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. 
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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. 
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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. 
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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. 
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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
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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. 
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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
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A major energy breakthrough

There’s nothing like waking up after a long weekend to learn that while you were busy throwing small bean bags onto a wooden board for points, scientists were making history.  

Driving the news: Scientists have achieved net energy gain in a nuclear fusion reaction for the second time, marking progress towards harnessing a new sustainable energy source.
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What to do this weekend

Our suggestion for what to eat, read, watch, and listen to this weekend.
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Derek Nighbor on Canada’s wildfires

On this week’s episode of Free Lunch by The Peak, we sat down with Derek Nighbor to discuss why Canada’s wildfire season took such a dark turn this year, and how governments can prepare for next year.
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Workcations are booming

Thinking of extending the long weekend without taking time off work? You’re not alone.  

Driving the news: ‘Workcations’—or working vacations—are a new phenomenon gaining traction in an open world of work options, per the Financial Times. One study found over a quarter of working Canadians and 38% of Gen Z’ers planned to take a workcation last year. 
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Are big sporting events worth it?

With one year to go until the 2024 Paris Olympics, the event’s budget has already ballooned to €8.3 billion, up from an estimated €6.8 billion in initial costs. 

So our question is: Are the games worth it?
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Ozempic vs. berberine

TikTokers (who else?) have found a “natural” alternative to Ozempic in berberine, a chemical found in plants like barberry and goldenseal.

Driving the news: Per Wired, TikTok influencers are fuelling the surge in summer sales for berberine, a supplement nicknamed “nature’s Ozempic,” a play on the popular type 2 diabetes drug that became a phenomenon when it was discovered to cause weight loss.
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An e-commerce turf war is brewing

Many contests have been dubbed the “Fight of the Century,” but Walmart vs. Amazon might live up to that hyperbole, at least on the e-commerce front.

Driving the news: Amazon is opening a robotics-backed fulfilment centre in Ontario this fall, with the capacity to pick, pack, and ship ~750,000 items daily.
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Alberta pauses on renewables

Wind and solar are the fastest-growing sources of electricity in the world. 

Too fast, if you ask Alberta. 

What happened: Alberta has paused all approvals for new wind and solar power projects larger than one megawatt for the next six months to close the gaps in current development policies, some of which don’t reflect the realities of a power grid fuelled by renewables.
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US credit is no longer #1

Fitch Ratings has downgraded America's credit rating from the highest-possible “AAA” to a meagre “AA+”... just like its northern neighbour.   

Catch-up: The credit grader threatened to downgrade the US in May because Congress had not worked out a debt-ceiling deal to avoid throwing the country into default. The US then did strike a deal to avoid hitting the debt ceiling, but Fitch had moved on to other issues. 
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The race to replace the ISS

In space, no one can hear you scream… about how great your business venture is going!

What happened: Airbus is teaming up with space-tech start-up Voyager in a bid to replace the International Space Station (ISS), which is set to be decommissioned by 2031.  
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Hope you like chatbots

“Four-score and seven years ago, I snagged a great deal on Marketplace!” 

That’s our best guess at what Meta’s new AI Abraham Lincoln chatbot will say as we peruse for online deals. The company is rolling out a new suite of AI chatbots as soon as next month to retain, assist, and collect data on the ~3.9 billion users across its platforms. 
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Cricket’s push into Canada

Move over soccer and pickleball (especially you pickleball), the title of fastest-growing sport in Canada belongs to cricket

Driving the news: The Global T20 Canada (GT20), an international cricket competition featuring several of the world’s biggest cricketing stars, wraps up in Brampton this weekend. 
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Plastic is a dish best served cold

Sorry to break the news, Barbie fans, but not everything about plastic is fantastic. 

Driving the news: Per Wired, a study into the release of plastics from food containers has found that microwaving can blast millions of bits of plastic, called microplastics, and even tinier nanoplastics, into your food—and the hotter the conditions, the more plastic leaks in. 
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