Editorials - June 3, 2021
Profits... at what cost?
TD, CIBC and RBC released their second-quarter financial reports last week and all reported sharp increases in quarterly profits. Much of this profit was based on analysts’ confidence in vaccine distribution to open up the economy again. The banks were releasing much of their loss provision as far fewer loans were falling into default than had been anticipated at the height of the pandemic.
Some of the increase can be attributed to the growth in the banks’ mortgage business, thanks to a frantic real estate market driving up property prices. The pandemic has resulted in other types of lending to be on the decline, including credit card balances, which typically contribute to the profit margins of the banks.
It will be interesting to watch how banks manage the razor’s edge of maintaining interest rates low enough to realize growth and high enough to sustain profit margins. With Canadians’ debt-to-income ratio climbing due to housing costs, any hike in the major banks’ mortgage rates could have a significant impact on household budgets. – DS
On the downward trend
There are many ongoing discussions (some responsible and some very irresponsible) regarding the province’s extended stay-at-home order, enacted on April 8. What can’t be denied, if you trust hard data, is that the move has been effective in curtailing COVID-19 infections.
While most were on board last spring when we were “all in this together”, the province’s continued failure to curb COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths has resulted in several lockdowns and then extensions of those lockdowns. This action has prompted concern over everything from the viability of the hardest-hit industries, like theatres, restaurants, gyms and others to repercussions for young people who are now in their second school year of inconsistent in-person class time.
On the opposite end of the healthy debate spectrum, lockdown opponents have touted a strategy that would kill millions as life simply returns to normal, enacting the protocol of the “survival of the fittest” (or perhaps Rocky IV villain Ivan Drago: “If he dies, he dies”). One of that group’s foundational statements is that lockdowns don’t work; that mental health, relationship stability and business are all unnecessarily brushed aside for a measure that is ineffective in stopping the spread of COVID-19. But the numbers simply don’t support their claims.
Ontario’s case count chart rises and falls with lockdown action. The current stay-at-home order was enacted as cases were rising sharply, graduating from over 3,000 cases per day to over 4,000. After April 8, cases continued to rise dramatically for another week or so, and then they began falling dramatically. The province is now seeing just over 1,000 cases per day. A far cry from the high of over 4,500 in mid-April.
Lockdowns are devastating many businesses, hurting families and affecting mental health. No one likes them. But to make the point that they do nothing to curb infection just isn’t supported by facts. – SL
Win by not playing
Amy Cooper may have made the worst move she could after making a mistake: reminding people about it well after the fact.
Cooper may be best known as the woman who, while being recorded, made what most agree is an incredible racist phone call last year. She attempted to get police to respond to her location in Manhattan’s Central Park as she claimed to be threatened by Christian Cooper (no relation), a Black man who was mostly minding his business and bird watching in the park. Christian’s only interaction with Amy was to suggest she put her dog on a leash, as is the rule in that portion of the park. As a result of Christian’s video of the incident, which went viral, Amy found herself facing a tidal wave of backlash. She also lost her job at financial services firm Franklin Templeton for, according to the firm, her racist behaviour.
If readers are having trouble remembering the incident, it could be because it happened on the same day that a police officer killed George Floyd, which resulted in protests around the world. Amy’s relatively tame racist activity may have been lost in news of the Floyd killing, and other fatal incidents linked to racial profiling that followed.
Amy, however, has squandered what could have been a chance to move on with her life. When she could have relocated, gone by a different name and maybe outrun her past, she instead decided to sue her previous employer for wrongful dismissal. There could be some debate as to whether she should have been fired for the incident and, in her own filing, it suggests that Franklin Templeton didn’t do the research the firm claimed to have done regarding her call to the police (and subsequent calls, which later landed her in hot water).
Whether or not she wins, the argument can be made that by putting herself in the spotlight, she loses no matter what happens. Instead of being able to move on, even if that required a change of name, she’s guaranteed she will be a hot topic for a good amount of time. Amy’s only option to win would have been to not play this game. – JDS