No Problem Loans – Just Give Them Your Soul

devilThis is actually a genious of an idea.

A small loan company in Latvia is offering no-problem loans to their clients. No paperwork needed, just sign a piece of paper saying that you are using your soul as collateral – i.e. – you don’t repay, you have no soul.

I know that I’d think twice before skipping that payment.

Read Full Story at Reuters:

Would you pledge your soul as loan collateral?

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GM’s Deal with Govt. To Close Mon or Tuesday

The New York Times is reporting that we’re one step closer to having the GMimages mess cleaned up.

Judge Robert E. Gerber released his 95 page decision today, which overturned the 850 objections to the Government buyout, and gave his approval for the American taxpayers to lend the company $1.17 billion dollars.

I am not a fan of government backing, I believe in free enterprise, but I’m almost not a fan of feeling a complete collapse of one of the largest companies in the world.  I’m not that brave.

Read Full Details At The New York Times

Plan To Sell G.M. Assets Approved


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Canada Business – Where to Now?

In “Canadian Economy Not Out of The Woods Yet” , John Morrissey from TheOTT-PeaceTower-flag_lrg Finanacial Post, tries to rain on my Canada Day, but I didn’t let him.

It is a reality that the economy contracted .1% in April, after a 5.4% drop in the first quarter of this year, but the whole tone of the article is incredibly discouraging, with the heaviest focus on how the American economy is going to effect us.

My question is always why are we only focusing on the American consumer? Let’s look back to a few weeks ago when Goldman Sach’s predicted the Australian, British and Canadian economies to be the leaders out of the recession.

The Americans are our neighbours, our partners, and I believe that we should fully support them through their recovery, but there’s enough Canadian to go around. If you’re an ad agency, are you going to wait for your American clients to start spending money again? If you’re selling t-shirts, do you think they don’t wear t-shirts in brazil?

Let’s of course not forget our cross-provincial business relationships. I sometimes think that we’re so used to crossing the border, that we can forget to cross the mountains, the prairies, and the lakes.

I knock on doors, all around the world, all day long, because when one time zone closes down, another opens.  This isn’t 1932 where I have to wait for the telegram to arrive.  We can connect with anyone, anywhere, anytime.

There are thousands of economies available to work with – someone needs what you’re selling.

The question is: are you going to wait? Or are you going to hunt?

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Dumbest Moments in Business -2009

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In case you haven’t seen it yet – Fortune has released their mid year gm_segwayedition of the “Dumbest Moments in Business”. GM is right at the top of the pack with their Segway/Rickshaw kindof contraption called the “Puma”.

Just my opinion – but I don’t look at this thing and think of the sleek and grace of a big black cat. This actually looks like something Peter Griffin would design in some kind of Family Guy episode.

As you go through the whole list you’ll be reminded that money and brains don’t always go together.

Dumbest Moments in Business – 2009 Mid Year Edition

Dollar Stores Saving Day for Investment Firm

If you’ve ever taken your kids into the dollar store, and bought one of those dollar generalcandy-filled grab bags – you know that sometimes you get lucky, sometimes you don’t.  Well, investment firm KKR has been putting together their own grab bag of investments over the past several years, and while most have turned out to be stale candy corn, their acquisition of Dollar General, has turned out to be the full-sized chocolate bar.

KKR as a whole is bleeding money, with reported 2008 losses of $1.2 billion.  After buying 6 new companies in 2007, five of them were down in value by 20 to 50 percent.  The only one making money was Dollar General, which reported revenues of $10.5 billion in 2008.

While companies like Tiffany’s and Sak’s Fifth Avenue are struggling to survive, Dollar General is planning 450 new stores which will generate over 4000 new jobs.

Read The Full Article At Canada.com

The almighty dollar (store)

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The Carbon Tax – Nice in Theory

The carbon tax introduced in the BC Liberal’s 2008 budget, while commendable in theory, will do little to get people out of their cars.  Everyone is concerned about the environment, we all want to do better, but a tax isn’t the way to environmental utopia.   Greater Vancouverites already pay, on average, 11 cents more per litre of gas then any other province, including a 12-cent per litre Translink tax. Our highways are still a congested nightmare, and no one in their right mind travels at 5:00 p.m., unless they have to.   

It isn’t just as simple as people not wanting to leave their cars at home.  The public transit system in the Lower Mainland and surrounding areas is so flawed, that oftentimes transit just isn’t an option, period. Other times it’s actually more expensive to get on the bus then to take your car.  In BC, where transit fares are the highest in the country, just 7.5% of the working population takes transit to work, while in Ontario, 12% jump on the buses or subways everyday.    

The BC government and our Translink board have forgotten that taking the bus is supposed to be inexpensive.  As it stands today, a family of four, traveling from Surrey to the Science Center, during regular fare hours, would spend  $34 on round trip transit, while the mini-van and parking would round out to approximately $20.   Since 2002, transportation costs have risen 16.2%, shelter costs have risen 10%, food costs have risen 10%, but hourly wages have risen only 9.3%. Another tax is just too much pressure on B.C. families.

Vancouver housing prices have pushed families out to the suburbs, out to the Fraser Valley, where they’re without transit options, and are forced to commute by car.  Any more strain on their budgets could just push them out of the province.  We have to recognize that while our population continues to rise, the rate at which it’s rising is decreasing.  Of the 850,000 people who moved between provinces in 2006, 26% went to Alberta, 21% went to Ontario and only 19.3% moved to BC. 

And it’s families that we’re losing.  There are 10,000 empty spaces in Vancouver schools while our population is aging. Senior Citizens make up 14% of our citizenship, while 15% are children.  Comparatively, Alberta has 10% seniors and 18% children.   

But it’s families that we need.  Parents spend small fortunes on clothes, shoes, cd’s, entertainment and dental bills, while their offspring keep our teachers employed.  It’s the children who grow into the next generation of employers, employees and taxpayers.  Without them, British Columbia’s future grows dim and dull.  

 If the BC Liberals are truly interested in lowering greenhouse gases, and this isn’t another tax grab to help pay for the Olympics, then are much more effective means of doing it.  We can offer rebates on energy efficient appliances and cars, and tax incentives for builders who install solar panels.  What we can’t do is continue to keep our heads in the sand, believing that there’s no limit to what people will pay to live in British Columbia.              

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$7 Trillion for Clean Energy

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CNN has “Pressure, Private Cash, Driving Clean Energy”  – a quick review on a report from the CERA (Cambridge Energy Research Associate).   Daniel Yergin, the Chairman of the CERA,  is estimating that $7 trillion will be invested in clean energy by the year 2030. 

I personally believe that $7 trillion is probably a light estimate, and they’re pegging wind power as the next big thing, when I think it’s going to be solar, but it’s a great reminder, that even in hard economic times, there are areas that will flourish.