Friday, February 6, 2009

Weekend Open Thread

  • As almost every realist knows, unemployment situation is getting grimmer by the day worldwide. Specifically in Canada, we shed over 129,000 jobs last month. That's a huge number. More than the specific economic damage these numbers do to the economy of the region, the bigger damage is done to the psychology of the consumer who will put off purchasing big ticket items, heck even small items. The regions west of Thunder Bay seem to be holding on the best so far. But for how long? Once the gravity of global slowdown is fully priced in to the commodity markets, the bust here will rival that of the manfucating towns of the Central Canada or even worse.
  • The US fared far better than us on Per capita basis, losing 'only' 598,000 jobs. This way we have lost more than twice the number of jobs than the US last month.
  • The Official Unemployment rates in both Canada and the US are at 7.6%. How quickly have we caught up with our southern neighbour. I can't help but reminiscence the conversation I had with Honda Car Dealership Manager a few months ago when she said, "But this is an American problem. Our economy is strong here." Hopefully by now she has waken up to the reality that few are insulated from this global slowdown and by every characteristic this looks like a totally different beast. Much different than any other recession most people have seen in their lives.
  • What is the way out? People are waking up to the reality that almost everyone whose opinion they thought they could trust, has been lying to them. The elected demagogues, real estate agents, central bankers, economists, company CEOs, mainstream media and almost anyone with any shred of authority. Before this is all over, people will trust themselves more than they trusted 'Suzzanne' or their friendly neighborhood mortgage broker.
  • We need to watch out for ourselves. It's a very simple thought, but too many people have forgotten what it means to take care of their own affairs. A little paranoia is not bad, as Andy Grove used to say 'Only the Paranoid Survive.'
  • We need to excel at our own jobs so that in a globalized workforce environment, we can offer more value while in Canada than those in other parts of the world. This is most relevant for the 'information workers', that is all those whose jobs can be taken offshore with a click of mouse. We need to have huge savings so that we can ride out the downturns in a better way, without expecting too much from the government. To give you some perspective, some of my friends save over 75% of their net income. They do make comfortable six figure incomes, but I think it's got more to do with the attitude towards savings than with the specific dollar amounts that people make.
  • Almost every idiot urging you to go out and spend is doing so to promote their agenda. Real value and real economic activity is created by real savings and not by debt. We have had almost no savings in this part of the world for the last decade or so. Wtihout real savings, there cannot be meaningful investments and no real job growth. Speculation driven investments in commodities and real estate disappear sooner or later leaving very few real jobs. But I doubt if too many people in the right places will suddenly develop an urge to do anything about this. Instead, they will push people to take on more debt, annihilate more of their savings on bad home upgrade projects and push them further into perpetual wage slavery, albeit at wage rates with an equilibrium point determined by third world level wages.
  • Talking about the specifics of Alberta real estates seems almost a detail in the midst of the global turmoil. The prices of almost everything are way too high across the province. They will fall. Unemployment will rise and so will the foreclousres. Those buying at this time either 'must buy' (not sure who they are) or they are incredibly naive. Or they still have faith in what the Bank of Canada governor who believes in magical second quarter turaround. May be in next life, due to accumlated bad karma, Mark will be born as a realtor association economist that believes in a perpetual second half rebound.
  • And while, the economy is going to hell, bankers are fleecing billions and potentially trillions in dollars from the tax payers, Canadian are expressing outrage at a 60 year old woman giving birth to twins. No wonder fleecing the masses is trivial-it's too easy to distract people from the real issues! In 21st century, it's more than bread and circus- it's bread, circus and drama!
  • Have a good weekend everyone.
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