Five things you should know before starting your work day on Dec. 13

Via Rail accepted Siemens' bid for its new order of trains, over home-grown Bombardier.Shaun Best / Reuters

Good morning! Our stories today have unexpected turns, be it Via Rail’s choice of Siemens over Bombardier for its $1B train order, or Elon Musk’s ability to bring Tesla back from the brink, Sidewalk Labs’ contravention its own data collection standards, or why Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme is still taking up court time here in Canada. Maybe less of a surprise is that the OSFI has boosted the Big Six banks’ stability buffer requirement.

DELAY DOESN’T PAY

Bombardier suffered another setback when Via Rail picked Siemens for its $989-million locomotive and passenger car order. On-time delivery was a key criterion, Via Rail said, referring to Bombardier’s past missed deliveries. The order called for 91,000 passenger seats. The trains will be built at a Siemens plant in Sacramento but the company also won a maintenance contract, holding some jobs in Canada.

BANK BOOST

Banking regulator OSFI is hiking the “domestic stability buffer” to protect banks from elevated risks. It says systemic vulnerabilities in the banking system “remain elevated,” Geoff Zochodne reports. OSFI is watching household debt and housing markets. The buffer was introduced in June, and “OSFI’s first update increased capital requirements,” a National Bank Financial analyst wrote, noting it could mean more hikes, “especially with the Canadian economic outlook not as constructive as it was a year ago.” 

CAREENING ALONG

Elon Musk is getting the last laugh on Wall Street after Tesla’s wild 2018. After a year of stomach-churning swings that saw the stock post rallies and selloffs of 20% or more, at this point it is up nearly 18%. That’s back to about the same point at which it sat when Musk infamously tweeted about taking the carmaker private. But, there could be more crazy antics, resulting in crazy swings. But for now, “Tesla is squarely on its own two feet.”

SIDEWALK SMARTS

Sidewalk Labs, the Google unit, is building a “smart city” neighbourhood on Toronto’s waterfront, and fears are growing about how it will employ user data. Well, it has already separately partnered with a suburban women’s committee to track how people use a park in a heavily immigrant neighbourhood, collecting age, gender and activity. As James McLeod reports, Sidewalk created a report from the project after it was completed but didn’t publish for almost three months, violating its own data collection standards. Are worries founded?

PERPETUAL PONZI

Canada’s connection to Bernie Madoff continues through the courts — a decade after his infamous downfall. As Geoff Zochodne writes, the issue came north because the manager of three offshore investment funds asked a Canadian arm of PwC to look over the financial statements. After Madoff revealed his Ponzi scheme in 2008, the funds went into liquidation in the Caribbean. The liquidator sued PwC, citing negligence and breach of contract. Besides claiming innocence, PwC says investors took more money out of the funds than they had put in, so, in fact, no damage was done.

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