Description: Business has been booming at Amazon, but that’s not all good news for the Amazon employees. Tim Bray, a vice-president in the organization left Amazon this past spring, noting that while white-collar employees have excellent work conditions, things are not so nice on the warehouse floor. Workers have been concerned about a lack of information on Covid-19 cases, and they feel a conflict between rushing to fill orders while maintaining social distancing. For its part, Amazon says it has spent about $45 million to put measures in place to combat Covid in its Canadian facilities.
Date: January 11, 2021
1) Do you know anyone who has worked at an Amazon warehouse? Have they shared any stories of their working conditions?
2) Are you an Amazon customer?
3) In Wiley’s Auditing: A Practical Approach we learn a four-part framework for dealing with ethical dilemas (see page 2-6). Assume you are a financial executive at Amazon. How would you apply this framework to deal with the employees’ concerns?
Description: Canada’s economy lost over 60,000 jobs in December. This was the first drop in employment Canada experienced since April, a month when the early days of the Covid crisis hit especially hard. The service sector – not surprisingly given the various public health restrictions – took the largest hit.
Date: January 8, 2021
1) Do you know anyone who lost their job in December?
2) How do you think the current Covid-19 trends may impact on your plans for a job after school ends in April or May? How about your classmates?
3) In Wiley’s Auditing: A Practical Approach we learn various things an auditor must consider in planning an audit approach (in particular, see Chapter 3). What would auditors have to factor into their analysis this year as they look at economic conditions like higher unemployment?
Description: It doesn’t pay to not pay your taxes; at least not in this case. A Halifax hotelier and restaurant owner has been fined $113,223, the same amount as the sales tax he withheld from paying the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). The businessman, Pantelis Panagiotis Giannoulis, will also have to repay the taxes he failed to remit to the CRA, of course, along with any interest and penalties.
Date: January 6, 2021
1) Do you think this fine will act as a deterrent to others?
2) Besides fines, what strategies can the government employ to help ensure compliance with its requirements to file taxes owing?
3) In Chapter 10 of Wiley’s Financial Accounting: Tools for Business Decision-Making we learn about how companies should account for sales taxes, like the GST. What are the standard journal entries a company should use to collect and remit sales taxes?
Description: Elon Musk has now moved past Jeff Bezos for the number one spot on a list of the richest people in the world. With shares of Tesla climbing towards $800 each, Musk benefited enough to push him into the number one spot. Tesla’s sky-high valuation comes despite the fact that it manufactures far fewer cars than the mainline auto companies.
Date: January 7, 2021
1) How many names in this top ten list were you familiar with?
2) Do you see any trends or similarities in this list of names? For example, are some from the same industry?
3) In the article we read that Tesla is worth more than several of the top auto makers combined. How is this figure of market capitalization calculated? (See page 11-7 of Wiley’s Financial Accounting: Tools for Business Decision-Making).
Description: An analysis by CBC of 53 Canadian public companies shows that over half of them have paid out dividends to shareholders while collecting the federal government’s Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS). The point of the CEWS was to help these and other companies to keep their staff working while facing the economic crush of the corona virus. McGill University accounting professor Preetika Joshi pointed out that in other countries, such as the Netherlands and Spain, businesses that accepted government financial help during the pandemic were forbidden from paying dividends.
Date: December 10, 2020
1) What is your reaction to this article?
2) Do you think Canada should have prevented companies receiving wage subsidies from paying dividends?
3) In Wiley’s Financial Accounting: Tools for Business Decision-Making we learn the Canada Business Corporations Act does require a company to meet two conditions before it can pay cash dividends (page 11-15). What are those conditions?
Description: The Disney+ streaming service has only been available in Canada for about a year, but the price is going up from $8.99 to $11.99 on Feb 23, 2021. It’s not as bad as it sounds though as Disney will be adding its Star service as one of the options included in the package. Star has a well-stocked catalogue of shows to pick from, giving consumers a parcel of programs for the extra $3.
Date: December 11, 2020
1) What’s your go-to streaming service?
2) Would this $3/month increase impact your decision to subscribe to Disney+?
3) On page 14-24 of Wiley’s Financial Accounting: Tools for Business Decision-Making we see an Accounting Matters text box discussing the relationship between Netflix’s Gross Profit and its share price. Conduct a search with some of your classmates to determine if there is a similar relationship for Disney+.
Description: Apparently there’s a bit of a run on really, really cold freezers. With the world looking to begin vaccinating populations against Covid-19, and the need to store Pfizer’s new vaccine in very cold temperatures, businesses like 360 Medical are looking to supply health care users. A freezer about the size of a dorm-room fridge will run you about $8,500, if you’re in the market that is.
Date: December 7, 2020
1) Do you know when students at your university will start receiving the vaccines?
2) Freezers are one thing required for distribution and administration of a vaccine. If you were managing a health centre where Canadians are going to be vaccinated, what are some other assets you would need to have in place for such a program?
3) Early on in Wiley’s Managerial Accounting: Tools for Business Decision-Making we learn about the concept of supply chain management (pages 14,19 ). What does this article about these unique freezers teach us about supply chain management?
Description: This may never have been seen in Canada before: a mortgage rate below 1%. CanWise Financial’s President, James Laird, stated that the 0.99% figure HSBC placed on offer is “definitely eye catching.” And that may just be the point. Samantha Brookes, the CEO of Mortgages of Canada observed that “banks are being aggressive in trying to keep their numbers up”
Date: December 6, 2020
1) Does that 0.99% rate grab your attention?
2) Do you see this as a unique marketing strategy?
3) On page 10-15 of Wiley’s Financial Accounting: Tools for Business Decision-Making, you find an “Accounting Matters” text box with an interesting discussion of personal mortgages and debt rates of Canadians. What is your personal debt to income percentage?
Description: Exxon, the giant oil company, seems ready to write down between $17 billion and $20 billion in assets. With collapsing oil prices, Exxon’s natural gas deposits in the Americas are over-valued. About 10 years ago Exxon acquired XTO Energy for about $35 billion, and with it, XTO’s gas fields. In the rear-view mirror, one might second guess this decision.
Date: December 1, 2020
1) How do you wrap your mind around a write-down of $20 billion?
2) What have other energy producers been doing with their asset values in the time of the Corona virus?
3) Chapter 9 of Wiley’s Financial Accounting: Tools for Business Decision-Making discusses depreciation, including depreciation for natural resources. What is depreciation called when you are dealing with natural resources?
Description: Job gains announced last week were three times higher than expected. Statistics Canada was way off on its call of quarterly results for Gross Domestic Product. If Covid-19 hadn’t already thrown enough curve balls already, now you can include the notion that the economic results are even confusing the economists. The deputy chief economist at CIBC, Benjamin Tal, noted “My head is spinning, too. . . . we’ve never seen anything like this.”
Date: December 5, 2020
1) Have you been confused about the economic news too? What did you learn from reading this article?
2) Have you been discussing any of these factors in your classes as part of your studies?
3) In Wiley’s Auditing: A Practical Approach we learn a number of important things to consider in planning an audit. Chapter 3, (page 3-10 ), tells us “when gaining an understanding of a client, an auditor assesses how economy-level factors affect the client.” How might audit planning be affected in the midst of the pandemic?