May 15, 2023  |  Listen  |  Read online

Good morning. Two Nepalese Sherpas are in a heated battle over the record for most climbs of Mount Everest. Pasang Dawa Sherpa just finished scaling it for the 26th time, while Kami Rita is en route to the top for his 27th climb right now. 

Imagine tying the world record for Everest climbs and then getting bumped back into the number two spot just a couple of weeks later. Rough! 

Today’s reading time is 5 minutes.




S&P 500






















Earnings this week: Walmart and Home Deport report earnings this week. Along with new retail sales numbers from Statistics Canada on Friday, that will give us a fresh picture of how consumer spending is holding up.

Ex-ByteDance exec says CCP has TikTok backdoor
Solen Feyissa / Unsplash

A new lawsuit against TikTok owner ByteDance could discredit the company’s primary defence against efforts by some Western lawmakers to ban the app.

What happened: Yintao Yu, a former engineering lead for ByteDance in the US, claims that TikTok’s code included a “backdoor” to give Chinese government officials “supreme access” to user data, regardless of where it was hosted. 

  • In the wrongful dismissal lawsuit filed last week, Yu also alleges that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) instructed ByteDance to suppress or promote content as it saw fit—for example, he claims ByteDance boosted content that “expressed hatred for Japan.”
  • In a statement to The New York Times, ByteDance said Yu’s claims are “baseless.”

Why it matters: Yu’s allegations undermine ByteDance’s assurances that user data in Western countries is secure because it is stored on US servers, and will give ammunition to a growing number of lawmakers and security officials who want to see TikTok banned.

Zoom out: Canada, the US, Britain, France, and New Zealand have all banned TikTok from government devices, and a pair of bills that would give the US President the power to ban the app are working their way through Congress.

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Recep Tayyip Erdoğan votes in Istanbul / @trpresidency

Turkish elections headed to run-off. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his main opponent, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, are headed to a run-off vote on May 28th, after neither secured a majority in yesterday's presidential elections. News agencies and the state election council all reported slightly different results, but all showed Erdogan with a lead. (The Guardian)

Trudeau calls by-elections. Prime Minister Trudeau announced by-elections next month for four vacant seats. Voters will go to the polls on June 19th to elect new MPs for Winnipeg South Centre, Portage-Lisgar, Oxford, and Notre-Dame-de-Grâce-Westmount. All the ridings are considered to be relatively safe seats for the parties that currently hold them (two are Liberal, two are Conservative). (CBC)

Pro-democracy parties win Thai elections. Two parties that oppose Thailand’s military-backed government won a majority of seats in the country’s main legislature. Move Forward, a youth-led party, won a surprise plurality of seats on a promise to curb the power of the military and the monarchy, including a pledge to overhaul a law that makes insulting the monarchy punishable by up to 15 years in prison. (Al Jazeera)

What's happening this week
Justin Hu / Unsplash

✈️ WestJet pilots could walk. The Air Line Pilots Associations warned that the roughly 1,850 WestJet workers it represents could go on strike this week. The union says it wants pay and job protections for flight crew in line with other North American carriers, but WestJet says it can’t match the pay levels offered by US airlines. If you’ve got flights booked with WestJet (or its subsidiary Swoop) for the long weekend, you may want to start thinking about contingency plans. Under federal regulations, an airline that can’t operate a scheduled route has 48 hours to rebook affected passengers with another airline, or it can offer a refund—neither option is guaranteed to get you where you want to be on time.

📊 New inflation numbers. Consumer Price Index data for April arrives tomorrow, and analysts expect to see year-over-year inflation come in a touch lower than last month’s 4.3% level. Inflation has fallen by almost half from its peak last June due to a combination of easing supply chain pressures, higher interest rates, and cheaper energy. The Bank of Canada expects inflation to drop to 3% in the next few months but stay above 2% until sometime next year.

🏦 Checking in on the banks. It’s been a rocky few months for the financial system, and policymakers on both sides of the border will take a closer look at what’s happening with the banks this week. Here in Canada, the Bank of Canada releases its review of the financial system on Thursday, which will highlight any risks it’s seeing in the system. Meanwhile, in the US, Congress will grill execs from Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank on the downfall of their respective institutions.

What used cars tell us about the future of the economy
Obi / Unsplash

The Bank of Canada is determined to crush inflation, but that doesn’t mean prices are going back to pre-pandemic levels. For proof, look no further than the used car market.

Driving the news: Prices in the used car market aren’t going up anymore, but they aren’t coming down much from pandemic-era heights either, according to the latest data from Canadian Black Book.

  • While the price of an average used car has slowly edged down from around $37,000 last year to $35,000 now, that’s still far above the 2021 level of roughly $24,000.

Why it’s happening: Prices for used cars are stuck at elevated levels because lots of pent-up demand is chasing too little supply.

  • At the same time, higher interest rates have made car loans more expensive—the average monthly loan payment for a car in Canada is now $900, according to JD Power. 
  • That's more than erased any affordability gains buyers may have seen from slightly lower prices.

Zoom out: If all this sounds familiar, maybe it’s because similar dynamics are playing out in the housing market, where a supply crunch is colliding with tons of demand and higher rates to make homes less affordable.

  • Housing prices did fall in some markets, but that trend is already starting to reverse due to similar factors that are keeping car prices high.

Why it matters: Inflation in the car market is gone, but cars are still way more expensive than they used to be, and it doesn’t look like they’re going to get much cheaper in the near future. It’s a reminder that whipping inflation isn’t going to automatically make life more affordable.

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🫒 $5,989. The price (in USD) of a metric ton of olive oil, up 36% from a year ago, mainly because of a severe drought in Spain that’s devastated the country’s harvests.

🤖 47%. The share of internet traffic that came from bots in 2022, according to a report by Imperva—up 5% from last year, and the highest level in eight years.

🐶 31. The age of the world’s oldest dog, a Portuguese Rafeiro do Alentejo named Bobi, who just celebrated his milestone birthday with a 100-person party.


That's enough news for now. Time for the mini-crossword. 

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Written by Sarah Bartnicka and Quinn Henderson.

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