Tuesday update: Add Air Canada to the list of the walking dead. A new CEO has been brought in to slash costs and (you read it here first) crash land the carrier into bankruptcy proceedings. This is how deflation works in Montreal, as it does in Chicago, where the venerable Sun-Times newspaper today also enters the realm of the cashless. I hope they’re paying attention in the National Post newsroom.
Today Ford in the US says it will pay up to $700Â month for a year to anyone who buys a new car then loses their job. Except if you work at Ford. And the latest GDP numbers show Canada’s economy shrunk in January, which we knew. Fortunately, Barack Obama is on his way to the G20. He’ll fix it all up.
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An acquaintance I had not spoken to in over a decade phoned me. From a suburban motel room, as it turned out. Heâ€™d been the CEO of some very prestigious outfits, and a shaker in politics.
In my mindâ€™s eye he was in a pin-striped three-piece suit, polished and connected. It was hard to visualize him now destitute, calling me for money. â€œWhat you said was coming,â€ he softly spoke, â€œcame for me.â€
Did you see CBCâ€™s newscast Monday night?
In Detroit, an interview with a guy who shoots racoons and sells the meat in the city. Fifteen each, two for twenty-five. Unemployment there has reached Depression levels, and more than half the people (once two million lived in Detroit) have fled. Houses for a dollar. More vacant land than all of Vancouver.
In Fort Myers, the average house price has dropped by 70%. There are 2,100 foreclosures a month. State finances are crumbling. A subdivision has but one resident left.
The spectre of a collapse in the NA car industry moved a lot closer in the last 24 hours. Stock markets tanked on the news, as youâ€™d expect. Immediate clouds were thrown over the looming G20 summit of world leaders. Unions and workers were distraught.
In what was recently the fastest growing municipality in Canada, the auto parts factories are shutting their doors now routinely. There are more than 1,700 houses for sale in Milton, a GTA community with just 65,000 residents. First-time buyers are now freaked-out sellers, their equity evaporating weekly and the spectre of job loss hanging over every family like those engineered roof trusses. This is how homes become prisons.
Hard to see now how Chrysler will stay in Canada, or GM avoid going wheels-up. And thatâ€™s despite billions more taxpayer dollars pumped in to have them live for a few more weeks.Â When the end comes, it will be a defining moment on the road weâ€™re all on.
Travellers. Some stopped for the night. Grasping.
For today’s blog, ‘Human fuel,’ click here.
For Garth’s latest podcast, click here.