Piles of coal are shown at NRG Energy's W.A. Parish Electric Generating Station in Thompsons, Tex.
This column originally appeared in The Globe and Mail on May 9, 2013.
There are plenty of weight-loss schemes promising quick, painless ways to shed pounds. If you want a surefire way to lose five pounds in one day – and keep it off – here’s the solution: Have all your unnecessary body parts removed. Your appendix, wisdom teeth, extra ribs, pinkie toes, second kidney. Yank them all out and you’ll be permanently five pounds lighter, guaranteed!
In 2017, Canada will be celebrating 150 years since Confederation. In anticipation of this historic milestone, CBC/Radio-Canada teamed up with a number of national collaborators to spark a conversation where Canadians can meet and connect. Todd was invited to share his ideas at the Calgary session. Hear his thoughts below.
(Larry MacDougal/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
This column originally appeared in The Globe and Mail on April 25, 2013.
His company is just the thing Alberta needs – a local sportswear designer and producer. In an economy dominated by the oil patch, his 50-person manufacturing business seems to bring some welcomed industrial diversity.
But when asked about his intentions for capital investment in the coming year, his answer caused my jaw to drop: “Well, that depends on where oil prices go.”
This column originally appeared in The Globe and Mail on April 10, 2013.
It has been said that the early bird gets the worm. While that may be true for birds, rodents know that the second mouse gets the cheese. Be it out of wisdom or simple laziness, sometimes it pays to be late to the game. Occasionally sitting back and letting the situation unfold is a better plan than immediate action.
It’s called playing it safe – and in 2013, a lot of companies are happy doing just that.
Anyone who has studied economic theory will recall the three factors of production – land, labour and capital. All commerce is based on some combination of these three, or so we have been taught.
Yet there exists a fourth factor of production: risk. Without it, the economy is not possible. Land, labour and capital will never spontaneously combine on their own without some brave entrepreneurs testing their ideas.
(Todd Korol For The Globe and Mail)
This column originally appeared in The Globe and Mail on March 27, 2013.
In this age of fiscal restraint, one of the easiest targets for spending cuts is the arts. While our politicians do all the dirty work, voters are largely to blame because most of us don’t make too much fuss about it. Given the choice between a cultural centre or more hip replacements, it’s usually not a contest.
But economically, we’re making a mistake. There are several reasons why investing in culture is an economic imperative.
The first is that culture – including both arts and amateur sports – can mitigate the ups and downs of other industries. More diversity is healthy for any economy. Artists and athletes pay taxes, and their spending causes a multiplier effect throughout the economy. This is the argument offered by culture advocates, especially when justifying tax-dollar support.
It’s been an ongoing trend for decades now, and last year the stampede towards the West geared up even more. Population growth among the ten provinces varies, but the fastest growing region is decidedly the Prairies—with Alberta well in the lead.
According to the latest population estimates from Statistics Canada, Alberta’s population stood at 3.931 million as of January 1st of 2013. Ontario is still by far the largest province in the country with 13.56 million. Quebec (8.1 million) and British Columbia (4.6) follow in 2nd and 3rd spots.
But the pace at which Alberta is growing has the province catching up quickly. Between January 1 of 2012 and 2013, Alberta’s population grew by just over 3.0 per cent. That was more than double the national growth rate (1.1 per cent), and more than three times the rate of growth in either Ontario or Quebec. The trend is clearly towards growth in the Prairie region, with Saskatchewan and Manitoba also posting growth rates above the national average.
Alberta’s population is especially closing the gap with that of British Columbia; excluding Atlantic Canada, B.C. had the very slowest rate of growth at only 0.84 per cent. With only 0.7 million more people, its population is now only 1/6 larger than Alberta’s.
If both provinces continue to grow at the same paces they set last year, Alberta will surpass B.C. and become the third largest province within eight years.
This column originally appeared in The Globe and Mail on March 14, 2013.
The placards made clear their demand: "Free tuition NOW." But if the picketing university students were honest, their signs would read: "I want someone else to pay for my education." Education is never free. Someone has to pay.
But the students' view that someone else should help pay for their tuition is a reasonable request. Society benefits tremendously from an educated work force, so taxpayers (and future taxpayers) should be expected to pay at least part of postsecondary education. The fight usually boils down to how much of the cost should fall on students, and how much on taxpayers.
At the root of the debate are the economic principles of cost and value. They're related, but they're not the same thing.
It’s practically official: Alberta’s economy is slowing. Few economic indicators have started to reveal it yet, but that’s not surprising since most of them—the unemployment rate, wage growth, retail sales—are lagging indicators. They tell the story of what’s been. The story of what’s yet to come in 2013 will be one of a softer economy, prompted by lower resource prices.
There’s certain to be a lot of moaning and groaning about this, especially if layoffs pick up. But here are 10 reasons why a slowdown in Alberta isn’t such a bad thing:
What if the world’s economic movers and shakers sent me letters to seek advice, sort of in the style of the old Betty and Veronica advice columns on fashion, dating and social etiquette? This week the mail bag might contain some beauties like these:
I’m worried about deflation, so I’ve instructed my country’s central bank to increase its inflation target to 2 per cent, and to fire up the money printing press. Have I overstepped my bounds?
Prime Minister of Japan
There’s been a distinct difference in the rate of economic growth between Canada’s regions over the past several years. Momentum has clearly favoured Western Canada, particularly Alberta and Saskatchewan where energy, agriculture and natural resources have led the way. On the other hand, Central Canada has struggled with a loss of manufacturing and export struggles with the high Canadian dollar.
The stronger pace of growth has been the source of much pride here in the West—and the nastier side of people can even lead to childish gloating that we are doing better economically than Ontario or Quebec.
But new forecasts from some of Canada’s private sector economists are now expecting the gap to close. Certainly the West will continue to have a faster pace of growth than Central or Atlantic Canada, but the difference may start to be less pronounced. A distinct moderation in energy prices on the Prairies and cooling of the housing market in British Columbia have scaled back growth forecasts for the western provinces. At the same time, better-than-expected growth for the U.S. has upped the forecast for Ontario and Quebec.
This narrowing of the economic gap may not be welcomed by some Westerners who (stupidly) want to see other parts of the country suffer while we prosper.
But it is a good development for three reasons.