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Restaurants fear for their future amid job-action liquor rationing – Times Colonist



The owner of Finn’s Seafood Chops and Cocktails restaurant on Wharf Street is “feeling sick” about the province’s decision to impose liquor rationing in government-owned stores as it reacts to job action at distribution warehouses.

David Cooper said Friday that the same level of rationing applies to a 12-seat cafe as to his 350-seat downtown restaurant.

“I just can’t for the life of me ­understand what they were thinking.”

He understands the need to impose restrictions to prevent runs on products but the way it was done shows ­“complete carelessness towards ­businesses. … It just makes me feel sick. I feel sick for nightclub owners.”

Finn’s is in its high season and the restaurant sector has been hard hit through the pandemic. “We are trying to make whatever money we can to get through the winter,” Cooper said.

The restaurant has enough inventory to get through the coming weekend, he said, anticipating the situation will become more challenging if it continues.

Many restaurants receive liquor orders one to two times per week.

The province has announced that no more than three of any individual item may be purchased per customer per day at B.C.-owned liquor stores. Beer ­purchases are exempt. This applies to both a business customer and an ­individual.

Four- and six-packs and other ­products in similar formats count as one product.

Limits came into effect after the B.C. General Employees’ Union began ­limited job action this week. Pickets have gone up around four liquor distribution warehouses. One is in Victoria.

The union is seeking wage increases and cost-of-living protection.

Shellie Gudgeon, who owns Il Terrazzo Ristorante with husband Mike, is in a better position than many, saying, “at this point, we have a large inventory.”

The restaurant’s 30-year anniversary is in November. Gudgeon is concerned for owners of newer restaurants, saying they don’t have extra cash to carry much of an inventory of liquor.

Jayme Beaudry, general manager of Zambri’s restaurant, moved quickly to stock up when the job action began. The restaurant, which serves Italian wine, is okay for at least two weeks.

She is hoping other restaurants stocked up too. “But if they didn’t have the chance to as of today, you’re basically out of luck because you can’t get by with three bottles of wine.”

Ian Tostenson, chief executive of the B.C. Restaurant and Foodservices Association, said restrictions “could not come at a worse time for our industry.” It has not yet recovered from the impact of the pandemic.

Along with a labour shortage facing the hospitality sector, the limits could cause some businesses to shut down temporarily, he said.

No one knows how long the job action at warehouses will last, he said.

He expects restaurants will shift to local products but said there is not an unlimited supply.

Under the new rules, which do not have an end date, restaurants can buy directly from B.C. wineries, craft distilleries and craft beer outlets.

“The whole thing is a mess,” Tostenson said. It’s a mess because of uncertainty for businesses, because the industry is not in a position to take this on financially or with the current labour situation. “The consequences are real.”

People in the sector are angry and scared, he said.

Jeff Guignard, executive director of the Alliance of Beverage Licensees, predicts some products will be sold out as early as this weekend due to rationing. His group represents private liquor stores, bars, pubs and retail cannabit outlets.

“Today we are asking both sides to get back to the table immediately and find a deal, because this is now impacting B.C.’s entire $1.5-billion liquor industry, thousands of small businesses and 200,000 workers that we employ,” he said at a press conference.

Private liquor stores are not planning to impose similar limits on purchases, he said.

Some retailers have seen limited “panic buying” because of job action and the rationing could make it worse.

Cannabis stores are also affected because their products come from provincial warehouses behind picket lines as well.

Kevin Marr, assistant manager Pineapple Express on Esquimalt Road, said regular weekly orders arrive on Wednesdays. “I can definitely see our stock is starting to dwindle a bit.”

Right now, “there are some very popular products that we are completely out of” while others are at lower inventory than usual. Pineapple Express has alternate products for customers, he said.

Rationing has not been imposed for cannabis sales.

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US bear market deepens: What that means for you – Al Jazeera English



United States stocks slumped further this week as investors navigated a barrage of bad news.

Central banks around the world have been scrambling to fight soaring high inflation by increasing the cost of borrowing without hurting long-term growth prospects. Adding to the uncertainty and fear are rising tensions between the West and Russia following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

In the US, the S&P 500 – a proxy for the health of retirement and college savings accounts – this week fell to its lowest level in almost two years and was set for a monthly decline of nearly 8 percent.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 has dropped nearly 33 percent so far in 2022, the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost more than 20 percent while the world’s best-known cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, shed nearly 60 percent of its value. Home prices are also dropping as interest rates soar, making loans for potential buyers more expensive.

The Federal Reserve, the country’s central bank, is tasked with fighting the highest inflation in decades and has been doing that by raising interest rates. But can it increase the cost of capital to reduce demand and moderate prices without plunging the economy into a deep recession?

“It’s really a no-win situation at this point. Largely because of the number of shocks policymakers have had to deal with,” Cristian deRitis, leading economist at Moody’s, a research firm based in New York, explained to Al Jazeera.

How much further down can stocks go? What is a bear market exactly? And is there a light at the end of the tunnel?

Here’s the short answer.

I keep hearing that the US is in a bear market. What is that exactly?

A bear market occurs when a broad market index dips more than 20 percent from recent highs.

Why is the US currently in a bear market?

“Persisting concerns over inflation and the Fed’s ability to tame prices without a hard landing,” is how Peter Essele, head of portfolio management at Commonwealth Financial Network, a Massachusetts-based firm, explained it.

What’s the reason behind the high inflation and why are prices out of control?

Kenneth McLaughlin, professor of economics at Hunter College in New York, told Al Jazeera that one of the reasons is the federal government “injecting $5 trillion into the economy including through stimulus checks during the pandemic with kind of good intentions but with no plans to pay for it.”

In other words?

Think back to early 2020 when businesses shuttered and economies came to a standstill to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Millions of Americans found themselves under lockdown with nowhere to go and spend the fresh-off-the-press stimulus checks. That caused equity prices, be it stocks, Bitcoin and home prices across the US, to skyrocket. It also caused a surge in demand for goods and that, as we see now, has led to the highest rise in the cost of living seen in decades.

A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S
The war in Ukraine and growing tensions between the West and Russia are expected to continue to spook investors and roil markets [File: Brendan McDermid/Reuters]

How does this cause the stock market to go down?

As the Fed raises rates, which is essentially increasing the cost of borrowing in order to bring down the price of goods and services, people start to fear a slowdown in the economy. This pushes down the price of stocks and other investments.

Are the current economic conditions really just the consequence of what happened in the last 2 years?

The last two years have been unprecedented in many aspects. But what we are seeing today can also be attributed to the extremely low interest rates of the last decade when, following the financial crisis of 2007-2008, the government made it cheaper for Americans to borrow, Essele told Al Jazeera.

Didn’t the markets just have a rally?

Stocks did experience a rally in August. Things were looking up when petrol prices, which had soared in earlier months, dropped sharply. Investors held on to the hope that perhaps the Fed would ease on the interest rate hikes if the inflation numbers for August showed that consumer prices had cooled. But despite cheaper petrol, food and other essential goods, prices remained high – surging 8.3 percent in August compared with a year earlier.

Where are we now?

“Inflation is becoming more structural and investors are now concerned about stagflation,” Essele explained to Al Jazeera, suggesting that price hikes may be here to stay for the long haul. Stagflation is a mashup of the words “inflation” and “stagnation” and refers to a situation when inflation is high even as the rate of economic growth slows down.

So what does the future hold? And how long will this bear market last?

Expect above-average price pressures. The war in Ukraine and growing tensions between the West and Russia add to the uncertainty and will continue to spook investors and roil markets.

“But we are likely in three-quarters of the way through the bear market,” Essele predicted.

I don’t own any stocks, why should I care about a bear market?

While stock investors are the ones most directly affected by a US bear market, there are spillover effects to the rest of the economy primarily due to the “wealth effect”. That is, as households see the value of their retirement and stock portfolios decline, they will pull back on their spending.

“Given how dependent the US economy is on consumer spending, this impact can be significant and widespread,” Moody’s deRitis told Al Jazeera. “Discretionary sectors such as travel, leisure, and hospitality may feel the most immediate effect but other industries such as housing and retail trade will experience reduced demand as households grow cautious.”

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Ontario Securities Commission files allegations of fraud in multimillion-dollar crypto offering – CP24



TORONTO – The Ontario Securities Commission says it has filed allegations against Troy Richard James Hogg related to a crypto token offering that raised US$51 million.

The statement of allegations says that between May 2017 and June 2019, Hogg, an Ontario resident, promoted and sold a crypto asset named Dignity token, previously called Unity Ingot, to investors around the world.

The regulator alleges that Hogg and his companies – Cryptobontix Inc., Arbitrade Exchange Inc. and Arbitrade Ltd. – defrauded investors with false and misleading statements in promotional materials, including that gold bullion supported the value of the tokens.

The OSC alleges that Hogg and his companies further defrauded investors by spending a significant amount of invested funds on things unrelated to crypto security tokens, including buying real estate and making payments to companies controlled by Hogg.

The regulator also alleges that Hogg did not file a prospectus for the token or obtain the necessary registration with the OSC to engage in trading activities.

The OSC says it was assisted in its investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which ran a parallel investigation and has levelled charges against Hogg and several U.S. residents.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 30, 2022.

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Lululemon settles lawsuit with Peloton over allegations of ‘copycat’ clothing



Two of North America’s biggest names in fitness have settled a lawsuit over allegations of “copycat” sports bras and workout tights.

Vancouver-based “athleisure” brand Lululemon has agreed to terms with American exercise bike company Peloton after negotiating a “mutually agreeable settlement” in the patent dispute, according to a notice of voluntary dismissal filed in a California district court on Friday.

The terms of that agreement have not been made public.

Lululemon filed suit in November, claiming Peloton’s Strappy Bra, Cadent Laser Dot Legging, Cadent Laser Dot Bra, High Neck Bra, Cadent Peak Bra and One Luxe tights were all rip-offs of its own products.

“Unlike innovators such as Lululemon, Peloton did not spend the time, effort and expense to create an original product line,” the Lululemon claim read.

“Instead, Peloton imitated several of Lululemon’s innovative designs and sold knock-offs of Lululemon’s products, claiming them as its own.”

Court documents show that the dispute dates back to a 2016 co-branding deal that allowed Peloton to put its logo alongside Lululemon’s on certain Lululemon products that were sold through Peloton stores.

In its own court filings, Peloton claimed the arrangement was “burdensome and time-intensive,” leading the company to end the partnership and develop “its own private label brand of fitness apparel.”

This image is included in a lawsuit filed by Lululemon against Peloton. Lululemon claimed the average customer would not be able to tell their products apart. (U.S. District Court)

Lululemon, in turn, claimed that Peloton had simply imitated some of its garments. The yoga wear firm sent Peloton a cease-and-desist letter on Nov. 11, 2021, asking the company to “immediately stop selling its copycat product.”

According to the Lululemon lawsuit, Peloton said it needed until Nov. 24 to respond to the accusations in the letter.

Instead, Peloton filed its own lawsuit in the Southern District of New York, alleging that Lululemon was making “baseless threats” and asking a judge to pre-emptively declare that Peloton had done nothing wrong.

News of the settlement in California comes just one day after a judge in New York dismissed Peloton’s lawsuit, ruling it “an improper anticipatory declaratory judgment action,” filed with the intention of beating Lululemon to the courthouse.

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