CBCradio

November 25, 2008

Pt 1: What is Deflation?- For more than 20 years, we've lived in a world where the thing that worried economists most was inflation. In other words, what hardened their arteries and kept them awake at night was the possibility that prices might rise too far, too fast ... a process that, slowly but surely, makes the money in your wallet worth less.

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Pt 2: Cyber Crime - Megan Meier was only 13, but she'd already spent years battling depression and low self-esteem, problems made worse by bullying schoolmates. But in the fall of 2006, things were looking up. She had switched schools and met a boy on the social networking web site, My Space. Her parents say she was happier than they'd seen her in a long time.

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Pt 3: Kabuye Trial - Last week, tens of thousands of Rwandans turned out to show their support for Rose Kabuye. She is the Chief of Protocol for the Rwandan President and a folk hero to many Rwandans.

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It's Tuesday, November 25th.

In a bid to cut costs further, GM is ending its endorsement deal with Tiger Woods.

Currently, GM is replacing Woods with a more economical model not known for his powerful drives. More of a putter really.

This is The Current.


What is Deflation?

For more than 20 years, we've lived in a world where the thing that worried economists most was inflation. In other words, what hardened their arteries and kept them awake at night was the possibility that prices might rise too far, too fast ... a process that, slowly but surely, makes the money in your wallet worth less.

But over the weekend, Prime Minister Stephen Harper -- an economist by training -- raised the spectre of a different and long-forgotten monetary boogeyman. The word he used -- and the one that's driven headline writers to distraction since then -- is deflation as in letting the air out of a balloon or lowering someone's expectations.

Of course in macroeconomic terms, deflation has a slightly different and much more specific meaning. For now, let's just say it's considered to be a bad thing and that Patricia Croft is here to explain why. She's the Chief Economist at RBC Global Asset Management and she was in Toronto.


Deflation Cure

So let's recap for a moment. The nightmare scenario we're told is consumers hoarding cash and betting on a cheaper future ... an act that would actually guarantee a cheaper future, but also less growth, fewer jobs and a generally sluggish economy, something that would -- in turn -- prompt people to spend less.

Now if that's the nightmare, the daydream is a healthy holiday shopping season ... one that might just keep that vicious cycle at bay. So The Current went to the Market Mall in Calgary to see how things were going. We aired a few scenes from the mall, courtesy of CBC Radio's Michael O'Halloran.

Now most everyone agrees that deflation is not what we want. But there is a lot of disagreement over how to prevent it or what to do if it starts to happen.
For their thoughts on that, we were joined by Laurie Campbell. She's the Executive Director of Credit Canada, a not-for-profit credit counseling agency in Toronto. And Arthur Heinmaa is a managing partner at Toron Investment Management in Toronto.

 

Listen to Part One:

 

Cyber Crime - WIRED.com

Megan Meier was only 13, but she'd already spent years battling depression and low self-esteem, problems made worse by bullying schoolmates. But in the fall of 2006, things were looking up. She had switched schools and met a boy on the social networking web site, My Space. Her parents say she was happier than they'd seen her in a long time.

But a few weeks later, the boy she'd met began taunting her with cruel messages. Thirty minutes after she replied to the last message, Megan hanged herself in her bedroom closet. The person Megan thought she had befriended was a 16-year-old named Josh Evans. But it turns out, he didn't exist.

And now Lori Drew -- a 49-year-old mother from Missouri -- is standing trial in Los Angeles. She's alleged to have set up a fake MySpace account and used it to befriend and then humiliate Megan Meier, who'd had a falling out with Lori Drew's own teenaged daughter.

Many people watching the case believe it could be precedent-setting and have a significant impact on how the law deals with cyber-crime. Wired.com has been covering the story from the beginning. John Abell is the New York Bureau Chief for Wired.com and he was in New York City.


Cyber Crime Panel

Lori Drew's trial has raised a number of questions about how we deal with bullying on line and what kinds of tools are needed to do it. For their thoughts on that, we were joined by Christopher Wolf. He's a lawyer and the Chair of the International Network Against Cyber Hate. He was in Washington. And Shaheen Shariff is the author of Cyber-bullying: Issues and Solutions for the School, Classroom and Home. She was in Montreal.

 

Listen to Part Two: 

 

Kabuye Trial - France

Last week, tens of thousands of Rwandans turned out to show their support for Rose Kabuye. She is the Chief of Protocol for the Rwandan President and a folk hero to many Rwandans.

But French authorities view her a little differently. Earlier this month, she was arrested while traveling in Germany. She's now been extradited to France, where she is charged with conspiring in an assassination that sparked the Rwandan genocide. She is one of nine Rwandan officials that French authorities accuse of masterminding the attack on the plane carrying former Rwandan President Juvenal Habyalimana back in April, 1994. Among the other eight is Rwanda's current President, Paul Kagame.

So far, Rose Kabuye is the only Rwandan official to be arrested. And last week she was released on bail in Paris. Now, as significant as Rose Kabuye's arrest is, it's also just the latest salvo in an on-going fight between Rwandan and French authorities over the role each played in unleashing the genocide.

For the French perspective, we were joined now by Eric Chevalier. He is the spokesperson for France's Minister of Foreign Affairs and he was in Paris.


Kabuye Trial - Rwanda

Now from France to Rwanda where we were joined by Rosemary Museminali, Rwanda's Minister of Foreign Affairs. She was in Kigali.


Kabuye Trial - Analyst

The arrest of Rose Kabuye is threatening to escalate what was already a high-stakes diplomatic fight between France and Rwanda. And Stephen Kinzer has said that could make Rose Kabuye's trial one of the most spectacular proceedings in the history of modern international law. He was a longtime foreign correspondent with the New York Times and he's the author of A Thousand Hills: Rwanda's Rebirth and the Man who Dreamed It. Stephen Kinzera was in Chicago.


Last Word - Broker Rap

Later today on CBC Radio One, it's The Point ... and host Aamer Haleem will help you figure out if you're getting a good deal on your groceries. That's The Point at 2 o'clock -- 2:30 in Newfoundland and Labrador. And tonight at 10 o'clock on CBC Television, The National will examine Canada's budgetary bottom line.

Before we ended the program, with all the concern about the threat of deflation here in Canada, we can take some solace in the fact that our federal government hasn't had to bail out any of our banks.

On Sunday, the U.S. government made its latest emergency investment in a troubled financial institution. It bought a 20-Billion-dollar stake in Citibank, and guaranteed 300-Billion-dollars worth of risky loans and securities. Most Wall Street investors breathed a sigh of relief.

But not Gregg Somerville. He's a 47-year-old stockbroker in New York City. He's been putting his critiques of the multiplying government bailouts to music. His latest salvo came before the Citibank bailout. But he doesn't leave much doubt about where he'd stand on the issue.

 

Listen to Part Three:

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