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Armchair Economics – Reality Based Fandom

I’m an armchair economist. I have little formal training in economics beyond the generalist survey courses most university students select before deciding what they want to major in when they grow up. Nevertheless, I find the machinations of any given economy fascinating. As a spectator sport, economics has the fine detail of baseball mixed with the speed and brutality of hockey, the long-game passion of European football and the regimentation of American football. Armchair economics is reality based fandom. For entrepreneurs, armchair economics is both a form of fantasy sport and an important part of business planning. All entrepreneurs dream about the future. Developing an understanding of how the world works is an essential part of foreseeing the future and the ability to foresee the fu...

Business Planning in the Face of a Trade War

Canada, and more acutely, the Province of Ontario, is poised to enter a trade-war with the United States over the extent of Buy American policies and the threat of their imposition. At a time when the foundational trade agreement outlining cross border business in North America is being renegotiated, Ontario’s Premier Kathleen Wynne and US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross have been exchanging threats while assuring all who’ll listen that nobody wants a trade war between Canada and the United States. The stakes are high for Ontario, as they are for many American states. Believe it or not, Ontario runs a trade deficit with the US. We import more from America than we send down. Last year alone, Ontario exported over $166,178,161,000 worth of goods to the United States while we imported goods wo...

Amazon Announces Search for Second North American Headquarters

The news broke late enough in the day that civic leaders across North America called in their economic development staff for emergency meetings. Amazon announced yesterday it was seeking a second headquarters in North America and any city with a planning department suddenly wanted in on the mega growth promised by the monolithic Internet retailer. An Amazon expansion doesn’t just bring jobs; it creates its own economic sector and reshapes large parts of the city and region. Toronto is considered among the most likely to be selected. To run a Seattle-sized headquarters and fulfilment center, Amazon will need somewhere near 50,000 workers with skill-sets ranging from white color corporate executives, mathematical virtuosos, and robotics experts to warehouse foremen, forklift operators, stock...

What does “Buy American” Mean?

The phrase, “buy American” has sent Canadian business people into bouts of the night terrors for over a century. With a relatively small population strung out 200km deep along a 4500km long sea to sea strip, Canada is, at the same time, both too big and too small to sustain a domestic consumer market capable of creating and maintaining middle class incomes. Without free and unfettered access to the vastly larger American market, we will wither much faster than we care to contemplate. North of the 49th parallel, the phrase Buy America is oft heard as “Don’t buy from Canada”. After the terrorist attacks on Manhattan and Washington DC in September 2001, and more recently after the election of Donald Trump as President in November 2016, the phrase Buy American was used as a psychic tourniquet,...

The Rise of the Digital Nomad

A growing number of people have decided to ditch the daily grind and live a life more traveled. They call themselves digital nomads and much like the hitchhiking hippies who thumbed their way around the globe well into the 1980s; their world is an open road waiting to be explored. Advantage Access Today’s digital nomad has a huge advantage over previous generations of working travelers that can make a life of constant travel more economically sustainable than trying to dig roots back home. The advantage is constant connectivity. From near universal ubiquitous WiFi to always-on mobile data, digital nomads can live in the same Internet environments no matter where they are on Earth. Access to high speed Internet is the greatest lifestyle game changer since the invention of cheap airline tick...

A Serious Note on Security from Google

Earlier this week Google started issuing their final notices about the need to upgrade to the Secure Socket Layer HTTPS protocol, telling webmasters if they don’t secure their websites by the end of September pages in their sites will be prefaced with a security warning in the Chrome browser. The Chrome browser, which is made by Google, is used by 44.47% of Canadian web users. Naturally, most webmasters and site owners want to avoid such a warning given the chilling effect it would have on web traffic. Wanting to avoid a problem and knowing what to do about it are two different things. This post is meant to explain the basics of HTTPS, what it means, why Google is forcing the update, and the steps a website owner can take to comply. If you already understand the process, stick around for t...

NAFTA Redux – Renegotiating Prosperity

For over a quarter century, a set of trade agreements with the United States and Mexico have underpinned the Canadian economy and become the primary focus of the economies of Ontario and of Toronto. The original Free Trade Agreement between the US and Canada was signed thirty years ago and expanded to include Mexico in the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement. Before an agreement was in place, North American trade was subject to a patchwork of tariffs, quotas, and often arbitrary duties imposed on goods and services that crossed some of the longest borders in the world. Since the agreements were ratified, three of the world’s largest and most dynamic economies have virtually integrated with each other, forming the one of the largest and most prosperous trading blocs on Earth. Starting ...

A Big Business Centre – Many Spaces for Different Needs

What do a bunch of insurance actuaries, employment consultants, lawyers, employment recruiters, IT start-ups, non-profits, notary publics, immigration consultants, talent agents, modeling companies, photographers, web design firms, and even a couple international airlines have in common? It is something they share with several non-profits, charities, unions, and several professional standards bodies. Each of these businesses shares the same business address. These are some of the types of businesses found when conducting a Google search using “1 Yonge St. Suite 1801” as the keyword query. Established in 1980, Telsec Business Centres provides office space and professional services to hundreds of different businesses in hundreds of different sectors. Working with so many businesses ranging a...

Networked to Foster Success – Canada Business Network

The technology sector is growing at an unprecedented rate in several Canadian cities. From the emergence of new start-ups to the realization that a few of those start-ups will eventually employ hundreds or thousands of staff, it is a good time to be an entrepreneurial Canadian geek. Moreover, all three levels of government in Canada (federal, provincial, and municipal) are primed to help prime the pump with business advice, immigration assistance, and in some cases, even by helping find and provide financing. Previous articles have covered the grants and other financing schemes for new Canadians. Today, let’s take a quick look at business assistance primarily targeted to Canadian citizens. The types of assistance available are slightly different for naturalized Canadians featuring several ...

The Start-Up Visa Programs – Manufacturing Canada’s Gain

Shortly after the November 2016 election of US President Donald Trump a realization spread around the globe that things really were going to change. For nearly two and a half centuries the United States had been the land of opportunity for innovators, inventors, academics and entrepreneurs but suddenly everything was going to be different. That realization, as chilling as it was, didn’t stop those who wanted to be innovators or inventors or academics or entrepreneurs from trying to get to get into the States.  The number of visa applications for foreigners trying to make something of themselves and their ideas in the United States rose in 2016, even as the mood of the electorate swayed dangerously away from common sense and reason. It wasn’t until early March, a few short weeks after he wa...