Blog

Do not get me wrong, I love tourism as an industry and have huge respect for its economic force. I want to see it grow, and frankly I want to keep travelling myself. However, I cannot ignore the conflicts between tourism and climate change and...

After I give keynote presentations at conferences, I often do a Q & A session, and inevitably people ask what they can do or what their kids can do to make sure that they are not left behind as the tech revolution (this one, we...

The 'nine-nine-six culture' (working nine to nine, six days a week) is something close to the norm for Chinese tech workers who are supposed to embrace it with no complaints. Now, some are pushing back on it, and employers are not thrilled (and are not...

Seems like a ridiculous concept (at least in North America) but some British researchers say you should. I see it more as a sweetly retro concept, a last ditch effort to separate work and leisure. See my Globe and Mail column on the subject here ...

The Organisation for Economic Development has put some odds  on the you-vs.-automation battle for your job. The net net is that automation is coming and that Canada (and other countries) net a plan. See my new piece for the Globe and Mail here  ...

Due to popular demand, I've added a new speaking topic: The Side Hustle Economy. The Globe and Mail column I wrote on it garnered a lot of interest and I'm looking forward to expanding on it on the speaking circuit. Here is a brief synopsis...

Side Hustles are not just a tiresome millennial trend - they are how a lot of people are filling in income gaps. If you want to know what one looks like on a royal scale check out the Queen, who has made $9 million plus...

March 8th was International Women's Day and I had the good fortune to celebrate it in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, speaking to the Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce. The occasion was their 'Trailblazers Lunch' which honoured high-achieving women in their community. It was a great event, and...

Canada just presented its Federal Budget, which was ostensibly about helping women's economic power. I'm kind of underwhelmed (and old-fashioned enough to wish they would just balance the books, for everyone's sake). Here is my piece on it for the Globe and Mail  ...

A blog that covers economic and labor market trends may seem to be a strange place for a fiction book review.  Then again, maybe not. The changes now going on in the workplace are saga-worthy, and there is something to be said for looking at...

Demographics always matter - even when we are talking about the Olympics. Here is my latest for the Globe and Mail, which talks [caption id="attachment_2029" align="aligncenter" width="474"] Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir carry the flag of Canada during the opening ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics...

Of all the things I do work-wise, one of my favorites is speaking to live audiences.  You cannot fake it: you are up in front of people who are investing their time and you have to give them something that makes them believe it was...

Walmart buying Modcloth? ‘Say it’s not so’ went the lament from Millennials and other assorted cool people earlier this year. After all, Modcloth is a cutting-edge, online retailer that offers funky clothes for those who consider themselves the opposite of everything the world’s biggest retailer...

North America is aging, and a lot of  the rest of the world is aging as well. It is something to think about as we consider where we are going to get the labor we need to grow our economies in the years ahead. That...

There are a lot of things robots can do, but they cannot make societies any younger. Canada and the U.S. are aging – there is little debate about that. What exactly that will mean for the labor force and the economy is a bit more up...

If I had to think of an industry prone to poisonous industrial relations battles I would probably think first or the auto sector, or maybe even something like education or health. The battles in those industries, however, are apparently being matched by orchestras (can I...

Collaboration, sharing ideas, boosting creativity, creating bonds – all of these are reasons that are typically given for having open plan workspaces. Sit next to your colleagues in an open plan office or cubicle, goes the reasoning, and productivity will rise. Not so, says new...

Maybe I’m late to the party, but it was only recently that I heard the phrase ‘side hustle’. Apparently it has been around a while: way back in 2013, Entrepreneur.com tacked up an online definition, calling ‘a way to make some extra cash that allows...

Robots, joined by Gig Workers, are now making Twinkies, and they are doing such a good job that their parent company is going public.  That’s a powerful statement about today’s manufacturing and economy, never mind our nutritional preferences. Twinkies, those flaky, cream-filled snack cakes that are...

Here’s a new one to me: the ‘divorce mortgage’. No its not some crazy, invented term to describe a financing vehicle (my mind went back to ‘plain vanilla swaps’ from the days when derivatives were the buzz), but rather exactly what it sounds like: a...

You might not have noticed it, what with one economic crisis and stock market meltdown after another grabbing your attention, but the last few decades have actually been great ones for investors. Thanks to a perfect storm of factors, investment returns for the period from...

Goodness knows, there is nothing better for the economy that productive workers. After all, an economy grows through having people working, and by having their hours at work be efficient. That can come through having them use the right equipment, or just by having them...

Billionaires are getting a bad rap these days. We would love to see the middle class (good luck defining what that is) expand, and the poor shrink in numbers. Even millionaires are more or less okay, since what with real estate wealth and all it...

We all know the how the narrative goes: manufacturing is dead, and those old cities known as industrial centers are as well. It is not a hard case to make it if you take a quick tour of places like Pittsburgh or Detroit in the...

Twenty and thirtysomethings would apparently rather buy experiences than things, and that has some very definite implications for retailers – or as least that is one theory. As this article from Bloomberg Business suggests, the stock market tells the tale of what is happening very...

Way back when I studied economics, I don’t actually remember learning what a ‘negative interest rate’ was. In fact, even a few years ago when I taught graduate-level economics (a whole other post), I don’t remember it being in the curriculum, or even being asked...

When people rhyme off the things they want to do in retirement, ‘pay off debts’ is never on the list. Nevertheless, it is something that baby boomers will have to do anyway, if data from the New York Federal Reserve (NY Fed) is to be...

Like it or not, the sharing economy is everywhere. I’ll go as far as saying it will be one of the big economic stories of 2016, although its influence will extend far longer than that. It’s a different way to do business, and it works...

The ‘sharing economy’ is apparently making inroads in the education field.  These days, savvy teachers are selling their wares on a site called TeachersPayTeachers.com, which is a kind of Etsy for teaching plans and the like. In fact, the CEO of the company is a...

We all say it, and we worry about it too: we are an aging society, and that’s going to have repercussions. In Canada, the median age of the population is now close to 41 while in the U.S. it is still-youthful 37ish but rising (according...

I admit, I have watched television shows set in law firms for a long time now. When I was young and impressionable, I watched the excitement on L.A. Law and was intrigued enough to eventually take the Law School Admissions Test (I did get accepted...

Everybody hates the suburbs right? Or at least all the cool people. They talk about a return to the downtowns, about walkable spaces, about riding bikes to work. It is all interesting stuff, but are people really rallying against the suburbs? Any look at population...

How can a city with a unemployment rate of 19 percent scoff at any industry, especially one that accounts for 15 percent of its GDP? That was my first thought when I heard that the city of Barcelona is actively pursuing a strategy to keep...

Hey I’m a politician – again! I’ve declared to be a candidate for Town Council in my home town for a by election coming up in a few weeks. It’s my second try at this, given that I unsuccessfully made a bid for a seat...

Trust me, I am not saying that ‘Oprah’s Favorite Things’ are a good approximation of anyone’s holiday shopping list. Still, I think it is an economic indicator, of a type, just the same. The Queen of Daytime Talk (and the Forbes-magazine certified 580th richest person in...

Thought I would post this nice book review of Economorphics that appeared in the publication Canadian Government Executive.  The reviewer (Harvey Schachter, who also writes for the Globe and Mail) says that ' Economorphics is a book that government executives can learn from, as they establish...

Is being a ‘solopreneur’ – someone who basically runs their own shop –a good thing or a bad thing for the economy? We had better figure it out, because apparently the number of them (us actually, I am one as well) are increasing a phenomenal...

Yes, it is an economic story. Goodness knows the Jian Ghomeshi mess has a little something for everyone - horror, drama and apparently porn – but if you were making a movie it could also be a financial thriller. So much of the drama of...

I wasn’t a tween and did not have a tween in the 1990s when Delia’s when in its heyday, but I certainly remember its cute logo, a mix of upper and lower case lettering. It was a regular in malls, a bright presence full of...

I had no complaints, really, the last time I called a plumber. The nice lady on the phone (Lorraine) was efficient, she gave me a four hour window and sent out a cheerful plumber (Brent). He fixed the pipes under my sink then gave me...

It is a reality, and it is not fair: if you leave the workforce for a period of time, even for a good reason, your career can suffer for decades to come. Women have known that for a long time though the ‘motherhood penalty’ on...

Oscar the Grouch as a great innovator? Well, not exactly, but apparently Sesame Street, the venerable children’s television show now in its 45th year, has taken a pro-active view of innovation for a long time. Give the show’s longevity, perhaps there are lessons for other...

Fifty dollars a bottle and priced just right. Now, I’m not talking about a delightful little bottle of burgundy that goes nicely with braised lamb shanks for autumn dinners. The burgundy, after all, would be 25 ounces worth. I’m talking about a bottle of nail...

‘Come here, we will give you a great deal on real estate!’ ‘No, come here and you’ll get a tax break!’ ‘No, come here instead and we have a grab bag of subsidies so awesome it will be like you are operating for free!’That’s what...

I really don’t think Serena Williams needs any sympathy from me, particularly when it comes to talking about earnings, but it still bothers me a bit that she is frequently referred to as one of the ‘highest earning female athletes ever’, rather than just ‘highest...

Of course I like Whole Foods. How can you not? It is like going to a carnival, almost. The cheeses are beautifully displayed with generous samples offered, the prepared food aisles are filled with yummy products you never knew you wanted, the flowers are always...

Want to deal with the problem of income inequality? The answer is not, as many argue, to simply do a Robin Hood steal-from-the-rich-and-give-to-the-poor thing. According to a new study by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) , the best way to deal with inequities is to...

I’d like to think I am unique, imaginative, creative, different – and maybe I am all those things. But my deciding to tip-toe into politics is not a sign of that apparently. Oh right, let’s go back a step. I am now a politician, more or...

When you hear about the hard times for today’s graduates do you nod sympathetically while secretly rolling your eyes? If you are older than 20something yourself, you may well believe that things have always been tough for new grads, and that no, things are not...

First Starbucks, then Maxwell House, now Keurig – anybody who sells coffee is raising prices, and no wonder.  Thanks to a drought in Brazil, coffee prices have risen by a staggering 50 percent over the past year.  That means companies are passing on the costs,...

Which is better in economic terms: a country with with an aging and declining population or one with a youthful and growing one? Or what about if we are talking about the world as a whole – if a genie asked you to pick one,...

Maybe I am reading too much into the demise of Crumbs, the used-to-be largest cupcake chain in the United States, but I think its crumbling illustrates some key trends.  Read more in this blog [caption id="attachment_1289" align="aligncenter" width="275"] Crumbs Crumbled[/caption] I wrote for the National Speakers Bureau...

It is kind of an urban myth, if you’ll pardon the pun: there is a story afoot that people are leaving the suburbs and moving back to the cities. I’ve written about the trend myself, but honestly perhaps the best evidence that it is true...

The first chapter of my book Economorphics deals with the  closing of the 'demographic window'. Taking things a bit further, in this Commentary piece for the Macdonald Laurier Institute I look at the implication for Canada of a closing window- and how the country can maybe...

Well, its jobs week in the U.S. so let's take a look at a stat that sometimes gets overlooked: the harshly-named 'Job Losers Not on Layoff as a Percent of Total Unemployed'...

Not quite the end of the year, but still a good time to take stock of where the jobs were in 2012. See my post on the Globe and Mail's Economy Lab here...

  We have heard a lot about the squeezed middle over the past few years.  For the most part, the statistics have focused on the fact that average income have been stagnating (or declining) in both the U.S. and Canada. A close look at the numbers reveals that the number of middle income earners in Canada is shrinking. Thing is, I'm not exactly sure that's as dire as it sounds.
Just took a look at today's release on employment data from Statistics Canada and was underwhelmed by the data.  Looks like Canadian employment is rising, but not really rising all that fast.
Here's a quick quiz - which would you rather do: 1) Live in poverty or 2) Live with your spouse?  A lot of baby boomers seem to be choosing (1), although they may not actually know it.  Trouble is, boomers are ending their marriages in droves, and splitting up what are really very inadequate retirement assets.  So just when it seemed that the baby boomers could not make the dream of retirement even more elusive, they have apparently found a way to do so.
Here's an interesting item from on a possible softening of China's one-child policy.  Faster population in China will not necessarily be the salvation of that economy, and faster economic growth from China will not necessarily be the salvation of the world economy - but it would at least be a start.

Aging population – market time bomb?

  Okay, that’s a sensationalistic way to put it, but that’s certainly one of the fears people have about an the shifting demographics in North America. Last time around I looked at how portfolio size tends to trend lower as people go past 65. All things being equal, the older the population gets, the more money that is going to be pulled out of the market. Question is, at what point does the ‘market time bomb’ thing go from sensationalism to reality – or does it?
This is the first in a series of blogs about the way that demographics are going to affect your investments. Yes, I know there has been a lot written on the topic, and most of us know the basic theory. The boomers poured a lot of money into the markets over the past couple of decades, and they made the markets go up. Now they are getting old (sorry if that term offends anyone, but the first wave of boomers is cashing in their pension checks as we speak) and they are going to be pulling the money out of their retirement accounts. This will make the markets go down. Really? Is it as simple as that?
I am fascinated by all the reaction to the Tiger Mom book. You know the one, or maybe you've missed the fuss so far. Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother (Penguin Press, 2011) by Harvard Professor Amy Chua is the story of how one mom, the American-raised daughter of Chinese-born parents, decided to raise her own children using 'Asian' rather than 'Western' parenting strategies. 

well maybe - but not neccessarily. See my blog for the bnn site at http://www.bnn.ca/Blogs/2011/01/07/Match-made-in-heaven-Oil-prices-and-US-recessions.aspx...

Now that the U.S. economy looks a just a teensy bit better (I know, I know the National Bureau of Economic Research won't say that the recession is over, but still) it's probably okay to start adding up the cost of the crisis. The Pew Research Institute has a new study out that does just that.
Okay, this one seemed a little out of sync for me: doctors would apparently be employees than free agents. Or at least that's what the New York Times says, in this article that was splashed across the front of the  business page.
Baby boomers are going to retire and take down the pension system. Generation X is lazy. Generation Y is spoiled and undisciplined, and they've pretty much blown out their eardrums by having them stuffed with ipods all the time anyway.
How to respond to the Wall Street Journal's story on four day school weeks a a solution to the state fiscal crisis in the U.S.? The economist in me says wow, `that`s a great inventive solution` while at the same time wondering if its a short sighted one that will lead to poorly educated kids and weakened productivity in future. I`m trying to keep my parent-reaction out of it, but I`m also wondering just how everyone is going to handle childcare on the fifth day of the workweek, which I imagine isn`t just going to disappear for most people.

The recession has taken what was more or less an nicely operational system, and created an absolute mess, a jobs situation without enough jobs and with years to go before we get to anything you could call 'normal'....

I was going to write something very business-like about the Olympics, something about the returns to invesment for Vancouver or Canada or something like that. On second thought, though, at this point I'd don't know that anyone can really do justice to the topic without...

Loved this article from the Wall Street Journal on the battle for bride dollars. Basically the wedding magazines still standing (some folded during the ad recession of 2009) are battling each other to grab the soon-to-be-married market. And, despite the fact that revenues for U.S....