Connect with us
[bsa_pro_ad_space id=12]

Business

The big quiet bail out – Euro/Japan central banks propping up stock markets, is the US next?

Published

6 minute read

You’d think that the golden age of markets, if there was one, would be something like the post WWII economic expansion era. That was pretty impressive, driven by baby boomers and the gigantic wave of consumption that enveloped them. Never before in history had parents worried so much about the outfits that New Baby would wear, and it only got crazier from there.

Fundamentally though, the late 1700s were far more earth-shaking. Not in the consumerist sense; those austere horse-travelers managed to survive somehow without the likes of either Apple or Lululemon, for example, but consider the free-market achievements of that period. The United States came into existence, a profound new experiment in governance and free(ish) markets. In academic circles, famed economist/philosopher Adam Smith coined the term “the invisible hand of the market” in his book The Wealth of Nations. It was a reference to the ability of a market economy to provide benefits far beyond those that accrue to the creator. That is, an inventor of something that becomes wildly successful enriches not only the inventor, but society as a whole. Plus, it is an indirect reference to the ability of markets to efficiently allocate capital.

We tend to forget that wonder of capital markets, particularly as the world drifts into one defined more and more by government intervention. Since the 2008 financial meltdown, governments have gone kind of berserk in attempting to keep the financial world afloat, causing markets to gyrate in increasing spirals through wild-eyed policy guidance as the dollars at stake become stupefyingly large. We no longer have economist/philosophers at the helm; we have economist/desperados who have convinced the world their alchemic ways will work, and they don’t know that it will, but they’re really really hoping.

The new breed of economist has introduced an all new Invisible Market Hand – not one that provides infinite benevolence, but one that is like a forklift driver feeling confident in his/her ability to pilot a fighter jet because the seats are similar.

The strategy of which I speak began in Japan over the past decade. After years of trying to kick start the Japanese economy in various ways, including dropping interest rates to zero, the central bank began buying up treasuries as a means of supporting debt markets. When that didn’t get things going, they took the next step and actually began buying up equities to prop up stock markets. Since then, Europe has started a similar program. And yes, you heard that right – in those jurisdictions, if stock prices fall too much, the market is prevented from self-correcting, and governments are, in effect, breaking the fingers of the original Invisible Hand.

They appear to be stepping in to keep critical sectors of the economy in good shape, and also to enhance the “wealth effect”. The wealth effect refers to how citizens tend to spend more drunkenly when they feel wealthy, and for many that means a healthy portfolio. If someone sees their retirement nest egg shrink from $100,000 to $50,000 in a severe market downturn, those people tend to lockdown spending – a wise reaction. But as we’re seeing, the world keeps turning because we are consumers, and like it or not, consumption makes our world go round. So by making those portfolios stay healthy one way or another, governments seek to put the population in a semi-drunken spending stupor in order to keep the party going. Anyone who’s witnesses a true boom economy will recognize the phenomenon – at the peak of the oil boom 6 or 8 years ago, there were direct flights from Fort McMurray to Las Vegas, and thousands of twenty-somethings were purchasing vacation properties. Suffice it to say that those days are gone.

Don’t expect the new Invisible Market Hand to bail you out if your brother-in-law convinces you to load up some hot stock tip he got from a friend who got it from a friend who got it from a friend, because the “friend” at the end of that chain will be some dubious stock promoter that may or may not end up in jail, and even panicked governments won’t save those souls.

With the new strategies for propping up markets however, we’re starting to see the lengths governments will go to in order to maintain financial stability. You’d think the mountains of debt will lead to a day of reckoning, but, emboldened by the global government response to the 2008 financial crisis, the high priests of finance are becoming more emboldened. That our fate depends so heavily on a squadron of tweedy economists is truly frightening, but we’re all in the same boat, so enjoy the ride…

 

For more stories, visit Todayville Calgary.

Terry Etam is a twenty-five-year veteran of Canada’s energy business. He has worked at a number of occupations spanning the finance, accounting, communications, and trading aspects of energy, and has written for several years on his own website Public Energy Number One and the widely-read industry site the BOE Report. In 2019, his first book, The End of Fossil Fuel Insanity, was published. Mr. Etam has been called an industry thought leader and the most influential voice in the oil patch. He lives in Calgary, Alberta.

Follow Author

Alberta

EAST TANK FARM EQUITY ARRANGEMENT

Published on

EAST TANK FARM EQUITY ARRANGEMENT

In the fall of 2017 Suncor, Fort McKay First Nation (FMFN) and Mikisew Cree First Nation (MCFN) announced the completion of the acquisition by FMFN and MCFN of a 49 per cent interest in the East Tank Farm Development (ETFD) valued at approximately $500 million. The two First Nations independently financed the acquisition, with the offering structured and marketed by RBC Capital Markets.

The agreement is unprecedented in size and scale for the First Nations and Suncor and is part of a growing trend of Indigenous communities as equity owners. The investment will provide a steady stream of revenue to both FMFN and MCFN for a minimum period of 25 years. Located 35 kilometres north of Fort McMurray, the ETFD provides storage, cooling and blending services for bitumen received from Fort Hills.

At a signing ceremony on Nov. 22, 2017, Suncor, Fort McKay First Nation (FMFN) and Mikisew Cree First Nation (MCFN) announced the completion of the acquisition by FMFN and MCFN of a 49 per cent interest in Suncor’s East Tank Farm Development (ETFD).

The two First Nations independently financed the acquisition, with the offering structured and marketed by RBC Capital Markets. The agreement is unprecedented in size and scale for the First Nations and Suncor and is part of a growing trend of Indigenous communities as equity owners.

“We’ve completed a historic deal for energy development in Canada. This unique partnership has been part of a journey that demonstrates how innovative thinking and collaborative spirit can result in a mutually- beneficial opportunity and it has changed the way Suncor thinks about how our Aboriginal neighbours may participate in energy development,” said Mark Little, president, Upstream, at the time of the signing and now Suncor’s president and CEO. “Through this partnership we’ve learned a lot about working together to create something significant, and I look forward to continuing to work together on this joint investment with Fort McKay First Nation and Mikisew Cree First Nation for many years to come.”

The agreement is held in a limited partnership with Suncor called Thebacha, the Dene word for “river.” The investment will provide a steady stream of revenue to both FMFN and MCFN for a minimum period of 25 years.

“The economic benefits generated from this deal will help our Nation to build capacity within our businesses, develop infrastructure in our community, fund social economic programs, and provide us with the means to help pay for education and training for our youth, and will be felt in our community for generations to come,” says MCFN Chief Archie Waquan.

Located 35 kilometres north of Fort McMurray, the ETFD is part of the existing East Tank Farm and adjoins the Hot Bitumen Terminal (HBT) and its associated tanks. Once Fort Hills begins to produce bitumen, the ETFD will receive the Fort Hills hot bitumen via the Northern Courier Pipeline.

“The deal represents one of the largest business investment to date by First Nation entities in Canada, and not only demonstrates the great potential for partnerships between First Nations and industry but serves as a model for how First Nations can achieve greater self-determination through financial independence,” said, FMFN Chief Jim Boucher, Chief at the time of the signing. “It is an example of how First Nations and natural resource development companies can find ways to support each other for the mutual long-term benefits.”

Thanks to Todayville for helping us bring our members’ stories of collaboration and innovation to the public.

Click to read a foreward from JP Gladu, Chief Development and Relations Officer, Steel River Group; Former President and CEO, Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business.

JP Gladu, Chief Development and Relations Officer, Steel River Group; Former President & CEO, Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business

Click to read comments about this series from Jacob Irving, President of the Energy Council of Canada.

Jacob Irving, President of Energy Council of Canada

The Canadian Energy Compendium is an annual initiative by the Energy Council of Canada to provide an opportunity for cross-sectoral collaboration and discussion on current topics in Canada’s energy sector.  The 2020 Canadian Energy Compendium: Innovations in Energy Efficiency is due to be released November 2020.

Read more on Todayville.

 

Hydro-Québec takes partnerships, environmental measures and sharing of wealth to new levels

 

 

 

Continue Reading

Business

Immersive technologies are the future, so how do they benefit industry?

Published on

These are exciting times. For those who may be unaware of the advancement of this incredible immersive technology over recent years, you may be surprised by the abundance of benefits virtual reality(VR) and augmented reality(AR) can offer to a wide range of industries. In addition to entertainment and gaming, immersive technologies offer the opportunity to benefit industries such as oil and gas, cleantech, education, manufacturing, agriculture, retail, real estate and many more. 

Consider this, when learning new processes or training for a specific position, creating an immersive learning program could advance cognition, engagement and retention of vital information over what could be learned through traditional programs. While we may be still some time away from this being the norm, it is hard to ignore the forward-thinking work going on in this industry. 

VizworX is a Calgary based tech company specializing in multiple advanced technologies. While they are one of the great teams at the forefront of this imaginative world of immersive technology, their core mission for all of their clients is simple – they solve problems. 

Focusing on key areas, the Vizworx team is well versed in VR, AR, mixed reality(MR), artificial intelligence (AI), internet of things (IoT), geospatial data mapping, biometric evaluation, and custom visualization solutions to name a few. Thankful for the opportunity to discuss this topic with Jeff LaFrenz, CEO of VizworX

Proud winner of multiple awards over recent years such as the Cross Sectoral Company Success Award from ConvergX in 2020, Outstanding Achievement in Applied Technology by ASTech and The Innovation Award by PTAC in 2019, to name a few. Recently, Jeff was a recipient of the University of Calgary 2020 Alumni Service Award.

– “What is physical and virtual becomes a blurry line at some point in the future”

Challenging as it is to condense, the incredible applications this immersive technology can have for industrial processes. While this topic could be extrapolated into each individual sector, the overall benefits are still being uncovered as this technology continues to evolve. However, it is important to explore the narrative of what it can offer today.

Infrastructure planning

This can be construed in two ways.

The first. Real estate may integrate immersive technologies at a higher capacity than other industries in the near future. We are aware of 360-degree walking tours, however, imagine having the ability to use a VR headset to be fully immersed in what could be your new home, where you interact with space on a true scale. Moving forward, the experience may prove to be the key to innovating the buying or renting process. 

As noted in Engineering.com back in 2016, we now have the ability to walk through a home virtually before any construction begins. If we consider the long term financial risk we all face with building a new home, mitigating any misconstrued requests and ensuring the model is true to the physical, benefits both the future homeowner and project managers. The same can be said for all parties involved in the construction of condo units, including pre-sale to consumers.

The second, industrial facility production.

While it can be difficult to summarize the process included in planning, pre-production, regulations and geo-mapping that goes into the production of infrastructure. With the use of this technology, a large scale project could be first explored through a VR model to engage with what could be the post-production facility, mitigating the risks of inefficient mapping, overhead and problematic regulations. 

In theory, creating a virtual tour and geospatial map of an upcoming project could allow for tours, audits and restructuring before production. Mitigating the risk of inefficient planning, saving time and ensuring that the final production model will be cost-effective. With the level of cognition that is possible, we could see a re-evaluation of the process of industrial construction pursued as this technology continues to enhance the user experience.

This type of solution is catered to by the subsidiary of VizworX called EnsureworX. Lead by their CEO, Dustin Wilkes and CFO, Charles Edmonds, this arm of the company specialize in creating immersive engineering review models with their Panoptica solution. If we consider the complexity of certain infrastructure requirements for facilities such as power generation or waste management, the ability to review models, assess ventilation and inform engineers who may have concerns regarding certain functionalities, can allow for a far more streamlined process. 

With the amount of capital required for certain industrial facilities, Jeff offers his insight into how Panoptica, or similar review model technology could offer a major advantage when visiting the pre-production stage of an infrastructure review or build.

“One of the challenges every industrial space is running into is data overload. Typically from a human perspective, a lot of what we do is to come from a human perspective of how you present the data to dramatically impact how people understand what it is as well as how they are going to make decisions.” – Jeff LaFrenz, CEO

Foreign Investment / Remote Tours

Evidently, this pandemic continues to confuse and re-calibrate plans to interact with others around the world. As flight schedules continue to be disrupted and to be monitored during a fortnight quarantine post-arrival in a foreign country. Now more than ever, the opportunity to create a virtual demonstration of an early-stage start-up mitigates confusion in regards to travel plans but also lowers overhead for foreign investors to travel to that location for an in-person demonstration. 

“Humans by nature have a biological spatial understanding, these technologies leverage that ability to present information that is spatially oriented. I could present you with a rendering of a building, and that would be hard for you to understand, or I could drop you into that building in virtual or augmented reality where you can walk around it and you would get it right away” – Jeff LaFrenz, CEO

One bright light in the ecosystem of innovative technology in the energy space is Eavor Technologies, a closed loop geothermal technology company that has been continuously disrupting the space. With a major push around the world for clean baseload energy that is both dispatchable and scalable, Eavor is a global front runner. Recently featured in Rolling Stone for their new “Harmony” video and insight from their team. 

Due to the major disruption in flight schedules, Eavor Technologies created a virtual walking tour of their “Eavor Lite” facility, which is their proof of concept stage site located in Rocky Mountain House, Alberta. To think of the pandemic no longer allowing any convenience for international travel let alone group tours. This solution created an intuitive immersive experience where you as the visitor can walk around and access panels throughout, where their team offers deeper insight into their technology. It can be toured through the Oculus Quest and also through a desktop or smartphone, found here.

(Source: Eavor Technologies Eavor Lite facility, Virtual Reality Tour Announced By Cutting Edge Canadian Energy Tech Company, September 15th 2020)

Operational Training

Cognition and retention of information vary both on the human and technical level. Traditional methods of training employees consist of the use of company assets, written or video material and in some cases exams. While these methods are still widely used today, there is the argument for a declining level of engagement with this type of information and the increase of online activity, thus leading to a lower level of retention. 

The solution could very well lie in this immersive technology. There is little data available on the segmented levels of cognition and retention in traditional vs immersive training, however, it is important to note that a high majority of us learn by doing, exactly what an immersive experience offers without the use of expensive equipment that could be better served. 

Panoptica contains a suite of tools that leverage mixed reality technologies. Teams can collaborate digitally from anywhere individually as they view models in a true 1:1 scale. By creating a 3D model that can be evaluated, allows for any inefficiencies to become apparent in the design process, thus mitigating time and overhead.

(Source: Medium, “Model Reviews in a Post-COVID Era”, VizworX review model, Carter Yont, published July 28th)

Safety and Emergency Training 

One example is training for airline pilots, where they are subject to an immersive training course that will uncover all circumstances where an emergency may arise. Being a passenger on countless flights, I am even glad this technology exists. 

Immersive training is not new. Cited from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health in Pittsburgh back in 2006, countries such as Germany, Australia and the US came together to explore the benefits to the mining industry. 14 different countries came together to discuss how VR can be employed in the future or research, development and safety training. 

(Source: CDC, “Virtual Reality in Mine Training”, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 2006)

While this was years ago, it is a reminder that this technology has been around for some time. As time and education move forward, the quality of the image rendering, functionality and reduction of cost continues to benefit the end-user. 

As mentioned, Panoptica can create a 1:1 ratio 3D review model. In addition to playing a major role in planning, safety training programs are an essential part of any industrial process. When you consider the assets and time allocated from senior employees, the cost increases in such a way where those assets and staff could be put to more cost-effective work. The cost of producing an immersive training program that can be utilized from anywhere is minuscule in comparison. 

“If you look at the future of where these immersive technologies are going, price points are coming down significantly, and the capabilities are going up significantly. We are going to have this blended environment where employees could walk around an industrial facility and look at a boiler, overlaid on that physical world is all the data and digital information required. What is physical and virtual becomes kind of a blurry line at some point in the future. That is where we want to be, seamless engagement with our environment between physical and virtual worlds.” Jeff LaFrenz, CEO

We are only scratching the surface here, there is still much to uncover in the world of immersive technology in this tech revolution. We can look forward to things such as retail shopping from the comfort of your living room where you can try items on virtually, or even where engineering students will avail of an immersive learning program that could advance cognition and retention to a point where innovation reaches far beyond our wildest aspirations.

I recommend visiting the VizworX and EnsureworX websites. Check out their blog on Medium and be sure to give them a follow on Twitter to stay up to date on any developments in the future.

 

For more stories, please visit Todayville Calgary

Continue Reading
;

Trending

X