About My Portfolio
These articles showcase business and market research I’ve authored, whether it’s covering company news, documenting industry disruptors, or identifying new trends and exploring their impact on the world around us.
My work is about bringing down the high knowledge barrier associated with complex topics and making them accessible to a wider audience of readers.
Don’t forget to check out my Muckrack page for more on my portfolio!
Posthaste: Canadian businesses say it’s too soon for the government to take them off life support
July 23, 2021
Things may seem to be returning to normal in cities across Canada, but for many small and medium-sized businesses, there’s still a long way to go. That’s why the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) launched a petition yesterday asking the federal government not to phase out wage and rent subsidies just yet.
Posthaste: What Canadians should consider in a post-pandemic work-from-home world
July 22, 2021
There’s little doubt that the pandemic has been the number one driver of the work-from-home trend lately, having many Canadians feel accustomed to working from the comfort of their couch, their home office, and even their bed.
So accustomed, in fact, that 61 per cent of surveyed Canadians prefer a hybrid work model that sees them spending some days of the week in the office and other days at home, according to professional services and consulting firm Accenture Plc. However, there are a few mental health and labour law considerations employees and their bosses need to take into account in this hybrid world.
Posthaste: Dying enthusiasm for bitcoin pushes it below $30,000 for first time in 4 months
July 21, 2021
Call it a healthy correction or call it price discovery, but bitcoin dropped below US$30,000 for the first time in about four weeks yesterday, raising the question of whether investors are seeing a cool-down on a potentially overheated asset or if this plunge runs parallel to the overall market correction unfolding in the North American markets this week.
Changing hands in Muskoka: The property boom is ushering in a new generation of cottagers
July 20, 2021
The two-bedroom waterfront Port Carling property had been the summer escape for a Courtice, Ont., couple for decades. They purchased the property in 1965. During their years at the cottage, they were fondly remembered as avid sailors who would bring their nieces and nephews up to the area to enjoy Muskoka.
“They were just a lovely, lovely pair of people who made great neighbours,” said Sean Stokes, their cottage neighbour who knew the couple, now in their 80s, for 40 years. “That’s one of the great things that we’ve been blessed with is we have had great neighbours.”
Posthaste: Canada’s luxury real estate market keeps smashing records – and the return to the office won’t change that
July 13, 2021
The relentless march of Canada’s luxury real estate market continues to see strength as multi-million dollar home sales smash records.
Toronto led the charge with a 400 per cent increase in attached home sales worth over $4 million dollars since last year, according to a report from luxury real estate firm Sotheby’s International Canada. In Vancouver, there was a similar frenetic pace in these types of home sales, seeing a boost of 300 per cent year-over-year.
CMHC at a crossroads: Agency faces tough decisions after losing mortgage insurance market share
July 12, 2021
When the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation moved to tighten its underwriting practices last summer, it was the largest provider of mortgage insurance in the country, capturing 49 per cent of new business in the second quarter.
“There is no doubt that we have willingly chosen to forgo some profitable business that our competitors would find appealing,” then-chief executive Evan Siddall wrote in August, in a letter to Canada’s biggest lenders, following the implementation of the stricter standards. Siddall used the letter to caution the banks and others mortgage lenders about risky lending, warning that “there is a dark economic underbelly to this business that I want to expose.”
Posthaste: The high-flying loonie is starting to lose its wings
July 12, 2021
The loonie is starting to lose its wings, tumbling to a two-and-a-half month low, largely fuelled by the June outlook from the U.S. Federal Reserve and — to a lesser degree — falling oil prices.
The Canadian dollar dropped to 80 cents against the greenback last week, the lowest it has been since late April.
Are bank-backed cryptocurrencies the future? One Canadian lender wants to find out
July 08, 2021
At a time when mainstream financial institutions are grappling with how to approach digital assets, one Ontario-based bank is diving right in.
VersaBank, a digital-only ‘Schedule 1’ bank best known for financing corporations and public sector entities, is in the later stages of developing its own digital currency, which it expects to launch later this year, an experiment that would make it the first Canadian bank with its own crypto.
How BNPL became the most lucrative four letters in fintech
July 01, 2021
Buying in instalments used to be a niche payment option, a staple of infomercial hustlers looking to cast the widest net — and present the most affordable price — possible. But if you shopped online during the pandemic, you probably noticed that virtually every major online retailer and thousands of smaller ones are now offering some version of buy-now-pay-later, or BNPL for short, at checkout.
Digital loonie may be inevitable amid rise in competing cryptocurrencies, experts say
June 30, 2021
The Bank of Canada has said steadfastly that it is not currently planning to issue its own digital currency, but a growing chorus of experts suggest the need to compete with private forms of money may end up ultimately forcing the central bank’s hand.
El Salvador’s embrace of bitcoin could launch a financial revolution — or sow the seeds of more instability
June 17, 2021
El Salvador’s decision to adopt bitcoin as legal tender this month has turned the tiny Central American country into a global test case: Can crypto really go mainstream and help resolve some of the issues that have plagued developing countries, or will the still volatile currency only exacerbate the problems?
There’s no doubt which side of that question the country’s president, Nayib Bukele, is on.
Som Seif on his new retirement fund — and why Canada is falling behind on financial innovation
June 10, 2021
Som Seif is no stranger to being the first mover in his industry. A pioneer when it comes to ETFs, Seif’s Purpose Investments earlier this year launched the first bitcoin and ether ETFs to be approved by Canadian regulators, beating U.S. providers to market. Now, Purpose is rolling out a new product that he hopes will revolutionize retirement investing: the Longevity Fund, which mirrors a defined-benefit pension plan by offering an interest rate for life starting at 6.15 per cent, after age 65. Seif spoke to the Financial Post’s Stephanie Hughes on his latest launch and the state of Canadian financial innovation. This interview has been edited and condensed.
FP Explains: What is a stablecoin and why do they make central bankers nervous?
June 10, 2021
Stablecoins have been touted as a unique kind of crypto asset, less volatile than their free-floating brethren such as bitcoin, and thus, perhaps, more suited for transactional rather than speculative ends. Recently, however, regulators who have consistently cast doubt on bitcoin have started expressing fears about stablecoins, too, warning they could lead to a fragmentation of the financial system with a patchwork of coins creating less efficient outcomes for households and businesses. But just what exactly is a stablecoin and how do they work? The Financial Post’s Stephanie Hughes explains.
Amazon is borrowing at record low rates, but corporate Canada isn’t quite as fortunate
June 10, 2021
Amazon.com Inc. broke records when it raised US$18.5 billion in an eight-part bond bonanza earlier this year, taking advantage of the low cost of borrowing during the COVID-19 pandemic to pad its coffers.
It was a staggering sum, but the deal really turned heads for just how cheaply the e-commerce giant was able to raise the cash: just 10 basis points more than U.S. treasuries on the two-year bond and 70 basis points on the 20 year, both records according to the Financial Times.
Business leaders see rapid testing as the key to economic reopening
June 01, 2021
Rolling out rapid tests for COVID-19 was a trial-and-error exercise for Kristen Danson, owner of Ontario-based automotive supply company, Swift Components Corp. It was an exercise that paid off.
“We got the tests in-house, and we thought, OK, we’re ready to roll,” Danson said. “But a lot of thought actually has to go into how to actually implement and give out the test and I think we underestimated that.”
Canada’s big banks still cool on cryptocurrencies even as global financial giants begin to dabble
May 27, 2021
Major international financial services companies have been warming to cryptocurrencies in recent months, but Canada’s big banks do not appear likely to join them any time soon.
Though the banks’ trading platforms include exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that may have exposure to cryptos, none of the Big Five, which are reporting earnings this week, offer a direct avenue to invest in bitcoin or other crypto assets.
Toronto-based digital asset platform Ledn raises $30 million in Series A financing
May 26, 2021
Toronto-based digital asset platform Ledn Inc. has secured $30 million in Series A financing that the company aims to use to expand its workforce and grow its presence in the global financial services market.
The round was led by London-based investment firm Kingsway Capital and saw a group of new investors coming to the table, including hedge fund manager Alan Howard, Seoul-based blockchain team Hashed Investments, Susquehanna trading firm, ParaFi Capital, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian and John Pfeffer. The funding was further supported by returning investors including White Star Capital’s Digital Asset Fund, Coinbase Ventures, Global Founders Capital and CMT Digital.
More financial services companies push to offer gender reassignment benefits to employees
May 25, 2021
A growing number of banking and financial services companies in Canada are offering gender reassignment benefits to their clients and employees as part of their core health coverage.
Scotiabank announced it would add gender reassignment benefits for employees in Canada and the United States starting on June 1, by covering the costs of procedures like rhinoplasty, electrolysis (hair removal), voice training and surgery, as well as facial feminization and masculinization.
High-flying loonie’s ‘good’ dilemma for investors: Ride the streak or shop abroad?
May 20, 2021
The Canadian dollar is riding a six-year high above 83 cents US, a surge that is posing something of a dilemma for investors: should they keep their money at home and try to ride the hot streak or put the strong loonie to work internationally?
David MacNicol, president and portfolio manager at MacNicol & Associates Asset Management, said that investors should keep an eye on the commodities cycle if they’re trying to decide between the two options.
The loonie is soaring — and it isn’t just an oil story
May 19, 2021
Surging demand for commodities and the Bank of Canada’s relatively hawkish stance on interest rates are helping to propel the loonie to levels not seen in years, according to analysts.
The Canadian dollar has been trading above 83 cents US in recent days, its highest level since 2015.
Timber? Why investors looking to get in on the lumber boom may be late to the party
May 17, 2021
A surge in demand for wood brought on by the pandemic housing boom has sent lumber prices to all-time highs this year, but investors looking to build on significant run-ups in forestry stocks may have a harder time going forward, according to at least one analyst.
Lumber futures were trading at US$1,630 per thousand board feet late this past week, after touching a record high just shy of US$1,700 earlier in the month, quadruple the price of a year ago.
Everything you need to know about the top cryptocurrencies — but were too confused to ask
May 14, 2021
Not that long ago, cryptocurrencies were a curiosity, viewed with enthusiasm among a small group of early investors — and with a heavy dose of skepticism from the broader institutional investor community.
All that has changed. In recent months, the coin that was largely traded among tech junkies has been embraced by big-name companies, financial institutions, and even auction house Sotheby’s, which held the first auction ever on Wednesday to accept cryptocurrency as payment for a physical piece of art, receiving US$12.9 million in 14 minutes of bidding for street artist Banksy’s iconic piece, “Love Is In The Air.”
How to hack a pipeline: Colonial attack puts energy cybersecurity in spotlight
May 10, 2021
The weekend ransomware attack that forced Colonial Pipeline Co. to shut the largest U.S. fuel pipeline has been one of the most disruptive cybersecurity incidents ever reported.
While Colonial hopes to have operations restored by the end of the week, questions about the attack remain. For one, how did the hackers, believed to be a Russian group called DarkSide, gain access to the Colonial’s systems? And just how secure is pipeline infrastructure more generally?
Suncor eyes share buybacks, debt reduction with free cash flow boost: CEO
May 04, 2021
The head of Suncor Energy Inc. is charting the course for share buybacks and debt reduction with stronger free cash flow from the company’s first quarter results.
Mark Little, president and Chief Executive Officer at Suncor, told BNN Bloomberg that while the company typically uses its shares as currency for merger and acquisition activity, this strategy would be difficult to implement when the share price is weakened. Before the company uses cash for potential acquisitions, it would first need to identify synergies for shareholders.
April Vancouver home sales surge 342% from 2020 pandemic lows
May 04, 2021
Vancouver home sales bounced back from pandemic lows last month as sales surged 342 per cent year-over-year, according to data from the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV).
Residential home sales in the region totalled 4,908 last month, driven by heightened demand in the Metro Vancouver area, which helped push the composite benchmark price 12 per cent higher year-over-year to $1.15 million.
New Toronto condo sales near pre-pandemic levels
May 03, 2021
Toronto’s downtown condominium segment is staging a comeback with sales nearing pre-pandemic levels.
New condo sales in the Greater Toronto Area totalled 5,385 units in the first quarter of 2021, which was just shy of the 5,593 figure from a year ago, according to a market report by real estate research firm Urbanation Inc.
Sweats to impress: How the pandemic is shaking up office wear
April 30, 2021
Throughout the pandemic, suits sat in closets collecting dust as Canadians flocked to sweatpants, baggy shirts, and other athleisure trends while working from home.
Those cozy Canadians may not be too eager to get rid of their snug threads once they begin returning to the office, raising the question of what suitable office wear will look like in the anticipated post-pandemic world of balancing working in-office and from home.
CN Rail CEO sees KCS deal key to becoming a true ‘NAFTA railroad’
April 28, 2021
The head of Canadian National Railway Co. said its planned merger with Kansas City Southern (KCS) will bring the Montreal-based rail company closer to becoming a true North American railroad able to serve the continent-wide free trade agreement.
“We’ve always had our eyes, back to the days of Paul Tellier, about being the NAFTA railroad not just by partnering commercially with the KCS to the marketing alliance that we had 20 years ago, but also at some point making an acquisition,” said JJ Ruest, president and chief executive officer at CN Rail, in a broadcast interview.
Structural change, not ‘gift-bag’ items, missing from budget: Manitoba’s Pallister
April 22, 2021
The Liberal government’s latest budget falls short on giving the Canadian economy what it needs to find its footing again after the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister.
“[There’s] very little attention paid to how we pay for all this stuff,” Pallister said in a broadcast interview Thursday.
Metro’s blowout sales growth to slow in pandemic’s second year: CEO
April 22, 2021
Metro Inc. is bracing investors for more subdued sales growth after panic-buying in the early days of the pandemic allowed the supermarket operator to deliver a stretch of blowout gains.
In an interview Thursday, Metro President and Chief Executive Officer Eric La Flèche said his company is running into the reality of tough COVID-era in-store sales comparisons. Indeed, same-store food sales were up 5.5 per cent in the last quarter, compared to double-digit gains in the three prior quarters.
JetBlue expanding into Canada, ‘high-fare’ incumbents on notice
April 21, 2021
JetBlue Airways flights will soon head northward to Canada, as the popular carrier expands into this country for the first time.
The U.S. airline announced Wednesday that it will be touching down in Vancouver as its first Canadian destination, offering service from Vancouver International Airport to New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport and seasonal flights to Boston Logan International Airport beginning in the summer of 2022.
Small businesses speak out on what they need from the federal budget
April 15, 2021
The COVID-19 pandemic ravaged the Canadian small business community, leaving a trail of shuttered storefronts and “For Lease” signs in its wake. As the country stares down a third wave of lockdowns, there’s been a growing call from stakeholders for the government to invoke further measures during the upcoming federal budget that will not leave businesses deeper in debt on the other side of the pandemic.
Big tech companies flock to the gaming industry: Enthusiast Gaming CEO
April 14, 2021
Some big technology companies are ramping up their investment in the video gaming industry as younger generations pour into the space, said the head of a Canadian gaming content firm.
Canada must recognize ‘generational transfer of wealth’ in housing: Victor Dodig
April 13, 2021
The head of one of Canada’s largest banks is wading into the housing debate, arguing supply constraints need to be addressed amid surging home prices.
Victor Dodig, Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, also told BNN Bloomberg he supports government intervention in an overheated real estate market as long as it can contribute to stable home ownership.
There’s no ‘magic switch’ to reset home values: Liberal MP
April 12, 2021
One Liberal MP argues that a housing correction may not be the silver bullet solution needed to fix Canada’s mounting housing affordability crisis.
“When people tell you they want to cut housing prices by 10 per cent… there is no magic switch in the Finance Department or the Bank of Canada where you just go to it and reset everybody’s home equity rates and housing prices across the country,” Spadina-Fort York MP Adam Vaughan, whose portfolio covers housing issues as parliamentary secretary for the Liberal government, said in an interview.
Housing policy must cool market imbalance: RBC CEO
April 08, 2021
Amid a scorching real estate market, the head of the Royal Bank of Canada warned that the country needs short-term policy changes to cool the stark supply and demand mismatch.
Canada needs ‘very targeted relief’: Former TD Bank CEO
April 05, 2021
Bay Street veteran Ed Clark is expressing concerns Canada is overdoing it with pandemic stimulus that he thinks may be too broad and improperly targeted.
In a television interview Monday, Clark, the former Chief Executive Officer of TD Bank Group and current board nominee at Spin Master Corp., said policymakers would be better off implementing extremely precise supports rather than broad-stroke stimulus.
Businesses’ excess cash won’t drive the recovery: CIBC’s Tal
April 05, 2021
It isn’t just households with pent-up savings during the pandemic: businesses are also sitting on a massive cash cushion ready to be unleashed once the world returns to normal. However, the country can’t count on that capital alone to drive the pandemic recovery, according to one Bay Street economist.
MLB looks to NFTs as a ‘cutting edge opportunity’: Blue Jays President
March 31, 2021
Baseball won’t be sitting on the bench when it comes to the cryptocurrency game.
Mark Shapiro, president and chief executive officer of the Toronto Blue Jays, told BNN Bloomberg in an interview that the league was looking at non-fungible tokens (NFT) as a “cutting edge opportunity” that could help bolster fan interest in the sport.
Swoop adds B.C. flights for summer season to meet pent-up demand
March 31, 2021
Discount airline company Swoop is gearing up for the peak summer travel season by adding more routes to three cities in British Columbia, starting in May.
Housing policy must ‘break the psychology’ to cool prices: BMO
March 30, 2021
BMO Economics is adding its voice to the concerns being raised on how policymakers need to act immediately to cool Canada’s hot housing market, recommending they break the market psychology that has caused home prices across the continue to soar.
Condo investors ‘stealing activity’ from future amid low rates: Tal
March 29, 2021
Real estate investors are piling into the condo market and taking advantage of low interest rates – even if it means withstanding short-term losses, according to a prominent Bay Street economist.
How the ‘COVID shuffle’ made 2020 the year for luxury real estate
Paul Matysek, CEO of Gold X Mining, was taken by the lush, forested scenery of Whistler, B.C. and its active recreational lifestyle in both summer and winter. This stood in stark contrast to life in West Vancouver during the pandemic, where he owns his primary residence.
WestJet adds western routes; CEO urges domestic travel
March 26, 2021
WestJet Airlines Ltd. announced that it would be adding 11 new domestic routes across Western Canada starting June in a push towards its COVID-19 recovery.
The airline will be offering nonstop service to 15 communities in Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario, according to a news release issued Friday.
‘Doing nothing is not a solution’: Experts weigh in on carbon tax ruling
The Supreme Court of Canada ruled Thursday that the federal government’s carbon tax was constitutional, furthering the Liberals’ climate change mandate.
However, reactions to the decision from stakeholders and policy experts were decidedly mixed. Here’s a sample of what some of them had to say.
Powell playing ‘risky game’ with markets on inflation: CIBC’s Tal
March 22, 2021
Following the U.S. Federal Reserve’s decision to leave interest rates low for the foreseeable future last week, Chair Jerome Powell signalled that inflation was under control. One prominent Bay Street economist says: Think again.
Rogers-Shaw deal could be ‘win-win’ for Feds: former Telus CFO
March 18, 2021
Rogers Communications Inc.’s blockbuster proposed takeover of Shaw Communications Inc. could break down some barriers in expanding Canada’s broadband coverage, according to a former industry executive.
Canadians need to mind ‘dangers of debt’: Former CMHC chair
March 15, 2021
A former head of the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation is sounding the alarm on Canada’s rising debt problem, an issue that has gone unaddressed in the country’s recent run-up in home prices.
‘This is not normal’: experts weigh in on housing bubble warnings
March 12, 2021
Real estate analysts and economists alike continue to weigh in on the state of Canada’s housing market, which was recently described by one prominent Bay Street economist as one of the “biggest bubbles of all time”.
Here’s what they told BNN Bloomberg this week.
‘One of the biggest bubbles of all time’: Rosenberg warns on housing
March 10, 2021
Canada’s hot housing markets are setting off alarm bells for one of North America’s best known economists.
David Rosenberg, the chief economist and strategist at Rosenberg Research, described real estate valuations in this country as a “huge bubble” of historic proportions.
Sudden five-year mortgage rate spike could be ‘recessionary’: Tal
March 08, 2021
One Bay Street economist said the five-year mortgage rate growth needs to take a slow-and-steady approach – or else risk hurting the Canadian economy.
Benjamin Tal, deputy chief economist of CIBC World Markets Inc., told BNN Bloomberg the risk of a sudden rate spike could come from the Bank of Canada’s sentiment in undermining inflation concerns.
‘Priced out’: Analysts weigh in on first-time home buyer problem
March 05, 2021
Amid a hot housing market in major Canadian cities that has pushed ownership further out of reach for young first-time prospective home buyers, there are increasing calls for the government to address the issue – starting with the tone from the top.
‘We are much better off today’: TD CEO on Canada’s economic outlook
March 01, 2021
The head of TD Bank Group is optimistic about Canada’s economic outlook as vaccines roll out.
“We are much better off today than we were 90 days ago,” said Bharat Masrani, president and chief executive of TD Bank Group, in an interview Monday. “[The COVID-19 vaccine rollout has] been a bit clunky, but from my perspective, these things will get sorted out.”
From ‘Big loss for Canada’ to ‘Immoral’: Reaction pours in on Machin’s resignation
February 26, 2021
Mark Machin’s swift resignation as head of the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board following a trip to the United Arab Emirates where he received a COVID-19 vaccination drew a range of reaction from finance leaders, governance experts, and veteran politicians.
Canadians sitting on $100B in excess cash: CIBC’s Tal
February 25, 2021
Canadians who curtailed their spending over the past year as the pandemic raged on could be sitting on as much as $100 billion, according to new data from CIBC.
“More and more money is being accumulated on the sidelines,” said Benjamin Tal, who co-authored the report and is deputy chief economist at CIBC World Markets Inc., in a television interview. “The question is what people will do with it.”
‘Get people off support’: Dream Office REIT CEO on COVID benefits
February 19, 2021
One business leader is speaking out on COVID-19 benefits and its impact on the recovery.
“Get people off of support,” Michael Cooper, chair and chief executive officer of Dream Office Real Estate Investment Trust said in an interview on Friday before a federal government announcement extending two recovery benefits. “People have got to make their own money. And whether that’s companies or individuals, we’ve got to get people taking care of themselves.”
‘Not even dreaming’: Tal says Bank of Canada won’t move before Fed
February 18, 2021
The Bank of Canada is likely to wait for the U.S. Federal Reserve to be the first central bank to hike interest rates before doing so itself, according to one Bay Street economist.
Corporate downgrade ratio in 2020 worst since financial crisis: DBRS Morningstar
February 17, 2021
Corporations worldwide were hit with a flurry of downgrades last year as the pandemic’s impact bore down, according to a report by credit rating agency DBRS Morningstar.
Peloton home fitness craze ‘not a threat at all’ to gyms: GoodLife CEO
February 16, 2021
As COVID-19 closed down gyms and recreation centers across the country, more Canadians turned to home gyms and home exercise programs like Peloton to break a sweat. Despite the shift, the head of Canada’s largest health club company, GoodLife Fitness Centres Inc., is not concerned about this trend.
Canada is ‘doing it right’ with vaccine strategy: Novavax CEO
February 03, 2021
Despite the criticism surrounding Canada’s vaccine strategy, Novavax Inc. is doubling down on its partnership with the country. “I can tell you I think Canada’s doing it right,” said Stanley Erck, president and chief executive officer of Novavax. “They’re going to be one of the first countries to get a vaccine from us and we think we have a great vaccine.”
Miscounted population part of home demand ‘puzzle’: CIBC’s Tal
February 01, 2021
The housing market may not be losing steam any time soon. Benjamin Tal, deputy chief economist at CIBC, said he anticipates a post-pandemic population boom that will strengthen the demand for rental units and housing.
‘It will be chaotic’: CIBC’s Tal sees bankruptcy wave once government support ends
January 28, 2021
Record-low insolvencies may be a metric pointing to good news, but it may come with an asterisk as once government supports are lifted, the country will see a wave of business closures, according to CIBC Deputy Chief Economist Benjamin Tal.
‘Good reason to be optimistic about 2021’: CN Rail CEO
January 27, 2021
The head of Canada’s largest railway says the company expects a positive second half of 2021, pinning his hopes to fewer COVID-19 cases and the nation’s prospects for economic recovery.
Now is the time to toughen up at the border: Freeland
January 26, 2021
With the threat of new COVID-19 variants detected in places like the U.K. and South Africa, the federal government is doubling down on its priority to put firmer travel measures in place to protect Canada’s borders.
Canadians ‘overdoing it’ with work-from-home trend: CIBC’s Tal
January 25, 2021
The COVID-19 pandemic has transported many Canadians from the downtown cores of major cities to the comforts of home with the remote-work trend in full swing. However, one prominent economist is concerned that workers expecting the trend to last may be “overdoing it.”
Strong getting stronger: Retailers scouting property amid COVID
January 22, 2021
Amid shuttering storefronts and business closures, the pandemic’s small business devastation has brought discount real estate opportunities for retailers with bulked-up balance sheets.
Keystone XL is ‘cooked’: Former NAFTA advisor James Moore
January 20, 2021
The controversial Keystone XL pipeline has been dealt a final blow with U.S. President Joe Biden’s confirmed plans to cancel its construction permits, according to one advisor.
“I think Keystone XL is cooked, I think it’s done,” James Moore, senior business advisor at Dentons and a former member of the NAFTA Advisory Council, said in an interview on Wednesday.
What Canadian investors should watch for after Joe Biden’s inauguration
January 19, 2021
The weeks leading up to President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday have been rife with tension and uncertainty, as outgoing U.S. President Donald Trump’s lingering policies and Senate trial for his second impeachment looms over the transition. Despite this, Canadian investors have a chance to seek out new opportunities in different sectors amid the change.
More ‘zombie businesses,’ failures ahead in Ontario lockdowns: CFIB
January 12, 2021
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) warned that it will have to revise business closure estimates, just hours ahead of the Ontario government’s announcement of new COVID-19 restrictions.
Indigo CEO calls for government compensation amid lockdowns
January 11, 2021
With more anticipated restrictions in Ontario set to be announced by Premier Doug Ford on Tuesday, Indigo Books & Music Inc. Chief Executive Officer Heather Reisman called for the government to take more action in supporting the non-essential businesses it has shut down during the pandemic.
Pandemic, oil downturn hitting Calgary’s office real estate with one-two punch
January 08, 2021
Sharlene Massie, founder of Calgary-based employment agency About Staffing, made great time on her commute from a nearby suburb earlier this week, reaching the city’s empty downtown core in only 15 minutes. The trip in non-pandemic times would take 45 minutes out of her day – but this shortened commute came at a cost.
National foreign buyer tax may have unintended consequences: Experts
December 18, 2020
When the Liberal government proposed the foreign homebuyer tax in its fiscal update last month as part of a plan to lower home prices, it drew skepticism from observers who say the policy would fall short in addressing housing affordability.
It is also drawing criticism from some experts who argue that the proposed tax, for which the federal Liberals did not provide specific details, will get in the way of economic activity and housing supply growth.
‘Time is running out’: Restaurants hang by a thread during second wave
November 13, 2020
Another wave of restrictions is set to add new pressures to the ailing restaurant industry, leaving many business owners who managed through the first wave wondering if they can survive a second.
COVID-19 forces Canadians to adjust retirement plans
November 09, 2020
The pandemic has added new challenges to Canadians’ retirement plans, putting as many as 5.5 million out of work at the peak of job losses, potentially pushing some to dip into their savings or pull back on building their nest egg. The financial shortfall is prompting Canadians to change their own retirement picture.
Be vigilant, not alarmist about BoC balance sheet: economist
October 27, 2020
The Bank of Canada’s ballooning balance sheet has raised eyebrows this year, but one economist says while concern is warranted “we shouldn’t be alarmist. “When confronted with crisis, you don’t hold back, you attempt to crush it with a large policy response up front,” Brett House, the vice president and deputy chief economist at Scotiabank, told Yahoo Finance Canada.
Canada pulls back from ‘debt deferral cliff’
October 14, 2020
While the rate of mortgage deferrals in Canada remains in the double-digits, it has been on the decline in recent months, blunting concern of a looming ‘debt deferral cliff’. Data collected by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) and made available to Yahoo Finance Canada show that deferrals fell to 10.89 per cent in August from 12.28 per cent in July.
Ten Canadian companies with rapid COVID tests awaiting Health Canada approval
October 06, 2020
At least ten Canadian companies have developed rapid COVID-19 tests and are awaiting approval by Health Canada. Epidemiologists say having rapid tests available to Canadians should help get the country past the pandemic sooner, but that the strategy for rolling them out is key.
Timing is everything with federal supports for Canada’s Black-owned businesses
October 05, 2020
On any given day, Dina Helen Essoka balances a corporation dealing in both private security services and African food products. Essoka described a challenging debut for the business created just last year, finding difficulty in securing funding to cover the start-up costs. Essoka relied on her own out-of-pocket funds and soon, the business found its footing.
“Childcare is the chokepoint of the recovery”: economist
September 24, 2020
The federal government signalled it would include a child care action plan in its recovery priorities to support women returning to the workforce. The plan can’t come quickly enough as daycare centres are forced to shutter and the economic recovery stalls, argues Armine Yalnizyan, economist and Atkinson Foundation fellow on the future of workers. Yalnizyan says this marks a pivotal moment in designing an early learning and childcare system that serves the needs of the Canada’s economic future – one that the country cannot afford to fumble.
“Profit over people”: The business of Canada’s for-profit long-term care sector called into question
September 21, 2020
Aaliyah* faced a lot of pressure and professional oversight working in an Extendicare long-term care home in the Toronto area over the past two years, but what she saw during the COVID-19 pandemic couldn’t compare. Amidst growing COVID-19 cases in April, she describes a lack of communication from management, inadequate training for frontline workers, some isolated patients missing meals, and slings being used across bedroom doors to prevent patients from wandering – there were even talks of sedating patients to control their movements.
Vulnerable groups remain a concern after debt-to-income drop
September 17, 2020
The drop in the debt-to-disposable income ratio reported by Statistics Canada may not paint an accurate picture of the country’s debt profile. The ratio fell from 175.4 per cent to 158.2 per cent in the second quarter of 2020, though one economist says government supports coming to an end could present risks to groups that have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic.
“House prices to hold steady in the Fall, but 2021 is a different story: RE/MAX”
August 27, 2020
Low inventory and high demand will keep house prices moving higher until at least the end of 2020, according to a new report by RE/MAX. After that, the economic fallout from the pandemic are expected to catch up with the market.
‘What will a temporary layoff do to my benefits?’ Here’s what you need to know if you’ve been laid off
August 17, 2020
Jobs are slowly returning to the Canadian economy. According to the latest Statistics Canada report, 419,000 jobs were added in July. If you were temporarily laid off due to the COVID-19 shutdown, your job is probably one of them and no doubt you have questions about issues such as job security and benefits.
“Loyalty Wars: company rewards programs gear up to attract customers”
August 12, 2020
The loyalty program wars are ramping up with deeper discounts for cash-strapped Canadians. Just this week, Air Canada announced its launch of a revamped Aeroplan to stoke interest in the travel industry, dropping expensive carrier charges and allowing members to use their points to book seats on any Air Canada flight. Other companies are either expanding rewards plans or rolling out their own programs to entice consumers to start spending again.
“The dream will become a nightmare,” Siddall says on wealth inequality
July 29, 2020
The growing wealth gap between homeowners and renters is an issue that the Canadian Mortgage Housing Corporation (CMHC) is striving to solve, especially with the economic impacts from COVID-19 widening the divide. For the organization, that means tackling the country’s obsession with homeownership and promoting alternatives.
Don’t have a Post-CERB game plan? Here’s where to start
July 27, 2020
If you’re concerned about your finances after the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) runs out, you’re not alone. By mid-July, the Government of Canada received 8.4 million unique applications from unemployed Canadians, all of whom will find themselves cut off from the $2,000 a month benefit in September. Many Canadians are living close to the edge. The Canadian Payroll Association found that 47 per cent of people were living paycheque to paycheque in 2017, which means that people without a plan can have a financial catastrophe on their hands.
Claims CMHC is funding home equity tax research ‘inaccurate’
July 17, 2020
The Canadian Mortgage Housing Corporation (CMHC) says claims it invested $250,000 in federal home equity tax research are “not accurate”. A CMHC media relations representative told Yahoo Finance Canada in an e-mail that the funding will be used for the Solutions Lab initiative in an 18-month project to improve housing affordability in Canada, exploring an array of solutions.
Get used to fewer employees for the next three months: Statistics Canada
July 15, 2020
When it comes to staffing levels during the COVID-19 recovery, most Canadian businesses don’t have all hands on deck. A Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) survey found that only one third of businesses had re-hired their pre-pandemic staff capacity. It’s likely going to stay that way for some time: In a separate survey on Canadian business conditions, newly released from Statistics Canada, almost two-thirds of businesses expect their number of employees to remain the same over the next three months.
Canada can expect a slow-and-steady credit growth after the pandemic: economist
July 07, 2020
Canadian credit borrowing will see a slow return to normal, with the credit growth trend expected to stay below average during the recovery phase following a steep contraction during the pandemic, economists say.
Consumer ‘COVID-19 hangover’ means a slow return to normal for businesses
June 22, 2020
The country is slowly re-emerging from lockdown one region at a time, but Canadians are not in a rush to go out and spend like they would in pre-pandemic days. Businesses can expect a gradual return to normal as consumer anxiety slowly lifts.
New CERB bill is punitive for low-income workers: economist
June 15, 2020
The federal government says it is working on a solution to extend the Canadian Emergency Relief Benefit (CERB) for the 8.4 million unique applicants relying on it. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did not give details in a press conference Monday morning, but said there would be more to announce later this week. Before today, the July 4 end date was fast-approaching, prompting concerns for Canadians who may not have a job to return to post-pandemic or for the many workers who have had their hours significantly reduced.
Daycares and parents tell Ford reopening is ‘too soon’
June 12, 2020
When Barry Choi heard the provincial government was reopening daycares across the province, his first thought was “too soon.”
About a week ago, the daycare that Choi’s two-year-old daughter, Scarlett, attends opened for just one day to allow parents to pick up a few things their children left behind in March.
Eviction bans are not expected to hurt commercial landlords: Colliers
June 11, 2020
Commercial landlords across Canada will be confronted with many challenges after months under lockdown, though eviction bans are not expected to be one of them, according to John Duda, the president of real estate management services for Colliers Canada.
New CMHC requirements will have buyers flocking to the market: brokers
June 09, 2020
Experts in the real estate industry say CMHC’s new, strict lending measures will trigger a surge in home purchase volume as potential home buyers rush to the mortgage market before July 1, when these policies take effect.
‘The hurdles I have to jump are unbelievable:’ How systemic racism in banks and support networks is holding back Black entrepreneurs
June 06, 2020
Before Pauline Thomas started her own business, Comfort Bras, she worked a corporate job at a multibillion-dollar firm and brought home a six-figure salary.
But whenever she applied for a bank loan, it wasn’t the dollar figure the person on the other side of the counter saw, it was her skin colour.
Record low insolvencies in Canada are the calm before the debt storm, says experts
June 05, 2020
Insolvency filings hit a record low in April, dropping by 43.5 per cent compared to last year. This drop followed a full month of lockdowns across most Canadian provinces, according to a report by Scotiabank. Once the economy reopens, these insolvency filings are expected to not only bounce back, but they could trigger a massive wave, according to licensed insolvency trustees.
Continued stimulus for business will be key to economic recovery from COVID-19: economist
June 05, 2020
Earlier this week, the Bank of Canada walked back their negative outlook for the economy, stating that the severe impact of COVID-19 “appears to have peaked”. However, the report still leaves a lot of questions unanswered, according to CIBC executive director and senior economist Royce Mendes.
COVID-19 puts international student-driven economic growth in Canada at risk
June 03, 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic could put a strain on Canada’s international student sector, according to a new report by RBC. The study, published Tuesday morning, found that there was a 45 per cent drop in international student permits in March compared to last year.
“They’re whistling past the graveyard”: Siddall pushes back on housing outlook criticism
May 29, 2020
After the Canadian Mortgage Housing Corporation (CMHC) released its projection that house prices could drop up to 18 per cent over the next 12 months, real estate company RE/MAX responded with an outlook of its own.
Don’t expect working from home to kill the corporate office
May 27, 2020
The world is seeing the largest work-from-home experiment in history. The list of major companies allowing employees to work from home, even after the pandemic, continues to grow to change with the future of work.
Upcoming bank loan loss provisions won’t be ‘fireworks’, but will have a long-lasting impact
May 25, 2020
Analysts are expecting one of the most dramatic quarters in years. Bryden Teich, partner and portfolio manager at Avenue Investment Management, warns that the pandemic’s effects on banks’ loan loss provisions won’t come as a one-off hit to the financial sector, but will be much longer-lasting.
Students asking universities for refunds, but it’s not that simple
May 19, 2020
When Ye En Kim came to Canada to study engineering, she was eager to practice at McGill University’s state-of-the-art labs in Montreal. She wanted to get hands-on knowledge in research projects and immerse herself in Canadian culture. COVID-19 quickly ruined that strategy, leading to class suspensions, campus closures and online classes. The labs closed, shutting Kim out of what she sees as a valuable part of her education.
Not all provinces are equal in the COVID-19 debt crisis
May 06, 2020
COVID-19 has exposed many weaknesses in the Canadian economy – particularly with mounting debt loads across the country. With the latest net debt percentage of 53.4 per cent, the federal government still holds the bulk of the debt load compared to the provinces.
A look back at Stephen Poloz’s legacy
May 01, 2020
Tiff Macklem’s appointment as the governor of the Bank of Canada closes the chapter on Stephen Poloz’s tenure. On June 2, Poloz will step down and pass the torch to Macklem, who served as senior deputy governor from 2010-2014.
Provincial bond market purchases are a start, but may show too much restraint: economist
April 24, 2020
The Bank of Canada introduced one of the most drastic provincial funding measures the country has ever seen, doubling its balance sheet and outgrowing any strategy taken in 2008 – and it might not be enough.
Canada braces for higher mortgage defaults – but it won’t be the next “U.S. crash of ’08”
April 20, 2020
Rising unemployment and high debt is expected to boost mortgage loan delinquencies in Canada, though experts say it won’t play out like the U.S. subprime mortgage crisis of 2008.
Credit card payment deferrals won’t hurt your credit score – if you get it in writing
April 07, 2020
The federal government is encouraging Canada’s banks to do more to help struggling Canadians during COVID-19: “We continue to have discussions with them that are really focused on the need for banks to do more,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a press conference Tuesday. “We acknowledged that they did go in the right direction. But we see every day that this crisis is more and more of a challenge for everyone.” Trudeau added that the government is working on other credit solutions for Canadians that will be announced in the next few days.
Canada could be headed for negative yields, as quantitative easing begins
April 03, 2020
The Bank of Canada’s secondary market purchase program seems to be working for the bond market, according to one analyst.
The central bank released details for the secondary market purchase of federal government securities on Tuesday, as part of a series of liquidity measures that include the country’s first-ever quantitative easing program. Canadian investors are beginning to see the effects play out.
Medicago says coronavirus vaccine could be ready for human trial by July
April 02, 2020
One of the companies on Ottawa’s list for $192 million vaccine development funding still does not know how much it will receive from the federal government, but says the money will help push its vaccine development from early testing to full clinical trials. Medicago, a private Quebec-based biotech company, says it has already received $7 million from the government of Quebec.
Were Canadians gouged by the airlines on their emergency flights home? Some say they were
March 28, 2020
[Also featured on the front page of the Business Section on Monday, March 30]
It was meant to be another regular trip to Mexico for Donna and Marcello Prete, until the coronavirus swept across the globe and put international flights at a standstill by the end of March. Prompted by a call to come home from their Prime Minister and on the advice of their doctor in Mexico, all they wanted was to return to Canada. However, the costs for them to do so – and many Canadians – were soaring.
The Bank of Canada’s measures may fuel higher corporate debt loads
March 25, 2020
A burgeoning debt load in Canada’s corporate sector could make an economic recession deeper and more long lasting. One economist says that low interest rates and income interruptions could work in tandem to dig the country into a corporate default spiral that’s harder to bounce back from.
Need to cancel a trip due to COVID-19? Here’s how to get your money back
March 12, 2020
With the federal government issuing an advisory against “non-essential” travel outside the country, and the inconvenience of having to self-isolate upon the return from a holiday, many Canadians are desperately trying to cancel vacations that may have been books months ago.
Has Silicon Valley Lost Its Shine?
February 26, 2020
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has built and managed many successful tech start-ups – but if he had to do it again today – he would choose anywhere other than Silicon Valley.
In late January, Zuckerberg spoke on-stage at a conference in Utah about the San Francisco Bay area, holding no specific ill-will to the place he moved to at 19-years-old, but acknowledging its faults: “I like the Bay Area, so I’m not super negative on it, but I do think on balance if I was starting from scratch now, I would not pick the Bay Area,” Zuckerberg explained, further stating that it was “too short-term focused”.
Masterclass: The Real Cost of Sending Your Kids to Uni
February 25, 2020
Your child worked hard through high school, getting good grades and having the ambition to launch a successful career. Now here you are, helping your son or daughter get into the school of their dreams. This move will do wonders for their career – but have you thought of what it might do to your pocketbook?
Why Jamaica’s Small Stock Exchange Dominates the Global Markets
February 20, 2020
The world’s most successful market index comes from an unlikely place: Jamaica. The Jamaican Stock Exchange (JSE) has been in the top-five highest-performing market indexes in the world over the past few years, being something of a dark horse in global economics.
Why Cannabis Investors are Targeting Germany as the next Budding Market
February 14, 2020
Like many other countries across Europe, Germany has not fully embraced legal recreational cannabis. Despite that, the country has become an industry leader in Europe since it legalized medical marijuana in 2017 and has caught the eyes of global cannabis investors. Why are Canadian cannabis companies seeing green in Germany?
How to navigate the profits and pitfalls of the gig economy
February 13, 2020
The working world has changed a lot in recent years. Ask any of your friends if they have a side hustle on top of their full-time job and many of them will probably say “yes.” In fact, for some of them, their employment is probably exclusively made up of side hustles or a mosaic of freelance jobs that make up the “gig economy.”
Amazon and Visa Aim to Shake-Up Retail with Palm Payments
February 11, 2020
Amazon and Visa are considering taking biometrics and fintech trends a step further with “palm payments”, according to people familiar with the project speaking with the Wall Street Journal. The idea is to allow consumers to pay for purchases using credit card information connected to their hand with payment terminals at check-out sections in brick-and-mortar locations. It’s a new model that eliminates the need for cash and credit cards for consumers as well as envisioning a cashierless retail future.
The Lessons Learned from the Tech Unicorn Stampede of ‘19
February 03, 2020
Even more valuable than the profits investors make in the stock market are the hard lessons they learn along the way… Thing is, the lessons are only valuable if they’re actually learned.
I’ve been meaning to write about this topic for a while since the year 2019 presented an interesting case study with (often misplaced) vaulting optimism in tech companies from venture capitalists. It was the year where investors seemed to have ditched the age-old wisdom of putting your money on a company that had a secure business plan, was either profitable or had a clear path to profitability, kept debt loads low and had a positive press following. It was the year when venture capitalists flocked from shiny new company to shiny new company, picking up shares in the companies with the sleekest packaging and best marketing team. For most of these companies, the ‘packaging’ laid a temporary veneer over huge financial losses, a chaotic board, endless controversy, and no clear plan in place to turn financials around.
5G Is Coming. What Does This Mean for Us?
January 21, 2020
The 5G network is fast-approaching, promising a stronger network with wider coverage and processing speeds unlike anything we’ve seen before. The headlines surrounding 5G have all at once been starkly political, brimming with optimism, and gloomily suspicious with health impacts. The network’s adoption seems inevitable, so what exactly does this mean for us?
Fintech Trends That Investors Should Be Watching for the Next Decade
January 17, 2020
Financial technology (or “fintech”) is where banking and big tech intersect to provide quick banking, investing, and payment services for clients. The last ten years, blockchain and artificial intelligence dominated headlines with everything from e-payments, arranging loans and insurance, wealth management, and just your day-to-day banking.
How Finland Plans to Be on Top When It Comes to AI Technology
January 17, 2020
The great hand of AI technology and automation is poised to claw away thousands of jobs in various countries, threatening to leave the less technologically-inclined in the dust. Finland is among the first countries to recognize the threat of an untrained workforce and is now offering a free online course called “Elements of AI” to ensure that their citizens are well-equipped to shoulder the future of work.
The End of Nine-to-Five: The Inevitable Gig Economy
January 12, 2020
If you worked an office job many years ago and five o’clock rolled around, you would stretch, gather your things, and clock out for the day. Maybe you’d even leave a half-hour earlier if it’s a Friday. It’s five o’clock freedom and you’re probably running through weekend plans, chores to cross off your to-do list — anything other than your workday.
U.S.-Iranian Tensions Are Shaking up Politics – and the Markets
January 09, 2020
What goes up can come back down just as easily. The S&P 500 rally in the first two days of 2020 was quickly interrupted when U.S. President Donald Trump ordered and airstrike that claimed the life of top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani in Iraq.
For Better or Worse, More Millennials are Finding the Gig Economy a Necessity
January 02, 2020
Canada’s job market has shown a weakening supply of stable positions, even reporting that as many as 71,000 jobs were lost in November. The unemployment rate increased to 5.9 per cent according to Statistics Canada. In this precarious work environment, more millennials are relying on the gig economy, transforming the nine-to-five workday to a 24/7 work life so that Canadians can get ahead of – or even keep up with – growing costs.
Amuka Esports Invests to give the Canadian Gaming Industry a Level-Up
December 20, 2019
Esports is a rapidly growing global industry, first finding its legs in the Asian markets before surging in popularity in the U.S. According to Statista, the esports industry had a global market capitalization of $865 million USD in 2018 – and it’s expected to grow. For the sports purists who have their doubts about the industry, the North American League of Legends Championship Series Spring Split Finals drew in a larger viewership than the Super Bowl this year.
Why Millennials Choose To Be Entrepreneurs
December 15, 2019
New year, new headwinds: the next turn of the decade is appearing to be increasingly morose for an already cash-strapped Millennial demographic. Soaring debt loads stemming from the historically highest tuition rates and highest costs of living put Millennials in a particularly tough financial spot both in Canada and the U.S. This has prompted North Americans in their 20’s and 30’s to put off milestones like home ownership, starting a family, and even has many of them filing for insolvency. Many of these issues can be pinned on the lack of stable, traditional employment since the financial crisis. As a new decade rolls around, Millennials will likely be faced with the same challenges, but may find new ways to out-maneuver these financial hurdles.
Holiday Sales Expected to Hit $1 Trillion – What Will The Average Consumer Spend?
November 28, 2019
This holiday season, retailers are expected to have a banner year with holiday sales forecasted to breach the $1 trillion-dollar mark for the first time ever. This record comes at the end of a rough year for the retail industry in North America, giving analysts mixed feelings about its overall health.
Canada’s Increasing Debt Problem and What it Means for You
November 26, 2019
The number of Canadians filing for insolvency jumped by 19 per cent in September from the year before, amounting to 11,935 consumers who were unable to meet their long-term debt obligations. The escalating rate of filings is at its largest in about ten years, drawing concerns as these spikes tend to precede an economic crisis.
How Hudson’s Bay — and Canada — Is Not Immune to the U.S. Late-Cycle Retail Market
July 17, 2019
The Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) closures represent a contraction in its business plan after the company underwent an overly optimistic expansionary phase. Late-cycle market dynamics have challenged sales revenues for retailers like Home Outfitters and Saks OFF 5TH. While the proverbial “retail apocalypse” is largely focused on the United States due to the country’s over-retailed commercial real estate market, Canada is not immune to the effects of declining retail sales, the prominence of e-commerce and too-optimistic business expansions that put retailers in debt and eat away at revenues.
High and Low: The Soaring Demand and Limited Supply of Toronto’s
Purpose-Built Multifamily Market
June 13, 2019
The Toronto housing market stands at the intersection of housing affordability and availability, with asking rents trending higher amid wages that struggle to keep up. While average rental rates for private condominiums (condos) have outpaced increases in wages, so too have rates for purpose-built rentals. Exacerbating the issue further, developers are economically incentivized to build condos, limiting the supply of purpose-built rentals and worsening affordability. These trends improve the credit risk for multi-family lenders by ensuring that occupancies and rents will remain high. Despite recent government initiatives, DBRS, Inc. (DBRS) expects supply and demand to remain “tight,” putting upward pressure on rental prices and pushing residents to seek affordability farther outside the city.
Scorching Real Estate: Comparing the California, B.C. and Fort McMurray Wildfires’ Impact
April 03, 2019
Last August was devastating for British Columbia (B.C.) and California — each had declared a state of emergency because of wildfires. Both the province and the state experienced a severe decline in tourism, mass evacuations and seemingly unending fights to contain the conflagrations. There was significant loss on both sides, though as far as impact on commercial infrastructure and industry went, California’s wildfires took more of a toll on the local economy. This commentary explores the immediate effects of the wildfires across B.C. and California. In addition, this commentary looks at the impacts of the Fort McMurray fire that devastated a large part of Alberta’s infrastructure back in 2016.
How Coworking Co-Opts the Traditional Office Space
March 11, 2019
Having a roommate is not just part of the college experience — it is a growing trend in the workforce. More and more companies are working together under the same roof in nine to five harmony in what is known as coworking space: a more flexible alternative to traditional office space where multiple workers can share a single space for a monthly rent while working independently on their own projects. In the past, coworking space mostly appealed to freelancers and the self-employed who either worked from home, traveled often or otherwise had little use for costly full-scale offices. Now, the model is becoming increasingly attractive to traditional corporations looking to reduce long-term lease obligations and maximize the use of their space. DBRS, Inc. (DBRS) believes that the coworking industry will continue being a disruptor in the traditional-office-space market, whether through pioneer coworking companies like IWG plc (formerly Regus) and WeWork or through well-established traditional companies expanding their services to include more flexible options.
Monitoring “The Stuff That Counts”: Shopko’s Closures Minimally Affect CMBS Transactions
February 12, 2019
The store closures announced by Shopko will likely have a minimal impact on commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS) in aggregate; however, DBRS, Inc. (DBRS) does see the potential for localized defaults as the company rejects leases across the country. In addition, the closures highlight the risk of exposure faced by retailers owned by private equity firms, specifically. According to Bloomberg, Shopko, which was acquired by Sun Capital Partners, Inc. in 2005, had sought debt restructuring from its lenders, but its efforts proved unsuccessful. With ownership unwilling to invest further in the company, Shopko filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in January 2019. Since then, the original closure list has ballooned to over 250, which will reduce the company footprint by more than half.
Brick-and-Mortar Retail Just May Have a Happy Holiday
December 17, 2018
This holiday season, growing consumer trends have given the brick-and-mortar retail industry plenty to be merry about. America’s malls and department stores may enjoy an uptick in foot traffic with preliminary studies, which hinted that consumers are not only willing to spend more money, but are actually prepared to visit retail locations. E-commerce is still a strong sell for many U.S. holiday shoppers; however, traditional store-to-store shopping appears to be here to stay with help from the growing “order online, pick up in store” trend, which is also driving consumers to physical retail spaces. There are many factors strengthening the performance of traditional retail options, the largest of which is a strong market cycle. In this article, DBRS looks at U.S. consumers’ intentions and spending behaviors for the holiday season to assess their potential impact on retailers and department stores from a commercial real estate perspective.
Retail Optimism Gets Canadian Malls into the Holiday Spirit
December 17, 2018
Canadian malls are set to have a happy 2018 holiday season with promising retail trends. Many preliminary studies suggest that consumers plan to spend more money than last year and, while e-commerce is still expected to trend upward, shopping attitudes during the holidays are driving much-needed foot traffic back into traditional retail space. In this report, DBRS dives into shoppers’ intentions and trends this holiday season as well as their impact on mall owners from a real estate perspective.
Lowe’s Renovates Its Retail Strategy
December 04, 2018
Lowe’s Companies, Inc. (Lowe’s or the Company, rated A (low) with a Stable trend by DBRS) is attempting a different retail strategy to stay competitive with other home improvement and hardware companies by closing 47 locations across North America. DBRS sees little impact from this on the retail market, on commercial mortgage-backed securities or on Lowe’s itself. This is because unlike traditional retail stores, Lowe’s and other big box home improvement stores have largely been immune to the rise of e-commerce and the “Amazon effect” since there is little product overlap between them, though the overlap continues to grow. Despite surviving the changes in retail that claimed other departments stores, the home improvement giant still faces stiff competition from competitors like The Home Depot (rated “A” with a Stable trend by DBRS).
The Fall of an Icon — Sears and the Evolution of the Great American Shopping Mall
November 27, 2018
In a largely unsurprising move, Sears Holdings Corporation (Sears) filed for bankruptcy on October 15, 2018. Soon thereafter, the notoriously troubled franchise — which had already announced that 150 stores would close in 2018 — announced an additional two rounds of closures. The latest closures include an initial round of 142 locations, with liquidation sales expected to be completed by the end of the year, as well as a second round of 40 stores early next year, bringing total additional closures to 182 Sears and Kmart locations. Once these stores are shuttered, there will be under 700 Sears and Kmart stores remaining, down from approximately 3,900 locations combined in 2005, according to Forbes.
Costa-Hawkins Prevails, Securing Certainty in the Los Angeles Multifamily Market
November 08, 2018
On Tuesday, November 6, 2018, Californians took to the polls to determine the fate of Proposition 10, a statewide rent-control measure that would repeal the Costa–Hawkins Rental Housing Act (Costa-Hawkins) and allow individual municipalities to exercise more control over multifamily rental rates. The citizen-run measure was stopped in its tracks with a voting margin of 65.0% against it and 35.0% in favor. California will continue to impose limits on rent control for cities across the state, including Los Angeles.
The Great Costa Hawkins Debate: How the Los Angeles Multifamily Market Hangs in the Balance
November 01, 2018
For renters across the Los Angeles multifamily market, 2018 has been both an interesting and challenging year, with fears of wildfire damages to their homes as well as the continuing debate surrounding Proposition 10, the statewide rent control law that, if passed, will repeal the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act (Costa Hawkins) and give municipalities more power to enact rent control laws that supporters say will promote affordable housing. On one hand, Proposition 10 would provide reprieve for citizens struggling to pay the rent. On the other hand, repealing the act could negatively affect the rental and housing market. November will be a deciding month for the City of Angels, as the average rent rate climbs beyond affordability for the average citizen.
Repurposed Real Estate: How Adaptive Reuse Gives Old Properties New Purpose
October 18, 2018
Teaching an old building new tricks is a growing trend in the commercial real estate investment industry. Adaptive reuse is the process of finding an older building that once served a now-obsolete purpose and renovating it to take on new responsibilities. Historic buildings, like those in the notable Distillery District in Toronto, tend to be prime candidates as this makeover process preserves their architectural character and conserves their place in the community.
New Construction Woes: Steel and Aluminum Tariffs Likely to Strain North American Commercial Real Estate Construction
October 15, 2018
In June 2018, the Trump Administration imposed a 25.0% tariff on steel imports and a 10.0% tariff on imported aluminum from Canada, as well as tariffs on all foreign steel and aluminum. In retaliation, the Canadian government implemented counter-tariffs of its own on steel, aluminum as well as select consumer products imported from the United States. These disputes will likely have an adverse effect on new construction on both sides of the border — particularly on new steel-majority construction in major cities. The aluminum tariffs, while not as influential on construction as steel, have added fuel to the emotional fire in this issue. DBRS considers that the increased global prices on steel imports, the resulting domestic price increases, related supply problems, as well as the unpredictability of the trade disruptions will result in increased construction costs for commercial property developers. In this environment, commercial real estate development is likely to become more complicated, expensive and uncertain.
The Retail Crossroads: Exploring the Potential for Malls
September 25, 2018
Although regional malls have generated negative headlines over the past few years, the recent acquisitions of the Westfield Group (Westfield) by Paris-based Unibail-Rodamco (Unibail) and General Growth Properties (GGP) by Brookfield Property Partners (Brookfield) may signal new opportunities in the space. Unibail purchased Westfield in 2017 for $15.8 billion in a deal that included acquiring 35 regional malls plus the Westfield World Trade Center retail complex. Brookfield, which had acquired a stake in GGP during the latter’s 2009 bankruptcy, took control of the entire company in March 2018 for $9.3 billion in cash. These large acquisitions demonstrate that investors see value in prime retail assets and are looking to implement strategies to improve the relevancy of the brick-and-mortar model for retailers. Malls will come out of the downturn in the retail industry if the assets are characterized by key factors, including location in a densely populated area, attractive appeal to a diverse mix of tenants, dynamic consumer base and sustainable strategies to drive foot traffic.
How Chicago Office Development Is Fueling the Multifamily Boom
September 10, 2018
The Chicago skyline is seeing more office and apartment developments from 2017 well into 2018 thanks to a significant boost in firms re-locating to, or expanding their presence in, the city. Industry watchers are observing significant inventory growth as well as a year-over-year increase in apartment and office rents. In this commentary, DBRS, Inc. (DBRS) looks at how these market metrics compare with properties within multifamily commercial mortgage-backed securities transactions across the greater Chicago area.
Improving a Building’s IQ: How Smart Technologies Can Benefit Commercial Real Estate
August 28, 2018
Increasing use of automation and smart building technologies can have a meaningful impact in commercial real estate, not only on operating expenses but also on asset quality. As these technologies proliferate, DBRS expects to see more reliance on computers to perform basic functions like temperature control, lighting, air quality, sanitation and even tenant-roster organization through Internet of Things (IoT) technology — a system of connected computing and mechanical devices that automatically transfer data without human interaction.
Is Airbnb Choking Out New York’s Multifamily Market?
August 21, 2018
The housing issue in New York City has never been more dire than it is in 2018, with a vacancy rate of 3.6% according to the New York City Rent Guidelines Board 2018 Housing Supply Report. Rental listing analytics from Reis state that as of Q2 2018, the average asking rent for an apartment in New York was $3,653. The city currently has a rent rate much higher than the national average (roughly $1,064, collected by averaging the one-bedroom and two-bedroom rates) caused by a number of factors, including unit supply-to-population ratios. However, affordable housing advocates have pointed the finger at short-term rental companies like Airbnb.
The Classic Appeal of Historic Buildings
August 04, 2018
As far as real estate goes, the mentality is often that a newer building is a better building. This makes sense, considering what kind of issues older buildings present: older buildings require renovations and maintenance to keep them functional, they are more susceptible to environmental damage and pest infestations, they can be less functional if they operate on outdated technology and they can be much harder to sell, depending on their local market. However, some buildings constructed before 1950 have overcome these issues and are even considered to be desirable properties with character. In this commentary, DBRS, Inc. (DBRS) looks into the value that historic buildings hold, what property types benefit the most from a classic appeal and what markets most revere architectural history.
The U.S. Senior Housing Market Facing a Supply Shortage
May 09, 2018
Seniors in the United States are facing a housing dilemma stemming from the diminishing unit supply as well as climbing rent rates nationwide. The growth of the U.S. senior population is continuously outpacing the development of unit supply — a gap that may grow significantly year over year. This is creating longer wait lists for applicants, unaffordable monthly rental rates and a lack of options for one the nation’s most vulnerable communities. In this commentary, DBRS looks at the extent of the senior housing shortage issue and how reinvigorated investment interests may help alleviate some of these problems.
Analyzing the Canadian Senior Housing Dilemma
May 09, 2018
Canada’s seniors are facing a severe housing shortage as there is an increasing number of baby boomers turning 65, coupled with a low property vacancy and supply as well as general soaring rent rates. This issue is especially magnified with Canada’s senior population since they often require properties with the care facilities and staffing that standard housing units do not provide. As wait lists extend and affordability slips away, DBRS examines the senior housing shortage more closely.
The VR Revolution in the Commercial Real Estate Industry
May 04, 2018
Business owners could soon find themselves selecting office space from the comfort of their homes. Whether it’s in the city where they live or thousands of miles away, comprehensive virtual tours of properties are becoming a reality. Property buyers will see the most benefit from this new trend, saving on travel costs and time by looking at virtual open-house tours before deciding to take that next step. On the flip side, sellers will enjoy a wider client reach and a dynamic form of advertising for their properties whether they are hotel owners appealing to travel-savvy clients or landlords looking for new tenants to fill their apartment space. Properties dealing in multifamily, office and industrial services are also seizing the opportunity, finding ways to impress customers through immersive selling tactics. DBRS believes this trend could provide improved analytics and transparency for investors in the commercial mortgage-backed security (CMBS) market.
Rental and Ownership in Toronto’s Downtown Core
April 04, 2018
It has been a huge year for Toronto’s condo market, with significant growth in Q3 2017 in overall inventory as well as costs. In this commentary, DBRS examines the condo scene in Toronto and concludes that condo ownership will remain unattainable for most Canadians because of the lack of supply, which is driving up costs, Toronto’s soaring population and new home-buying regulations (see also The Toronto Condo Market Goes Suburban in the same multifamily series). This commentary also looks at some of the new non-luxury developments slated to be constructed in the former City of Toronto1 area and provides industry perspective on projected-development over the next few years.
The E-Commerce Takeover: Why Department Stores Are Struggling This Holiday Season
March 20, 2018
Fewer shoppers are visiting department stores during the holidays, favouring the convenience of purchasing products online instead. This leaves massive retail giants, such as Macy’s (whose stock has been down by 46.0% since the start of 2017), Kohl’s (down by 16.6%), Nordstrom (down by 19.2%) and JCPenney (down by 64.5%), suffering heavy losses, according to a November 2017 report by Market Realist. The Christmas season — usually the most lucrative time of year for retail — is not alleviating the strain on department stores and centrally located malls.
Phoning It In: What Effect Does Working from Home have on the Modern Office?
March 20, 2018
If you ask people what perk they are looking for from a job, many would say that the flexibility to work from home is high on their list. That’s the direction a few offices are going in to promote morale among their workers and to meet the growing demands from millennials, Gen Xers and baby boomers alike. There are a lot of immediate benefits to workers, like saving time in commuting and travel, saving money in travel costs and dry cleaning, as well as keeping working parents closer to their children. Most workers wouldn’t turn up their noses at the idea of staying at home to get office work done and it’s increasingly becoming a trend that employers are looking into to save rental space. A 2015 Stanford study titled “Does Working From Home Work? Evidence from a Chinese Experiment” followed the effects of telecommuting when the senior management team of a Shanghai-based call centre allowed employees to work from home in an effort to reduce office rental costs (which reached staggering costs from the booming real estate market). They found a few benefits for both employees and employers.
How the Airbnb and Hotel Industry War Will Look in 2018
February 21, 2018
Over the past five years, the mainstream hotel industry has faced a rapidly changing competitive landscape with the rising success of online crowd-sourced lodging services such as Airbnb, VRBO and HomeAway, among others. Staple hotel companies like Hilton, Marriott and Wyndham Worldwide (Wyndham) recognize that they now face a new set of challenges and are taking action to improve their competitive positions. For the past few years, they have been mitigating potential room revenue erosion through widespread hotel renovations and by lobbying for more stringent lodging regulation, such as the restrictions on short-term rentals passed in New York in October 2017.
The Toronto Condo Market Goes Suburban
February 20, 2018
Toronto has undergone a residential condominium development explosion over the past five years, with another strong quarter in Q3 2017. A recent industry study projects the growth to continue in 2018, given Ontario’s population and economic boom. “Bedrooms in the Sky: Is Toronto Building the Right Condo Supply?”, a study by a joint initiative between the Ryerson City Building Institute and Urbanation, outlines how the growth of condo development does not line up with the demands of the growing number of families, in terms of both condo types and the amount of condos for sale, making Toronto’s bordering cities such as Pickering and Ajax much more attractive options.
What Will the Modern Workplace Look Like in 2018?
February 04, 2018
With the arrival of 2018, many architects and developers of Class A office buildings are wondering how they can simultaneously maximize space and increase productivity. The most popular solution that has emerged over the past few years does not involve building side-by-side cubicles or cramming more workstations into floor plans, but creating open-concept space. However, creating an open-concept office comes at a price. DBRS, Inc. (DBRS) has observed that the cost of attracting and retaining tenants has increased because of changes to how space is currently being used in various markets. With today’s average outstanding amount of securitized office loans standing at $123.4 billion, representing just over 20.0% of total loans in the securitization market, it is important to keep in mind the costs that landlords incur to keep their properties competitive. This commentary examines the shift to open-concept space and some of the drivers behind the costs.