New wood floors are being installed here at INTN’s global headquarters. This has wreaked havoc on house, computer and cats, the last of whom are most upset by the upheaval. Willow hides in the basement while the ever sociable Putter tries to hang out with the workers, but is apparently overcome with anxiety causing the poor feline to vomit repeatedly. Fortunately so far he has restricted his regurgitations to defacing the old floors though we tremble at what is to come. In the midst of it all, as we attempted to write this missive among saws, hammers and other noise, two salesmen came to our door wanting to talk to us about switching over to their cable company. When we attempted to explain to them this was not a good time (this should have been abundantly evident by wood, laborers and the general construction mess surrounding them on the front porch), they insisted their information was vitally important and we must talk to them right that minute. It was then that we wished we had trained Putter to vomit on cable company salesmen. So even as we call in the cat whisperer for expert advice, we compare Canada, Venezuela and iPhones, snicker at the idea of China as the leader of free trade and present the world’s third most important graph. It’s this week’s International Need to Know, purring with world information intended to scratch your fancy.
Without further ado, here’s what you need to know.
Canada, Venezuela and iPhones
Last year we took to task a news organization for saying Venezuela’s economic problems are due to low oil prices. Canada is a great example of what we’re talking about. Canada, like Venezuela, is also a big oil exporter and certainly its economy suffered when oil tanked in 2014. But, because Canada has economic policies that are not crazy, their economy did not and would not suffer like Venezuela’s. In fact, Canada’s business confidence is at its highest level since before the oil crash and its economy added the most number of jobs since 2012. Meanwhile, it costs $98,000 to buy an iPhone in Venezuela. Canada is also preparing for President Trump by naming Chrystia Freeland* to be their new Foreign Minister. She led the charge in getting the Canada-EU free trade pact approved. With a good chance NAFTA will be torn up by Trump, she would have chief responsibility for negotiating the new pact. By the way, NAFTA was essentially an addendum to the U.S. – Canada Free Trade Agreement which would still be in force even if the new Trump Administration ends NAFTA. And when we talked with the Canadian government recently, the official indicated it’s probably time to update the agreement anyway. After all, many industries didn’t even exist when that free trade agreement was approved. Venezuela meanwhile is in no position to negotiate free trade agreements or much of anything else. It’s not about the oil.