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Quebec Taps Employers to Speed Vaccinations After a Slow Start

Article content (Bloomberg) — Quebec is enlisting companies to help ramp up its Covid-19 vaccination campaign beginning in May, when all people under 60 are expected to become eligible for a jab. The province, which had the most virus deaths in Canada, is seeking as many as 50 businesses to host vaccination hubs. They’ll need to commit to inoculating 15,000 to 25,000 people over three months, including employees, their families and the surrounding community, Health Minister Christian Dube said. “Our health network is fragile at the moment,” Dube said at a news conference in a Montreal suburb, at the headquarters of CAE Inc., a simulation technology company that’s participating in the program. “During a war, at some point you need other people who come to take over.” Quebec, with a population of 8.5 million, has administered about 872,000 doses in the last three months. Like the rest of the country, its rollout was slowed by delivery delays, making Canada a laggard among its Group of Seven peers. Canada has now approved four vaccines, and the pace is expected to ramp up. Quebec Premier Francois Legault has said that initial doses would be available to all residents who want them by June 24, the province’s national holiday. To date, the government has operated mass vaccination sites, with pharmacies soon to follow. Company hubs will add a third pillar, which will be most needed in May and June and help bring daily vaccinations to 70,000 or more, according to Dube. Many large companies already have in-house health professionals, who will help the effort, he said. ©2021 Bloomberg L.P. Bloomberg.com

G7 agrees to back expansion of IMF financial firepower

Article content LONDON/WASHINGTON — The world’s seven largest advanced economies have agreed to support the first expansion of the International Monetary Fund’s reserves since 2009, a step meant to help developing countries cope with the coronavirus pandemic, Britain said on Friday. Britain – which is chairing the Group of Seven (G7) this year – said G7 finance ministers had agreed to support a “new and sizeable” increase in the volume of Special Drawing Rights (SDRs), an internal currency used by the IMF. “Today’s milestone agreement among the G7 paves the way for crucial and concerted action to support the world’s low-income countries, ensuring that no country is left behind in the global economic recovery from coronavirus,” British finance minister Rishi Sunak said. The news was welcomed by IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva who said the G7 finance ministers’ meeting was “productive.” Last year the IMF said it wanted the allocation of SDRs to rise to the equivalent of $500 billion from the $293 billion agreed at the time of the last expansion in 2009, just after the global financial crisis. That expansion was opposed by then-U.S. President Donald Trump. Last month U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said she would like an expansion but wanted greater transparency about how the SDRs would be used and traded. Article content Sources in the United States familiar with the G7 talks said an increase of around $650 billion had been under discussion. Even if Yellen wins consensus for an SDR allocation that falls below the threshold requiring approval by the U.S. Congress – about $679 billion based on today’s exchange rates – the U.S. domestic politics are tricky. Congressional Republicans have already complained the move would fail to target the countries in most need of the funds but would provide free cash reserves to China, Iran and other countries seen as adversaries by the Trump administration. Senior Republican lawmaker French Hill said in a recent letter to Yellen that more SDRs “would deliver unconditional liquidity to some of the most brutal dictatorships in the world.” Any expansion of SDRs will also need to be agreed with countries outside the G7, including China, before the IMF’s spring meeting in April. Credit ratings agency Fitch said an increase in SDRs to $500 billion would be equivalent to 0.5% of global annual economic output and represent 3.5% of global financial reserves. “It will help countries to deal with immediate external financing pressures, but is insufficient to alleviate broader debt service challenges,” Fitch wrote in a note to clients. Britain’s finance ministry said extra SDRs would help poorer countries “pay for crucial needs such as vaccines and food imports, and improve the buffers of emerging markets and low-income countries.” Anti-poverty groups welcomed the move but said more needed to be done for richer nations to share their unused SDRs with poorer ones. (Additional reporting by David Lawder in WASHINGTON Editing by Andy Bruce and Mark Heinrich)

China’s five-year plan focuses on energy security: Kemp

Breadcrumb Trail Links PMN Business Author of the article: Reuters John Kemp Article content LONDON — In the 14th Five-Year Plan, approved by the National People’s Congress this month, China has outlined energy and climate policies for the next decade that are an extension of current strategy rather than a radical departure. The Five-Year Plan (FYP-14) recommits the government in very broad terms to “formulate an action plan for peaking carbon emissions before 2030” and to “anchor efforts to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060.” But at the core of the document are familiar concerns about reducing wasteful energy consumption, boosting efficiency, improving energy security, and curbing pollution that have been central objectives for 40 years. In the post-1949 era, China’s central economic problem has been a lack of enough affordable, domestically produced and non-polluting energy to satisfy the country’s modernisation and urbanization. “One of the main constraining factors in China’s quest to raise living standards, modernize, and become a major world power has been a persistent shortage of energy,” economic historian Elspeth Thomson wrote in 2003. “Energy shortages have greatly hindered the industrial, agricultural and social development of China”, she explained in a comprehensive history of “The Chinese Coal Industry” published in 2003. Advertisement Story continues below This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below. Article content DEFAULT CHOICE China has abundant and easily recoverable coal resources near the surface in most areas, but especially in the north centered around the province of Shanxi (https://tmsnrt.rs/30XY15d). By contrast, easily exploitable sources of oil and gas have proved consistently disappointing and nowhere near enough to meet the country’s rapidly growing need for energy. As a result, oil and gas imports have become an increasing burden on the country’s balance of payments as a well as a threat to national security. The discovery and development of the supergiant Daqing and Shengli oilfields in the 1960s briefly promised to end the country’s heavy reliance on coal, and even turn China into a major oil exporter. By the late 1980s, however, production from Daqing and Shengli was peaking, and no further readily exploitable major discoveries had been made, forcing a renewed focus on coal. In 1993, China turned into a net oil importer as domestic consumption outstripped domestic production, and the gap has grown steadily since. China had become the largest importer in the world by 2019, importing more than 10 million barrels per day, and relying on imports to meet almost 75% of its consumption. For similar reasons, China has also become one of the world’s largest natural gas importers, relying on imports to meet more than 40% of its domestic needs. The problems with relying on coal as the primary source of energy have been well understood by Chinese and international policymakers since at least the 1980s. Advertisement Story continues below This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below. Article content Moving huge volumes of unwashed and unprocessed coal from mines to power plants has put immense pressure on the country’s rail network and periodically contributed to congestion. Coal’s contribution to urban air pollution, acid rain, and climate change was extensively analyzed in a landmark report on “China: Long-Term Development Issues and Options” published by the World Bank in 1985. But lacking affordable and secure alternatives, China was forced until recently to rely on coal for more than 70% of its total energy long after countries in North America and Europe switched to cleaner burning and more convenient fuels. WASTING ENERGY The other defining characteristic of China’s energy system has been its enormous consumption of energy per unit of industrial output and gross domestic product, far higher than in any other country (https://tmsnrt.rs/3tzvMGg). China’s energy consumption per unit of output was 4-6 times higher than European countries in the mid-1980s and of course of most of that energy came from burning coal, either to produce heat or generate electricity. For decades, China’s economy has had an unusually high share of industrial output in GDP, rather than services, and has specialized in energy-intensive industries such as steel, chemicals and cement. But even allowing for the country’s heavy industrial bias, energy consumption has also been extraordinarily inefficient because of the small-scale of many industrial plants, continued use of outdated equipment, poor operational practices, and lack of cost controls. Advertisement Story continues below This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below. Article content Since the launch of reform and opening in 1978, government policy has placed a high priority on curbing the growth in energy consumption and increasing energy efficiency. For the last four decades, energy use has increased at roughly half the rate of gross domestic product. Some of the improvement reflects growth of the service sector but there have been real gains in energy efficiency in the manufacturing sector. URBAN POLLUTION By the 1980s, the great migration from rural areas to the cities, combined with the use of small inefficient stoves for cooking and heating, was causing severe urban smog problems, especially in northern cities. The government’s initial response was to require industrial enterprises to retrofit higher smokestacks and other pollution controls and relocate major sources of pollution away from central urban areas. In the residential and commercial sector, individual stoves for cooking and space heating were replaced by district heating systems, which were more efficient and could be fitted with better pollution controls. The government subsequently encouraged more use of bottled gas and kerosene, as well as gas manufactured from coal, then eventually a shift to pipeline natural gas, to reduce pollution at street level further. Smaller, older and less-efficient power generating units were replaced by larger, more advanced and efficient units, fitted with pollution capture technology. Advertisement Story continues below This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below. Article content Replacement of direct coal burning by oil, gas and electricity for industrial, commercial and residential users, and boiler upgrades for remaining coal users, has contributed to a significant improvement in energy efficiency. FUTURE STRATEGY In most respects, the strategy outlined in FYP-14 is a natural extension of these earlier policies, and represents a cautious evolution rather than revolution (https://tmsnrt.rs/3r4tX2t). FYP-14 outlines new targets for increasing energy efficiency and reducing emissions (chapter 3 – main goals); reducing the share of fossil fuels in energy consumption (chapter 11 – building modern infrastructure); cutting air pollution (chapter 38 – continuous improvement of environmental quality); and increasing energy security (chapter 53 – strengthening national economic security). In recent decades, China has enthusiastically embraced zero-emission energy from wind, solar, hydro and nuclear, as well as the electrification of the energy and transportation systems, because it offers the chance to reduce the reliance on coal without increasing dependence on imported oil and gas. China is already the world’s largest producer of hydroelectric and renewable power because there is a compelling economic and national security case for moving to non-fossil fuels. If the promotion of non-fossil energy sources and emissions reductions allows China to claim a diplomatic benefit by showing the country is serious about tackling global warming that is an additional bonus. But most of the policies outlined in FYP-14 would be essential for the country’s economic development even if the government were not concerned about climate change. If FYP-14 is analyzed from a Chinese perspective, rather than a Western one, it is obvious the need to provide increasing volumes of secure, affordable and non-polluting energy to ensure continued economic growth and rising living standards is at the heart of the plan, just as it has been the core of plans since the early 1980s. (Editing by Marguerita Choy) Share this article in your social network In-depth reporting on the innovation economy from The Logic, brought to you in partnership with the Financial Post. Top Stories Newsletter Sign up to receive the daily top stories from the Financial Post, a division of Postmedia Network Inc. By clicking on the sign up button you consent to receive the above newsletter from Postmedia Network Inc. You may unsubscribe any time by clicking on the unsubscribe link at the bottom of our emails. Postmedia Network Inc. | 365 Bloor Street East, Toronto, Ontario, M4W 3L4 | 416-383-2300 Thanks for signing up! A welcome email is on its way. If you don’t see it please check your junk folder. The next issue of Top Stories Newsletter will soon be in your inbox. We encountered an issue signing you up. Please try again Comments Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. 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Europe’s COVID setbacks risk another summer travel washout

Breadcrumb Trail Links PMN Business Author of the article: Reuters Sarah Young and Laurence Frost Publishing date: Mar 19, 2021  •  10 minutes ago  •  3 minute read  •  Join the conversation Article content LONDON/PARIS — Europe’s airlines and travel sector are bracing for a second lost summer, with rebound hopes increasingly challenged by a hobbled COVID-19 vaccine rollout, resurgent infections and new lockdowns. Airline and travel stocks fell on Friday after Paris and much of northern France shut down for a month, days after Italy introduced stiff business and movement curbs for most of the country including Rome and Milan. The setbacks hit recovery prospects for the crucial peak season, whose profits typically tide airlines through winter, when most carrier lose money even in good times. “If there’s no confidence there, demand just doesn’t come back,” said Dublin-based Alton Aviation consultant Leah Ryan, who expects the bad news on vaccines and lockdowns to hurt already weak bookings. As well as new lockdowns, the summer outlook has been dented by rising infections in Greece and elsewhere and a damaging suspension of AstraZeneca’s vaccine by a number of European countries, over health fears rejected by the European Medicines Agency. Airlines that have already racked up billions in debt face further strain that some may not survive without fresh funds. British Airways owner IAG raised 1.2 billion euros ($1.43 billion) in a bond issue on Thursday, saying the cushion would protect it from a drawn-out slump. Advertisement Story continues below This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below. Article content A patchy stop-start summer may pose fewer difficulties for low-cost airlines such as Ryanair and Wizz Air, which can redeploy planes quickly between routes. But Ryanair’s home market expects to keep strict travel curbs in place at least throughout June, Irish health official Ronan Glynn said on Thursday, citing the “deteriorating situation internationally” and emerging virus variants. Ryanair shares traded 4.2% lower on Friday, with IAG down 4% and easyJet and Wizz both down 3.5%. Rebound hopes had driven travel stocks higher over the past month, led by IAG’s 25% gain. While ultra-low cost carriers can take the pain of another summer washout, analysts say, rivals such as easyJet and Virgin Atlantic could face renewed balance-sheet pressures. Air France-KLM is also seeking to raise capital and reduce debt from last year’s 10.4 billion-euro bailout. The Franco-Dutch airline group aims to fly more than 50% of pre-crisis capacity this year, compared with 40-50% for Lufthansa – targets that could still prove ambitious. “MAJOR HIT” “There’s a risk of an increased number of bankruptcies particularly between now and the end of the year,” Alexandre de Juniac, head of global airline body IATA, told Reuters. The latest whiplash in recovery sentiment extends from airlines into hospitality industries and the broader economy, penalizing tourism-dependent Mediterranean countries. “Virus numbers are going up, the vaccine rollout is falling behind and there is a risk that Europe could lose a second summer,” Morgan Stanley economist Jacob Nell said, predicting a “major hit to the southern economies.” Advertisement Story continues below This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below. Article content Thanks to its faster progress on vaccinations, the UK outbound market has been seen as key to the coming European season. But rising European infection rates could threaten those plans too. Greece became Britain’s biggest source of imported cases when the countries opened a travel corridor last summer, according to an official UK study published this week. Instead, the faster pace of vaccinations in Britain and the United States could bring a transatlantic rebound – even flipping the conventional wisdom that short-haul will recover first. “These two countries are leading the G20,” with shots administered to 40% of the population in Britain and one-third in the United States, UBS aviation analyst Jarrod Castle said. “The North Atlantic could open up between (them) before other European markets, which would be greatly beneficial for British Airways.” ($1 = 0.8398 euros) (Reporting by Sarah Young and Laurence Frost; Additional reporting by Conor Humphries in Dublin Editing by Susan Fenton) Share this article in your social network In-depth reporting on the innovation economy from The Logic, brought to you in partnership with the Financial Post. Top Stories Newsletter Sign up to receive the daily top stories from the Financial Post, a division of Postmedia Network Inc. By clicking on the sign up button you consent to receive the above newsletter from Postmedia Network Inc. You may unsubscribe any time by clicking on the unsubscribe link at the bottom of our emails. Postmedia Network Inc. | 365 Bloor Street East, Toronto, Ontario, M4W 3L4 | 416-383-2300 Thanks for signing up! A welcome email is on its way. If you don’t see it please check your junk folder. The next issue of Top Stories Newsletter will soon be in your inbox. We encountered an issue signing you up. Please try again Comments Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.