Description: After years of being on death watch, Blackberry is turning things around. Financial results for the latest quarters showed a profit of over $40 million U.S. These days the company is making its money in software and its fast-growing automotive division. Hiring is up and the company is looking for 1,000 or so engineers.
Date: September 28, 2018
1) Were you aware that Blackberry was now profitable? What strategic decisions have helped turn things around?
2) Why do you think Blackberry is reporting its results in U.S. dollars?
3) Where can you find an excerpt from Blackberry’s financial statement in Wiley’s Financial Accounting: Tools for Business Decision-Making?
Description: He works for the Parliament of Canada. But that did not stop the newly-appointed Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO), Yves Giroux, from criticizing provincial governments in his first report. While the federal government’s finances are sustainable, Mr. Giroux told a news conference that “it’s a totally different story for provinces and territories.”
Date: September 27 , 2018
1) What is the job of the Parliamentary Budget Officer?
2) How does the job of the Parliamentary Budget Officer contrast with that of the Auditor General?
3) What are the key measures of provincial finances as per the Wiley’s Advanced Accounting?
Description: it was Election Day in New Brunswick Monday. And along with all the confusing election results, NB Liquor, the provincial Crown corporation that sells alcoholic products, made the news by raising beer prices for a few hours that same day – then lowering them when someone caught on.The price of some popular 24 packs shot up to $37.99 from $35.99, before dropping later in the afternoon. NB Liquor told CBC “that September 24th was not the appropriate day to do a general beer price adjustment,” No kidding!
Date: September 26, 2018
1) What do you think of the beer price up and down story?
2) Do you think we should still have government ownership of retail liquor sales outlets or should all provinces adopt a private sector model?
3) When you raise the price of a big seller like beer, you have to be concerned that it may impact sales volume. Where can you read about cost-volume-profit analysis in Wiley’s Managerial Accounting: Tools for Business Decision Making?
Description: The Globe and Mail is saying New Brunswick is in a ‘death spiral’ financially. The problem is that the tiny province is in the last stages of an election campaign and none of the political leaders really seems to be seriously engaging the issue. In the past ten years, New Brunswick has basically doubled its debt load, and this at a time of demographic decline. Perhaps if the politicians don’t get serious about the matter, the province may have an unpleasant visit from its bankers who may insert themselves into the budgeting process; this happened at least twice in the previous century.
Date: September 17 , 2018
1) Have you ever voted in an election? What sorts of factors influenced your choice?
2) Why do you think politicians are so reluctant to deal with fiscal reality during election campaigns?
3) Many of you are planning a careers as accountants. How do you think the profession can encourage better discussion of the government debt issue?
Description: It all comes down to the numbers. Supporters of Calgary’s bid for the 2026 Winter Olympics are quoting optimistic figures showing that $5 billion plus in costs for the Games will produce 5 times the benefits in economic impacts. On the other side are skeptics claiming the games will leave the three levels of government responsible for over $3 billion in costs. Moshe Lander of Concordia University notes that in this crunching of numbers he has not seen any figures comparing the planned spending on the Olympics to spending on other alternatives.
Date: September 16 , 2018
1) Were you aware of this initiative by Calgary? Would you like to see the 2026 Olympics return to Calgary?
2) Wiley’s Financial Accounting: Tools for Business Decision Making, talks about the objective of financial reporting to provide useful information to decision makers (see page 73). Who would be the financial statement users for a financial statement of an Olympic Games?
3) Search the website of the Auditor General of British Columbia and see if you can find any audits of the cost for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.
Description: Have you ever wondered if you were paying a bit too much for those tickets you’ve been buying from Ticketmaster? Well, joint undercover research by the CBC and the Toronto Star has revealed some disturbing news. It appears that Ticketmaster is permitting high volume scalpers to use its TradeDesk system. Scalpers can buy significant volumes of tickets and then upload them quickly to Ticketmaster for resale through the TradeDesk tool. This increases prices for the fans. Meanwhile, Ticketmaster earns a commission on both ends, helping its profitability.
Date: September 19 , 2018
1) Have you ever used Ticketmaster? What has been your experience?
2) Do you think that this practice employed by Ticketmaster is ethical?
3) If you were an executive at Ticketmaster, how would you create incentives for employees to behave ethically? (See page 8 of Wiley’s Managerial Accounting: Tools for Business Decision-Making for a discussion of incentives.)
Description: While Loblaws hit the news last week on the taxation front, another big Canadian grocer, Sobeys, made the news by predicting an increase in food prices. The reason: transportation costs and tariffs. An increase in minimum wages in some jurisdictions is also offered as another reason for rising prices.
Date: September 13 , 2018
1) How much do you budget for groceries each month if you are living off campus? Is this prospect of rising prices a concern?
2) The article talks about the earning per share of Sobeys in the most recent quarter. Check out chapter two of Wiley’s Financial Accounting: Tools for Business Decision Making, to see how this is calculated.
3) Where can you find information on how transportation costs (or freight costs) are factored into the cost of inventory in Wiley’s Financial Accounting: Tools for Business Decision Making?
Description: The Volkswagen Beetle – often popularly known as the Bug – is on the endangered species list. Volkswagen announced last week that the final editions of the Beetle will probably roll off of the assembly line by next summer. CEO Hinrich Woebcken of Volkswagen USA did hold out a bit of hope for a revival though, noting “I would say ‘never say never,’”
Date: September 14, 2018
1) Did you ever drive or ride in the famous Bug? What opinion do you have of the vehicle?
2) If you were an executive at Volkswagen, what kind of accounting information would you want to make a decision to keep or cut the Beetle ?
3) What would be some of the other important strategic factors VW executives would need to consider in cutting a model like the Beetle?
Description: Loblaws, a major Canadian grocer, was hit with a massive $368 million tax bill in a case held before the Tax Court of Canada. The case was not directed against the grocery business, but rather at a Bahamian banking subsidiary of the grocery chain. Although Loblaws intends to appeal the decision, officials announced that they would record the costs of the major tax hit in the third quarter financial statements.
Date: September 10, 2018
1) What did you learn about tax strategy from reading this article?
2) If you are looking ahead to a career as an accountant, have you given any thought to specializing in tax planning?
3) In the article it notes that Loblaws will be able to pay the tax bill out of its own cash reserves. It will not have to borrow the money or change its dividend policy. Which chapter in Wiley’s Financial Accounting: Tools for Business Decision Making, would teach you something about dividend policy?
Description: The Canadian economy took a jobs hit in August. The unemployment rate climbed to 6 per cent with a net job loss of 51,600 on the month. Losses in the part-time sector seemed to be a big factor in the decline. Alberta moved up in jobs while Ontario slipped backwards. In New Brunswick, a province in the midst of an election campaign, one would suspect the incumbent government would not have been pleased to hear the news that it had lost 1,000 jobs.
Date: September 7, 2018
1) Did you have any first-person knowledge of this jobs decline in August? That is, did you or any of your workmates lose employment that month?
2) If you were a political leader in a province like New Brunswick that had lost jobs, how would you respond to this concern?
3) In chapter two of Wiley’s Managerial Accounting: Tools for Business Decision Making, we learn about various cost concepts. Would you classify wages for a manufacturer as variable costs, fixed costs, or mixed costs?