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A roundup of what The Globe and Mail's market strategist Scott Barlow is reading this morning on the Web

A Bloomberg video report cites U.S. shopping malls as the next big short opportunity. Online shopping and an aging population are cited as the main culprits for the alleged death of the mall. A separate column by Gadfly's Lisa Ambramowicz and Shelly Banjo notes that private equity firms are the primary holders of distressed debt for retailers and they are anxiously looking for a way out.

Domestically, many retail properties have been struggling along with their anchor tenants, like Sears Holdings, but so far there is little stress visible in REITs, like Riocan, that dominate the industry.

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"Why America's Shopping Malls May Be the Next Big Short" – Bloomberg (video)
"Private Equity's Retail Debt Carnage" – Gadfly


The oil price is trading 0.70 lower at $48.08 at time of writing as fears of sustained oversupply remain,

"'Speculative investors have thrown in the towel it seems. We've got record selling in the week ending March 14 and the bleeding has not stopped yet,' said Carsten Fritsch, senior commodities analyst at Commerzbank in Frankfurt."

"Oil falls 1 percent as bullish bets fade with U.S. output rise" – Reuters
"Bullish Crude Bets Cut by Most Ever as Price Falls Below $50' – Bloomberg
"@chris1reuters "We lower price forecasts" - @jpmorgan New 2017 and 2018 projections: #Brent - $55.75 and $55.50 #WTI - $53.75 and $53.50 #OPEC #OOTT" – (research excerpt) Twitter


Maclean's magazine warns Canadians that robots are about to "take a wrecking ball" to employment levels. The Economist's Ryan Avent contributes to the subject with an interesting argument that seems completely plausible to me – it's not the robots so much as the threat of automation driving down wages to the point where it makes less sense to invest in robots,

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"The digital revolution has created an enormous rise in the amount of effective labour available to firms. It has created an abundance of labour. If you're a company and your workforce is demanding higher pay or being difficult, you have many ways to get the labour you need without adding to your wage bill.

"You can move work abroad. Technology enabled the growth of global supply chains, which helped bring billions of low-wage workers into the global labour force. You can restructure your business in ways which allow fewer, more skilled workers to use technology to do tasks which previously required lots of less-skilled workers; or you can restructure your business in ways that reduce the bargaining power of your employees, or reduce your obligations to them. And, of course, you can automate."

"The productivity paradox" – Avent, Medium
"The coming automation disruption" - Maclean's
"Will Amazon Destroy More US Jobs Than China?" – Naked Capitalism
"@Noahpinion Teach a man to fish, and he'll eat for a lifetime. Teach all men to fish, and the return to fishing will fall below subsistence levels. " – Twitter


Tweet of the Day: From a U.S.-based analyst for Mauldin Economics "@dailydirtnap 7. That is why I have a particular focus on CAD real estate--it is the one asset class that meets the true definition of 1999-like mania. " – Twitter

Diversion: This Cinefix video picks the 10 movies with the best dialogue (there is bleeped out NSFW language) – "The best dialogue of all time" – Cinefix

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About the Author
Market Strategist

Scott Barlow is The Globe's in-house market strategist. He is a 20-year veteran of Canadian investment banks, including Merrill Lynch Canada, CIBC Wood Gundy and Macquarie Private Wealth (MPW). He was a highly ranked mutual fund analyst for 10 years and then, most recently, the head of a financial adviser support team at MPW. More


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