Economic news

October 06, 2021

Just how miserable do you feel these days?

When it comes to North America’s economic outlook, things do look rather gloomy right now. If you have any doubts, have a look the Misery Index.

Ad Like the dreaded wind chill factor, the index takes unpleasant facts of life – unemployment and inflation – tries to gauge just how bad they make people feel. It’s a U.S. measure but the Canadian picture isn’t that much better.

Right, now the index is at a 28-year high, reflective of how weak the economic recovery has been and how bleak the future looks to many people.  

In fact, the index, first compiled during the runaway inflation days of the 1970s by economist Arthur Okun, is registering a nausea-inducing 12.7 — 9.1% for unemployment and 3.6% for annualized inflation.  

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October 05, 2021

Forget who gets the car, birth order may impact your career

If only the kids would get along, instead of blaming everything on their brothers or sisters.

But the reality is that all siblings aren't created equal and they don't get treated as such. Firstborns, for example, often get shafted because parents are stricter with them, while later-born kids often have fewer rules to cope with.

Now, however, it turns out that those first-born kids are the most likely to earn six figures and hold a top executive position among workers with siblings, according to findings from jobs website CareerBuilder.

Meanwhile, middle kids are the most likely to report holding an entry-level spot and earning less than $35,000.  

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August 16, 2021

Tax proposal would charge drivers a fee for the miles they drive

If the Dutch government has its way, the cost of driving may be going up for those who spend most of their time behind the wheel.

Meter-2-popup1 A select group of cars in the Netherlands have been outfitted with meters designed to charge drivers a monthly fee for the kilometres they drive.

Aside from obvious costs like gas, the meter also factors in the cost to society in the form of pollution, traffic congestion, greenhouse gas emissions and wear and tear on roads, reports the New York Times.

Using the car's GPS and a wireless connection, the system tabulates a charge for each car trip by using a  formula that also takes account of a car’s fuel efficency, the time of day and the route (driving on less-traveled roads is cheaper). 

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August 15, 2021

Motor homes shrink in size but sales continue to climb

Hoping to get another weekend or two at the cottage before school starts? You may soon see some relief from the convoys of motor homes lined up ahead of you.

Rv The sluggish economy and high gas prices are forcing many monster RVs to the side of the road. And, it seems, the newer models that are taking their place are that much smaller.

"Fuel prices are driving it, but this is a cultural shift," says Bob Wheeler, CEO of Airstream, which converts delivery-van-style Mercedes-Benz Sprinters into low-key motor homes. "There's a shift away from conspicuous consumption," he told US Today.

Though these units are still priced upwards of $125,000, they typically don't have the panache of larger units. But they do get triple the gas mileage of some big gasoline-powered motor homes.

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August 09, 2021

Don't be spooked into selling, suggests author Burton Malkiel

The stock market's gyrations over the past few days have spooked even the most savvy investors but those who run for the hills at this point will likely regret it, maintains Burton Malkiel, author of the popular "A Random Walk Down Wall Street" and now a Princeton economics prof.

Burt "Investors who have sold out their stocks at times when there have been very large declines in the market have invariably been wrong. We have abundant evidence that the average investor tends to put money into the market at or near the top and tends to sell out during periods of extreme decline and volatility," Malkiel wrote in the Wall Street Journal yesterday.

Good advice but tough to do when many believe a mean, old bear has been unleashed. Nonetheless, investors should stay the course, Malkiel advises.

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August 03, 2021

Don't bother applying for a job unless you've got one: study

As the recession wanes but joblessness stays high, out-of-work Canadians have good reason to feel ostracized.

4443634-4443634-help-wanted After all, at a time when 7.4 per cent of Canucks remain unemployed, any job that reaches the market is a prize. In some global sectors, there is something like 83 applicants for each new opening.

But while at least those are the breaks – with so many out of work, there’s bound to be a flood of hopeful employees rushing to any opening – what if a level of unfortunate discrimination was facing job seekers?

What if you were only considered for a job listing if you were … already employed?

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July 25, 2021

First nations entitled to tax break on investments, top court rules

It’s fair to say that some Canadians find it troubling that First Nations citizens don’t pay much in the way of taxes. Well, now those folks are really going feel hard done by.

Court In a decision aboriginal leaders are hailing as a major affirmation of Indian status rights, the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that a Huron business man who invested in term deposits at a credit union located on his Quebec reserve doesn’t owe any tax on the interest he earned on his investments.

The landmark decision overturned lower-court rulings claiming that the estate of the late Rolland Bastien was required to pay taxes on the passive investment income he earned from the sale his longstanding moccasin business.

Section 87 of the federal Indian Act dictates that income earned by natives working on-reserve isn’t taxable. However, income earned off-reserve is taxable.

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June 29, 2021

Boomers worry about health costs in retirement

As the wave of baby boomers begin to retire, the strains of funding Canada’s health-care system will only grow over the next decade.

Merd Combined with rising costs for most things in general, economists say health care spending, left unchecked, will become unsustainable.

Add to that the prospect of reduced or even total elimination of company health benefits, and aging boomers may be right to be worried.

As it is, doctors are already having a hard time dealing with aging boomers and their increasing caseload of chronic illness, according to a recent survey

Almost three quarters of them say their caseloads are taking up more of their time, and they blame chronic conditions, extra paper work, an aging population and increasing patient expectations.

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June 24, 2021

Rich flourishing, poor struggling in recession recovery: report

If you’ve been confused about headlines detailing the economic recovery, you’re not alone.

1209458_grapho That’s because, there’s two stories going on right now. For every group that’s bouncing back, another is slugging behind. Canada’s aerospace industry is doing well, for instance, while our nation’s youths can’t find work anywhere.

The most prevalent recovery discrepancy? That would be between the rich and the poor. Chances are, you hear plenty about how the well-off are back, or close, to pre-recession normal, but new research suggests the same isn’t true for low-income families.

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May 25, 2021

Single moms better off in Canada, at least when it comes to taxes

Compared to most developed countries, Canada has a relatively low tax and social security burden on labour income, according to recent OECD figures.

The average tax wedge, which is calculated by adding income taxes to employee and employer social security contributions and deducting cash transfers as a percentage of total labour costs, is lower than the OECD average for every family type, says the organization’s most recent Taxing Wages Report.

What’s more, the difference between Canada’s tax wedge and the OECD average has increased in the past 11 years, according to the report.

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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...