Takata's airbag disaster & Air Canada's carry-on crackdown: BUSINESS WEEK WRAP
Only 25% of world's workers have a steady job & Wall Street survey suggests wrongdoing still rampant
This week's biggest business news story was likely the widening probe of defective Takata airbags. On Wednesday, the NHTSA announced the company had expanded its recall to include 34 million cars in the U.S.
The problem? The airbags have improperly inflated in a few instances that we know of, scattering metal and other shrapnel on drivers or passengers, sometimes with fatal consequences.
Japanese component maker Takata had been cagey about the airbags for months before effectively admitting this week that they all need to be recalled. It's a huge recall, the biggest in American history in fact, covering one out of every seven cars on America's roads.
But the bigger question that emerged in Canada this week is that officials don't seem to know exactly how many of the faulty airbags are here.
In the U.S., the NHTSA has the power to force recalls on manufacturers. But despite tough talk about change to come after previous recalls, including GM's, Transport Canada still doesn't have that same power and effectively relies on companies voluntarily telling them what cars are unsafe.
"We've seen the government in the U.S. has been moving forward, they've been asking questions, they've been issuing fines," said Brossard MP and NDP transport critic Hoang Mai. "Here in Canada we've been sort of waiting to see what's going to happen in the U.S. in order to react. And that's, that's a problem."
So how many cars in Canada are affected? The short answer is, we don't know — and Ottawa may not know either. According to some back-of-the-napkin math from the regulator's own database, there seems to be at least 1.3 million cars affected. But the reality could be a lot more.
Consider that in the U.S., cars from 11 different automakers are included. If the same is true in Canada, given the usual 10-to-1 ratio between economic impacts in the two countries, there could be three million or more cars affected.
But so far, it looks like in terms of gauging the true impact, your guess is as good as ours. And Takata itself says it could take up to three years to replace all the defective parts.
Job instability hurts us all
There was more bad news out of the UN's labour agency the ILO this week, after it found that only about one quarter of all the workers on earth have so-called stable employment. That means a typical full-time salaried position with benefits, which we have been taught to think is the key to a decent life.
The rest? Something else. Whether it's part-time work, self-employment, contract positions or unpaid family work, three quarters of everyone with a job is in that boat. While those choices are desirable for some, there's negative connotations for society as a whole as those situations tend to pay less, among other things.
And it doesn't stop there. "Our research is showing that people do think twice about starting a relationship, they think twice about certainly starting a family, and even if they have started a family, the challenge they have of buying a house," McMaster University professor Wayne Lewchuk told The Exchange with Amanda Lang on CBC News Network this week.
Check out our full interview with him here.
Banks cop to $5B in forex fines
News this week that some of the biggest banks in the world had agreed to pay more than $5 billion in fines for price-rigging in foreign exchange markets may not have come as a surprise to some who are convinced that Wall Street is more inclined to dabble in those sorts of murky shenanigans in the first place
A survey this week seemed to confirm that, showing that a large number of those in banking are seemingly OK with doing illegal or unethical things in the name of getting ahead. One in five respondents to a survey done by Notre Dame University said they had witnessed wrongdoing in the workplace, one in ten said they felt pressure to do illegal activities, and almost a third — 32 per cent — of young financiers said they would do insider trading to make $10 million if they felt confident they could get away with it.
The survey paints a picture of an industry that's not cleaning up its act since the financial crisis, but actually getting worse. As Jordan Thomas, a partner at Labaton Sucharow told Amanda Lang this week, "Fleet Street and Wall Street continue to look for their moral compass," he said. "Many people feel pressured to engage in wrongdoing, and, they don't have confidence in the leadership of these financial firms to do the right thing."
Air Canada cracks down — again
And finally, readers really responded to our story this week that starting Monday, Air Canada is going to beef up their unpopular policy of monitoring carry-on bags to make sure they are light enough and small enough.
Starting then, the airline is going to attach visible red tags to anything that fits. Anything else will be noted earlier in the process, and checked. The airline says it will speed up the boarding process for everyone, but passengers are still irked by the semblance of yet another fee, since the airline started charging $25 per checked bag last year.
Those were some of the biggest stories we brought you this week, but be sure and check out our website often for lots more. And don't forget to follow us on Twitter to stay up to date with all our business news.
In the meantime, here's a day-by-day list of our most-read stories over the past seven days.
- RRIF rule changes, should Ottawa have gone even farther
- Taxpayers pay for Conservative ads that stay on message
- Takata airbag now the largest recall in U.S. history at 34 million cars and counting
- Canadian dollar falls 1.5 cents as oil plunges
- Relax about debt loads, they're not so bad: Fraser Institute
- Takata recall involves many Canadian cars, but how many?