Hewitt. And it's likely to go lower still.

Many employers have decided that it makes little sense to provide retirees with the same coverage they enjoyed while working and are now scrambling to cancel, scale back, or somehow cap their soaring retirement obligations.

Continue reading »

June 25, 2021

What brands are Canadians most fanatical about?

For the most part, when choosing a product, consumers will travel the path of least resistance.

Tim-hortons-alwaysfresh-ellispe-logoIf something’s better, they’ll ditch the old one. If something’s cheaper, they’ll pass over the rip-off. Brand loyalty, this is all a long way of saying, is not what it once was.

But while it’s one thing to swap out a Whirlpool dishwasher for a Maytag, or an Energizer battery for a Duracell, there are some brands shoppers simply will not vacate.

So, which brands are Canadians the most fanatical about?

Continue reading »

Turns out, there's a reason people write at coffee shops ...

Outside of race and religion, perhaps there is no stereotype more enduring than the coffee shop writer.

Tech-051012-005-617x416There they are, hunched over a laptop, most often a Mac, papers splayed about the table. Chances are he’s wearing some type of corduroy, listening to a new band he’d sneer at you for not knowing, crafting this generation’s finest novel/screenplay/blog.

The shoe does not fit everyone, of course, and while it’s fun to poke the coffee shop scribe, could there really be something to such displays of public writing?

According to a new study, the ambient noise and general environment of a coffee shop could just be a boon to creativity.

Continue reading »

June 21, 2021

A Walmart nearby means your home is worth more, report finds

In the “hardest to mount a defence for” file, you’d think companies like BP, Goldman Sachs and Walmart would round out the top three.

Rx4075_6bfi8bfj8efrrq8zfpni8tyfhxxxxxx8u9fi87fdk8atfxs3aw8tufhxxxxxxThough could there really be a reason to love one of those giants?

Walmart, of course, is no darling. Despite everyone and their mother shopping there, whether they’d admit it or not, Walmart’s criticisms are vast: it ruins communities; discriminates against its workers; pays but a skimpy wage.

Here’s another thing Walmart does, too. It makes your home worth more.

Continue reading »

Canada's Gen Yers keeping luxury goods market afloat

Canada’s job scene isn’t great for many these days, yet it’s especially rough for young people.

Damiersistinagm1But it can’t be that rough, by these numbers.

According to data from American Express Canada, the country’s youth aren’t spending their cash on head hunters, résumé coaching or placement agencies.

Instead, that money’s going to Louis Vuitton, Ruth’s Chris and the W Hotel.

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...