MEDIA: CBC News Network Weekend Business Panel (January, 2022)

New year, new episode of the CBC News Network Weekend Business Panel, alongside Sherena Hussain and John Northcott, covering a range of business topics.

Areas we discussed include:

There has been lots of news about the impact of inflation on consumers (an important story, of course), however, it is critical to remember that it also impacts companies.  Businesses can end up paying more for the goods that they need in order to develop and deliver goods and services, and face the need to increase employee wages in times of rising prices (this varies, depending on how well the company has managed its compensation strategy over the long term, among other things).  While some are calling for an immediate increase in interest rates to slow inflation, it is important to recognize that many businesses have taken on additional debt over the past couple of years to combat the challenges of COVID19 and increasing the cost of money too quickly could have a domino effect.  The pandemic has led to the permanent closure of many companies, and as others sit precariously on the brink, rising interest costs could result in job losses and business closures, which would not help the current situation.  Achieving a balance is extremely important, a reality that could use more attention.

As we reach two years into the global pandemic, both Canada and the US are taking action to require truckers that cross the border to be subject to vaccination requirements.  Without going into the details here, it is important to remember that a healthy society is the basis for a healthy economy, both of which are desirable outcomes.  Although some in the trucking industry have indicated that they are not in agreement with these rules, it is interesting to look at transportation and logistics to identify areas of improvement, including opportunities to utilize technology and automation.  In an industry that has faced a global crisis and staffing vacancies (some of which is situational in nature), identifying a new way forward should already be a key area of focus.

Netflix is an example of a company that has benefited over the past couple of years, while people were largely confined to their homes, looking for things to do.  Although life has not returned to pre-pandemic conditions as of yet, moderation in growth and financial results is not surprising.  Companies in this situation need to focus on retention of existing subscribers and growth opportunities, including areas such as new and complementary content and services.  This represents the need to shift gears and perspective; it will be interesting to see what strategies are employed, beyond the price increases that have been implemented over the past while.

And, finally, the CEO of BlackRock released his annual letter to CEO’s; commentary that seems longer than it needs to be, including a number of areas that have been discussed on the Business Panel over the past couple of years.  Regardless, his comments relating to climate policy have caught the attention of some, in terms of its importance to business profits, as opposed to activism or similar objectives.  Another way to articulate this idea is the need for companies to focus on the market opportunity, in terms of how to develop and deliver products and services to meet the needs of customers on a sustainable basis.  This is a tall order, but given the critical nature of areas such as climate and the environment, it is both a human priority and a business opportunity that is still very much ahead of us.  Business advice can help companies to identify, develop, and implement strategies, representing a valuable resource, when leaders need it most.

Thanks for watching, and see you again soon.  Hope that 2022 finds you well and is a year of healthy abundance!

Jenifer Bartman
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