Five things you should know before you start your work day on Feb. 12

Juston Herbert fixes his daughter's sandal after they've loaded the car with multiple purchases of an item to resell later for a profit.Dominic Valente / For The Washington Post

Good morning! Our stories today relate to downturns, in the oil-by-rail sector, in SNC-Lavalin’s business, in one poor guy’s personal savings, and in the upcoming recession. And, should you find yourself on the wrong side of the economy, don’t forget how some people are making ends meet as retail arbitrageurs, boosting upwards their bottom lines.

OFF THE RAILS 

Canadian heavy crude has become too expensive to ship by rail. Two months after the Alberta government announced the cuts, crude-by-rail shipments are declining even as pipelines remain at or near capacity. Rail volumes fell 56% last week. After producer complaints, the cut was eased but the discount is still too deep to make rail profitable. All told, the cuts are having the opposite of the desired effect.

DIGGING DEEPER 

SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. yesterday posted a $350-million loss in its mining segment — adding to legal woes, a brewing political scandal and business headwinds — leading one analyst to suggest it sell assets: “De-risking must be a priority.” As Gabe Friedman reports, with shares off 42% since June, some say the selloff is an overreaction while others recommend investors buy now. And yesterday the company cut its full-year profit forecast for the second time.

COMING UP: HEADING DOWN

Paul Krugman says the U.S. is headed for a possible recession and the Fed won’t be able to combat it. While he doesn’t expect a crisis of 2008 proportions, he said policymakers in Washington would struggle to contain large shocks. “We’re clearly in worse shape” than 11 years ago, the Nobel laureate said, citing lower public debt in 2008 and “lots of room” to lower interest rates. “And we came into the last crisis with pretty remarkable leadership.”

ONE BIG TRANSFER FEE

This Quadriga client lost his entire life savings in a $560,000 mistake. He was leaving Silicon Valley to move back to Canada. “I wasn’t using it for trading — I just wanted to move my money over to my Canadian bank account,” the software engineer said. But now, he’s living in a Vancouver Airbnb and looking for a job. He says he is one of Quadriga’s larger investors, one of the 115,000 clients who lost money when the firm’s founder died.

RETAIL RESALE

They’re “flesh and blood robots for Amazon,” says one retail arbitrageur, that plucky band of disparate folks who raid clearance aisles in all manner of stores and resell it all online for a profit. Many supply Amazon, filling gaps in its product catalogue. For some, retail arbitrage is a lucrative side hustle, for others it’s how they earn a living.

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