Corpcentre's Blog

January 13, 2010

Good Debt Versus Bad Debt

How many of us have been to our physician and received an explanation about good cholesterol and bad cholesterol? Much has been written about it, as well. But, how many have heard explanations about good debt versus bad debt? Probably very few, as financial education is sorely lacking in society.

Personal debt is on the rise, partly because obtaining credit today is relatively easy. If you breathe, you can probably obtain a credit card from your bank or a retail store. And, more often than not, the only one who benefits is the one who issues the card and charges interest rates that can exceed 20 percent.

Far too many consumers confuse credit cards and cash. If you are prepared to pay off your monthly balance and merely use the card for convenience, you’re in the responsible minority. However, far too many people freely use their credit cards and neglect the fact that the bill eventually has to be paid. Paying only a minimum at the end of the month only digs a deeper hole. And, truthfully, most people don’t keep track of how much they spend on their cards.

On the other hand, not all debt is bad. Taking a mortgage to purchase a home is a wise investment. As the house appreciates, the value will exceed what you paid on the loan. Another example of good debt is securing a loan to purchase high return stocks or bonds. When the return exceeds the interest paid, your debt has accrued value.

Experts suggest that your debt-to-income ratio should not exceed 20 per cent. Higher than that looks bad on credit reports and can lead to difficulties. Better to keep debt to a manageable level and avoid the temptations of living on credit. Even when times are good, don’t forget to prepare for the eventual rainy day as well.

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October 3, 2009

How Canada Prepared for the Crunch

Looking back just a little, the current recession took hold in 2007 when the inflated U.S. real estate bubble exploded. The speed with which the downfall snowballed surprised many but did provide enough time for legislators to take early action. The Canadian government, under Prime Minister Stephen Harper, was one of the first to prepare for the coming financial challenges.

The first step was introducing legislation in 2007 for permanent tax reductions for Canadian homes and businesses. As the recession hit the U.S. in early 2008, these new tax cuts took effect, helping sustain consumer spending and pumping billions of dollars into the Canadian economy. The lower GST is a blessing for individuals who have more of their hard earned dollars to spend. Canadian businesses now benefit from the lowest corporate tax rate among G7 industrialized countries, providing cash for continued corporate growth and creating new jobs.

During the country’s strong economic years in 2005-2006, the government wisely reduced the national debt by $37 billion. By entering this recession period with a low debt burden, the government has had flexibility to run a short term deficit and provide funds for job creating investments and other economic stimulus programs.

Another preventive measure undertaken by the Harper government was regulating the mortgage market. The maximum term was reduced to 35 years and a minimum 5 percent down payment is required for government-backed mortgages.

Finally, responding to a cautious banking sector, the government has enacted programs to provide access to financing for consumers, households, and businesses. The government has not replaced private lending but, rather, is working in a cooperative effort with financial institutions to encourage lending and provide a network of guarantees.
 
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September 9, 2009

To Buy the Competitor or Not to Buy

Although the state of the economy is still uncertain, this should not affect whether a company should pursue acquisition of a competitor, if that is its intent. Rather, one should be somewhat more prudent and disciplined in how one evaluates the potential purchase.

During these recent difficult times, the markets have naturally focused their attention on companies in distress. This should not translate into a belief that the entire business sector is in ruins. However, as the competition may be in dire straits due to the present financial crisis should not be a reason to abandon ideas of purchasing that company. Careful assessment of the competitor is crucial. Seek to understand why that company is losing money. Will your investment merely save a struggling enterprise that was on its way to closure anyway or are there other factors at play that will make this a worthwhile purchase?

It is important to dissect the company and understand how it works. Were there management problems? Did the company mismanage its relationships with its customers and suppliers? Were the employees mistreated and, therefore, did they not perform well? Is the machinery sub-standard, thus affecting the product? Examining the company with a fine-toothed comb will allow you to make an effective decision as to whether this company can merge with yours. Similarly, it is important to do a proper evaluation of your own company. Are you in a position to absorb this company? Do you have the management capabilities for this merge? Will your staff cope with the additional production and sales? Will you need capital to overhaul machinery? Similarly, examine your goals. Perhaps you are only interested in expanding your customer base. In that case, go directly to the competitor’s customers, rather than affecting a buyout.

Research is your best business ally.

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August 19, 2009

Creating Jobs and Saving Businesses

Thanks to the Canadian Government’s recent investments in the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) through the Business Credit Availability Program, the BDC is experiencing a record increase in loans to businesses across the country.

By improving access to credit for Canadian businesses via the Canada’s Economic Action Plan and Business Credit Availability Program, the Government is helping the business community not only weather the current economic slowdown but continue to thrive.

Recent statements by Canada’s Minister of Industry, Tony Clement, indicate that the Government is pleased with its economic stimulus program. The various programs are creating jobs and saving businesses.

The BDC’s increased lending activity has been felt across the country. In June 2009, the amount of loans accepted exceeded figures for the same period in the previous year by 57%. In the first fiscal quarter of 2009/2010, ending June 30, the total dollar amount accepted by BDC loans escalated by 37% from $738 million in 2008 to slightly more than $1 billion in 2009. The BDC reports that this has been the largest increase in its history.

The Canadian Economic Action Plan was designed to assist businesses and entrepreneurs by improving access to financing through enhanced cooperation between government corporations and private sector financial institutions. Financial experts from the BDC have worked closely with their private sector colleagues to ensure that solutions are found to secure funding for creditworthy businesses. Another branch of the Business Credit Availability Program is Export Development Canada (EDC). Working together, EDC and private sector financial institutions are providing more than $5 billion in loans and other credit support to businesses with viable business models but whose access to financing might be restricted.

Private sector and Government – working together to help Canadian businesses thrive.

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