Numlock News: January 7, 2021 • Apple, Neil Young, Seaweed
By Walt Hickey
The average selling price for a home in Greater Toronto was $932,222 this past December, up nearly $100,000 year-over-year. This past December there were 7,180 homes sold, a 64.5 percent increase from the level in December 2019. The beginning of winter in Canada is generally regarded as a bit of a quiet period for real estate sales, but this year was different. Vancouver saw a record high for home sales with the average price going for $1,047,000, up 5.4 percent year-over-year.
Neil Young, the iconic rock musician born in Toronto, has sold 50 percent of his song catalog to a U.K. music library investment fund. Somewhat notoriously, Young, awarded the Order of Manitoba in 2006, has never licensed his songs for commercial use, a policy that the new owner indicated will probably continue. The deal, worth a reported $150 million, transfers the global copyright of 1,180 songs composed by Young to Hipgnosis, which has also bought up the rights to music by Mark Ronson, Barry Manilow, Blondie, and Fleetwood Mac’s Lindsey Buckingham. This is great because now Neil Young can if he wants just buy a literal Heart of Gold.
The seven Canadian franchises of the NHL will be in a new, separate North Division this coming season, which will allow them to play each other without having to cross an international border during a pandemic. So far, Quebec, British Columbia, Alberta and Manitoba have given the teams within those provinces the authorization to hit the ice at their home arenas. Not among those provinces yet is Ontario, which is home to the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Ottawa Senators, who have not yet been given the green light from the Ministry of Sport to play at home. The clock’s ticking there: the Leafs have their home opener slated for January 13.
Based on companies that trade on the TSX, in 2019 the average total compensation for the 100 best-paid CEOs of Canadian corporations was $10.8 million, while the average annual salary for a worker in Canada was $53,482 the same year. That means top CEO pay is about 202 times that of the average Canadian worker, which is actually down from the 227 observed the previous year. It also means that at 11:17 a.m. on Monday, the average CEO had already made the annual salary of a typical worker.
Apple is kicking the tires on the motor vehicle business, angling to hop into a competitive market and put their distinctive stamp on it. That being said, if Apple makes a car, they will not actually be making a car, just as Apple make iPhones but doesn’t actually make the iPhones. Most of their manufacturing is outsourced — to Foxconn, in the case of the iPhone for instance — and there’s little reason to suspect that business will be any different if the gadget they make is a four-wheel with a clickwheel. Indeed, contract manufacturing is huge in the vehicle business, and if Apple enters they’ll likely contract with someone like Magna Steyr, a Canadian car-part supplier that is actually behind lots of cars despite what the hood ornament says. In 2019, they assembled 160,000 vehicles, which is more than a lot of carmakers make, hauling in $6.7 billion in revenue for their efforts. They tend to build niche vehicles including the BMW Z4, the Mercedes G-Class 4x4 and the Jaguar I-Pace, an electric.
Last year, 1.54 million cars and trucks were sold in Canada, down 19.7 percent year-over-year, the lowest level in over a decade. That’s also the steepest decline since 1982, with the worst of it notched in April when sales collapsed 75 percent. Light trucks accounted for fully 79.9 percent of all car and truck sales, leaving passenger cars a distant minority of vehicles.
A 2020 report estimated that the demand for seaweed as a food ingredient is projected to rise to $85 billion by 2026, with the North American market for commercial seaweed peaking at $9.5 billion by then, fueled by rising demand in the pharmaceutical business. All told, the industry behind seaweed is larger than you think — 12 million tonnes produced annually, about 85 percent of which goes into food — and a number of firms are diving headlong into seaweed, such as SeaChange Biochemistry Inc. in Nova Scotia. Using a $250,000 loan from Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, they’re attempting to extract valuable chemicals from seaweed with the goal of pulling out lots from one haul rather than the more traditional way chemicals are pulled out of seaweed, which is one at a time by a specific manufacturer for a specific purpose.
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