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Calgary Santas vow no lumps of coal as city stares down economic Grinch – Calgary Herald

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Santa, whose elf name is Michael Shepherd, poses in Calgary, Alta on Friday December 16, 2016. Jim Wells//Postmedia


A quarter-century after his first gig as a Calgary Santa, Michael Shepherd says the city’s economic doldrums haven’t dulled the twinkle in his eyes.

But they have made him adapt to a fiscal reality that’s played Grinch with some of his bigger jobs.

“There was one company with a $1,000 gig and one with a $500 or $600 one — and those are gone,” said Shepherd.

“There are layoffs and not so many kids, but there are some places that have doubled their (Santa) hours.”

The veteran St. Nick said he’s remained busy this holiday season, a dozen years after he left the shopping mall throne to do corporate and other party appearances.

But the nature of some of those jobs has changed.

If companies once had an adult Christmas party and another for their children that both demanded a Santa, “most places have gone just with the kids’,” said Shepherd.

Magicians, he said, are doing worse.

But if one of the city’s few dozen professional jolly old elves are short a few jobs, their red-suited colleagues will come sleighing to the rescue as part of a Santa support network, said Shepherd.

“I’ve turned gigs over to them . . . we all have to work together, we have to,” he said, adding he personally knows 10 other local Santas.

“There’s no need of a union.”

But some things never change, said Shepherd, who’ll join adults in their holiday merriment when the time is right.

When that moment arrives, he’ll peel off his red suit to spare it drink and food spills, and avoid dry-cleaning bills, in favour of underlying Kris Kringle apparel.

“For Kris Kringle, it’s just a puffy shirt, it doesn’t take long to clean,” he said.

The dean of Calgary’s Santa School also said its graduates have had to adapt to lumps of economic coal.

“While we might once have done a lot of corporate things, maybe (there are) more mall things instead,” said Jennifer Andrews.

“Some of our corporate customers are out of business, but if people aren’t paying top dollars, (Santas) are still finding a way to do it.”

Overall, bookings remain numerous, though the Santas have noticed some of the gifts at functions “aren’t as big as they always were, but there are still presents,” said Andrews.

Over the past 10 years, the Santa School has trained hundreds of red-clad mirth-makers while finding its grads bookings, she said.

Some of them have gone on to spread joy in places as far flung as Malaysia, Hong Kong and Sweden.

Calgary’s slumping economy, she said, has only bolstered the number of enrollees at the school.

“These are people that have been laid off or packaged out, and this is something they were definitely interested in pursuing but never had the time,” said Andrews.

Among those doing Santa on the side are an ex-RCMP officer, military vets, a judge, a physiotherapist and a lawyer, she said.

A laid-off oil and gas worker is “an excellent Santa, it’s his whole paycheque,” said Andrews.

No matter what happens to the economy, there’ll always be a place for Santas, catering to both adults and younger true believers, said Shepherd.

“I’ll do this until I die,” he said.

Said Andrews: “You speak to the needs of what they are now — you evolve, you always want to keep the magic alive.”

BKaufmann@postmedia.com

Twitter: @BillKaufmannjrn

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Impeachment will further obscure Trump's contested economic legacy – CBC.ca

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President Donald Trump claimed to support the little guy against the elite.

But after four years in power, examination of Donald Trump’s economic record in reaching that goal has been set aside as the impeachment fight moves on to the Senate.

Just as a new report by a U.S. business group shows Trump’s trade battles with China alone led to major job losses, there is a danger that as factions take sides over whether he did or did not incite an insurrection, the president’s economic successes and failures will be obscured.

There are still plenty in the U.S. financial sector who celebrate the tax cuts and low interest rates that propelled markets to new heights. But markets are not necessarily a good proxy for economic success, something repeatedly pointed out by Janet Yellen when she chaired the U.S. Federal Reserve.

“The stock market isn’t the economy,” said Yellen, who U.S. president-elect Joe Biden has said he will nominate as the first woman treasury secretary, in 2020. “The economy is production and jobs, and there are shortfalls in virtually every sector.”

That flawed relationship has certainly shown itself to be true over the past year as the COVID-19 pandemic overwhelmed the U.S. economy. Growth figures for the year, out later this month, are expected by economists to show U.S. GDP shrank by about three per cent even while the stock market finished the year at record highs.

Economic champions?

There is little doubt that Trump and his administration staked out their turf as champions of the economy. But some of the policies that they supported, including down-playing the impact of the virus to allow the economy to remain open, proved to be short-sighted.

While it is impossible to prove, many critics have said earlier acceptance of the pandemic’s dangers could have reduced the devastating effects of the pandemic not just on the record-setting death toll in the U.S., but on the economy as well. 

One of the great successes of the Trump administration was on job growth. Despite their opponents’ objections to the post-Reagan conservative strategy of letting the economy rip at the expense of government planning and spending, unemployment rates repeatedly fell to new record lows.

Just before the pandemic came and swept it all away, wage rates for the lowest-paid workers were beginning to creep up. Yellen’s successor at the Fed, Jerome Powell, has said that as the poor suffered the most from COVID-19 job losses, it could be years before wages would start to rise again.

People line up in Kentucky in June 2020 to get help with COVID-19 jobless claims. Before the pandemic a major Trump success was low unemployment and early signs of rising wages. (Bryan Woolston/Reuters)

Failing to plan for the future is a good economic strategy if nothing goes wrong, but the arrival of COVID-19 was an example of why that is not a foolproof approach. Shortages of personal protective equipment, the weakening of the once-mighty U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and failure to build a promised working replacement for Obamacare likely made the economic impact of the pandemic worse.

In this regard the U.S. was not alone. Canada had also let its guard down, including its failed reorganization of the country’s Global Public Health Intelligence Network, which has previously led the world as an early warning system for disease outbreaks.

Aversion to planning and failure to take expert advice can lead to short term advantages, like keeping costs down. But in areas such as climate change planning, many otherwise conservative business leaders have made the case for a long term economic benefit in leading the way on green measures. Now, under Biden, U.S. industry will be playing catch-up.

WATCH | Even pre-pandemic, there were holes in the U.S. economy (Feb. 2020):

U.S. President Donald Trump often points to the rising stock market when he claims responsibility for economic strength, but he doesn’t mention a lack of job growth or struggling sectors including manufacturing and coal. 2:19

Economics by populist appeal

Perhaps one of the biggest flaws in Trump’s economic strategy was that he chose policy based on how it would appeal to the ideology of his populist base. Sometimes things that appeal to a large number of people are simply wrong. 

Immigration is one example. Blocking the arrival of highly skilled foreigners may sound like it is saving jobs for U.S. citizens, but the policy that helped Canada grab some of those people instead, is widely seen by labour economists as having the opposite effect.

Protectionism is another example. Trump’s attacks on Canada as a trade cheat may have played well to the Make America Great Again audience, but they were almost universally opposed by economists and U.S. businesses interested in making the economy stronger.

Tear gas is released into the crowd at the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6. An economy even more divided between rich and poor may actually hurt Trump supporters even while it inflames their political outrage with the current system. (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)

Trump’s hard line on Canada and the renegotiation of NAFTA may have gained the U.S. some small advantages in the short term but also lost as much in good will. Wins and losses are hard to calculate, but last week Reuters reported on a study by U.S. businesses that showed Trump’s trade war with China, rather than bringing employment home, cost the economy 245,000 jobs.

Perhaps the biggest flaw in Trump’s economic strategy is the one that he celebrated as his biggest success: his $1.5-trillion overhaul of the U.S. tax system. While claiming to speak for poorer working Americans, it has been widely recorded that Trump’s financial support came from the rich who benefited from tax cuts and rising markets.

Especially after the impact of COVID-19, those measures have left the U.S. more starkly divided between rich and poor than when Trump took office.

Meanwhile, some of those who supported and benefited from Trump’s economic policy, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, have now added their voices to the chorus criticizing the president.

Now, rather than taking a hard look at Trump’s economic policy, what went right and what went wrong, the impeachment may actually create even greater division.

Whether the Senate ultimately votes to convict Trump or not, the rising temperature of political outrage will make sober analysis next to impossible, with the danger of leaving the Trump presidency’s net benefit for the U.S. economy poorly examined.

Follow Don Pittis on Twitter @don_pittis

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China’s Growth Beats Estimates as Economy Powers Out of Covid – Yahoo Canada Finance

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GlobeNewswire

Industry Convergence And Innovative Technologies Positioning Cars As Vehicles Of Health, Global, 2025

The automotive industry, already reeling under a challenging 2019, has been dealt a further blow by Coronavirus (COVID-19) , since the demand for durable goods such as new passenger cars, light commercial vehicles (LCVs), and allied mobility activities will halt for the time being and later due to a change in purchasing priority.New York, Jan. 18, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Reportlinker.com announces the release of the report “Industry Convergence And Innovative Technologies Positioning Cars As Vehicles Of Health, Global, 2025” – https://www.reportlinker.com/p06008255/?utm_source=GNW Amidst this socio-economic calamity, there are some business verticals that are well positioned to crest a wave of new opportunities thrown up by the COVID storm. In the process, the analyst expects the Health, Wellness, & Wellbeing (HWW) component in the Automotive Industry to surge in order to reposition focus areas and charter new growth paradigms. Healthcare digitisation, emergence of mHealth apps, and their integration in the car for clean and pathogen-free interiors, driver monitoring, and diagnosis are expected to gain strong footholds in the industry. The entire research report has been analysed based on 3 possible routes of solution delivery by automotive companies can take: built-in, brought-in, and beamed-in. The built-in route encompasses HWW features enabled through hardware like, for instance, sensors that are factory fit into vehicles by auto manufacturers. Brought-in HWW features will happen through devices brought in by drivers and passengers, such as smartphones, smart glasses, smart headsets, and smart watches. Finally, beamed-in solutions will basically be cloud-based and will be enabled in vehicles via secure virtual technology platforms from secured private/public databases. In response to the recent COVID pandemic, a few automakers have already started work on redesigning their cars. Similar trends are playing out in the aftermarket with a focus on innovative products that aid in-vehicle air purification. For example, Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) has been working on advanced ultraviolet (UV) ray technology that can kill germs while Geely has already launched an SUV equipped with an N95 air-filtration system capable of purifying air of bacteria and viruses.Meanwhile, Droom, the aftermarket player is offering an antimicrobial surface protection shield for cars and two-wheelers which will be effective against SARS and other droplet-based viruses. Another player Gr?nlite™ utilises industry-leading UV technology and integrated smart sensors to detect when a vehicle is unoccupied and automatically emit a dose of UV-C light that disinfects the vehicle.It is quite evident that there are opportunities for the automotive sector to connect to the medical world, enhance the user experience, and enhance the daily life of their customers. In order to integrate medical features in the automotive environment, it is of great importance the legislative landscape is known, which on the flipside is also a challenge. Declaring the vehicle as a medical device might require the whole vehicle to be certified through non-vehicle traditional channels like FDA. Then there is also the bigger problem of liability and ambiguities in privacy law. These, coupled with the mix of stakeholders involved, highlight the high probability of failure and high risk of conflicts and liability concerns.However, with developments in the market, we expect the regulations to also evolve. With the right set of partners, we can expect HWW to grow as a separate, dedicated theme (just like safety and convenience) by 2025.Read the full report: https://www.reportlinker.com/p06008255/?utm_source=GNWAbout ReportlinkerReportLinker is an award-winning market research solution. Reportlinker finds and organizes the latest industry data so you get all the market research you need – instantly, in one place.__________________________ CONTACT: Clare: clare@reportlinker.com US: (339)-368-6001 Intl: +1 339-368-6001

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Impeachment will further obscure Trump's contested economic legacy – CBC.ca

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President Donald Trump claimed to support the little guy against the elite.

But after four years in power, examination of Donald Trump’s economic record in reaching that goal has been set aside as the impeachment fight moves on to the Senate.

Just as a new report by a U.S. business group shows Trump’s trade battles with China alone led to major job losses, there is a danger that as factions take sides over whether he did or did not incite an insurrection, the president’s economic successes and failures will be obscured.

There are still plenty in the U.S. financial sector who celebrate the tax cuts and low interest rates that propelled markets to new heights. But markets are not necessarily a good proxy for economic success, something repeatedly pointed out by Janet Yellen when she chaired the U.S. Federal Reserve.

“The stock market isn’t the economy,” said Yellen, who U.S. president-elect Joe Biden has said he will nominate as the first woman treasury secretary, in 2020. “The economy is production and jobs, and there are shortfalls in virtually every sector.”

That flawed relationship has certainly shown itself to be true over the past year as the COVID-19 pandemic overwhelmed the U.S. economy. Growth figures for the year, out later this month, are expected by economists to show U.S. GDP shrank by about three per cent even while the stock market finished the year at record highs.

Economic champions?

There is little doubt that Trump and his administration staked out their turf as champions of the economy. But some of the policies that they supported, including down-playing the impact of the virus to allow the economy to remain open, proved to be short-sighted.

While it is impossible to prove, many critics have said earlier acceptance of the pandemic’s dangers could have reduced the devastating effects of the pandemic not just on the record-setting death toll in the U.S., but on the economy as well. 

One of the great successes of the Trump administration was on job growth. Despite their opponents’ objections to the post-Reagan conservative strategy of letting the economy rip at the expense of government planning and spending, unemployment rates repeatedly fell to new record lows.

Just before the pandemic came and swept it all away, wage rates for the lowest-paid workers were beginning to creep up. Yellen’s successor at the Fed, Jerome Powell, has said that as the poor suffered the most from COVID-19 job losses, it could be years before wages would start to rise again.

People line up in Kentucky in June 2020 to get help with COVID-19 jobless claims. Before the pandemic a major Trump success was low unemployment and early signs of rising wages. (Bryan Woolston/Reuters)

Failing to plan for the future is a good economic strategy if nothing goes wrong, but the arrival of COVID-19 was an example of why that is not a foolproof approach. Shortages of personal protective equipment, the weakening of the once-mighty U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and failure to build a promised working replacement for Obamacare likely made the economic impact of the pandemic worse.

In this regard the U.S. was not alone. Canada had also let its guard down, including its failed reorganization of the country’s Global Public Health Intelligence Network, which has previously led the world as an early warning system for disease outbreaks.

Aversion to planning and failure to take expert advice can lead to short term advantages, like keeping costs down. But in areas such as climate change planning, many otherwise conservative business leaders have made the case for a long term economic benefit in leading the way on green measures. Now, under Biden, U.S. industry will be playing catch-up.

WATCH | Even pre-pandemic, there were holes in the U.S. economy (Feb. 2020):

U.S. President Donald Trump often points to the rising stock market when he claims responsibility for economic strength, but he doesn’t mention a lack of job growth or struggling sectors including manufacturing and coal. 2:19

Economics by populist appeal

Perhaps one of the biggest flaws in Trump’s economic strategy was that he chose policy based on how it would appeal to the ideology of his populist base. Sometimes things that appeal to a large number of people are simply wrong. 

Immigration is one example. Blocking the arrival of highly skilled foreigners may sound like it is saving jobs for U.S. citizens, but the policy that helped Canada grab some of those people instead, is widely seen by labour economists as having the opposite effect.

Protectionism is another example. Trump’s attacks on Canada as a trade cheat may have played well to the Make America Great Again audience, but they were almost universally opposed by economists and U.S. businesses interested in making the economy stronger.

Tear gas is released into the crowd at the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6. An economy even more divided between rich and poor may actually hurt Trump supporters even while it inflames their political outrage with the current system. (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)

Trump’s hard line on Canada and the renegotiation of NAFTA may have gained the U.S. some small advantages in the short term but also lost as much in good will. Wins and losses are hard to calculate, but last week Reuters reported on a study by U.S. businesses that showed Trump’s trade war with China, rather than bringing employment home, cost the economy 245,000 jobs.

Perhaps the biggest flaw in Trump’s economic strategy is the one that he celebrated as his biggest success: his $1.5-trillion overhaul of the U.S. tax system. While claiming to speak for poorer working Americans, it has been widely recorded that Trump’s financial support came from the rich who benefited from tax cuts and rising markets.

Especially after the impact of COVID-19, those measures have left the U.S. more starkly divided between rich and poor than when Trump took office.

Meanwhile, some of those who supported and benefited from Trump’s economic policy, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, have now added their voices to the chorus criticizing the president.

Now, rather than taking a hard look at Trump’s economic policy, what went right and what went wrong, the impeachment may actually create even greater division.

Whether the Senate ultimately votes to convict Trump or not, the rising temperature of political outrage will make sober analysis next to impossible, with the danger of leaving the Trump presidency’s net benefit for the U.S. economy poorly examined.

Follow Don Pittis on Twitter @don_pittis

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