September 26, 2008

Pt 1: Election Panel - "It's the economy stupid." Those famous words from former US president Bill Clinton couldn't be more appropriate today.

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Pt 2: Phone-a-Friend - Mitt Romney lost his bid for his country's top job, then got passed over as second in command. But he's still seen by many Americans as the man who should have been. The former Massachusetts Governor lost the Republican Presidential nomination to John McCain then got beat out by Sarah Palin for the Vice Presidential bid. So he's watching the U.S. election -- and the country's economic meltdown -- from a unique vantage point.

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Pt 3: Tax Reform - In today's jittery economic environment, finding investors willing to put cash into the Canadian economy can be a challenge.

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It's Friday, September 26th.

The Alberta government says there will be no bailouts for the province's ailing forestry industry and that it will just have to work out a new business model instead.

Currently, if the industry had only misled investors, paid its executives outrageous salaries and run a few hundred lumber mills into the ground... well, now that would be different.

This is The Current.


Election Panel

"It's the economy stupid." Those famous words from former US president Bill Clinton couldn't be more appropriate today.

As the United States grapples with a 700-billion-dollar Wall Street bailout, we're being asked to consider which of our fearless would-be leaders is best poised to guide Canada through our own choppy economic waters. All of the major parties have been busy making their pitches. And this morning, we've gathered three business leaders to find out what they think of what they're hearing.

Marcel Coutu is the President and CEO of Canadian Oil Sands Limited. David Keith is the Director of the Institute for Sustainable Energy, Environment and Economy. He's also the Canada Research Chair in Energy and the Environment at the University of Calgary. They both joined us from our Calgary studio. And Pamela Divinsky is the Vice-President of Ethos, a marketing company that helps other businesses engage in social issues. She joined Kevin O'Leary in our Toronto studio.

 

Phone-a-Friend

Mitt Romney lost his bid for his country's top job, then got passed over as second in command. But he's still seen by many Americans as the man who should have been. The former Massachusetts Governor lost the Republican Presidential nomination to John McCain then got beat out by Sarah Palin for the Vice Presidential bid. So he's watching the U.S. election -- and the country's economic meltdown -- from a unique vantage point.

Here at The Current, Friday hosts are sometimes asked to pull out their little black books and call up a famous friend. Kevin O'Leary feels lucky to call Governor Romney a friend and former boss.

It seemed like a good time for a chat with someone who knows American finances as well as anyone. So we caught up with Mitt Romney this week in Detroit, Michigan.


Tax Reform - Tax Cuts

In today's jittery economic environment, finding investors willing to put cash into the Canadian economy can be a challenge. A lot of Canadian business leaders think it would be an easier sell if corporate taxes were cut or even eliminated altogether for that matter. Now, federal and provincial governments have cut corporate taxes over the last decade. But according to a new study by the C.D. Howe Institute, Canada still has the 11th highest tax burden on business investment out of the 80 countries it surveyed.

Jim Milway is the Director of the Institute for Competitiveness and Prosperity and he was in Toronto.

Tax Reform - Ireland

Now other countries have cut their corporate tax rates significantly and seen positive results. Ireland attracted multinational companies like Google and Microsoft with its corporate tax cuts. Although the news this week said that Ireland is now the first EU country to officially fall into recession. This bit of information has taken a some of the shine off that strategy.

Mary Buckley is the North American Executive Vice-President of IDA Ireland, or Industrial Development Agency, Ireland. She joined us from our New York studio.




Tax Reform - Continued Discussion

Hello, I'm Kevin O'Leary and this is The Friday Edition of The Current.


In our last half hour, we were talking about the potential benefits of cutting corporate tax rates in Canada. But of course not everyone thinks that would stimulate economic growth. Hugh McKenzie is an economist with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and he's in Toronto. Good morning!

Infrastructure - Teachers

That's either the sound of money going down the toilet ... or liquid gold.
You see if you have money in the Alberta Pension Fund ... and that toilet is in England, then that's the sound of your cushy retirement. The Alberta Pension fund recently became a part owner of Britain's largest utility, the Thames Water Utilities Limited. And that purchase is part of a growing trend of investing in infrastructure all over the world. It's a trend that the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development says could account for one trillion -- and yes, I did say trillion -- dollars a year in spending. And more than half of that spending is devoted to water-related infrastructure.


The Ontario Teachers' Pension Fund is one of Canada's largest and most powerful pension funds. It has more than 100 billion dollars in net assets. And it too has jumped on the infrastructure bandwagon.


Jim Leech is the CEO and President of the Ontario Teachers' Pension Fund and he was in Toronto.

Infrastructure - Overview

Now infrastructure is hardly the sexiest thing in the world. But it affects every single one of us, pretty much every day. Jane Peatch knows that better than most. She is the Executive Director of the Canadian Council for Public-Private Partnerships and she joins me in studio.


Last Word

By the end of the show this morning, Kevin O'Leary exposed pretty much every part of his personality - the businessman, the venture capitalist, the guy who loves to make money and talk about making money. But of course, there are other sides to him. Like the one that loves music - listening to it and playing it. That love for music led him to one of my most prized possessions ... a Les Paul guitar.

He picked up the beauty two years ago. And one of the best things about it is it's signed by the legendary Les Paul himself. We tell you this story in the last word for this show.


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