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Found 25 results

  1. (Courtesy of Citymayors.com) 1. London 2. New York 3. Tokyo 4. Chicago 5. Hong Kong ~ 10. Los Angeles ~ 20. Atlanta 27. Montreal Complete list (Top 50)
  2. Statoil Fuel & Retail sells its Schweigaardsgate 16 property in Oslo 13 February 2013 – Statoil Fuel & Retail, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. (Couche-Tard), sells its property at Schweigaardsgate 16, Oslo, Norway, together with the company’s planned European headquarters, to Entra Eiendom AS. Responsibility for building the headquarters is transferred to Entra Eiendom as part of the agreement. Statoil Fuel & Retail signs a long-term lease of the premises. “We are pleased with the agreement,” says Sonja Horn, project owner, Statoil Fuel & Retail. “Entra Eiendom is a solid, professional real estate developer who will add value both to the project and the local community. We look forward to moving into a modern, environmentally-friendly and flexible building, tailored to our needs.” Statoil Fuel & Retail’s strategy is to create value through real estate asset management. It is not strategically important for the company to own its planned European headquarters and the sale releases capital to be reinvested in the company’s core business. Statoil Fuel & Retail was acquired by Canadian company Couche-Tard before the summer of 2012. The company’s European headquarters will continue to be in Oslo and the new office building at Schweigaardsgate 16 will be shared with the company’s Norwegian business unit. The project to build the planned eight-storey building has the ambition to achieve “excellent” status according to the BREEAM classification system. To maintain the best possible sunlight conditions for Teaterplassen, the neighbouring square, some of the originally-designed volume has been redistributed, making the building appear to step down towards the square. The quality of the square will be improved when the building is finished. It will become about 25 percent larger than it is today and a new passage through the building will connect Teaterplassen with the adjacent Stasjonsalmenningen. Statoil Fuel & Retail has received the required building and demolition permits from the Norwegian Planning and Building Services (Plan- og bygningsetaten). Demolition of the existing building on the property begins this week. The company plans to move into its new headquarters in the first half of 2015. Statoil Fuel & Retail sells its Schweigaardsgate 16 property in Oslo
  3. (Courtesy of The Canadian Press) OT: How about also raising the spending limit for shopping in the US. Would be nice if we could come back after a a day with $500 CDN (goods) and week with $2000 CDN (goods)
  4. Story from BBC NEWS:http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/programmes/world_news_america/7725979.stm Published: 2008/11/13 09:47:01 GMT © BBC MMVIII
  5. http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4154160,00.html There is also video clips if you click the link, don't worry the video clips are in english and not hebrew.
  6. http://9to5google.com/2011/09/22/google-becomes-a-virtual-mobile-network-operator-in-spain-rest-of-europe-coming-soon/ It be interesting to see them come here and become an MVNO with one of the carriers here and maybe even start up their own ISP.
  7. The banking system in eastern Europe is increasingly vulnerable to a severe economic downturn, Moody’s has warned, saying western European banks with local subsidiaries are at risk of ratings downgrades. “The relative vulnerabilties in east European banking systems will be exposed by an increasingly tougher operating environment in eastern Europe as a result of a steep and long economic downturn coupled with macroeconomic vulnerabilities,” Moody’s said in a report. The ratings agency said it expected “continuous downward pressure on east European bank ratings” because of deteriorating asset quality, falling local currencies, exposure to a regional slump in real-estate and the units’ reliance on scarce short-term funding. Eurozone banks have the largest exposure to central and eastern Europe, with liabilities of $1,500bn – about 90 per cent of total foreign bank exposure to the region. Shares of the handful of banks with substantial investments in eastern Europe – led by Austria’s Raiffeisen and Erste Bank, Société Générale of France, Italy’s UniCredit (which owns Bank Austria) and Belgian group KBC – tumbled after the ratings agency said it was concerned about the impact of a slowdown and the ability of the parent banks to support their support units in the region. The Austrian banking system is the most vulnerable, with eastern Europe accounting for nearly half of its foreign loans, while Italian banks are exposed to Poland and Croatia and Scandinavian institutions to the Baltic states. Central and eastern European currencies have come under intense pressure in recent weeks. The credit crisis has raised fears over the region’s ability to finance its current account deficits and slowing global growth has heightened concerns over the health of its export-dependent economies. The Polish zloty plunged to a five-year low against the euro on Tuesday, while the Czech koruna hit a three-year trough against the single currency and the Hungarian forint falling to a record low. The Prague and Warsaw stock indices meanwhile fell to their lowest levels in five years, while the smaller markets of Budapest, Zagreb and Bucharest skirted close to multi-year lows. The euro dropped to a two-month low against the dollar on Tuesday on heightened concerns over eurozone banks’ exposure to the worsening conditions in eastern Europe. Amid the growing sense of crisis in eastern European economies, Hungary on Tuesday outlined plans to save Ft210bn (€680m, $860m) this year to prevent an increase in the budget deficit. Hungary’s economy is expected to contract by up to 3 per cent this year, much more than earlier expectations. Antje Praefcke at Commerzbank said eastern European currencies were in a “self-feeding depreciation spiral.” “The creditworthiness of local banks, companies and private households, who hold mainly foreign currency denominated debt, is deteriorating with each depreciation in eastern European currencies, thus further undermining confidence in the currencies,” she said. Ms Praefcke said further depreciation of eastern European currencies was thus a distinct possibility, which was likely to undermine the euro. “The collapse of these currencies is likely to constitute a risk for the euro,” she said. “So far markets have largely ignored this fact, but are unlikely to be able to maintain this approach if the weakness of the eastern European currencies continues.” Western European banks have piled into the former Communist countries in recent years as economic growth in the region outpaced domestic gains. The accession of 10 new members to the European Union in 2004, and of Romania and Bulgaria in 2007, added to optimism about the region. In 2007, Raiffeisen and Erste Bank earned the vast majority of their pre-tax profits in eastern European countries including Russia and Ukraine. Since the onset of the global financial crisis, Hungary, Latvia and Ukraine have all received emergency loans from the International Monetary Fund, with other countries in the region expected to follow.
  8. Montreal's Magic Mix of Rugged Individualism and European Flair http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-12-11/montreal-s-magic-mix-of-rugged-individualism-and-european-flair-.html?hootPostID=a97759dedcf2d211f4e9164050ff53e7
  9. http://business.financialpost.com/2011/11/09/european-firms-look-to-canada-to-grow-assets/ It is quite an interesting article. I would say more, but I do not want the jinx it. Is Canada the new land of opportunity? Which countries is Canada really competing with? Australia and Brazil?
  10. Very interesting opinion on the current state employment trend http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jun/05/digital-economy-work-for-free Merci au site MTLCity pour cette suggestion: http://w5.montreal.com/mtlweblog/?p=27514&utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter
  11. http://www2.macleans.ca/2010/09/06/whos-the-smartest/ Comment? Le gouvernement Harper ferait-il ce genre de coupes? Nooooooooooooonnnnn............
  12. VISIT the euro zone and you will be invigorated by gusts of reform. The “Save Italy” plan has done enough for Mario Monti, the prime minister, to declare, however prematurely, that the euro crisis is nearly over. In Spain Mariano Rajoy’s government has tackled the job market and is about to unveil a tight budget (see article). For all their troubles, Greeks know that the free-spending and tax-dodging are over. But one country has yet to face up to its changed circumstances. France is entering the final three weeks of its presidential campaign. The ranking of the first round, on April 22nd, remains highly uncertain, but the polls back François Hollande, the Socialist challenger, to win a second-round victory. Indeed, in elections since the euro crisis broke, almost all governments in the euro zone have been tossed out by voters. But Nicolas Sarkozy, the Gaullist president, has been clawing back ground. The recent terrorist atrocity in Toulouse has put new emphasis on security and Islamism, issues that tend to favour the right—or, in the shape of Marine Le Pen, the far right. Yet what is most striking about the French election is how little anybody is saying about the country’s dire economic straits (see article). The candidates dish out at least as many promises to spend more as to spend less. Nobody has a serious agenda for reducing France’s eye-watering taxes. Mr Sarkozy, who in 2007 promised reform with talk of a rupture, now offers voters protectionism, attacks on French tax exiles, threats to quit Europe’s passport-free Schengen zone and (at least before Toulouse) talk of the evils of immigration and halal meat. Mr Hollande promises to expand the state, creating 60,000 teaching posts, partially roll back Mr Sarkozy’s rise in the pension age from 60 to 62, and squeeze the rich (whom he once cheerfully said he did not like), with a 75% top income-tax rate. A plethora of problems France’s defenders point out that the country is hardly one of the euro zone’s Mediterranean basket cases. Unlike those economies, it should avoid recession this year. Although one ratings agency has stripped France of its AAA status, its borrowing costs remain far below Italy’s and Spain’s (though the spread above Germany’s has risen). France has enviable economic strengths: an educated and productive workforce, more big firms in the global Fortune 500 than any other European country, and strength in services and high-end manufacturing. However, the fundamentals are much grimmer. France has not balanced its books since 1974. Public debt stands at 90% of GDP and rising. Public spending, at 56% of GDP, gobbles up a bigger chunk of output than in any other euro-zone country—more even than in Sweden. The banks are undercapitalised. Unemployment is higher than at any time since the late 1990s and has not fallen below 7% in nearly 30 years, creating chronic joblessness in the crime-ridden banlieues that ring France’s big cities. Exports are stagnating while they roar ahead in Germany. France now has the euro zone’s largest current-account deficit in nominal terms. Perhaps France could live on credit before the financial crisis, when borrowing was easy. Not any more. Indeed, a sluggish and unreformed France might even find itself at the centre of the next euro crisis. Browse our slideshow guide to the leading candidates for the French presidency It is not unusual for politicians to avoid some ugly truths during elections; but it is unusual, in recent times in Europe, to ignore them as completely as French politicians are doing. In Britain, Ireland, Portugal and Spain voters have plumped for parties that promised painful realism. Part of the problem is that French voters are notorious for their belief in the state’s benevolence and the market’s heartless cruelty. Almost uniquely among developed countries, French voters tend to see globalisation as a blind threat rather than a source of prosperity. With the far left and the far right preaching protectionism, any candidate will feel he must shore up his base. Many business leaders cling to the hope that a certain worldly realism will emerge. The debate will tack back to the centre when Mr Sarkozy and Mr Hollande square off in the second round; and once elected, the new president will ditch his extravagant promises and pursue a sensible agenda of reform, like other European governments. But is that really possible? It would be hard for Mr Sarkozy suddenly to propose deep public-spending cuts, given all the things he has said. It would be harder still for Mr Hollande to drop his 75% tax rate. 1981 and all that Besides, there is a more worrying possibility than insincerity. The candidates may actually mean what they say. And with Mr Hollande, who after all is still the most likely victor, that could have dramatic consequences. The last time an untried Socialist candidate became president was in 1981. As a protégé of François Mitterrand, Mr Hollande will remember how things turned out for his mentor. Having nationalised swathes of industry and subjected the country to two devaluations and months of punishment by the markets, Mitterrand was forced into reverse. Mr Hollande’s defenders say he is a pragmatist with a more moderate programme than Mitterrand’s. His pension-age rollback applies only to a small set of workers; his 75% tax rate affects a tiny minority. Yet such policies indicate hostility to entrepreneurship and wealth creation and reflect the French Socialist Party’s failure to recognise that the world has changed since 1981, when capital controls were in place, the European single market was incomplete, young workers were less mobile and there was no single currency. Nor were France’s European rivals pursuing big reforms with today’s vigour. If Mr Hollande wins in May (and his party wins again at legislative elections in June), he may find he has weeks, not years, before investors start to flee France’s bond market. The numbers of well-off and young French people who hop across to Britain (and its 45% top income tax) could quickly increase. Even if Mr Sarkozy is re-elected, the risks will not disappear. He may not propose anything as daft as a 75% tax, but neither is he offering the radical reforms or the structural downsizing of spending that France needs. France’s picnickers are about to be swamped by harsh reality, no matter who is president. http://www.economist.com/node/21551478
  13. Europe Works to Contain Crisis Article Tools Sponsored By NYC Times By CARTER DOUGHERTY, NELSON SCHWARTZ and FLOYD NORRIS Published: October 6, 2008 European nations scrambled further Monday to prevent a growing credit crisis from bringing down major banks and alarming savers as Sweden followed Germany, Austria and Denmark in offering new protections for bank deposits. As troubles in financial markets spread around the world, some governments are eager to act to avoid the mistakes of the 1930s when authorities sat on their hands during the Wall Street crash and its aftermath, Julian Chillingworth, chief investment officer at Rathbone Unit Trust Management in London, said. Sweden became the latest European country to offer protection for bank deposits, after the German government offered blanket guarantees Sunday to all private savings accounts. Austria and Denmark also did the same. Britain’s government on Monday scrambled to find ways to help the country’s ailing banking sector and even considered a partial nationalization of the industry. The chancellor of the Exchequer, Alistair Darling, continued to consult with advisers on Monday on ways to stabilize the banking sector, which may include a recapitalization financed by taxpayers, said a person at the Treasury who declined to be identified because the discussions were private. Stocks fell sharply on Monday in London, Paris and Frankfurt. New bailouts were arranged late Sunday for two European companies, Hypo Real Estate, a large German mortgage lender, and Fortis, a large banking and insurance company based in Belgium but active across much of the Continent. Under the agreement, BNP Paribas will acquire the Belgium and Luxembourg banking operations of Fortis for about $20 billion. The spreading worries came days after the United States Congress approved a $700 billion bailout package that officials had hoped would calm financial markets globally. The crisis in Europe appears to be the most serious one to face the Continent since a common currency, the euro, was created in 1999. Jean Pisani-Ferry, director of the Bruegel research group in Brussels, said Europe confronted “our first real financial crisis, and it’s not just any crisis. It’s a big one.” Britain is coming under increasing pressure to act. Some investors criticized the government for failing to set up an American-style rescue fund and for its piecemeal approach to deal with each problem. “The government needs to get on their front foot and get control of their own destiny,” Mr. Chillingworth said. “We could well be in a period where we see a quasi-nationalization in the banking sector, where taxpayers are taking equity stakes.” Britain partly nationalized Bradford & Bingley last week after the mortgage lender struggled to get financing and brokered a takeover of HBOS by Lloyds TSB after its shares lost most of its value. From Tuesday, the government will also increase the amount of retail deposits it guarantees to £50,000, or $88,600, from £35,000. Some analysts said guaranteeing deposits might reinstate client confidence but would fall short of bringing back the trust among banks that is desperately needed to encourage them to lend to each other. British banks remain burdened by their exposure to worthless mortgage assets, but the larger problem remains their unwillingness to lend to one another — even after an injection of £40 billion by the Bank of England. “Liquidity is drying up,” said Richard Portes, a professor of economics at the London Business School. “The authorities have to deal with this paralysis in the money markets.” The European Central Bank has aggressively lent money to banks as the crisis has grown. It had resisted lowering interest rates, but signaled on Thursday that it might cut rates soon. The extra money, aimed at ensuring that banks have adequate access to cash, has not reassured savers or investors, and European stock markets have performed even worse than the American markets. In Iceland, government officials and banking chiefs were discussing a possible rescue plan for the country’s commercial banks. In Berlin, Chancellor Angela Merkel and her finance minister, Peer Steinbrück, appeared on television Sunday to promise that all bank deposits would be protected, although it was not clear whether legislation would be needed to make that promise good. Mindful of the rising public anger at the use of public money to buttress the business of high-earning bankers, Ms. Merkel promised a day of reckoning for them as well. “We are also saying that those who engaged in irresponsible behavior will be held responsible,” she said. The events in Berlin and Brussels underscored the failure of Europe’s case-by-case approach to restoring confidence in the Continent’s increasingly jittery banking sector. A meeting of European heads of state in Paris on Saturday did little to calm worries, though officials there pledged to work together to ensure market stability. President Nicolas Sarkozy of France and his counterparts from Germany, Britain and Italy vowed to prevent a Lehman Brothers-like bankruptcy in Europe but they did not offer a sweeping American-style bailout package. The growing crisis has underlined the difficulty of taking concerted action in Europe because its economies are far more integrated than its governing structures. “We are not a political federation,” Jean-Claude Trichet, the president of the European Central Bank, said after the meeting. “We do not have a federal budget.” Last week, Ireland moved to guarantee both deposits and other liabilities at six major banks. There was grumbling in London and Berlin about the move giving those banks an unfair advantage. But Germany proposed its deposit guarantee Sunday after Britain raised its guarantee. The German officials emphasized that the guarantee applied only to private depositors, not to the banks themselves. But on Monday, Mr. Steinbrück said the government was considering an “umbrella” to protect the banking sector. Unlike in the United States, where deposits are now fully guaranteed up to a limit of $250,000 — a figure that was raised from $100,000 last week — deposits in most European countries have been only partly guaranteed, sometimes by groups of banks rather than governments. In Germany, the first 90 percent of deposits up to 20,000 euros, or about $27,000, was guaranteed. Even before the Paris meeting began it was becoming clear that two bailouts announced the week before had not succeeded and that UniCredit, a major Italian bank, might be in trouble. UniCredit announced plans on Sunday to raise as much as 6.6 billion euros. Fortis, which only a week ago received 11.2 billion euros from the governments of the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg, was unable to continue its operations. On Friday, the Dutch government seized its operations in that country, and late Sunday night the Belgian government helped to arrange for BNP Paribas, the French bank, to take control of the company for 14.5 billion euros, or about $20 billion. In Berlin, the government arranged a week ago for major banks to lend 35 billion euros to Hypo Real Estate, but that fell apart when the banks concluded that far more money would be needed. Late Sunday night the government said a package of 50 billion euros had been arranged, with both the government and other banks taking part. The credit crisis began in the United States, a fact that has led European politicians to assert superiority for their countries’ financial systems, in contrast to what Silvio Berlusconi, the prime minister of Italy, called the “speculative capitalism” of the United States. On Saturday, Gordon Brown, the British prime minister, said the crisis “has come from America,” and Mr. Berlusconi bemoaned the lack of business ethics that had been exposed by the crisis. Many of the European banks’ problems have stemmed from bad loans in Europe, and Fortis got into trouble in part by borrowing money to make a major acquisition. But activities in the United States have played a role. Bankers said Sunday that the need for additional money at Hypo came from newly discovered guarantees it had issued to back American municipal bonds that it had sold to investors. The credit market worries came on top of heightening concerns about economic growth in Europe and the United States. “Unless there is a material easing of credit conditions,” said Bob Elliott of Bridgewater Associates, an American money management firm, after retail sales figures were announced, “it is unlikely that demand will turn around soon.” Henry M. Paulson Jr., the United States Treasury secretary, hoped that approval of the American bailout, which involved buying securities from banks at more than their current market value, would free up credit by making cash available for banks to lend and by reassuring participants in the credit markets. But that did not happen last week. Instead, credit grew more expensive and harder to get as investors became more skittish about buying commercial paper, essentially short-term loans to companies. Rates on such loans rose so fast that some feared the market could essentially close, leaving it to already-stressed banks to provide short-term corporate loans. Europe’s need to scramble is in part the legacy of a decision to establish the euro, which 15 countries now use, but not follow up with a parallel system of cross-border regulation and oversight of private banks. “First we had economic integration, then we had monetary integration,” said Sylvester Eijffinger, a member of the monetary expert panel advising the European Parliament. “But we never developed the parallel political and regulatory integration that would allow us to face a crisis like the one we are facing today.” In Brussels, Daniel Gros, director of the Center for European Policy Studies, agreed. “Maybe they will be shocked into thinking more strategically instead of running behind events,” he said. “The later you come, the higher the bill.” While the European Central Bank has power over interest rates and broader monetary policy, it was never granted parallel oversight of private banks, leaving that task to dozens of regulators across the Continent. This patchwork system includes national central banks in each of the euro zone’s 15 members and they still retain broad powers within their own borders, further complicating any regional approach to problem-solving. “The European banking landscape was transformed fairly recently,” Mr. Pisani-Ferry said. “When the euro was first introduced, the question of cross-border regulation didn’t really arise.” Optimists say one potential long-term benefit from the current turmoil is that it often takes a crisis to propel European integration forward. “Progress in Europe is usually the result of a crisis,” Mr. Eijffinger said. “This could be one of those rare moments in E.U. history.”
  14. Interesting video from a MIT economy teacher: http://wallstreetpit.com/13455-simon-johnson-says-the-crisis-is-just-beginning http://www.smh.com.au/business/call-that-a-crisis-stand-by-for-the-worst-is-yet-to-come-20100108-lyzc.html World leaders and central bankers cannot count their chickens yet, writes Ambrose Evans-Pritchard. The contraction of the money supply in the US and Europe over the past six months will slowly puncture economic recovery as 2010 unfolds, with the time-honoured lag of a year or so. Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the US Federal Reserve, will be caught off guard, just as he was in mid-2008 when the Fed drove straight through a red warning light with talk of imminent rate rises - the final error that triggered the implosion of Lehman, American International Group and the Western banking system. As the great bear rally of 2009 runs into the greater Chinese Wall of excess global capacity, it will become clear that we are in the grip of a 21st-century depression - more akin to Japan's lost decade than the 1840s or 1930s, but nothing like the normal cycles of the postwar era. The surplus regions - China, Japan, Northern Europe (or Germania), the Gulf - have not increased demand enough to compensate for belt-tightening in the deficit bloc - the Anglo-sphere, Southern Europe (or Club Med), Eastern Europe - and fiscal adrenalin is already fading in Europe. The vast East-West imbalances that caused the credit crisis are no better a year later, and perhaps worse. Household debt as a share of gross domestic product sits near record levels in two-fifths of the world economy. Our long purge has barely begun. That is the elephant in the global tent. Yields on AAA German, French, US and Canadian bonds will slither back down for a while in a fresh deflation scare. Exit strategies will go back into the deep freeze. Far from ending the practice of central banks buying their own governments' bonds (known as quantitative easing, or QE), the Fed will step it up. Bernanke will get religion again and ram down 10-year US Treasury yields, quietly targeting 2.5 per cent. The funds will try to play the liquidity game yet again, piling into crude oil, gold and Russian equities but this time returns will be meagre. They will learn to respect secular deflation. Weak sovereign wealth funds will buckle. The shocker will be Japan, our Weimar-in-waiting. This is the year when Tokyo finds it can no longer borrow at 1 per cent from a captive bond market, and when it must foot the bill for all those fiscal packages that seemed such a good idea at the time. Every auction of Japanese Government bonds will be a news event as the public debt punches above 225 per cent of GDP. Once the dam breaks, debt service costs will tear the budget to pieces. The Bank of Japan will pull the emergency lever on QE. The country will flip from deflation to incipient hyperinflation. The yen will fall out of bed, outdoing China's yuan in the beggar-thy-neighbour race to the bottom. By then China, too, will be in a quandary. Wild credit growth can mask the weakness of its mercantilist export model for a while but only at the price of an asset bubble. Beijing must hit the brakes this year or store up serious trouble. It will make as big a hash of this as Western central banks did in 2007-08. The European Central Bank will stick to its Wagnerian course, standing aloof as ugly loan books set off wave two of Europe's banking woes. The Bundesbank will veto proper QE until it is too late, deeming it an implicit German bail-out for Club Med. More hedge funds will join the European Monetary Union divergence play, betting that the north-south split has gone beyond the point of no return for a currency union. This will enrage the Euro-group. Brussels will dust down its paper exploring the legal basis for capital controls. Italy's Economy and Finance Minister, Giulio Tremonti, will suggest using European Union anti-terrorism legislation against ''speculators''. Wage cuts will prove a self-defeating policy for Club Med, trapping it in textbook debt-deflation. The victims will start to notice this. Articles will appear in the Greek, Spanish, and Portuguese press airing doubts about EMU. Eurosceptic professors will be ungagged. Heresy will spread into mainstream parties. Greece's Prime Minister, George Papandreou, will baulk at EMU immolation. The Hellenic Socialists will call Europe's bluff, extracting loans that gain time but solve nothing. Berlin will climb down and pay, but only once. In the end the euro's fate will be decided by strikes, street protest and car bombs as the primacy of politics returns. I doubt that 2010 will see the denouement but the mood music will be bad enough to knock the euro off its stilts. The US dollar rally will gather pace. America's economy - though sick - will shine within the even sicker Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development. The British will need a gilts crisis to shatter their complacency. In time the Dunkirk spirit will rise again. The pre-emptive QE by the Bank of England's governor, Mervyn King, and timely devaluation will bear fruit this year, sparing Britain the worst. By mid to late 2010, we will have lanced the biggest boils of the global system. Only then, amid fear and investor revulsion, will we touch bottom. That will be the buying opportunity of our lives.
  15. (Courtesy of The Montreal Gazette) Will you boycott Shell? Honestly thats one question I can't answer. Seeing I get my gas from the evil Exxon (Esso). I just wonder if we would be having this problem, if Power Corp of Canada did not sell Canadian Oil Companies Ltd to Shell back in the 60s.
  16. Canadian health care system lags behind Europe, study says The Canadian Press January 21, 2008 at 2:57 AM EST, The Globe & Mail (online edition) OTTAWA — Canada ranks 23rd out of 30 countries surveyed in the “consumer friendliness” of its health care system, says a new report compiled by European and Canadian researchers. The study undertaken by a pair of private think tanks — the Winnipeg-based Frontier Centre for Public Policy and Brussels-based Health Consumer Powerhouse — measured Canada's performance against that of 29 European nations. It found Canada scored well in terms of medical outcomes, a category that included factors such as heart attack and cancer survival rates and data on a range of other medical procedures. But the Canadian score plunged in areas such as waiting times for treatment, range of services available, ready access to new drugs and some diagnostic tools, and the legal rights of patients. Austria was at the top of the list, with an overall score of 806 of a possible 1,000 points on a complex statistical grid. The next five finishers in order were the Netherlands, France, Switzerland, Germany and Sweden. Canada was three-quarters of the way down the list with 550 points out of 1,000, a showing that was better than countries like Latvia and Poland but not as good as the U.K., Czech Republic, Spain and Estonia. The study is billed as the first annual Euro-Canada Health Consumer Index, although it consists essentially of plugging Canadian data into European rankings that have been published for the last several years. Comparing Canada with Europe, rather than with its next-door neighbour the United States, offers a better picture of the state of national health care, say the study's sponsors. “The Canadian health care system — publicly financed and governed — has much more in common with most European systems than it does with the American one,” said a joint statement by Johan Hjertqvist of Health Consumer Powerhouse and Peter Holle, president of the Frontier Centre. They promised another report later this year comparing Canadian provinces with each other to “support further debate” about health care in Canada. Mr. Hjertqvist has made a name in his native Swede, and across Europe, as an advocate of a greater role for private medical services within an overall system that is publicly funded. The Frontier Centre describes itself as non-partisan and independent, but critics say it has a decidedly right-wing philosophy. The organization was at the centre of a controversy last year when it was given a contract by the Conservative government of Stephen Harper to study electoral reform — even though it was already on record as favouring the current first-past-the-post system. The consumer health study notes that “no one country excels across the entire range” of statistical indicators used to compile the rankings. It notes, however, that countries with “pluralistic financing” — systems that feature multiple insurers and a for-profit component — generally score high on issues like patient rights and access to medical records and information. By contrast, countries like Canada suffer from an “expert-driven attitude” that isn't as consumer friendly. The thumbnail verdict on Canada is: “Solid outcomes, moderate to poor provision levels and very poor scores with regard to patients' rights and accessibility.” The study also notes that Canada spends more on health care than any other country surveyed, even though it obtains poorer than average results. That means Canada ranks dead last out of 30 on yet another statistical grid called the Bang for the Buck index.
  17. Quebec awash in 'real style' Karen Mazurkewich, Financial Post Published: Monday, January 14, 2008 Allen McInnis For National PostQUEBEC FIRMS CHIP AT EUROPEAN MARKET: Wetstyle's Helene Bourgault says Quebec's dominance in the bathroom niche market can be attributed to entrepreneurship and copy-cat reflex. MONTREAL -- Quebec has become the bathroom capital of Canada. More potties, tubs, sinks and facets are produced in La Belle Province than anywhere else in the country. Move over Philippe Starck, Duravit and Villeroy & Boch and Boffi. With its hot design and low price point, the province's bathroom manufacturers are taking a bigger bite out of the hip European marketshare. Companies such as Wetstyle, MAXX, Neptune, and BainUltra have squeezed into the marketplace. So how did Quebec become the new home spa design mecca? According to Helene Bourgault, cofounder of Montreal-based Wetstyle, the company behind the uber-hip OVE tub, the Quebec niche can be attributed to entrepreneurship as well as a healthy copycat reflex. Designers have co-opted materials originally developed by the aerospace and power sports industries. But the cluster of manufacturers in the bathroom fixture sector is also because the newest entrants are spin-offs from its pioneers. Wetstyle is case in point. In 1979, Ms. Bourgault and her husband were both in the real estate business. One day, she got a call from a mechanic who wanted to sell his small business making marble countertops. "It was literally a shed in a field," she says. Her husband, Jacques Parise, was so intrigued with the vanity moulds he bought them. During the next year, he purchased more moulds from several bankrupt firms. The renovation industry was picking up, the options were few, Ms. Bourgault says. So the duo gave up real estate and started Maronyx, developing coloured bathroom vanities to appeal to a more sophisticated buyer. Their sinks were made from a thick polymer composite that was later patented as Nacryl. In 1996, the company merged with a furniture manufacturer, Creations Decor-Bois du Quebec, so the couple could explore more options. But four years later, Ms. Bourgault and Mr. Parise broke away. "We were not looking in the same direction," she says. In 2002, they started over, this time making more modern styles of bath products using a more refined composite resin dubbed "Wet-mar." Gone was the Quebec farmhouse look. The real estate agents-turned-designers looked to the Orient for inspiration. Their stylish Cube collection, which ranges from $500 for a sink to $6,000 for a tub, was a hit and they've adapted a European style of overflow system that gives their latest line a sleek look. The prototype for their next line is a translucent tub with embedded cables that can alter the colour of the tub. "There's always something in the pot cooking," says Ms. Bourgault. Meanwhile, the original company Maronyx still churns out the traditional look. Wetstyle has evolved into a niche company for the luxury market, with more than 100 distributors in the United States and 11 in Canada, bringing in modest annual sales of $4-million. But their marketing position may have protected them from a global downturn in bathroom sales. Although more Americans were remodeling their bathrooms in 2007, the construction of new bathrooms fell 21% last year from 2006 levels. The high Canadian dollar and weak housing market in the United States has affected MAAX Holdings Inc., a pioneering firm that developed an expertise in acrylic corner baths and drop-in models. The company's net sales for its second quarter ended August, 2007, decreased 14.9% to $109.9-million from net sales of $129-million. In December, it announced that it was unable to make its interest payment on senior subordinated notes. "People are always asking why Quebec is a leader in the bathroom business," says Mr. Bourgault. "I believe that to be good you have to be surrounded by people who are also good and push you to be better." The success of the pioneers inspired others to follow suit, hence the cluster manufacturing phenomenon.Valerie Parent, director of marketing for Saint-Nicolas-based BainUltra, agrees. Thirty years ago, the company invented the air-jet bath to compete against the traditional whirlpool models. Throughout the years, the company expanded its product line and now makes dozens of models and shower stalls priced as high as $10,000. "I know at BainUltra, we have inspired others," she says. One of its ex-employees started their own air-jet bath company, which was later sold to Acryline USA, she says. There are no hard feelings. "For Quebec, it's a point of pride to develop something that changed the face of the North American industry," she adds. Even Neptune was created by a former employee of Alcove Canada Bath Tubs & Whirlpools. Whatever the reason, consumers are benefitting. Jackie Allen, who is renovating a new home in the posh Rosedale district of Toronto, is putting a Wetstyle OVE tub in the center of her new ensuite bathroom. The deep, softly rounded tub will be set against a marble wall. "My architect says it will be the centrepiece of the room," she says. Her Toronto-based architect, Stuart Watson, was first turned on to the Wetstyle line of bathrooms after seeing displays at a local design show. "It was something fresh and different," he says. In the past, Mr. Watson recommended European designers, but more recently he's been promoting Wetstyle baths because they have a transitional look. They can go into both a modern or traditional home, he says. Then there is the question of price. A Starck bathtub would cost two to three times more, he adds. "This is real style for a reasonable price." DOING UP THE WC IN STYLE: Here are some of Quebec's high-end dealers in bathroom furnishings and fixtures - Bain Ultra Specializes in air jet baths and home spa units. 956, chemin Olivier, Saint-Nicolas www.bainultra.com - Wetstyle High concept, Japanese-style baths and vanities that work in both contemporary and traditional homes. All product made by a unique polymer. 276 Saint-Jacques, Suite G-02, Montreal www.wetstyle.ca - Neptune Mid-range line of bathroom tubs, showers toilets and faucets. A popular product is its folding shower door. 6835, rue Picard, Saint-Hyacinthec - MAAX Looking for a corner tub or drop-in tub, MAAX has a huge product range. 600 Cameron Road, Ste-Marie Source: Financial Post http://www.nationalpost.com/story.html?id=237326