2014 had some attention-grabbing financial stories that are no doubt being featured in most business news year-end recaps. Here are some random events that I found of interest.
1. Burger King gobbles up Tim Hortons
Canadian’s beloved Tim Hortons chain agreed to a merger with Burger King creating the world’s third largest fast-food company – Restaurant Brands International.
Perhaps learning from ill-fated Target’s treatment of long-time Zeller’s employees, the new entity vowed that no Tim’s employees would be put out of work.
Related: What I learned from working retail
Hopefully, they won’t mess with the Boston Cream recipe.
2. Tanking oil prices
In June a barrel of oil cost over US$100. As of this writing it sits at $53.94, fluctuating daily from a low of barely $50. The sudden and dramatic decline was blamed on less world demand and ramped up supply from US shale production and the flooding of the market by OPEC countries.
Alberta oil sands producers will still maintain production. Analysts say most will weather the storm but look for cutbacks in expenditures such as exploration, equipment and supplies.
Meanwhile, consumers are liking the lower gasoline prices. BC Ferries have lowered their prices and the airlines have promised to do the same early in the New Year.
3. What Canadians are earning
Statistics Canada recently released its latest income survey. The median after-tax income for a Canadian family was $71,700. How do you compare?
There are striking differences among the provinces. The lowest income is in New Brunswick at $59,300, but is more equally distributed. The top 10% of earners take in 21% of the income.
The most unequal distribution is in Alberta, where the top 10% earns over 50% of the income. The median income in Alberta is also the highest at $92,300.
Ontario and British Columbia weigh in at close to the national median income at $73,700 and $72,200 respectively.
These figures are from 2012. I have to wonder if there will be a marked difference, especially in Alberta, going forward.
4. How do I get my pet to support me?
Grumpy Cat (real name Tardar Sauce) became an Internet sensation when her owners posted a YouTube video of her – just because of her grumpy look.
Grumpy Cat has reportedly earned almost $100 million through merchandise sales – including two books and a calendar – an endorsement deal with Friskies cat food, and stars in a feature movie called “Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever.” She has made numerous media appearances and has been featured in various magazines, including the Wall Street Journal.
Owner, Tabatha Bundesen, has easily reached her own “findependence.” She has quit her waitressing job and now manages Grumpy’s schedule.
5. And, where to put those earnings
In the most recent Ipsos-Reid survey on Canadian Financial Institutions, it’s no surprise that Credit Unions won for overall Customer Service Excellence for the tenth consecutive year.
- PC Financial for Value for Money
- Tangerine for Products and Service Excellence
Among the Big Five Banks, TD took top honours for Customer Service Excellence and well as Value for Money and Product and Service Excellence.
This comes as no surprise considering recently retired TD President and CEO, Ed Clark had that same role at Canada Trust – unarguably the most popular financial institution in its time – before the two companies merged.
The CRA announced that the annual inflation adjustment would be 1.7% for 2015. This increase applies to such things as federal tax brackets, non-refundable tax credits, and CPP and OAS payments.
The Tax Free Savings Account contribution limit, however, remains the same at $5,500 for 2015.
Finally, we wish you a very happy and prosperous New Year.