The wrap-up on stories reported this week on WP

Good news on jobs, a disaster at Difference.

The wrap-up on stories reported this week on WP
1. WP ran quick mention of the disaster at Stats Canada this week. The organization botched the release of its labour stats earlier this week. According to the initial report, just 200 jobs were created in Canada last month. This was way less than the 20,000 expected.

Suddenly, it seemed, everyone was misreading the Canadian economy, which was, apparently, stalling out.

The mistake riled currency markets. The effects rippled through to unemployment claims processing in this country. Economists debated how bad the damage is to the reputation not the organization.But the revised report has been released this morning. And it turns out that the Canadian economy is not imploding as seemed to be the case. The real story is that 42,000 new jobs were created. So, no worry...the Canadian economy is not collapsing. Job creation is really running ahead of expectations. There you go, no worries. Too bad about the reputation of Stats Canada, though. 

2. Another story that ran on WP this week was one about the comeback vehicle of legendary, nutty Bat Street trader Mike Wekerle.

“Wek” as he is known, famously washed out of his place at GMP, where he kept himself over-refreshed, and, apparently, fairly high (co-workers demanded he submit to drug tests). The negative, but strong mojo wound through to a disastrous and embarrassing end when Wek was arrested for exposing himself and acting out at an upscale southern US hotel ending in an arrest, a lawsuit and a boot from the firm he helped found.

Since then, Wek has applied himself to comeback vehicle, Difference Capital, a merchant bank focussed on investing in under-the-radar tech companies. The company is supposed to be his return to the top of the Bay Street pack. Things are not working out as hoped.

The company released its latest earnings this week, a release that was closely watched. It was only a couple weeks ago that three well-known directors at the firm left. Only last Friday Wek turfed the co-founder of the firm as a new round of chaos whipped up around the former super-star trader.

So, how were the results? Not so good, it seems.

Wekerle famously got in early on RIM. His new company made a big bet on another tech company, World Gaming, which allowed gamers to make money playing video games. Fourteen percent of Difference’s capital is tied up in the company. The investment has not turned out as hoped. The Company recorded $13.7 million of depreciation in privately held investments, primarily in WG. The company also served a default notice on another investment, Lignol Energy on secured debt of $13.1 million. The consequence: Difference reported a net loss of $13.0 million, or $0.33 per share.  This compares to a net loss of $1.2 million, or $0.04 per share for the quarter ended June 30, 2013.

The only bank following the company, National Bank Financial, downgraded Difference stock to "sector perform" in the wake of the earnings release. Stock in the company traded up 1.60% during mid-day trading Thursday, hitting $1.27. But this is well-off the 1-year high of $3.60.

Oh well, Wek can always fall back on his second career as the new judge on CBC’s Dragon’s Den.