By The Associated Press - Thursday, May 23, 2013 - 0 Comments
NEW YORK, N.Y. – McDonald’s once again faced criticism that it’s a purveyor of junk food that markets to children at its annual shareholder meeting Thursday — including some sharp remarks from a 9-year-old girl.
The world’s biggest hamburger chain has been looking to keep up with changing tastes as people increasingly opt for foods they feel are fresh or healthy. Customers can now order egg whites in its breakfast sandwiches, for example. McDonald’s also recently introduced chicken wraps to go after people in their 20s and 30s looking for better-for-you options.
By The Associated Press - Wednesday, May 22, 2013 at 5:51 AM - 0 Comments
PHOENIX – It was the customer service disaster heard around the Internet.
An Arizona restaurateur, fed up after years of negative online reviews and an embarrassing appearance on a reality television show, posted a social media rant laced with salty language and angry, uppercase letters that quickly went viral last week, to the delight of people who love a good Internet meltdown.
“I AM NOT STUPID ALL OF YOU ARE,” read the posting on the Facebook wall of Amy’s Baking Co. in suburban Phoenix. “YOU JUST DO NOT KNOW GOOD FOOD.”
It was, to put it kindly, not a best business practice. Add to that an appearance earlier this month on the Fox reality television show “Kitchen Nightmares” — where celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay gave up on trying to save the restaurant after he was insulted — and you have a recipe for disaster.
By Chris Sorensen - Tuesday, May 21, 2013 at 3:28 PM - 0 Comments
The Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement was billed as a game-changer when it was signed in 2010. After years of battling each other in the media and on logging roads throughout the country, 21 forestry companies and nine environmental groups vowed to try a different approach by working side by side to create a healthy, sustainable industry that everyone could be proud of.
Perhaps not surprisingly, it didn’t work.
By The Associated Press - Tuesday, May 21, 2013 at 9:48 AM - 0 Comments
REMOND, Wash. – Will Xbox mark the spot once again for Microsoft?
The company is set to reveal the next generation of its Xbox entertainment console during a presentation Tuesday at its headquarters in Redmond, Wash.
It’s been eight years since the launch of the Xbox 360. The original Xbox debuted in 2001, and its high-definition successor premiered in 2005.
By The Associated Press - Tuesday, May 21, 2013 at 8:15 AM - 0 Comments
WASHINGTON – Apple’s CEO is disputing assertions by a Senate panel that the company avoids billions of dollars in U.S. taxes by shifting profits to foreign affiliates.
Tim Cook testified at a hearing Tuesday by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, which released a report Monday attacking Apple’s tax practices.
“We pay all the taxes we owe — every single dollar,” Cook said. “We don’t depend on tax gimmicks.”
By The Associated Press - Tuesday, May 21, 2013 at 6:09 AM - 0 Comments
BANGKOK – World stock markets were mixed Tuesday as investors waited for the U.S. Federal Reserve to telegraph what it plans to do next with its economic stimulus program.
The Fed is conducting its third round of massive bond purchases known as quantitative easing to help drive down interest rates and spur lending. But recently improving data on the U.S. economy has led to speculation that it might consider scaling back the program or winding it down earlier than expected.
On Wednesday, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke will appear before Congress and the central bank will release minutes of its most recent policy meeting.
By The Associated Press - Monday, May 20, 2013 at 5:57 PM - 0 Comments
WASHINGTON – Apple Inc. employs a group of affiliate companies located outside the United States to avoid paying billions of dollars in U.S. income taxes, a Senate investigation has found.
The world’s most valuable company is holding overseas some $102 billion of its $145 billion in cash, and an Irish subsidiary that earned $22 billion in 2011 paid only $10 million in taxes, according to the report issued Monday by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.
The strategies Apple uses are legal, and many other multinational corporations use similar tax techniques to avoid paying U.S. income taxes on profits they reap overseas. But Apple uses a unique twist, the report found. The company’s tactics raise questions about loopholes in the U.S. tax code, lawmakers say.
By The Associated Press - Monday, May 20, 2013 at 8:32 AM - 0 Comments
SAN FRANCISCO – Yahoo is buying online blogging forum Tumblr for $1.1 billion as CEO Marissa Mayer tries to rejuvenate an Internet icon that had fallen behind the times.
The deal announced Monday represents Mayer’s boldest move yet since she left Google 10 months ago to lead Yahoo’s latest comeback attempt. It marks Yahoo’s most expensive acquisition since the Sunnyvale, Calif., company bought online search engine Overture a decade ago for $1.3 billion in cash and stock.
Yahoo is paying all cash for Tumblr, dipping into some of its remaining stash from a $7.6 billion windfall reaped last year from selling about half of its stake in Chinese Internet company Alibaba Holdings Group. Taking over Tumblr will devour about one-fifth of the $5.4 billion in cash that Yahoo had in its accounts at the end of March.
By The Canadian Press - Sunday, May 19, 2013 at 7:59 AM - 0 Comments
TORONTO – North American markets will focus this week on the release of the latest minutes from the U.S. Federal Reserve for any clues on when the world’s largest economy will taper off its aggressive monetary stimulus program.
The Fed minutes from the central bank’s April 30 to May 1 meeting will be released on Wednesday, amid a relatively quiet week for major economic data in both the U.S. and Canada.
“Markets are sort of overly addicted to QE (quantitative easing) and Fed stimulus so if there are signs that the hawks were more hawkish or more members were uncomfortable with the continuation (of the program) — that’s what they’re going to look for,” said Tom O’Gorman, a portfolio manager at Bissett Investment Management.
By The Canadian Press - Friday, May 17, 2013 at 8:58 PM - 0 Comments
NEW YORK, N.Y. – Yahoo may be on the verge of closing its biggest acquisition under CEO Marissa Mayer, as she tries to attract more traffic and advertising to the Internet company’s website.
The technology news site All Things D is reporting that Yahoo’s board will meet Sunday night to consider whether to approve a proposed $1.1 billion acquisition of Tumblr, a popular online service for sharing stories, photos and other content.
The report from All Things D cited anonymous sources.
If Yahoo’s board signs off on the deal, it could be announced Monday.
In an invitation sent Friday, Yahoo Inc. promised to unveil “something special” Monday evening in New York. The event is being held in a Times Squares lounge located about two miles away from Tumblr’s headquarters.
Mayer will be there to make the announcement.
By The Associated Press - Friday, May 17, 2013 at 4:21 PM - 0 Comments
PARIS – David Beckham’s pecs are at least as much a part of his brand as his kick; his brand of shoes ultimately more lucrative than the game he’s giving up. Listed as the world’s highest-earning athlete for 2013, Beckham’s retirement from play still leaves him with valuable endorsements and unparalleled celebrity. The question is whether he can maintain it.
Only a few athletes, once their job is preceded by ‘ex,’ manage to maintain a connection with fans: Those who have carefully built up their image beforehand.
Michael Jordan retired from basketball for the third time in 2003 and turned 50 this year. His eponymous Nike brand — a partnership that dates back to the first days after he left the University of North Carolina for the Chicago Bulls — is still going strong. The Jordan brand makes up nearly 60 per cent of the American basketball shoe market, and a significant part of the estimated $80 million that Jordan reportedly earns each year from ventures that also include deals with Hanes and Gatorade, according to Forbes magazine.
By The Associated Press - Wednesday, May 15, 2013 at 6:32 AM - 0 Comments
SAN FRANCISCO – Google is expected to use its annual software developers’ conference to showcase the latest mobile devices running on its Android software, while also unveiling other features in its evolving product lineup.
The gathering, scheduled to begin Wednesday morning in San Francisco, provides Google Inc. with an opportunity to flex its technological muscle in front of a sold-out audience of engineers and entrepreneurs who develop applications and other features that can make smartphones and tablets more appealing.
Reporters from around the world also will be on hand, giving Google a chance to generate more hoopla about its latest innovations.
By The Canadian Press - Tuesday, May 14, 2013 at 2:47 PM - 0 Comments
ORLANDO, Fla. – BlackBerry said Tuesday it will expand its popular BlackBerry Messenger service to Android and iOS devices this year and announced a new smartphone aimed at emerging markets.
BlackBerry chief executive Thorsten Heins said the time was right for BBM, a key feature of BlackBerry smartphones, to be available on its rival devices.
“It’s a statement of confidence,” he told the audience in Orlando, Fla.
By The Associated Press - Monday, May 13, 2013 at 8:44 PM - 0 Comments
LOS ANGELES, Calif. – Financial data and news service Bloomberg LP moved to repair damage to its reputation Monday as a published report said that more than 10,000 of its clients’ private messages containing sensitive pricing data had been leaked online.
The report came the same day Bloomberg News editor-in-chief Matthew Winkler apologized for the news service’s practice of allowing journalists to access data about how clients used the company’s financial data services.
Reporters have had access to the data, Winkler said, since the 1990s but it was revoked last month after investment bank Goldman Sachs complained.
By The Canadian Press - Monday, May 13, 2013 at 8:26 AM - 0 Comments
ORLANDO, Fla. – BlackBerry will pull out all the stops this week as the company welcomes thousands of industry players for BlackBerry Live, it’s annual three-day conference which promises to offer some perspective into its future.
Chief executive Thorsten Heins will take the stage on Tuesday and is expected to deliver a keynote speech that could reveal a lower-priced version of its latest phone and some clues about whether the company plans to abandon tablet technology forever.
BlackBerry Live is both an information session and a hype machine for the company, which has several giant parties planned for its supporters who fly in from around the world and to attend the event.
The conference takes place at the Marriott World Center, a sprawling complex that acts as a mothership for all of the related events that surround it that range from workshops to live concerts.
By The Canadian Press - Sunday, May 12, 2013 at 7:38 AM - 0 Comments
MONTREAL – Massive lawsuits targeting people who illegally download copyrighted content are common in the U.S., where people have been stuck with hefty fines and out-of-court settlements.
Now there’s an attempt to bring that to Canada.
At the center of the effort is Canipre, the only anti-piracy enforcement firm that provides forensic services to copyright-holders in Canada.
The Montreal-based firm has been monitoring Canadian users’ downloading of pirated content for several months. It has now gathered more than one million different evidence files, according to its managing director Barry Logan.
One of its clients is now before Federal Court in Toronto, requesting customer information for over 1,000 IP addresses — a user’s unique Internet signature — collected by Canipre.
By Tamsin McMahon - Thursday, May 2, 2013 at 7:08 PM - 0 Comments
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has named Stephen Poloz the next governor of the Bank of Canada. The announcement shocked analysts who had thought that long-serving senior deputy governor Tiff Macklem was a front-runner. Poloz, head of the federal trade agency Export Development Canada, has a low profile in financial circles.
Here’s a primer on who he is and what he might bring to the job:
1. He is 57 and married to Valerie Poloz. The couple has two children.
2. He spent 14 years at the Bank of Canada, rising to chief researcher, before being appointed chief economist at Export Development Canada in 1999. He is currently the agency’s CEO.
3. During the 1990s, he was managing editor of the Montreal-based International Bank Credit Analyst, an influential financial publication that long warned against jumping into frothy, dot-com fuelled stock-market bubble before it burst.
4. He has also been a visiting scholar at the International Monetary Fund and the Economic Planning Agency in Tokyo.
5. He was previously rumoured to be on the short-list of candidates to replace David Dodge as Bank of Canada governor in 2008.
6. He warned early on of a potential for a major financial crash:
In 1998, after Long-Term Capital Management went bust, requiring a $3.6-billion U.S. government bailout, some analysts shrugged off the episode as the workings of a rogue hedge fund. Poloz was among those who predicted the fund’s failure was more likely a sign of a financial system that was working itself into a bubble built on complex and opaque derivatives, which would eventually require more bailouts. “I think there will be lots more” fund failures, he predicted in 1998.
7. … and then got it wrong after it happened.
In 2007, Poloz predicted the financial crisis would be short-lived. “A key source of comfort during the financial turmoil of recent weeks has been the consensus that the world economy remains strong,” he wrote in an analysis. “This is important, for it means that even if the financial contagion continues to spread, the world economy will prove resilient to the shock.”
8. He helped set the framework for Bank of Canada policies largely seen as successful in helping Canada stave off the worst of the global recession.
In 1994, while still at the Bank of Canada he co-authored a paper describing in detail the central bank’s approach to its medium-term forecasting. It may sound dull, but the paper was a critical step in the bank’s sweeping shift away from clandestine operations and toward more transparency in how it sets monetary policy.
It’s an approach strongly supported by outgoing governor Mark Carney and one that he has signaled he’s bringing to the Bank of England. Carney is a vocal a proponent of more communication and forward guidance from central bankers — signaling to investors where interest rates will likely be headed in the future —arguing that it can be calming on the markets and perhaps induce consumers to adjust their spending.
9. He disagrees with Carney on a few key issues.
Unlike Carney, who has criticized Canadian corporations for sitting on “dead money” instead of investing, Poloz warned in a 2011 speech that the stockpiles of cash were a “necessary insurance against the next black swan” in an era of deep uncertainty about the future of both the Canadians and the global economy.
Carney has also openly dismissed the “Dutch Disease” argument that Canada’s high “petrodollar” is harming the manufacturing economy. Poloz, on the other hand, has publicly warned that the rising Canadian dollar was harming the economy, mainly because it exacerbated the widening gulf between Eastern manufacturing-based economies and Western commodity-based ones.
He has cautioned that such economic divergence would become a long-standing problem in Canada and that similar conditions in the 1970s had led to “stagflation” when inflation rises rapidly but economic growth stalls.
“This two-speed economy thing is enormous,” he told a 2008 conference on how energy industry affects the economy, arguing that the Bank of Canada should pay more attention to the dollar’s exchange rate when setting interest rates.
10. Perhaps he’s so vocal because he initially got it so wrong when it came to the dollar:
In spring 2007, Poloz proclaimed that the Canadian dollar, then sitting at 94 cents, would fall to 84 cents U.S. by the end of the year because the weak U.S. and global economy would hurt demand for Canadian exports. “There is a global slowdown that is grinding through the system, and oil prices are probably going to drift lower rather than higher, and in that context you get the Canadian dollar going down not up.”
Instead, the dollar hit a high of $1.08 in November. It took roughly two years for his prediction to come true — the dollar dropped in 2009 — though the loonie has been stubbornly sitting around par since 2010, thanks largely to strong oil prices.
Some analysts rushed to describe Poloz as an “outsider” whose appointment signals a morale crisis at the Bank of Canada and a push by the Harper Conservatives for more control over monetary policy. Indeed, the Canadian dollar fell on news of his appointment. But Poloz could also be viewed as one of Harvard Business School professor Joseph L. Bower’s “inside outsiders” — the kind of leader who has both deep institutional experience and knowledge, but not so much that he’s become part of the establishment.
A good example of such a leader, according to the Harvard Business Review? Mark Carney.
By James Cowan, Canadian Business - Thursday, May 2, 2013 at 8:24 AM - 0 Comments
My family and I are thinking about buying a new house. The idea is closer to “strong notion” than “airtight plan” on the thinking-about-stuff spectrum, but we’ve looked at a few listed homes and will do some repairs this summer in preparation for eventual sale. When the moment arrives, I will happily pay a real estate agent. We need someone who knows our area, exerts no pressure and, most important, someone who we trust.
Like stockbrokers and travel agents, real estate agents no longer hold a monopoly over their fields, with online services now making it easy to look for houses, buy stocks or book a trip to Cuba. Agents in these fields once sold market access; now they sell wise counsel. So it is baffling that real estate associations have wasted years fighting inevitable industry shifts with tactics making them appear neither trustworthy nor credible. They are killing their only remaining advantage.
By The Canadian Press - Thursday, May 2, 2013 at 7:11 AM - 0 Comments
MONTREAL – SNC-Lavalin’s new chief executive will be in the hot seat Thursday as he unveils a strategy to move the company beyond improper business activities.
Robert Card will attend his first annual shareholders meeting since taking the reins of the engineering company last October.
The American has been cleaning house since his arrival by replacing key executives and hiring a new compliance officer.
The company has also accepted a 10-year bidding ban from the World Bank for a key subsidiary and affiliates over bribery allegations in Bangladesh and Cambodia.
On Thursday, Card is expected to outline broad strokes of his strategy which analysts expect will involve selling a portion of its lucrative concession assets, or spinning them into a separate public company.
By Rosemary Westwood - Wednesday, May 1, 2013 at 5:55 PM - 0 Comments
Facebook is clearly bringing in the cash—but what about the users?
The company’s revenue hit $146 billion during the first quarter of 2013, up 38 per cent from the same period a year earlier, but not quite the $158 billion it made in last three months of 2012, it reported Wednesday afternoon.
The results come as Facebook struggles to position itself as a leader in the mobile world—most aggressively with the introduction of Facebook Home—but also by increasing mobile users and mobile ad dollars. It fared pretty well: mobile advertising is now 30 per cent of all revenue, up from 23 per cent in the previous quarter, and mobile users grew 54 per cent from a year ago, and up another 10 per cent from the end of 2012—to 780 million active users a month.
Monthly active users rose to 1.11 billion from 1.06 billion at the end of 2012.
That good news, though, doesn’t jive with two separate analyses making the rounds—one by SocialBakers, which provides insight for Facebook advertisers, and one by Nielsen, an analytics company. Both showed declining Facebook users—by as many as 10 million in U.S. alone in the past year, according to the Nielsen report.
So why don’t the metrics match? SocialBakers quickly backed away from its findings after news reports hit the Internet, saying its figures weren’t meant for general consumption, or even all that reliable. But Nielsen is sticking behind its data.
One explanation could be that Nielsen “cannot count the numbers of people using the Facebook app,” and thus provides a picture of visits to the website alone.
Facebook’s biggest hope for app usage is the Facebook Home experiment—an app that dominates a smartphone home screen and assumes users want to turn their phone into one big (or small) Facebook interface. Though fairly fresh, recent reviews suggest users feel otherwise.
While the company has been moving to optimize the social network for advertisers, it might be hoping it will start to pay off soon because ad revenue overall actually fell in the first quarter of 2013 to $1.25 billion from $1.33 billion in the end of 2012. If overall ad dollars keep falling, that growth in mobile ads look doesn’t look quite as juicy.
Facebook users can expect to see more of these efforts to monetize their online lives. And yet Facebook won’t be able to keep making money if it forgets to whom it owes its first allegiance, and it’s continued success.
By Rosemary Westwood - Monday, April 29, 2013 at 3:16 PM - 0 Comments
For the first time since Greece’s almost unimaginable levels of public dept sunk the European Union’s financial health like a anchor, the government in Athens is letting some public service workers go.
In a nation where more than one in four people are out of work, the jobless rate among government workers has been a perfect zero, thank to laws that made it illegal to fire a government employee. In the Greece of the past, the public service acted like a depository for political backers, with jobs-for-life often traded for party support. Politicians finally voted Monday to make it legal to downsize the public service.
The cuts will hit about 15,110 workers over the next two years, and 150,000 by 2015, potentially pushing the unemployment rate up to 30 per cent, as noted in the Financial Times. Compare that to the 586,000 public employees who lost their jobs in the U.S. from 2008, when the financial crisis hit, to 2012 (which doesn’t include the effects of deep government spending cuts known as sequestration). Or the 19,200 job cuts announced in Canada’s 2012 budget alone—a figure that could be closer to 28,000 according to some government critics.
What finally forced Greek politicians to turn their austerity on a bloated public service? More money. Greece now gets a €2.8 billion check from the EU bailout fund, which was contingent on the layoffs. It’s part of a €172 billion ($228 billion) bailout package agreed to in 2011, which itself is part of billions of dollars pumped into Greece since it took its first €110 billion ($145 billion) in 2010.
Considering those vast sums, and true questions now about whether the EU will survive, it’s hard to believe it took this long.
By Rosemary Westwood - Wednesday, April 24, 2013 at 12:31 PM - 0 Comments
BlackBerry executives are basking in the glow of rosy reviews this morning, with tech blogs and mainstream media hailing the new BlackBerry Q10 as the comeback device the company—and its devoted followers—have been longing for.
Praise is flowing from both sides of the Atlantic. The Wall Street Journal calls the Q10 “the BlackBerry of BlackBerry users’ dreams.” It’s “the best phone with a keyboard on the market,” claims the U.K.’s Telegraph newspaper. BlackBerry’s A-type, suit-wearing, hardcore fans “are going to love this phone,” Wired reports.
The Q10 is BlackBerry’s second offering on its new BlackBerry 10 operating system, after the release of the Z10 earlier this year. But reviewers seem to unanimously praise it above the keyboard-less Z10. TechCrunch’s Darrell Etherington called the return of the keyboard “refreshing.”
“This is a business phone, and an unabashed one,” he writes.
The upgrade to the new BlackBerry 10 operating system is “fun and responsive,” the WSJ notes. And many reviewers liked BlackBerry Hub—an app that compiles texts and emails to a single place.
In the age of apps, however, BlackBerry flounders. Offering 100,000 apps—BlackBerry’s approximate catalog—is useless if the ones you really want are missing, Wired notes. “Instagram, GroupMe, Vine, Flixster, and other apps that have thrived on iOS and Android are still missing.”
But the Q10 targets clients more concerned about being productive than playing games. Etherington notes he actually got more work done on the Q10 then he would on a competitor smartphone, including composing an actual paragraph. That’s maybe the best news of all for BlackBerry, which has staked its new name (it was formerly Research in Motion Inc.) on its reputation as the businesses world’s top choice.
Despite accounting for just five per cent of market share in the U.S., and falling behind Apple iPhone sales in Canada last year, BlackBerry proved in March that it can still make money, posting a profit for the end of 2012 and better-than-expected sales of phones using the new operating system. And it plans to sell the Q10 for more than the iPhone 5—$249 on a two-year contract in the U.S., and $199 on a three-year contract in Canada (it rolls out May 1 in Canada, and at the end of May in the U.S.).
Considering that some analysts say business clients can bring the company $7 to $10 in fees per person per month, compared to $1 to $4 for regular consumers, clinging to the keyboard—and staking claim to the corporate market—isn’t a bad plan. And if the public likes the Q10 as much as reviewers, 2013 could be a turn-around year for BlackBerry.
By The Canadian Press - Wednesday, April 24, 2013 at 9:31 AM - 0 Comments
CALGARY – The man who was brought in last year to shake up Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. (TSX:CP) says a strong first quarter — which broke several company records — has put CP on track to have the best year in its 132-year history.
CP chief executive Hunter Harrison, who was brought in last year after a highly public and hotly contested shareholder revolt against the former leadership, said he’s happy with the progress but not finished with transforming the company.
“CP delivered the best first quarter results in its history despite challenging winter conditions,” said Harrison said in a statement Wednesday.
“There remains a lot of work to do as we continue to make significant changes to our operating model. With a very strong start to the year and momentum quickly building, I am now even more confident that we are on pace toward the best year-end financial and operating performance in CP’s history.”
By The Canadian Press - Tuesday, April 23, 2013 at 11:32 PM - 0 Comments
TORONTO – For the BlackBerry loyalists who hoped the beleaguered company could redeem itself with another top-notch keyboard-based smartphone, there’s good news: the Q10 doesn’t disappoint.
It won’t necessarily impress the early-adopter consumers who obsess over the specs of cutting-edge mobile devices, but those who wistfully recall the glory days of the BlackBerry and reluctantly moved on to other mobile platforms will likely be very happy with the Q10.
BlackBerry announced Tuesday that the Q10 will be available starting May 1 on Rogers Wireless, Bell Mobility and Telus for $199 with a three-year contract.
By The Associated Press - Tuesday, April 23, 2013 at 6:27 AM - 0 Comments
WASHINGTON – Ben Bernanke is intensifying speculation that this year will be his last as Federal Reserve chairman by deciding to skip the Fed’s annual August conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
Jackson Hole has long been a high-profile platform for speeches by Fed chairmen. Since taking over the Fed in 2006, Bernanke has been the marquee speaker each year. In 2010, he used his speech to signal that the Fed could launch another bond-buying program. Stock prices jumped in response to his remarks.
His second four-year term will end in January, and neither he nor President Barack Obama has signalled whether Bernanke will serve a third term.