This is Kickstart—the daily morning management briefing on innovation, leadership, technology and the economy from the editors of Canadian Business. Sign up to get it directly to your inbox each weekday at 6 AM Eastern.
Good morning! Here’s what’s on our radar at the moment:
The loneliness epidemic at work
For many of us, work is a collegial place—we spend almost as much time with our colleagues, after all, as we do with our families, and many people report having fulfilling social lives at work. But fewer and fewer people seem to feel that way, and it’s gradually eroding our happiness and the quality of our work. Doctors are starting to warn of an “epidemic” of loneliness in society, and the workplace is no exception:
There is good reason to be concerned about social connection in our current world. Loneliness is a growing health epidemic. We live in the most technologically connected age in the history of civilization, yet rates of loneliness have doubled since the 1980s. Today, over 40% of adults in America report feeling lonely, and research suggests that the real number may well be higher. Additionally, the number of people who report having a close confidante in their lives has been declining over the past few decades. In the workplace, many employees — and half of CEOs — report feeling lonely in their roles.
Link: Harvard Business Review
What to watch for this week
Coming up in the next few days of #cdnbiz:
- Sometime this week: Bombardier says it expects the U.S. Department of Commerce to announce an additional duty on the CSeries jet, on top of the 219% tariff announced last week. The new duty, if it materializes, would be a punitive “anti-dumping” measure.
- Tuesday: Canada’s Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions turns 30 this year; the current officeholder, Jeremy Rudin, will give a speech to the Economic Club of Canada in Toronto on its role in the financial system.
- Tuesday: Bank of Canada Deputy Governor Sylvain Leduc will speak to the Sherbrooke chamber of commerce. Observers will be looking for any hint about future direction for benchmark interest rates.
- Friday: Statistics Canada publishes the latest labour force survey, the September 2017 snapshot of the unemployment figures.
Earnings reports preview
Canadian publicly traded companies of note scheduled to report quarterly earnings today:
Orocobre Ltd. (ORL)
Coming later this week:
Thursday: Theratechnologies Inc. (TH)
Why TV costs so much to make now
The business model for TV is shifting rapidly, partly because it costs so much more to make television shows now than it used to. There are a variety of reasons for the trend. For one, deep-pocketed streaming companies like Netflix and Amazon are paying more to lock up broadcast rights, allowing savvy producers to extract bigger budgets from broadcasters. Prestige hits also tend to attract bigger stars, and they shoot on location instead of sound stages, which increases the bill further. Finally, raw expertise may simply be in short supply: with so many TV shows in production, there just aren’t enough experienced crew members around to run a tight ship on a tight budget:
Another reason production costs are rising: a lack of experience on the part of showrunners and crews in making the most of every hour of production time. Industry insiders privately speculate that the strain on the talent pool of line producers and technical, craft and stunt crew members has been a factor in what seems to be a jump in the number of on-set accidents in recent months. Simply put, it’s impossible to have seasoned people at the helm of every show when the volume of scripted series production spiked 71% between 2011 and 2016 — or from 266 series in 2011 to 455 in 2016, according to FX Networks Research. The 2017 tally is projected to top 500.
Merlot is back
Like any luxury item, wine trends ebb and flow, with varieties gently rising and falling in fashion as tastes change. But merlot had a rare and abrupt crash, sabotaged by a single event in 2004: the Oscar-nominated vino-centric buddy-dramedy Sideways, in which the characters trash-talk the crowd-pleasing grape. The backlash was swift and extreme, but 13 years later, merlot is staging a comeback with savvy connoisseurs, thanks to growers who kept the faith during the grape’s years in the commercial wilderness:
Merlot was once the fan-favorite red grape and wine. Then came 2004 hit movie Sideways, in which Miles, the pinot-noir-loving main character, trashes the varietal before heading into a bar: “If anyone orders merlot, I’m leaving,” he explodes. “I am not drinking any f—ing merlot.” Interest in pinot skyrocketed, while the reputation of merlot tanked. In California, growers pulled out more than 10,000 acres of merlot grapes. Such is the power of Hollywood. But wine fashions are fickle, and now velvety merlot is experiencing a comeback.
WATCH: A 369-year-old bond that’s still paying interest
Issuing bonds is one of the most routine things that happens in today’s financial system; governments and companies get a sum of money today and pay interest on it over time, before paying back the principal at some agreed-upon future date, when the bond “matures.” In theory, at least, it’s pretty simple (although the actual bond markets are fiendishly complex). But limiting bonds to a specific time frame was, in fact, a comparatively recent innovation. Before that, “perpetual” bonds, that paid lenders indefinitely, were more common, but those are almost never issued today. But there are still some in circulation. As this quick video explains, Yale University today owns a perpetual bond issued by a Dutch water utility in 1648, and which is still accruing interest payments—a whopping €11.35 per year.
Thanks for reading! Have a truly excellent day.