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In the 'Star Wars' Economy, One Thing Doesn't Pay – Financial Post

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By Adam Minter

(Bloomberg Opinion) — Junk is surprisingly pervasive in “Star Wars,” playing an understated role in nearly every film in the series. In “The Phantom Menace,” we meet young Anakin Skywalker, the future Darth Vader, working at a small electronics scrap yard and repair shop. In “A New Hope,” Luke Skywalker’s uncle buys R2-D2 and C-3PO from a group of Jawas, a species that drive massive, sand-crawling junk trucks. The recently released “Rise of Skywalker” is largely a coming-of-age story for Rey, the last of the Jedi, who spent her youth scavenging electronic scrap on Jakku, a remote outer planet.As a third-generation descendent of earthbound scrap-metal recyclers, I’ve subjected myself to repeated “Star Wars” viewings (even of the bad films), partly just to spot all the junkyard tidbits. Over the years, I’ve developed a theory or two about the waste and recycling economy in the series, and enjoyed sharing it with (primarily) other junkyard descendants. But in 2018, I realized there might be a larger audience for these insights.That year, China — for decades the world’s biggest importer of recyclables — started imposing stringent restrictions on what recycled stuff it would still accept from overseas. In the aftermath, prices for recyclables dropped steeply, raising costs and reducing profits for businesses around the world.Alas, “Star Wars” doesn’t offer any advice on how to find new markets for used plastic detergent jugs. And no, Rey can’t conjure the Force to boost the price of used cardboard boxes. But if you watch the films carefully, they have a good story to tell about turning waste into something that people might want — and, even better, buy.The “Star Wars” universe generates tons of trash, much of it recyclable. Yet for all the scrap yards and scavengers, you see very little actual recycling. Mostly, the metal, plastic and paper seems to get tossed out with the trash. My favorite example occurs in “The Empire Strikes Back.” At a crucial moment, an Imperial star destroyer dumps stadium-sized chunks of metallic garbage into space before jumping to hyperspace (this, according to Han Solo, is Imperial protocol). From an earthbound perspective, this is commercial suicide: Metals are the world’s most recyclable materials, and even villains know there’s money to be made in selling them.But a similar pattern repeats throughout the series. In “The Force Awakens,” early scenes on Jakku are dominated by the wreckage of an immense star destroyer. It’s reminiscent of the huge seagoing vessels that are run onto the beaches of India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan, then disassembled by hand and recycled in a matter of months — down to the individual screws. Crash a star destroyer in Alang, India, one of the world’s hubs for beaching and recycling ships, and pieces of it will be on sale in local markets by lunchtime.The reason for this seemingly irrational behavior is that the “Star Wars” universe doesn’t suffer from a scarcity of resources. There are dozens of mining outposts mentioned in the series, and there always seems to be another planet waiting to be exploited. In a galaxy that enjoys such surpluses, recycling won’t save much money. And the Empire, with its massive spending on planet-destroying weapons like the Death Star, doesn’t seem overly concerned about the environment.So what, then, is the business model that supports so many junkyards and scavengers? Rey, the Jawas, and everyone else who scavenges in the series recognize that there’s more value in a working gadget or spare part than in the raw materials that constitute them. The value is in the energy, engineering and manufacturing required to make the stuff. So, for example, that crashed star destroyer on Jakku isn’t stripped for metal; instead, we see Rey risk her life to scavenge it for reusable components that she can sell. Characters from Chewbacca to Luke Skywalker later demand her recovered parts for the devices and ships that they’ve learned to repair on their own.That business model wouldn’t work for plastic recyclers here on Earth. But the so-called e-waste industry — a category that includes everything from used smartphones to server racks — is rapidly diversifying into business models that look very similar to those practiced by Rey and the Jawas. At a time when recycling markets are depressed, these businesses need a new revenue stream. So rather than trying to recover raw materials that aren’t financially attractive at the moment, they’re seeking out whole gadgets and the parts within them.Robin Ingenthron, the head of Good Point Recycling, tells me that his company was making about $60 a week selling gadgets for reuse out of its scrap pile in 2015. As commodity prices fell, he reoriented the business to extract parts from old televisions and better identify the reusable gadgets already on offer. Today, sales of reusable stuff account for more than $50,000 a month, and around a third of the company’s revenue. Sims Recycling Solutions Inc., one of the world’s biggest electronics recyclers, has steadily shifted away from its traditional shred-and-recycle model to incorporate more reuse and refurbishment in recent years. Others are going even deeper, recovering specific chips from motherboards for reuse.This might come as a surprise to earthly environmentalists. But in the “Star Wars” universe, it’s the way business has always been done. In this respect, at least, the series may offer a model that works just as well here as it does in a galaxy far, far away.

To contact the author of this story: Adam Minter at aminter@bloomberg.net

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Hiring marginalized workers could jump-start economy, boost incomes by $5K: Deloitte – Chilliwack Progress

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Canada’s economy was headed for slowing growth in the next decade even if COVID-19 had never hit, according to a new report by Deloitte Canada.

The report, which looks at more than 1,000 variables to predict how Canada’s economy will look in 2030, suggests that the country will need more workers — with greater productivity — to get the economy chugging at a fast enough pace to pay for climate change initiatives and government investments without raising taxes.

“We believe Canada is the best place in the world to live and work and do industry. If we continue on our current path, that is compromised or in jeopardy,” said Deloitte Canada chief executive Anthony Viel.

The consulting and audit firm’s report comes as the government is laying out ambitious plans to spur the economy forward after the COVID-19 pandemic — and ensuing lockdown — left a record number of Canadians jobless. Last week’s speech from the throne suggested that the government will look toward clean energy investments, as well as disability and jobless supports, in its recovery plan.

Deloitte Canada did not directly address the throne speech in its report. But the firm predicts even a complete return to pre-pandemic “normal” would cause economic growth to slow to 1.7 per cent per year in the next decade. That’s below the past decade’s average of 2.2 per cent growth — which was already lower than the 3.2 per cent growth in the decade leading to the 2008 and 2009 recession.

Amid a low fertility rate — at a time when the share of Canadians over age 65 is expected to nearly double — Canada needs to be more inclusive of groups that are underemployed in the economy, the report found. Getting marginalized groups better integrated in the workforce can grow the tax base and help the government avoid raising tax rates, said Georgina Black, Deloitte Canada’s managing partner of government and public services.

Deloitte’s forecast suggests that the country could replace its retiring workforce by improving employment options for 88,500 women; 377,300 Canadians over age 65; 700,000 immigrants; 517,657 people with disabilities; and between 38,000 and 59,000 Indigenous Canadians.

The theory, Deloitte’s report said, is that boosting the number of hours worked in the economy would lift the pace of yearly economic growth by 50 per cent, adding $4,900 to Canadians’ average annual income by 2030, Deloitte estimated.

For instance, Deloitte cited a survey suggesting that more than 600,000 Canadians with disabilities said they would look for work if minor workplace barriers were removed.

“Many of these inequalities have worsened during the pandemic, with women and under-represented groups far more likely to become unemployed than men or non-racialized groups,” the report said.

Deloitte suggests companies need better disability accommodations and workplace inclusion policies, and should add childcare as a benefit package, noting that during COVID-19, women’s workforce participation dipped to 55 per cent for the first time since the mid-1980s as childcare options dwindled.

In Deloitte’s ideal recovery scenario, schools would offer better apprenticeship options and retraining programs for older workers in shrinking industries, and governments would invest in rural internet infrastructure and childcare for working parents. Regulators would step in under Deloitte’s plan and allow skilled immigrants to use their foreign credentials and degrees. Canada loses as much as $50 billion each year that could be contributed by underemployed immigrants, the firm said.

Despite requiring the government to spend money and set incentives for employers, Deloitte claims that its proposal would boost government revenues by nine per cent without raising taxes.

“More workers and more incomes means more taxes and more investment,” said Viel.

Canadian businesses also need to invest more in technology and late-stage startups, and Deloitte suggested investments should be focused on a few high-growth industries where Canada can be a leader, such as construction, medical equipment and computer system design.

“Government and business (need to) create the conditions where companies want to invest here and not in another country, ” said Black.

Anita Balakrishnan, The Canadian Press

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Hiring marginalized workers could jump-start economy, boost incomes by $5K: Deloitte – Kelowna Capital News

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Canada’s economy was headed for slowing growth in the next decade even if COVID-19 had never hit, according to a new report by Deloitte Canada.

The report, which looks at more than 1,000 variables to predict how Canada’s economy will look in 2030, suggests that the country will need more workers — with greater productivity — to get the economy chugging at a fast enough pace to pay for climate change initiatives and government investments without raising taxes.

“We believe Canada is the best place in the world to live and work and do industry. If we continue on our current path, that is compromised or in jeopardy,” said Deloitte Canada chief executive Anthony Viel.

The consulting and audit firm’s report comes as the government is laying out ambitious plans to spur the economy forward after the COVID-19 pandemic — and ensuing lockdown — left a record number of Canadians jobless. Last week’s speech from the throne suggested that the government will look toward clean energy investments, as well as disability and jobless supports, in its recovery plan.

Deloitte Canada did not directly address the throne speech in its report. But the firm predicts even a complete return to pre-pandemic “normal” would cause economic growth to slow to 1.7 per cent per year in the next decade. That’s below the past decade’s average of 2.2 per cent growth — which was already lower than the 3.2 per cent growth in the decade leading to the 2008 and 2009 recession.

Amid a low fertility rate — at a time when the share of Canadians over age 65 is expected to nearly double — Canada needs to be more inclusive of groups that are underemployed in the economy, the report found. Getting marginalized groups better integrated in the workforce can grow the tax base and help the government avoid raising tax rates, said Georgina Black, Deloitte Canada’s managing partner of government and public services.

Deloitte’s forecast suggests that the country could replace its retiring workforce by improving employment options for 88,500 women; 377,300 Canadians over age 65; 700,000 immigrants; 517,657 people with disabilities; and between 38,000 and 59,000 Indigenous Canadians.

The theory, Deloitte’s report said, is that boosting the number of hours worked in the economy would lift the pace of yearly economic growth by 50 per cent, adding $4,900 to Canadians’ average annual income by 2030, Deloitte estimated.

For instance, Deloitte cited a survey suggesting that more than 600,000 Canadians with disabilities said they would look for work if minor workplace barriers were removed.

“Many of these inequalities have worsened during the pandemic, with women and under-represented groups far more likely to become unemployed than men or non-racialized groups,” the report said.

Deloitte suggests companies need better disability accommodations and workplace inclusion policies, and should add childcare as a benefit package, noting that during COVID-19, women’s workforce participation dipped to 55 per cent for the first time since the mid-1980s as childcare options dwindled.

In Deloitte’s ideal recovery scenario, schools would offer better apprenticeship options and retraining programs for older workers in shrinking industries, and governments would invest in rural internet infrastructure and childcare for working parents. Regulators would step in under Deloitte’s plan and allow skilled immigrants to use their foreign credentials and degrees. Canada loses as much as $50 billion each year that could be contributed by underemployed immigrants, the firm said.

Despite requiring the government to spend money and set incentives for employers, Deloitte claims that its proposal would boost government revenues by nine per cent without raising taxes.

“More workers and more incomes means more taxes and more investment,” said Viel.

Canadian businesses also need to invest more in technology and late-stage startups, and Deloitte suggested investments should be focused on a few high-growth industries where Canada can be a leader, such as construction, medical equipment and computer system design.

“Government and business (need to) create the conditions where companies want to invest here and not in another country, ” said Black.

Anita Balakrishnan, The Canadian Press

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Hiring marginalized workers could jump-start economy, boost incomes by $5K: Deloitte – Agassiz-Harrison Observer

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Canada’s economy was headed for slowing growth in the next decade even if COVID-19 had never hit, according to a new report by Deloitte Canada.

The report, which looks at more than 1,000 variables to predict how Canada’s economy will look in 2030, suggests that the country will need more workers — with greater productivity — to get the economy chugging at a fast enough pace to pay for climate change initiatives and government investments without raising taxes.

“We believe Canada is the best place in the world to live and work and do industry. If we continue on our current path, that is compromised or in jeopardy,” said Deloitte Canada chief executive Anthony Viel.

The consulting and audit firm’s report comes as the government is laying out ambitious plans to spur the economy forward after the COVID-19 pandemic — and ensuing lockdown — left a record number of Canadians jobless. Last week’s speech from the throne suggested that the government will look toward clean energy investments, as well as disability and jobless supports, in its recovery plan.

Deloitte Canada did not directly address the throne speech in its report. But the firm predicts even a complete return to pre-pandemic “normal” would cause economic growth to slow to 1.7 per cent per year in the next decade. That’s below the past decade’s average of 2.2 per cent growth — which was already lower than the 3.2 per cent growth in the decade leading to the 2008 and 2009 recession.

Amid a low fertility rate — at a time when the share of Canadians over age 65 is expected to nearly double — Canada needs to be more inclusive of groups that are underemployed in the economy, the report found. Getting marginalized groups better integrated in the workforce can grow the tax base and help the government avoid raising tax rates, said Georgina Black, Deloitte Canada’s managing partner of government and public services.

Deloitte’s forecast suggests that the country could replace its retiring workforce by improving employment options for 88,500 women; 377,300 Canadians over age 65; 700,000 immigrants; 517,657 people with disabilities; and between 38,000 and 59,000 Indigenous Canadians.

The theory, Deloitte’s report said, is that boosting the number of hours worked in the economy would lift the pace of yearly economic growth by 50 per cent, adding $4,900 to Canadians’ average annual income by 2030, Deloitte estimated.

For instance, Deloitte cited a survey suggesting that more than 600,000 Canadians with disabilities said they would look for work if minor workplace barriers were removed.

“Many of these inequalities have worsened during the pandemic, with women and under-represented groups far more likely to become unemployed than men or non-racialized groups,” the report said.

Deloitte suggests companies need better disability accommodations and workplace inclusion policies, and should add childcare as a benefit package, noting that during COVID-19, women’s workforce participation dipped to 55 per cent for the first time since the mid-1980s as childcare options dwindled.

In Deloitte’s ideal recovery scenario, schools would offer better apprenticeship options and retraining programs for older workers in shrinking industries, and governments would invest in rural internet infrastructure and childcare for working parents. Regulators would step in under Deloitte’s plan and allow skilled immigrants to use their foreign credentials and degrees. Canada loses as much as $50 billion each year that could be contributed by underemployed immigrants, the firm said.

Despite requiring the government to spend money and set incentives for employers, Deloitte claims that its proposal would boost government revenues by nine per cent without raising taxes.

“More workers and more incomes means more taxes and more investment,” said Viel.

Canadian businesses also need to invest more in technology and late-stage startups, and Deloitte suggested investments should be focused on a few high-growth industries where Canada can be a leader, such as construction, medical equipment and computer system design.

“Government and business (need to) create the conditions where companies want to invest here and not in another country, ” said Black.

Anita Balakrishnan, The Canadian Press

Coronaviruseconomy

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