Last weeks biggest business, currency, and travel stories: Canada gets its first woman on a banknote (other than the Queen), should airlines allow phone calls, reward points will no longer expire, a British artist has circulated 4 bills worth as much as GBP 20,000 each, the ECB will continue its bond buying program, and Japan’s growth has been revised down.
A New Face
Beginning in 2018 Canadians will have a woman on the banknote for the first time (excluding the Queen of course). Civil rights activist Viola Desmond was arrested for sitting in a “white only” section of a movie theater in Nova Scotia. Desmond is often described as “Canada’s Rosa Parks” and will replace John A. Macdonald on the $10 bill. Macdonald will be placed on a higher denomination note, and so too will Sir Wilfrid Laurier who will be replaced on the $5 by a yet to be revealed Canadian icon. Sir Robert Borden and William Lyon MacKenzie King will be dislodged from their places on the $50 and $100 to make way for Laurier and MacDonald.
No expiry on rewards
A new law passed in Ontario will prevent Air Miles from expiring in order to protect consumers. Until recently Air Miles expired after 5 years and were notoriously difficult to claim, the company scrapped the expiration due to public pressure. The Protecting Rewards Points Act will come into effect in the next few months, and will apply to all reward programs including those offered by companies like Starbucks and Westjet.
Oil prices surge, and stock markets hit record levels
Oil prices breached the $50 mark causing New York stock exchanges to hit record highs. Investment bank Goldman Sachs was one of the day’s biggest winners with a 33% jump. Gold prices fell in response, but the TSX gained more than 50 points.
Phone a friend
Airlines may soon allow passengers to make mid-flight calls via the plane’s wifi according to a new proposal being put forth by the Department of Transportation in the US. The FCC will still enforce a prohibition on regular calls, but not against calls that use wifi. Critics say that the policy would be disruptive to other passengers and crew, and could even present a security threat.
Check your change
Artist Graham Short revealed that he is slipping four £5 notes into circulation in the UK. Each note features a micro-portrait of Jane Austen and art collectors are already speculating that each note could be worth £20,000 or more. The first £5 of the series has already been spent in Scotland, according to Short.
ECB Bond Buy-back continues
The European Central Bank (ECB) will extend its bond buying scheme for another year at least, but the volume will decrease to €60 billion from €80 billion. The program is designed to put more cash into circulation, and into the coffers of financial institutions. Doing so increases liquidity but also devalues the euro. The eurozone recovery is continuing but political uncertainty combined with low economic output means that the ECB does not want to halt the program too suddenly.
Japanese growth revised down
Japan grew by 1.3% in the third quarter of 2016, a healthy amount but far lower than the 2.2% previously estimated. The revised figures come at a sensitive time. Fear over potential US protectionist trade policies are being balanced against the potential to boost exports to the US thanks to the strong USD.
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