Six weeks to cut $15 billion

With a new mandate to cut billions in federal spending, cabinet members might have to skip the icebreakers and head straight to the whiteboard at their team retreat next week. 

What happened: Canada’s new Treasury Board President (and self-proclaimed chief operating officer of the government) Anita Anand is giving cabinet ministers just six weeks to find 15 billion extra dollars kicking around in the federal government’s 2023 budget. 

Solving the student housing crunch

With rents hitting record highs and the school year incoming, start-ups are helping students find rooms where they can live, study, and hang posters of Quentin Tarantino movies. 

Driving the news: A new crop of companies is providing housing for students by pairing them with the growing number of Canadians with spare bedrooms, per The Globe and Mail.  

New AI rules are on the way

Nearly nine months after the release of ChatGPT, Canada is progressing toward increasing safety and transparency around generative AI. 

Driving the news: The federal government is currently pulling together a voluntary code of conduct that could commit firms to safety measures, testing, and disclosures, per The Logic.

One year of subsidy wars

It’s been about a year since a pair of US laws triggered a flood of financial incentives for investments in clean energy production and semiconductor manufacturing in the US. 

Let’s look back on the irrevocable change they’ve wrought. 

The question vexing economists: Why did inflation fall?

Why did inflation fall from multi-decade highs last summer to within the Bank of Canada’s target range last month? It seems like a simple question, but as with most things in economics, the answer is hotly contested. 

Catch up: The textbook Econ 101 story is that central banks reduce inflation by raising interest rates, which reduces demand in the economy through some combination of job losses, frozen or lower wages, and a pullback in consumer spending. 

AI is trying to win your heart

Nothing quite says romance in the year 2023 like sending sweet nothings to an AI chatbot.

Driving the news: A slew of new dating apps are adopting AI-powered avatars and chatbots that simulate intimate relationships, pitching their platforms as a way to practice dating in a risk-free environment. 

What to do this weekend

Our picks for what to eat, read, watch, and listen to this weekend.

Amazon wants to stop sending you outrageously oversized boxes

We’ve all been there: You open up a giant box from Amazon to find the tiniest of products inside and wonder when they’re going to figure out how to ship orders in a box that makes sense. Well, they’ve heard your complaints and, rest assured, they’re on it. 

Driving the news: Amazon is ditching its (sometimes comically oversized) boxes and is shipping more stuff to people in the manufacturer’s packaging.

Why are Nova Scotian waters glowing pink?

Waters in Nova Scotia were glowing pink on Thursday, and no, it wasn’t a viral marketing stunt for Pepto-Bismol or an alien menace that crash-landed into the sea.

What happened:
Researchers from Dalhousie University and greentech company Planetary Technologies dumped 500 litres of pink fluorescent dye into the waters around Halifax Harbour in Dartmouth to see how far the dye would travel into the Atlantic Ocean.

The record-breaking business of Guinness World Records

In the past month, Canadians have broken Guinness World Records for the deepest underwater model photoshoot (6.4 metres), most pancakes served in eight hours (17,182 flapjacks) and, most impressively, the largest dinosaur costume dance party (1,187 costumed dinos). 

These achievements have led us to wonder, “How on Earth does Guinness make money?” 

US escalates tech war with China

The US is stepping up its effort to cripple China’s advanced high-tech sectors.

What happened: The US government announced a new ban on certain investments in China’s quantum computing, advanced semiconductor, and artificial intelligence sectors. 

Hacking contest aims to fix holes in AI models

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas… unless it's at this weekend’s AI hacking competition in the City of Sin.

Driving the news: A hacking competition supported by big tech companies including Meta, OpenAI, and Google—as well as the US government—will play host to thousands of hackers tasked with finding vulnerabilities in the biggest AI-powered chatbots on the market. 

My kingdom for a T-Swift ticket

Good luck, indeed. As we enter the final day of ticket sales for Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour shows in Toronto, we wish luck to anyone trying to snag a ticket… but also caution you not to get your hopes up.  

Catch-up: For the few of you reading who don’t already have your calendar circled, Swift is coming to Toronto for six shows at Roger’s Centre at the end of November 2024. 

Driving the news: An estimated 31 million people (about ¾ of Canada’s population, to give you some perspective) registered on Ticketmaster to receive a presale waitlist code. Per one estimate, that gave hopeful Swifties about a 1-in-413 chance of snagging a ticket. 

China’s topsy-turvy pricing problem

While here in Canada we contend with eye-popping price increases, on the other side of the world, people in China are facing a different pricing problem: Deflation.

What happened: Consumer prices in China fell in July after several months of a near-zero rate of inflation, officially tipping the economy into deflation. That may sound nice (who doesn’t like cheaper stuff?), but it can be crippling for an economy. 

Record labels seek deal on AI-generated music

If you’ve ever wanted to hear Iron Maiden sing Taylor Swift’s “Shake it off,” you may soon be in luck.

Driving the news: Google is in talks with Universal Music and Warner Brothers to license artists' voices and music for a tool that would allow fans to use AI to create songs. 

A pipeline’s debt debacle

Whom amongst us hasn’t spent a little too much on something we really wanted? The federal government certainly has on its newest pipeline.

Driving the news: Earlier this week, Canada's energy regulator denied Trans Mountain’s request to increase tolls for shipping oil on the soon-to-be-completed Trans Mountain Pipeline (TMP) as the crown company searches for ways to pay off its massive debt. 

Weight-loss drugs inch closer to coverage

Just when we thought weight-loss drug makers had hit their peak, a new study's findings show that they’re just getting started. 

What happened: Novo Nordisk’s blockbuster obesity drug WeGovy not only helps people lose weight but cuts the risk of heart attacks or strokes by 20%, according to the findings of a company-funded study. Sales were already up 25% in the first three months of 2023. 

Dirty dollars are sitting in Canadian banks

What do you potentially have in common with the late Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi? 

You might be banking with the same financial institution. 

Driving the news: Gadhafi—who was ousted from power and killed in 2011—deposited billions of dollars in Canadian bank accounts that are still floating around the financial system, former Libyan ambassador to Canada Fathi Baja told The Globe and Mail

Writers’ strike hits Day 100

As the Hollywood writers’ strike hits its 100-day mark, a resolution is still a long way away. 

Catch-up: The Writers Guild of America (WGA), the union representing about 11,500 scribes behind American film and TV, has been on strike since May 2 after failing to reach a new deal with the AMPTP, the body representing the studios and streamers. 

Canada’s labour market slows

A slowdown in Canada’s labour market has sent the unemployment rate up… and could bring inflation down. 

Driving the news: New data shows job growth flatlining in July. But if you consider that Canada’s population grew by 81,900 in the same time period, it means labour markets are softening even more significantly under the surface, according to RBC Economics