Description: Bitcoin, perhaps the most widely known of the crypto-currencies, has been all over the map in terms of value, with many highs and lows over its relatively short life. But in recent days Bitcoin has been soaring in value, rising over $11,000 per unit last week. Despite this possible bubble, central bankers are providing reassurances that the amount of Bitcoin available is too small to endanger economic stability, should there be a sudden crash.
Date: November 29, 2017
1) On page 367 of Wiley’s Financial Accounting: Tools for Business Decision-Making, you will see a short discussion titled What is Cash? Do you think Bitcoin should be accounted for as cash on a company’s statement of financial position?
2) Why do you think Bitcoin is soaring so high these days?
3) Would you be interested in investing in Bitcoin is you had a few thousand?
Description: Well, that’s one way to handle your backlog of calls: simply drop them. This past week the Auditor General of Canada reported his Office’s findings regarding the poor job that the Canada Revenue Agency does in handling calls from Canadian citizens. In addition, the report said that there is no quick fix in sight for the beleaguered Pheonix payroll system.
Date: November 21, 2017
1) Have you or any of your classmates had a summer job with the federal government? What have the experiences been like? That is, have any of you had a bad experience with the Phoenix system?
2) Have you ever tried to phone the CRA about your tax return? What was your experience like?
3) How do you think the Auditor General’s work can be used to improve government services?
Description: Meanwhile, in Nova Scotia, Premier Stephen McNeil questioned the findings of provincial Auditor General Michael Pickup regarding a shortage of physicians in Nova Scotia. The Premier appeared to be saying that Mr. Pickup had strayed into the policy field in his audit of doctor shortages in Nova Scotia. He noted that if the Auditor General wanted to make policy, he was free to run in the next provincial election. The opposition parties did not appear to see things quite the same way.
Date: November 23, 2017
1) In Wiley’s Auditing: A Practical Approach, Section 1.3 discusses a variety of assurance services. In which category would Mr. Pickup’s discussion of the doctor shortage fit?
2) Do you think Mr. Pickup may have strayed into the policy area with this audit? In other words, are the Premier’s comments justified?
3) Would you be interested in being an auditor general at some point in your accounting career?
Description: Last week this blog noted how Montreal is moving ahead with the aerospace industry. This week, Montreal is in the spotlight again. RBC is investing in an AI (artificial intelligence) laboratory in Montreal, building on its business efforts with this technology in Edmonton and Toronto.
Date: November 21, 2017
1) What examples of AI are you familiar with?
2) Why has Montreal become such a valuable centre of AI?
3) How do you think AI will impact employment in the accounting field?
Description: About a month ago, this blog addressed Loblaws plans to cut costs by laying off 500 administrative staff. This week Loblaws took another step down the cost-cutting road by announcing that it would close 22 money losing stores. But, it’s not a total retreat. The company also announced it was starting up a delivery service for online orders. It seems that the grocery business is bracing for change with Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods.
Date: November 15, 2017
1) In Appendix B, Wiley’s Financial Accounting: Tools for Business Decision Making contains specimen financial statements for Loblaw’s competitor Sobeys. Take a look at those financial statements. What jumps out at you in your initial review?
2) How would a CEO decide which stores to close? How could accounting information help with this decision?
3) What do you think may be some of the rewards and challenges in moving into the e-commerce field in a grocery chain?
Description: In the same week Loblaws announced that it was starting up a delivery service for online orders, it also surprised us with another future looking move by stating an intention to purchase Tesla’s electric trucks. The trucks are expected to hit the road in 2019 and will help move the giant grocer ahead in efforts to reduce carbon emissions. Walmart also announced that it will be adding Tesla trucks to its fleet. The Tesla truck battery will store 98% of the kinetic energy from the truck’s braking process.
Date: November 17, 2017
1) What do you think about this move by Tesla into the heavy truck line?
2) What do you think may have prompted Loblaws and Walmart to commit to these Tesla trucks?
3) How do you think more businesses could be encouraged to pursue vehicles that do not burn carbon-based fuels?
Description: Not that long ago Bombardier appeared in some trouble and was cutting staff. But this week Bombardier disclosed plans to hire 1,000 additional workers over the next 18 months. And it’s not just Bombardier with good news for Quebec workers. Aerospace Montreal, an industry promoter, predicted over 30,000 aerospace jobs would need to be filled over the next several years.
Date: November 17, 2017
1) In Wiley’s Financial Accounting: Tools for Business Decision Making, contains an interesting comparison of Bombardier and two other companies in terms of their operating cycles. Check out “Keeping an Eye on Cash” on page 240 and determine the differences between the three organizations.
2) Wiley’s Financial Accounting: Tools for Business Decision Making, also contains a chapter-opening vignette on how WestJet accounts for its aircraft. Go to the start of chapter 9. How does Westjet depreciate its aircraft?
3) Would you be interested in an accounting career in the aerospace industry in Montreal given the growth prospects? Why or why not?
Description: If you are a dedicated points saver, you are probably carrying an array of plastic cards in your wallet or apps or your phone to ensure you don’t miss out on opportunities to earn free stuff from participating merchants. This week you may have welcomed the announcement that Loblaws and Shoppers Drug Mart are going to make your life a little easier by combining their PC Plus and Optimum programs in February 2018. Some observers had been expecting something like this ever since Loblaws acquired the pharmacy chain a couple of years ago.
Date: November 8, 2017
1) Are you a dedicated points saver for PCPlus, Optimum, or both? How does the programs help you with your living expenses as a student?
2) How would a company like Loblaws account for unredeemed points on their financial statements?
3) Where can you read about Loblaws and its acquisition of Shoppers Drug Mart in Wiley’s Financial Accounting: Tools for Business Decision Making?
Description: It takes a while to bring two giants together. The planned merger of agricultural companies Agrium and Potash Corp has been ongoing for over a year. The latest hurdle has been cleared by Agrium’s sale of an Idaho phosphate producer for $100 million dollars, a move which was designed to ease the approval of the merger by American regulators.
Date: November 7, 2017
1) Why do you think we are seeing this large merger in the agricultural industry?
2) What are some of the accounting considerations that will need to be examined in this merger?
3) What chapter of Wiley’s Financial Accounting: Tools for Business Decision Making would assist you in accounting for one firm acquiring another?
Description: Decorated in the famous blue, Tiffany’s on Fifth Avenue, New York City, has opened a cafe. Now you too can have your breakfast at Tiffany’s, a notion made famous by Audrey Hepburn’s classic 1961 film. Breakfast doesn’t come cheap at $29 a plate. Or you can sit down for afternoon tea at $49 a shot.
Date: November 10, 2017
1) If you were visiting New York, would you be willing to plunk down $29 for breakfast at Tiffany’s on a student budget?
2) Do you think that this cafe will attract a steady stream of business?
3) Would managing costs be different in a high end restaurant like this versus in much less expensive breakfast cafe?