Month: February 2015

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Black Gold

Black gold; oil; the cause of wars, peace and anarchy. What do we do when we have too much of it? The P4Capital team speculates on the future of the economy when oil prices are bottoming out.

Stay tuned.

Transcript


Amanda: The world runs on oil. Until it doesn’t. For the first time in a long while, the world’s demand for oil is less than what we can produce. What happens to the global economy when we have too much oil? The P4Capital team investigates in this weeks round table discussion.

Jim: Today’s topic is about the falling oil prices in Canada, and how that will affect our economy.

Shaheerah: Oil prices were really high since 2010, and that was because of all the demand from China.  But then these high prices made the US and Canadian companies search for new to hard to extract crude oil. And now oil demand is actually falling because of all the weakening economies such as the ones in Europe. And so by late 2014, there was an over-supply of oil and the price started to fall. And then at the OPEC meeting, Saudi Arabia refused to cut production, and so that made the price drop even more.

Jeremy: David Rosenburg from the financial post wrote an interesting article, outlining different predictions initially at $100 per barrel, which we were looking at the beginning of the year, compared to $50 per barrel, which is roughly the current price. At $100 a barrel, stocks on the TSX, their earnings per share were forecasted 15% growth, whereas at $50 a barrel we’re actually looking at a projected 10% decline at earnings per share. The effects to your portfolio are probably going to be seen.

Jim: Just a bit of clarity Jeremy, are you saying on the overall basket of TSX stocks, or does it pertain to each individual stock holding.

Jeremy: Well, no I think that would be projected across the basket of holdings in the TSX index. And welcome back Jim.

Jim: Thank you, it’s great to be here.

Archana: Oil, in my opinion is obviously the biggest driving force behind all financial markets, and just like Shaheerah pointed out first, it was an oversupply situation – supply greater than demand. And now it’s the global slowing down of economies that we’re currently facing, as well as the uncertainy in Europe and the unrest in the middle east as well, which is all adding to the decline in oil prices.

Amanda: It’s interesting to me, over the last few years in Canada, Alberta has always been in the news for having a thriving economy because of their oil sands. I wonder how the decline in oil prices, and as Jeremy said the overabundance of oil supply in the world is going to affect the Alberta oil sands. Any comments?

Shaheerah: Yeah, so let’s talk about how this is going to effect the Canadian economy. So the oil and gas sector makes up 11% of Canada’s GDP, and the oil price per barrel dipped to below 50 bucks in January, and this is the lowest level it’s been since April 2009. And now that oil prices are dropping, Canada’s energy sector is cutting back. Now CIBC bank is actually giving a warning that Alberta, which is Canada’s biggest oil and gas exporter, is going to face a mild and temporary recession. And similarly  to that, JP Morgans were that the oil collapse means there will be blood. Alberta’s economy is going to shrink by 0.3% and as well unemployment is going to be going up 6.8% according to the chief economist Avery Shenfeld. And this is not because of the production cut backs, but rather it’s because of all the Canadian oil companies that have been cutting back on their budgets and laying off all of their workers.

Jeremy: Yeah, to further on Shahherah’s point, the process of extracting gas from the oil sands is a pretty costly production. It only works at a certain price level. So at the prices where oil is at these days, you’re not going to find many new projects being greenlighted, so the existing ones are going to run their course, but there’s not going to be new ones underway which is going to affect the whole economy, specifically the banking sector which provides the funding on a lot of these new digs.

Archana: The situation in Alberta might actually be a go do thing for us here in Toronto, which traditionally has been a manufacturing hub. Activity might actually pick up here in Toronto; the contribution of the manufacturing sector to the overall economy might actually go up in the coming times.

Jim: The consumer price index is going to be very interesting to watch as the year goes on, because as cost per litre at the gas station has fallen so dramatically it’s actually putting hard dollars; green dollars back into the consumer market place. Those green dollars, one of two things is going to happen to them: either A Canadian’s will pay down more debt or B they will buy more things along the way. So for the hardships that Alberta is going to be facing, specifically the ones that are wildcatting, looking for new opportunities in the oil and gas sector, they’re going to be hit very hard. The existing production facilities, it’s more a function of the keystone pipeline going to be approved, yes or no? But it’s the CPI and the non-prairie provinces that I’m going to be very very interested in seeing.

Amanda: What do you mean by Wildcatting?

Jim: Wildcatting is exploring.

Jeremy: Probably not a great time to be selling your house in Alberta right now, especially in the Fort McMurray area.

Amanda: It might be a good time to buy a house though.

Jeremy: If you can afford it with oil at these prices.

Archana: Just like Jeremy had pointed out, oil extraction, the process itself, is quite expensive. Companies are obviously looking at other alternate products right from national gas to propane, and shale production in the US is also topping numerous lists. And overall, we’ve in fact seen a reduction in US oil dependence. From 2007, there’s been about 41% reduction in imports in the US.

Jim: That will probably lead to our next topic in our upcoming Podcast. “Is the overall global economy requiring less oil for its manufacturing and auto engines. It’s quite interesting to put your eyes into the crystal ball and say “Hmm, that in fact could be a game changer.”


 

That was the P4Capital team discussing the decline of oil and what it means for the Canadian economy. How much oil is too much? Want to know more? Check out our website  and previous posts about Bitcoin at http://www.planet4it.com or follow us @p4capital. Thanks and see you next time.

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Rise of the Digital Space

Welcome to a new edition of the P4Digital Round Tables!

Who among you would love to work from home. With Digital technologies it’s becoming easier to do. This week the P4Digital executive team examines the rise of the digital space.

Stay tuned and enjoy

Transcript

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Photography – A Trip down Memory Lane edit

Family Day weekend in Ontario, -20C with windchills closer to -40C, the ground is covered with ice and snow.  Definitely not going outside other than for food.  I started painting the trim in my hallway but you can only do that for so long without finding your hand stuck in the claw position.  What’s happening in the family room – tv’s on – curling, hockey, the Fan590 – seriously.  I’d rather paint.  OK next favourite room my computer room (aka office Monday to Friday) – time for a little cleanup.  What is under all that dust, it’s my scanner – I thought I had lost it.  OK this is a perfect day to start scanning in all those pictures I have in a cabinet upstairs.

Not all of these pictures are mine, the ones from the early 1900’s I stole off grandparents and parents.  There are even a couple that are on cardboard and there are a number of people I don’t know who they are and there’s no one alive to remind me.  As I looked at the number of albums I have from the 1970’s to 2002 I almost decided to go back to painting.  Nope  this is happening today.  Turn on some tunes and I open my first book.  Memories come flooding back of loved ones, events and places.  I am now fully enthralled with my project.  It’s going to take longer than I thought (might take years :)).

It’s amazing too think that my grandparents generation did NOT own cameras.  If they wanted a picture they went to a professional and had a portrait done (before that they had to hire an artist to paint it).  As I started going through my pictures, memories of my first cameras came flooding back.

3 of these cameras were before memory cards.  Yes they took film, either cartridges or spools.  Was there anything more embarrassing than going to pick up your pictures at Blacks and being told that the spool had never been used and you had 12 blank pictures.  Yes you could only take 12, 24 or 36 pictures at a time.  You had to buy the film and pay for each print.  There was no taking 5 pictures of your freshly painted toenails.  The film was too expensive for anything other than special events and trips.

   

Memory cards were introduced in 1997, my first camera with a memory card was also my first Nikon – the memory card was 8MB, it didn’t take me long to realize I needed bigger cards, the 64mb cost me around $100 back then.  My newest Nikon (and the love of my life) holds 2 32GB cards.  They sell for $22 each at Staples.  32GB that is so much bigger than my first computer I would need a mathematician to figure it out.

From 1970 to 2002 my pictures were  kept in albums or boxes.  The excitement that passed through my house when the albums with the plastic covers came out and we could get rid of those little black corners that kept falling off.  (Yes I started using them again when I went through my scrapbooking phrase :)).  Imagine my chagrin when I started scanning these pictures and realized that they were stuck to the sticky page forever.  I now had to scan whole sheets at a time – grrrr – it affected the quality of the scan – grrr.  So much for a new invention.

          
 

The above pictures are just a sampling of how many pictures I have.  The big question now is what to do with all these books and photographs.  My siblings and I fought over our parents stash (it helped that it fit in a rubbermaid container).  My kids are fighting over who HAS to take them.  Imagine how excited they will be when I hand them a USB port with a sampling of all my pictures or by the time I finish scanning they may just be floating up in the cloud.

My largest stash of pictures are of my husband and children.  I’m at that in-between stage now where they don’t like their picture taken, so I am constantly following my cats around with my camera or my phone clicking them doing things only cats do.

 

Travelling and blogging are now my favourite pastimes.  The 2 go together almost as good as PB & J.  The price of blowing pictures up has decreased so much and the quality of printer you can have in your own home makes your home your own little art gallery.  Nothing makes me happier as I glance around my home seeing holiday pictures blown up on my walls.  Memories are everywhere.  Photography might be the biggest growing hobby, everywhere you go there are people taking pictures either with their cell phones (wow the quality is amazing) or with the digital cameras.  It used to be only professional photographers had zoom lenses and tripods, etc.  Not anymore, there are photographers everywhere.  So as you walk around Toronto, if you aren’t taking pictures, keep smiling because someone has probably snapped a picture of you.

I’m constantly going on google typing “How do I” or “What is” and up pops the answer.  Would love to hear from you about what your favourite photography tip is?

 


 

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The rise of the cryptocurrency

We live in a cashless society, but are we on our way to a universal digital currency? Bitcoin may seem like a digital currency for a digital age, but is it really? We investigate in this week’s round table discussion.

Transcript


Amanda: We’ve talked about Bitcoin before at the P4Digital Blog. It’s a topic that fascinates us, but 2014 was a rough year for it. In this week’s discussion, we talk about the rise of the cryptocurrency, how it works and speculate on whether or not we’ll all be paid with it in a few years.

Jeremy: Hello, today we’re talking about Bitcoins. Do they now have a legitimate trading exchange?

Archana: Yes, the topic we’re talking about today is the roll out of a new US-based exchange called Coinbase, which hopefully does legalize the cryptocurrency. What are your thoughts?

Shaheerah: Okay, so basically just to define Bitcoin in very basic terms, it is virtual cash that is generated, or rather mined by computers. It is a very sophisticated process. And Bitcoin lives on the internet, and you can use it to buy stuff both online as well as offline. In late January of this year, the Coinbased Bitcoin exchange went live. And this is actually the first one in America. And it could make Bitcoin more of a reality for the average Joe, as well as the corporate financial role. So as of now the exchange has been approved in 24 American states, and previously in the US the Bitcoin traders had to use exchanges that were based outside of the USA. And those exchanges did not have adequate regulations or security and so it made it pretty risky. So for example in February of this year, a Japan based Bitcoin exchange collapsed and they lost 750,000 customer Bitcoins, as well as 100,000 Bitcoins of their own. There are also all these problems with the security hacks. So for example recently Bitstamp lost 19,000 Bitcoins worth 5 million dollars, so that’s a lot. But now what’s going to happen is the Coinbase exchange is set to be a game changer because it is better regulated. They do have better security including insurance, which the other exchanges did not have. They have encryption, and the Bitcoins are actually kept offline so you won’t be able to hack them. There is also a one-time use passcode that you have to use, it’s texted to your phone and every time  you want to log in you have to use that one-time passcode, and you have to use the same computer every time as well.

Jeremy: Yeah, the Japanese exchange that Shaheerah mentioned is called Mt.Gox, which apparently is short for Magic the Gathering, which is a Role Playing – some type of Role Playing Dungeons and Dragons type game. So that’s not really the most credible way to be trading your Bitcoins.

Amanda: Speak for yourself! I’ve played Magic the Gathering and it’s an intense game!

Archana: Again, sort of going back to what Shaheerah mentioned, primarily the lack of regulation, inadequate security and the difficulty in getting US dollars in and out of these exchanges being the primary reasons why Bitcoin hasn’t really taken off. Coinbase really seeks to make a difference because it’s being backed by some thoughtful investors and financial venture capitalists, including the NYSE and the Citigroup CEO and Thompson Reuters ex CEO as well, so it obviously does lend a huge deal of credibility. And like what Jeremy mentioned, the Japanese company – a lot of luster was lost of Bitcoin amidst all these scandals and different scams. Case in point would be the Japanese Bitcoin exchange. And also more recently a Slovenia Bitcoin exchange also collapsed. So Coinbase does seek to differentiate itself from the rest of the crowd. What remains to be seen is how successful they’ll be.

Jeremy: And right on the heels of Coinbase is another exchange that is going to be launched later this year, which is backed by the Winklevoss twins of Facebook fame, called the Gemini exchange. So they’re not narcissistic at all! Anyway, this exchange is going to be partnered with a major US bank, which means your US cash deposits will be eligible for FDIC insurance, although I’m sure the Bitcoins held in there will not.

Amanda: It’s interesting. Amazon and I believe PayPal also are accepting Bitcoins as of last year for payment for certain transactions.

Archana:  Yes, just like what Amanda just mentioned, apparently Coinbase also already accounts for about 2.2 million consumer wallets, and nearly 40,000 merchants already use their services. So from this point on it’s really a matter of them consolidating their position and building the business.

Shaheerah: Yes, and I also wanted to share some other facts about Bitcoin, which were published in an infographic from whoishostingthis.com. The FBI actually owns 15% of all the Bitcoins in the world. 65% of the world’s bitcoins are inactive – so they’re just left in the Bitcoin ewallets, and the remaining bitcoins are what are actually used for the transactions. You can get stuff like Pizza and plane tickets and university tuition using your Bitcoins. And even former Spice Girl Mel B, she was the first artist who started accepting Bitcoins as payment for her music. There’s also a maximum number of Bitcoins that can ever exist. The last Bitcoin is predicted to be mined in the year 2040.

Amanda: Make myself sound like a bit of a Geek here, but Mel B was always my favourite Spice Girl.

Laughter

Jeremy: Jim too

Laughter

Jeremy: Well, the problem with Bitcoins is they’re really too volatile right now to be used as an integral part of our trading economy. I mean, it would be kind of foolish to ask for your pay cheques in Bitcoin because the value fluctuates so much. I really think that if they built a good, secure system and a means of transactions- I think they’re going to around for a while, it’s not going to be worthless, it’s always going to be worth something. But to make the jump between something that you horde and something that you use to spend money on, the question is when that’s going to be.

Amanda: I have a general question for the executives here. If it was more secure, would you ever consider accepting your salary in Bitcoins.

Jeremy: I would not accept my salary in Bitcoins right now – not the way it fluctuates.

Archana: Not right now, but really whether we like it or not I think digital currency is definitely going to be a part of our lives in the coming future. Whether its Bitcoin o some other form of digital currency, I don’t know but for sure, salary one day would be in the form of Bitcoins.

Shaheerah:  And I just wanted to add, that actually Bitcoin has been known to lose up to 80% of its value in just a few days, so yes it is very volatile. And in fact both Thailand and China had put bans on Bitcoin back in 2013 for this reason.

Amanda: So that’s a no on accepting it on your salary, huh Shaheerah?

Shaheerah: Yup, that’s right.

Amanda: I have to say, after hearing that last statistic, I have to agree.


 

That was the P4Capital team discussing the rise of Bitcoin and Crytopcurrency. Apparnetly, none of us want to get paid with it in the near future. Want to know more? Check out our website  and previous posts about Bitcoin at http://www.planet4it.com or follow us @p4capital. Thanks and see you next time.

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Ping Pong Diplomacy – COMPLETE

Ping Pong Diplomacy

ROUND FOUR and FINALS

Andrew
Ed 
Andrew
Ed
Andre
Justin
Jeremy
Harnoor
Jeremy
Aeran
Finalists!
Champion!
Match One
Match Two
Match Three
Match Four
Upper Bracket Semi Final

Thanks to everyone for participating!