Banks are bracing against loan losses

Canadian Bank Earnings Week is under way, and while we admit it’s not as exhilarating as Shark Week, it can teach us some valuable lessons about the murky waters of the economy.

What happened: Quarterly earnings reports for Scotiabank and BMO showed that both banks are keeping more cash aside than analysts expected to cover loans that could go sour, known as loan loss provisions, continuing a trend of caution in a risky environment. 

Hot shot lawyers leave for greener pastures

Scores of Canadian lawyers have fled for the bright lights of New York in recent years, clearly inspired by the undying popularity of Suits.

Driving the news: The legal profession in Canada is recovering from a pandemic-era case of brain drain in which 100 to 150 mostly junior-level lawyers left Canada, per The Globe and Mail. These legal eagles mainly flew the coop from Toronto to New York City.

Could vending machines be scanning your face?

Nowadays, you can’t even grab a sneaky little midday Mars bar without being silently judged by a dang machine.  

What happened: Students at the University of Waterloo are revolting against Mars-owned campus vending machines after discovering the machines were scanning users’ faces without their knowledge. 

Proposed online safety laws come in hot

Today in news that we’re sure politicians will take in super chill fashion, the federal justice minister unveiled the first draft of a long-awaited Online Harms Act.

Driving the news: The proposed legislation covers content posted to social media platforms, live streaming services, and some user-uploaded pornography sites. If passed, it would also create a new digital safety commission tasked with upholding rules, making recommendations, and receiving user complaints.  

What to do this weekend

Japan breaks its 34-year stock market curse

Perhaps Canadian NHL teams looking to win the Stanley Cup could learn something from Japan’s stock market about breaking decades-long curses. 

What happened: This week, the Nikkei 225, Japan’s largest stock market index, rose to a record high for the first time in more than 34 years. It’s become the world’s best-performing major index so far in 2024, rising about 17.5% this year, and 42.4% over the past 12 months.

Menthol bans bolster the global fight against smoking

Menthol cigarette bans are helping make the phrase smoke ’em if you got ’em obsolete. 

Driving the news: A new study on the effects of menthol cigarette bans in Canada, several U.S. states, and certain EU countries found that 24% of menthol smokers quit smoking entirely within two years of a ban, with national menthol bans being even more effective.

There’s no end in sight for Canada’s oil pipeline glut

Like us trying to do spreadsheets while also taking a Zoom call, Canada’s pipelines are at full capacity.

Driving the news: Sure as the sun rises in the east, the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion hit yet another delay, this time due to technical issues. The long-awaited expansion is now unlikely to meet its April start date but is still on track to begin operations next quarter. 

All hail Nvidia, king of the markets

Nvidia just had the type of earnings call that makes investors’ eyes pop out of their sockets like a cartoon wolf. 

What happened: The chip designer shattered estimates by reporting a 265% surge in quarterly revenue and a 769% increase in its net income, as demand for its industry-leading AI chips continues to soar. You don’t need a six-figure MBA to know that that’s very good. 

Cold snap lays B.C.’s wine crop to waste

If you stumble across a bottle of 2024 vintage B.C. wine when perusing the liquor store this year, we recommend you pick it up. It could be a collector’s item one day. 

Driving the news: There will be “an almost complete write-off” of B.C. wine this year after a cold snap that hit the province last month wiped out as much as 99% of its wine grape harvest, according to early industry estimates.

B.C. gets new money to build housing

Another day, another plan from a provincial government to do something, anything, to build more homes. 

What happened: The federal government is chipping in $2 billion worth of loans for B.C.’s new BC Builds program, aimed at boosting the construction of affordable rental housing for middle-class renters.

The law locks out LockBit hackers

A shadowy international syndicate of cybercriminals just got a taste of its own medicine. 

What happened: Authorities have seized control of the notorious ransomware gang LockBit’s web infrastructure after a successful operation led by the U.K.'s National Crime Agency. Law enforcement agencies from around the world, including Canada, contributed to the takedown.

What to do this weekend

Indonesia’s next leader is dancing away his unsavoury past

Meet Prabowo Subianto. He loves cats. He gets jiggy with it. He was the head of military special forces under a dictatorship. And he’s going to be the next president of Indonesia.  

Driving the news: Indonesia held one of the largest democratic elections in the world this week, with almost 205 million eligible voters. Early results show that Subianto, the defence minister and ex-general, is all but guaranteed to win the race and take office in November.  

Travel chatbots cause turbulence

You can now add “malfunctioning AI chatbot” to your list of potential travel headaches alongside carry-on baggage fees, screaming babies, and doors that blow off in mid-air

What happened: Air Canada must reimburse a B.C. flyer $650.88 after a provincial small claims tribunal ruled that the airline’s chatbot misled the customer about the cost of his flight to Toronto.

NATO nations drum up defence dollars

While most of us are trying to save up these days, NATO nations are spending on defence like a rich kid who got their hands on their daddy’s credit card.

Driving the news: NATO projects that 18 of its 31 member states will meet the military bloc’s goal of spending at least 2% of annual GDP on defence this year. That’s over 58% of members, compared to 35% just last year and a paltry 14% of members a decade ago.  

Roblaw$ shirts upset Canada’s largest grocer

The Loblaw corporation has previously beefed with Frito-Lay and other smaller suppliers. Now, it’s in a spat with a guy making novelty T-shirts.   

Driving the news: Toronto-based artist Christopher Lambe was forced to remove products from his Etsy store that lambasted grocery store chain Loblaw and its high prices after the company filed a copyright infringement complaint through Etsy. Lambe is disputing the case.

Is the World Cup good for Canada’s economy?

Like us after putting down a non-refundable deposit to book the perfect venue for a birthday party, Vancouver and Toronto are hoping that playing host will be worth it.  

Driving the news: In 2026, Vancouver and Toronto will host seven and six FIFA World Cup matches, respectively. Neither city has given an updated cost estimate since 2022, so now attention has turned to figuring out how much hosting will cost, and whether it’s worth it.

To cut, or not to cut? That is the question.

Welcome back to The Peak’s Inflation Drinking Game. The first rule, take a sip (of your coffee, of course) every time you read any variation of the phrase “rate cuts.”  

What happened: U.S. inflation growth cooled once again in January, falling to 3.1% from 3.4% in December. That sounds peachy keen, but analysts expected growth to drop below 3%.

Russia’s Google leaves Russia

The firm behind the company that’s most commonly known as “Russia’s Google” is looking to get out of the whole ‘Russian’ aspect of its business.

Catch-up: Like several non-Western nations, Russia has its own websites that mirror more globally popular ones like Yandex (Russian Google) or VK (Russian Facebook).

Paris goes to war against bulky vehicles

In news that will surely upset French soccer parents (or parents de football), it will soon be a lot pricier to drive an SUV in Paris. 

Driving the news: Paris has declared war against SUVs after the city voted to triple parking charges in the city centre on out-of-town gas-powered and hybrid vehicles weighing over 1.6 tonnes. The move aims to cut pollution, free up space, and make life safer for pedestrians.

Bowling is on a Canadian roll

At the height of the pandemic, nothing could be more frightening than repeatedly touching a germ-infested item hundreds of other strangers had handled. Now, we can’t get enough of it! 

In case you couldn’t tell, we’re talking about bowling.  

Driving the news: U.K.-based bowling operator Hollywood Bowl Group (HBG) is pursuing an aggressive expansion in Canada — with plans to open up to 10 new alleys within the next five years — as it posts yearly revenue gains better than a game-winning strike. 

Canada’s housing shortfall just got shorter

We have a recommendation for a special advisor on the Canadian housing crisis: the Count from Sesame Street

Driving the news: The widely cited estimate that Canada will need 3.5 million extra housing units by 2030 to achieve housing affordability could be short by as much as 1.5 million, per a new report from CIBC economist Benjamin Tal, due to underestimated population growth. 

Leafs captain tries to skate around taxes

Professional athletes, they’re just like you and me: They eat, they sleep, and they hate paying taxes. 

Driving the news: Toronto Maple Leafs captain John Tavares is in a heated face-off against the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). The hockey star claims the tax body miscalculated what he owes on the US$15.3 million signing bonus he got when joining the Leafs in 2018.

Crypto mining is an energy sapper

As provinces play the part of ‘parents trying to keep the energy bills down,’ crypto miners are playing the part of ‘little brother who stayed up all night gaming with the lights on.’

What happened: New crypto mining projects in B.C. will continue to be temporarily barred from tapping into the province’s energy supply after a recent B.C. Supreme Court ruling. 

Adam Neumann wants WeWork to take him back

In what could be the most shocking reunion since Ben Affleck and J-Lo, WeWork co-founder and ex-CEO Adam Neumann has sent the proverbial “u up?” text to his old business. 

Driving the news: For months now, Neumann’s latest venture, Flow Global, has been trying to acquire WeWork out of bankruptcy and provide financing to keep it running.

Novo Nordisk strikes deal to ramp up Ozempic production

As Ozempic becomes more challenging to acquire than a Cabbage Patch Kid on Christmas Eve in 1983, the drugmaker behind it is making a big money move to help increase production. 

What happened: Novo Nordisk — maker of blockbuster diabetes and weight-loss drugs Ozempic and Wegovy — struck a US$11.5 billion deal to acquire three factories from Catalent, a drug manufacturer that was bought by Novo Nordisk’s parent as part of a larger transaction. The deal will increase capacity to help meet relentless demand for the drugs.