A quick note about VICE Money
Financial news is not seen as a branch of journalism that’s particularly geared for mass consumption. When I say I’m a business journalist, I get responses like, “Oh, you must be good at numbers,” or “Why does that interest you?”… or just a glazed look of puzzlement. Perhaps the word “business” is off-putting. Financial jargon — securities, equities, derivatives, earnings, hedges, convertible bonds — are basic everyday terms to industry players but over the heads of most people. This shouldn’t be the case. It’s possible to consume and understand business, economics, and finance without getting bogged down by incomprehensible banking jargon. After all, money is money. We all deal with money, we all need money; thus inevitably, we care about money issues.
It’s actually a fascinating time to be a business journalist — heck, a journalist for that matter. Donald Trump’s unexpected electoral sweep was almost solely motivated by economic factors; the stench of inequality that means a daily struggle to make ends meet, the influx of immigrants from the Global South to fill the demographic void of a declining birth rate in the West, and the triumph of corporations in seeking out low-wage jurisdictions with complete disregard for the destructive trail of unemployment left in their wake. Perhaps most stark: the failure of government to constructively address these changing dynamics.
These are just some of the macro topics we plan to explore, primarily from a Canadian lens, but with language that is accessible and comprehensible to our audience (and no, that does not mean we’re “dumbing down” business news).
The Economist recently hailed Canada as an example to the world, praising its tolerance, openness, collectivism, and acceptance of racial diversity, with a headline that made us all blush: “Liberty Moves North.” Our own minister of trade, Chrystia Freeland, in a moment of complete despair when trade talks between Canada and the European Union were on the brink of collapse, admonished the EU for failing to reach an agreement with “a country with European values… a country as nice and patient as Canada”. But are we really all of the above? Does our politeness mask a deep-seated feeling of discontent at the West’s vast economic shift from being haves to have-nots?
Canada is primarily a resource-based economy. Low oil prices for the last two years have left many Canadians, mainly in Alberta, without jobs, and without a plan. Income inequality has increased, and continues to increase. Numbers from Statistics Canada tell us that the top 10 percent of Canadians have seen their median net worth grow by 42 percent since 2005 to $2.1 million in 2012. Meanwhile the bottom 10 percent of Canadians saw their median net worth shrink by a whopping 150 percent. These are dangerous numbers. Consumer debt levels in Canada are problematic, to say the least. In 2012, Canadians owed an average of $5,100 more than they had. I’d pay you to find me an average-earning millennial who can afford to put a downpayment on a home in one of Canada’s major cities (where the jobs are).
So we still have a lot of work to do. There are issues to be dissected, advice to be sought and disseminated, people to hold accountable. We will attempt to do all this and more, in a manner that is clear, fair, fun, and interesting. So here goes.