Good morning! Shari Kulha here to apprise you of the top business stories we’re following today. The Trump tariffs are on the watchlist, of course; late yesterday his chief economic advisor Gary Cohn resigned, to no one’s surprise. Observers correctly anticipated he’d wait until tax reform was live before leaving. We’ll see whether that news causes turmoil on the markets today.
Meet Canada’s members of the “three-comma” club. The country’s wealthiest put in a strong showing on Forbes’s annual list of the world’s richest people, taking up 46 places. Some names often on the list include David Thomson, Galen Weston, J.D. Irving and Jim Pattison. Newer riche folks include Alibaba co-founder Joe Tsai, tech entrepreneur David Cheriton, and Uber co-founder Garrett Camp.
Quote: “Centi-billionaire Jeff Bezos secures the (global) list’s top spot for the first time, becoming the only person to appear in the Forbes ranks with a 12-figure fortune,” the magazine said. “Bezos’s fortune leapt more than US$39 billion, the list’s biggest one-year gain ever. He moves ahead of Bill Gates, who is now No. 2. It is the biggest gap between No. 1 and 2 since 2001.”
Would you like crickets with your Cap’n Crunch? Loblaw is betting you would; it is set to offer powdered cricket protein under its President’s Choice label. The product arrives at a lean time for Canada’s traditional grocery companies, who have been losing market share to Costco and Walmart. The Ontario-based farm, Entomo, serving up the critters to Loblaw, processes 100 million crickets a year.
Bottom line: Crickets require significantly less water to rear than larger animals to produce the same amount of protein. Cricket flour is used around the world in soups, stews, smoothies and baked goods. A 2.5 tablespoon serving has 90 calories and 13 grams of protein. Cricket cookies for all!
Canada would be entitled to trade retaliation measures of US$3.2 billion if Trump’s proposed tariffs on steel and aluminum are found to have violated World Trade Organization rules, according to a report. As Naomi Powell reports, data from the Trump administration’s own models show that Canada would endure the toughest trade losses under the tariffs, followed by the EU, South Korea and Mexico.
Bottom line: Were Canada to win its case at the WTO, it could seek compensation equal to trade losses resulting from the tariff. But authorized retaliations are rare – the WTO has established them in fewer than 15 disputes since 1995.
The U.K. topped Canada as No. 1 cannabis producer in 2016, according to a report from the International Narcotics Control Board report issued last week. As Mark Rendell reports, Canada could “quickly leapfrog” to top production spot once 2017 statistics are taken into account, says an industry consultant.
Bottom line: The U.K. produced 95,000kg of legal marijuana in 2016, compared with our 80,732kg. The U.K. was also the world’s top legal cannabis exporter, exporting 2,100kg, 67.7 per cent of the global total. Canada, by comparison, moved less than 100kg across borders legally in 2016. But a more interesting statistic might be that in 2000, total legal production was 1,400kg worldwide; by 2016, production had increased to 209,900kg.
HOME SWEET CONDO
Toronto homes sales plummeted 35 per cent and prices fell 12.4 per cent for the month of February, Naomi Powell writes, after new mortgage rules took effect Jan. 1 and mortgage rates began increasing. But after a whopper of a January last year, a decrease wasn’t entirely unexpected. Ontario instituted new rules last April, including a 15 per cent foreign buyers’ tax following Vancouver’s model, which may also have factored in the GTA’s slowdown. Speaking of foreign buyers, in a separate story RBC says they are using Canadian homes as piggy banks.
Bottom line: The average house in Toronto still rings in at $767,818. Chasing affordability, buyers went for condominiums, which rose 10.1 per cent to $529,782 — even while sales in that category fell more than 30 per cent.