What Is A Recession ?

Definition Of Recession

First Published : May 13, 2009 ADawnJournal.com
Simply put, recession is the opposite of economic growth. A recession can be defined as a decline in the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) for more than two consecutive quarters spreading across the country or across the globe.

GDP measures the performance of an economy. You get GDP by adding goods and services produced within a country’s borders in a year.

Signs Of A Recession

You will see the following when a recession occurs:

– Demands for products and services decline
– Goods and products start piling up in the factory, as no one wants to buy  them
– Firms start to lay-off employees, as there is no need for full-scale production due to unsold inventories
– Unemployment starts to rise
– Real income declines
– Business profits and confidence start to plummet
– Investors hold off on investing new money
– Goods and services start to get heavy discounted, as no one is buying anything anymore
– Government start to borrow money
– It’s a lose-lose situation for everyone

What Causes Recession

Recession can be caused by internal and external factors.

Internal or Domestic factors: Higher interest rates can cause a recession, as it discourages consumers from spending and therefore factories shut down, resulting in lay-offs. Examples of other causes include harmful government policies, a sudden increase of food and resource prices, natural disasters, and terrorist attacks.

External Factors: High oil prices, wars, global political instabilities, currency crisis can cause a recession as well.

What Is A Depression

A depression is kind of a recession but on a large scale and has a greater impact. Here are the common characteristics of a depression:

– Lasts longer
– Much larger decline in economic and business activities
– Real GDP usually declines by more than 10 percent
– Causes panic and public fear

The Great Depression, as it is commonly known, was the last depression the United States and many industrialized countries experienced from 1929 to 1938. During that period, the unemployment rate in America reached 25% and the GDP declined by 33%. The world hasn’t seen anything like the Great Depression in the industrialized nations since. Millions of people were unemployed, homeless, and facing starvation.

The Asian Financial Crisis of the 1990s caused depressions in many Asian and non-Asian countries. Indonesia, Thailand, and South Korea were affected the most among many other Asian countries. Non-Asian countries such as Finland and Russia were hit hard as well. Russia’s GDP fell 40% and Finland’s GDP fell 11%.

Canada's Arctic

Canada’s Claim Over Arctic

Why Now?

Just a few years ago the world has not paid much attention to the vast, abandoned arctic but nowadays its hard not to notice that Canada and arctic being mentioned everywhere, specially after Canada’s prime minister Steven Harper’s trip to Nu navut to reaffirm Canada’s claim over the North. But the question is why now?

It’s all about Global warming, which is opening up huge economic potential in the arctic north mainly for 2 reasons.

1. World is using up its oil fast and to survive the future, we need to look for places which have not been explored yet. Arctic holds oil, gas, minerals, fish and other resources under it’s frigid, barren landscape which stretches thousands of miles. Surveys show that the Arctic contains an estimated one-quarter of the world’s undiscovered energy resources. Also studies suggest that up to 50 per cent of the earth’s remaining undiscovered reserves of hydrocarbons are located north of 60°n latitude. However, the extraction and transportation procedures still remain difficult and expensive. New technologies should cut down the cost considerably by making extraction and transportation procedures efficient and cost effective, just like Alberta tar and oil Sands.

2. The effects of climate change could open up the Northwest Passage to summer commercial traffic by 2015, which links the Atlantic and Pacific Oceanand offers a 7000 KM shorter route than the Europe to Asia voyage through Panama Canal. This summer the Arctic sea ice cap shrank to the smallest size ever measured and scientists believe that in 25 years not just the Northwest Passage, but the whole polar cap could thaw and by the end of this century, summer sea ice could disappear entirely. Some countries are already testing the waters. A Russian ship traveled through the Northwest Passage to Bermuda in 1999 and it saved them a lot of time and money. Japan and other countries researching to find ways to travel through Arctic for large ships.

Canadian or International Waters?

How much of Arctic is Canada’s? Canada claims that the Arctic waters of the Northwest Passage constitute “historic internal waters”, and under Canadian jurisdiction. While most countries agree that many islands dot the Arctic to the north of our mainland belongs to Canada but some countries, most arguably the Unites States does not recognize Canada’s right over waters separating Somerset Island from Devon Island or Melville Island from Banks Island. These countries see the Northwest Passage as an International strait or waters that any countries should be able to use. Hans Island in the Arctic Ocean has already been a matter of diplomatic issue with Denmark. Recently, Danish troops landed on Hans Island and planted a flag (2002 and 2003).Canada responded by doing the same right after (2005), which was the right thing to do to show the world that although we are peace loving people; we won’t tolerate anything when it comes to maintain our sovereignty.

Canada’s Plan For Protecting The Arctic

– Three new armed naval heavy icebreakers in the area of Iqaluit. The icebreakers will include 500 regular force personnel for crews and support and will be capable of carrying troops. This commitment will establish a Canadian naval presence in the Arctic.

– A new military/civilian deep-water docking facility in the area of Iqaluit. 

– A new Arctic National Sensor System for northern waters which will include underwater surveillance listening posts, such as acoustic or movement sensors, that will detect the movement and position of any foreign submarines and ships in Canadian Arctic waters.

– A new Arctic army training centre in the area of Cambridge Bay. 

– New fixed-wing search-and-rescue aircraft in Yellowknife. 

– Provide eastern and western Arctic air surveillance. New long-range unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) squadrons will be stationed at Goose Bay and Comox to provide continuous Arctic and Ocean surveillance and patrol. Also, the Aurora aircraft and the satellite surveillance system will be upgraded to provide a complete Arctic surveillance capability.

– Revitalize the Canadian Rangers by adding 500 additional Rangers. The Rangers’ level of activity and training will be increased and equipment will be upgraded.

– Provide an army emergency response capability for the Arctic through a new airborne battalion at CFB Trenton.

Conclusion

Although Canada and the U.S. may disagree on the Arctic waters issue, it hardly becomes dispute. We can not work this out militarily with our southern neighbours for the obvious reasons. An Arctic cooperation agreement with the U.S. is in place and has worked well so far. Under this agreement, we are to suspend our differences and cooperate in one another’s Arctic waters. This agreement can be extended to include naval cooperation, Arctic security cooperation etc which would be beneficial for both and cost effective. Recent government activities are very positive and hopefully it will not wither away. Further policy discussions have to be arranged to secure Canada’s future most efficient and effective ways.

Originally published on www.adawn.net. I will be transferring all my articles from Canada’s Personal Finance Website. You will see articles from www.adawn.net being posted here once in a while. Thanks.

Scotia To Sun life, "Here Is $2.3 Billion In Cash, Give Me CI."

Scotia Financial & CI Financial

First Published: October 7, 2008 ADawnJournal.com

On Monday morning, investors around globe woke up with a little surprise. The news broke out confirming Sun Life Financial Inc. has agreed to sell its 37% stake in CI Financial Income Fund to Bank of Nova Scotia for $2.3 Billion in  cash. Sun Life first bought 30% of CI in July 2002.

CI is Canada’s number three fund company by assets under management. CI is well known for its wide selection of funds, top-rated portfolio and fund managers, expertise in international funds, and  for creating innovative products. CI Pacific is one of the first Asian funds in Canada, CI was the first company to offer tax efficient corporate class funds, CI was the first fund company to pioneer and launch segregated  funds.

This deal puts Sun life on fire by increasing its capital. Sun Life is seeking growth opportunities within the global financial markets. Recent global financial meltdown has created opportunities to buy companies at incredibly lower prices than anyone can ever imagine. Sun Life does not want to miss out on this.

This deal open up endless possibilities for CI. CI now will be able to use Scotia’s strong distribution channels. There should be increased economies of scale and possibly lower MER for shareholders.

One thing is not clear about this deal – what happens to the special relationship existed between CI and Sun Life? CI has an ongoing distribution agreement with CI. Once Sun Life is no longer the big brother, will there be any motivation for Sun Life to act as a big brother?

Ten Tips to Survive Global Financial Meltdown

How You Can Survive the Economic Crisis

First Published: Oct 30, 2008 ADawnJournal.com

In light of the recent global financial meltdown, it is imperative that I write a post on how to survive this financial nightmare. The good old days of 2007 are but a memory now and all we can do is to hope that this nightmare will be over soon. In the meantime, here is what you can do to survive the current volatility:

1.   Protect Your Job – Stay put with your current job. A new job is a lot harder to find in a financial crisis like this. Give your boss more than you are required to do on a daily basis; volunteer on a new project, volunteer to stay on some extra hours when required, etc.

2.   Have an Emergency Fund – I recommend setting aside at least six months expenses in a separate account. You should never touch this account unless you lose your regular job or your regular monthly income stops flowing in. If you don’t have an emergency fund, start building it now. This is something you need to do only once in your lifetime.

3.   Reduce Your Debt – When you have debt, you are no longer in control of your life. You are instead working hard to pay interests to your financial institutions. If you lose your job, you will be in a more high-risk position than someone who does not have any debt. Stop borrowing more money and concentrate on paying off your existing debts.

4.   Reduce Your Expenses – Do you really need to have five features on your cell phone that you never use or one thousand cable channels that you never watch? When was the last time you visited your gym? Although your gym membership fees are still appearing every month on your bill, do you go? If you can reduce you expenses here and there for small amounts, it will all add up and turn into a large amount at the end of each month.

5.   Have An Additional Income Flow – Start looking into generating a second income. You can earn additional money on top of your regular nine-to-five job by starting an ebusiness, writing a book, starting a blog, doing a part-time job, starting a home business, etc. I earn additional money from Invest Now and from A Dawn Journal. It’s always good to have a secondary income source and keep increasing it gradually so one day you will earn enough money to quit your traditional nine-to-five-job. Read ADJ regularly to learn more on this.

6.   Continue Automatic Saving Plan – If you are saving automatically from your paycheck or bank account, there is no need to stop it. Continue your long term saving plans. One major mistake we always make in market turmoil is that we stop putting money aside and end up spending this extra money. When conditions return to normal, the automatic saving plan you stopped never gets started again.

7.   Learn To Invest – If you are not familiar with investments, learn how to invest. Asking you to learn investments may sound conflicting in a financial crisis like the one we are going through now, but don’t make the mistake of staying away from investments. There will always be volatility in the market, but when it comes to achieving long-term goals nothing beats the stock market. Research has shown that the stock market has averaged an annual 11% rate of return over the last 120 years. Cash has managed to return only 4% annually for the same 120 years. You may be surprised to know that stock markets actually have outperformed home values by a considerable margin in the long run. Stay invested for the long run—through good and bad times, through market ups and downs. Take a few courses, read investment sites, blogs, and financial books to increase your knowledge. In Invest Now, I discussed how anyone can start investing with $25, and I also provided lots of tools to realize your financial goals.

8.   Live A Simple Life – Simplify your life—live rich, live longer. It’s that simple. Do you really need that latest iPhone, HD Plasma TV, BMW, and gigantic house? We spend our precious life energy on the weekdays to earn money so we can spend it on the weekends. We work to pay our daily expenses, but we end up spending more than we make on things we do not need. So we go back to work to get money to pay interest on money we’ve already overspent. Stop using credit cards, live within your limits, help other people, and donate to charity whenever possible .

9.   Diversify, Diversify, Diversify – The old adage “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket” is still true to this day. Regardless of market conditions, some sectors will always go up and some will always go down. Try to spread out your investments across different sectors such as index funds investing across a variety of businesses, cash, real estate, bonds, cash, natural resources, and so on.

10.   Relax: Don’t Panic – Relax—this is not the end of the world. Avoid unnecessary risks by not making panic-filled emotional decisions. We survived the Great Depression , the 1970s oil shock, the 1980s crash, the 2000 tech crash, and we will survive the 2008 meltdown as well.

Why Are Poor Countries Poor and Stay Poor?

Why Are Poor Countries Poor?

First Published: ADawnJournal.com : July 9, 2013

Although it sounds like an easy question to answer, in reality this is not something so simple. There could be hundreds of bizarre reasons why some countries are poor and stay that way. Also, this is one of the most controversial and debated topics on earth, and everyone can come up with their own arguments. Today, I will discuss my own three reasons to touch base on this.

1. Lack of Specialization

If you look at majority of the poor countries on earth, you will see that most of them are agricultural or are a raw material-based society where the majority of the population make a living based on agriculture or raw material production. If they want to produce these more to make money, it simply won’t happen due to the diminishing returns to scale. It simply means that if poor countries will produce more to make more money, they will actually make less money. This is because when you produce something that does not require any specialization or innovation, producing more without increased productivity will lower its prices – and each additional worker assigned to produce without productivity and innovation will produce less than the person before. Thus, producing more will decrease prices – making things even worse.

2. Corruption

Regardless where you look at, from Bangladesh to Burundi or Philippines to Paraguay, one thing all these countries have in common is corruption. There is corruption everywhere on most of the world’s poor countries, including in all levels of government, police, and the very anti-corruption departments that are supposed to look after corruption. When the government can not guarantee the basic rule of law, everything falls apart in the society. Think of this: Why would be a police officer interested in catching a robber who just killed a businessman for $100? He won’t – because he knows if he tries to prosecute the robber, he would lose his job as the robber looks after interests for one of the ministers. So it makes more sense for the police officer to grab $20 (of the $100 the criminal robbed) and let him go. It’s a win-win situation for all, except the businessman who just lost his life for such a small amount. Find it hard to believe? If you are from one of the top least corrupt countries on the Corruption Perception Index list, you will have a hard time believing it. But if you are one of the worst corrupt countries on the same list, you already know that this is very common in your country.

3. Poverty Itself

This may sound little a bit bizarre, but poverty itself may be the reason that prevents countries from getting out of poverty. Populations in poor countries are engaged in securing enough income to feed their families. It’s not an option for lots of them to enhance their knowledge in education, science & technology, arts, specialized skills, etc. to go beyond their boundaries to earn more income. If you look at it on a larger scale, the same applies to the government level. Government does not have enough money to invest in research and development to secure a better future and higher standard of living for their citizens. Even though if there was enough money, government would not spend it for the benefits of its citizens because politicians are occupied stealing money from every possible resource to buy properties, increase their bank balances, and securing higher education for their kids in 1st world countries. If you look at the high-ranking government officials in any of the poor countries, you will find out that their families and children are going to the universities in countries such as Canada, America, Australia, and so on. These families and children do not rent to live in those 1st world countries – they own their properties and drive high-end cars that even impossible to afford for many people in the first world countries.

What I have discussed so far are just some of the highlights from many reasons why some countries are poor and will remain poor. Actually, this topic can be neverending, as there are so many other factors that can come into play. However, my belief is that corruption is one of the most important factors (if not the most important) that makes countries poor and keep them poor for good. If you think deeply, you will see that most of the obstacles poor countries have (that keep them poor) can be easily avoided if bad people stop stealing money, which will stop the leakage that drains out the money. You can not fill up a tank, regardless how much water you pour in, if there are holes in the tank. It does not matter if you buy new tanks, color the tanks, use better material to build better tanks – because you are ignoring the basic fact, which is you have to close the leaks in those tanks first.