Corporate Whining Cartoon from 2009

labor_history

1842 Businessman: If workers can legally STRIKE, no business will be able to survive!
1887 Businessman: Give BLACKS an entire DOLLAR for a day’s labor? Might as well burn my business to the ground!
1912 Businessman: Worker deaths are TRAGIC, but ANTI-SWEATSHOP laws would be the DEATH of industry in America!
1915 Businessman: When workers can’t be FIRED for joining a UNION, how can ANYONE stay in business?
1924 Businessman: Banning CHILD LABOR would DESTROY the economy! Right, little Timmy?
Small urchan boy, missing a front tooth and two fingers, standing next to 1924 businssman: That’s right!
1938 Businessman: We can’t have a FORTY HOUR WORK WEEK, because if we DO there’ll be no employers LEFT to hire anyone!
1964 Businessman: EQUAL PAY for women AND negroes? Business can’t stay afloat if federal regulations STRANGLE us!
1970 Businessman: HEALTH and SAFETY laws are a formula for MASSIVE PERMANENT UNEMPLOYMENT!
NOW Businesswoman: If the new labor rights law PASSES, then business is doomed! DOOOOOOOOMED!

I believe this is the source: http://leftycartoons.com/2009/09/04/a-brief-history-of-corporate-whining/

Tips for Saving Money This Post-Secondary School Year

It’s tough, rising tuition costs will never cease, books will always be new every year, and rent in your city is poised to increase. The opportunity cost of going to school is more than these costs, but the loss of your income for the year as well. So why bother with the all the hassle, just work a while! Get into the trade! Well regardless of how you do the post-secondary school thing, the fact of the matter is, you need something more than your high school diploma to increase your average salary for the rest of your life.

Since post-secondary isn’t free (in North America at least), here are some tips before and during the school years.


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Canada Drops Key Overnight Interest Rate to .5%

cp-bank-key-overnight-rate-july2015

The Bank of Canada has lowered their key overnight interest rate for the third quarter of 2015. Although banks haven’t responded with the same drop (TD has dropped only 10 basis points), it is the second time in 2015 the rate has dropped. Despite the bank and ruling government touting positive economic outlooks at the beginning of the year, including their forecasts for the rest of 2015, 1.1 per cent growth in GDP for all of 2015, the drop in the lending rate is indicative of a weakening Canadian economy.

The Bank of Canada cut the rate to 0.75 in January, it had been at one per cent since late 2010.

The drop is partially a result of a resource based economy being hit hard by the drop in world oil prices. The slowing of the energy sector has contributed to an overall slowing of the economy. The one saving grace is the dropping dollar. As the interest rate falls, the Canadian dollar is less attractive vs. other international currencies and therefore demand falls. This is why the dollar has depreciated on the news.

The hope by dropping the key interest rate is it will further encourage businesses to borrow money. That may be hard for some hard hit sectors of the economy, who despite cheap money, have no current market for their production. The manufacturing sector may benefit from both a weaker dollar and cheap borrowing costs.

Greece Economic Instability? Let’s Talk About China Instead

The real problem facing the global economy isn’t little Greece and their fits surrounding debt. It’s China, the world’s second largest economy by GDP and their fits surrounding trading with debt. Margin buying seems to be the largest culprit behind the most recent decline over the past month on the Chinese stock exchange. If China’s economy contracts, it is a sign that overall demand in China is down, but also, if the trade surplus is negative, global demand is slowing as well.

Links from around:


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Already Crippled Cities Face Crumbling Infrastructure

Numerous cities and counties in the United States are faced with the continuous looming possibility of having to declare bankruptcy due to rising costs and declining tax revenues. It doesn’t help both state level and federal level coffers when, and if, these municipalities recover, a massive infrastructure expense looms on the horizon.

Or should we say the horizon has already come to the forefront. Infrastructure is crumbling in the USA. Not even looking at the state of education systems, and public infrastructure, the very core of transportation (roads and bridges), and sanitation (stormwater and wastewater), could not only cripple, but destroy some areas.

THe American Society of Civil Engineers released their 2013 infrastructure report card and it’s abysmal. Overall America receives a grade of D+ (somehow passing, and since when is D+ a grade?) but wastewater alone is thought to require, in capital costs alone, around 300 BILLION dollars country wide. You can let infrastructure crumble, but that plan banks on local municipalities putting money away to help cover capital costs. You can’t save money if you don’t make money.

Where WILL the money come from? Simply put, America will do what America does–borrow. Consider the estimated cost is about half of the bailout for the entire financial sector, there’s money out there. Whether America can find the resources to borrow effectively is another story.

Money will find it’s way to pay for infrastructure, probably not all at the same time, but it will likely have a positive impact on the economy. At least in the form of job creation around new infrastructure projects. That would be a much needed stimulus. But, insurmountable debt loads have come to a saturation point–there’s a time when you just can’t borrow huge sums of money anymore without either facing crippling interest rates, sky high inflation, or a devastating combo of both.

Not that infrastructure is required for everyone. Most rural areas rely on private septic systems or none at all. (Some pit the number of people without wastewater system at about 25% on the high end.)

Finding the wherewithal politically to continue considering these issues in advance (or put more poignantly, replacing what’s broken before it breaks) will take guts. All in all, this is one of many pressing needs for America as they start to determine what’s really important and what they really should be spending money on. A growing discontent is going to fuel much needed change, and that will come quickly when the things we take for granted break or crumble.

With notes from Stamford Scientific International specializing in WWTP fine bubble diffusers.

Alberta to Bump Minimum Wage Starting in October

Business’ may cry foul, but Alberta, despite being one of the wealthiest provinces in the country, when the oil price is high, has the lowest minimum wage in Canada. The affects on the economy will be negative, say small business owners and service related industries. Of course, every argument has two sides. Here are some examples where minimum has not crippled the economy, and why it won’t happen in Alberta.

Here are some helpful sources to suggest minimum wage won’t throw the economy into a permanent recession.


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anti-Keystone XL campaign was made possible by a paradigm shift by environmentalists

An interesting point made in this month’s cover story for Oilsands Review,

“The blame game behind the anti-Keystone XL campaign was made possible by a paradigm shift in the consciousness of American environmentalists. The traditional environmentalist sought to reduce their footprint by limiting material consumption. But this, unfortunately, demands an austere lifestyle that is out of touch with today’s mainstream culture. Today’s self-dubbed environmentalists can now maintain a consumption-driven lifestyle. They only need to ensure their consumables are green. As a result, they can conveniently offload the responsibility for environmental performance from the demand side (consumer) to the supply side (producer).”

Utility Functions (Mathematical Representation of Preference)

The following section from DiscussEconomics on microeconomics and preferences discusses the mathematical representation of preference using utility functions.

Using utility function : U(x) = U (x1, x2, x3.......xn)
(Where U is in fact mu.)

This assigns a number (utility number to every consumption bundle in a person’s preference ordering. 1. Now if someone is indifferent between two bundles, the U function assigns the same number to both bundles:
utility function

2. Now if you prefer 1 bundle to another, the utility function assigns a larger number to the preferred bundle:
utility function 2

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Why Alberta Oil Savings is Not like Norway but should

Alberta_vs_Norway_infographic

It is entirely plausible the only result from the Alberta savings fund (currently at just under 18 billion) after the oil boon will be a paltry 4.6 billion. That’s $4.6 billion generated from decades of revenues and trillions of royalty dollars.

A handful of Albertans lament on the lost savings and the short sightedness of politicians (can’t blame corporations, their duty is to the shareholder and that’s revenues in the present). There’s a good article out of Alberta Oil Magazine touting the irreconcilable differences between Alberta and the country Norway when it comes to savings of oil wealth. It’s an easy comparison to make–rich Norway vs. now poor Alberta.

The article is right, comparing the two isn’t a fair comparison, they are different entities, in particular the tax structures. The article, however, opens with the most profound statement of the problem–Alberta has done a horrid job in the past 30 years saving their oil wealth. The culture in the province is spend hard and fast.

There’s no question that Alberta has done a bad job of managing the wealth that its oil and gas sector has been throwing off for more than half a century. Despite generating almost $190 billion in non-renewable resource revenues since 1980, the value of the Heritage Fund stood at $17.3 billion at the end of last year. And of the $33.4 billion in income that it’s thrown off, the Heritage Fund has retained just $4.6 billion. Norway, in contrast, has managed to save much, much more of its non-renewable resource revenues. The value of its sovereign wealth fund sits at nearly $1 trillion, or $177,000 for every Norwegian citizen. Alberta’s per-capita figure? A shade over $4,300.

If oil friendly media doesn’t want to make the connection between Norway and Alberta, and we can do some more work in connecting Alberta with Alaska. Although they aren’t Norway, Alaska has done a far better job then Alberta in saving their own oil royalties.

It’s true Alberta probably couldn’t save at the same rate as Norway, but they could get close to Alaska. The stunning reality is, recently, Alberta hasn’t saved and all and isn’t in a position to do so for perhaps a decade. Politicians attempt to make the argument that merely protecting the Alberta Heritage Fund from inflation is a triumph. It doesn’t help that the same ruling party has been in power in Alberta for nearly fifty years.

At the end of the day, there is no political pressure to save the vast oil wealth for future generations. There was a time, even before oil was $100 a barrel, where there was talk Alberta could save enough to completely eliminate income taxes. That was only 15 years ago, but now it’s talk about running deficits and increasing taxes. This reality could be permanent.

The wealth of Alberta has been squandered and it can never be recaptured. The only saving grace is that people may have had the chance to personally save more because of overall lower taxation. But who saves money for the future, right?

Could we see $20 per barrel price of oil?

The answer is yes, and the ones who will suffer? Well, everyone will, but North American producers, particularly in the shale and bitumen markets, will suffer the most.

Why is this happening? Well North American production has increased and nobody else worldwide is declining their outputs. Factor in global demand is low and you get a simple ECON 101 picture of why prices continue to decline. Only an increase in demand coupled with reduction in supply will return the market to a sense of equilibrium. But $100 oil may be done for half a generation or forever.