HicksBiz Blog

Hicks on Biz: What’s going to happen after COVID-19? By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, April 17, 2020

The near empty parking lot at the Premium Outlet Centre shopping mall near the International Airport in Edmonton, April 17, 2020, is an indication of the economic impact of COVID-19 restrictions.Ed Kaiser / Postmedia What’s going to happen? After the pandemic, will recent graduates find decent jobs? Will you have enough money to cover the mortgage and utilities? If not, will the banks/government cut you some slack? Will seniors receive the same government pensions as in the past? Could private pension payments be slashed? If I’m a businessperson, can I ride out the storm … or does all the blood, sweat and tears I’ve put into this enterprise end in bankruptcy … unless the government somehow bails me out? STORY CONTINUES BELOW Let’s not kid ourselves. The economy — thanks to COVID-19, rock-bottom oil prices and wanton over-spending by Ottawa and Alberta in the recent past — is in horrible shape. It’s worse than ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Out of crisis arises opportunity By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, April 10, 2020

Downtown Edmonton is seen from Ada Boulevard near Rundle Park in Edmonton on Friday, Jan. 3, 2020.Ian Kucerak / Postmedia, file The glass is half-full, not half-empty. Never waste a good crisis. From the ashes, the phoenix is reborn. Positives can arise from this unprecedented economic emergency caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, impossibly low oil prices and forever-delayed resource development. The biggest positive? A shattering of conventionality. For decades, Alberta made half-hearted efforts to innovate and diversify beyond oil and gas. It never really happened.  It was too easy to make a ton of money from oil and gas. STORY CONTINUES BELOW Today, these last few weeks, it has hit home. Either we drastically change, or we die. Every other jurisdiction in Canada, and around the world, faces a similar challenge. If we are all rebuilding from ground zero, Alberta looks really good. Our population is young, strong and talented, supported by excellent educatio ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: COVID-19 and the mystery of public debt By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, April 4, 2020

PhotoMan - Fotolia In this emergency pandemic, the federal government says it will spend about $82 billion over and above its 2020-21 $180 billion budget. In Alberta, the province pegs the direct cost of fighting the pandemic at $500 million, above and beyond its $56 billion 2020-21 budget. On top of that $500 million,  Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has announced a provincial government  “investment” (i.e. repayable if all goes well) of $1.5 billion to get TC Energy’s Keystone XL pipeline built, plus $6 billion in loan guarantees, i.e. if TC Energy goes bankrupt, the government of Alberta is on the hook to pay its outstanding bills. Where does all this money come from? It’s borrowed! For years and years, both governments have been spending more than what’s coming in from taxes. Before the pandemic, Ottawa had accumulated $713 billion in debt, Alberta about $85 billion. STORY CONTINUES BELOW Both governments cover their annual shortfalls ... Read the rest of entry »