Have you seen pictures of those jobs fairs? California? Ohio? Thousands of worried people standing in line, clutching their resumes, somehow thinking theyâ€™re going to land one of a few precious positionsÂ inside?
There was one in Toronto on Tuesday. Packed. Employers overwhelmed. And the big hire was by a community college which had â€œa few dozenâ€ jobs. If it were not so sad, youâ€™d think it were comedy.
About this time, Honda â€“ one of the worldâ€™s leading carmakers â€“ was telling employees that salaries are being rolled back, bonuses eliminated and 13 shutdown days scheduled for the next few months. This affects workers at several plants, two of them north of Toronto.
Yes, and Air Canada was making every move it could, including getting a new CEO, to stave off bankruptcy. Concurrently, the new Obama-approved CEO of GM was saying out loud bankruptcy of that company is now â€œmore probable.â€
Proclaiming the obvious was StatsCan, stating the economy is contracting in a major way, led by cars and houses. It now looks like GDP shrank by 6% in the first three months of the year which is, to use a technical term, frigging awful.
We are now five months after the federal election and two months past a budget, and not a dollar in stimulus money has been spent in Canada. Yeah, interest rates have come crashing down, but other than a gaggle of first-time greater fools, few are rushing into new debt. For every two jobs being lost in the States, we are shedding three. And when Chrysler or GM pull in their horns, entering survival mode, guess which operations will be sacrificed with nary a second thought?
Meanwhile, real estate continues to melt. The latest numbers show US prices down 19% in January from a year earlier, the steepest decline on record. House prices across the entire country have now dropped 30% from their peak. In some cities, it is a 70% dump.
So, tally it up.
Unemployment surges in Canada. Major employers teeter on the edge of bankruptcy. Commodities fall. Wages reverse. The economy shrinks dramatically. Ottawa fiddles.
This is why those who think our housing market (a) has hit bottom, (b) wonâ€™t decline nearly as much as the American one, (c) is actually bouncing back or (d) is just fine, because â€˜itâ€™s different hereâ€™ will make life-altering mistakes. Based on whatâ€™s happened here, the speed of it and the intensity of job loss and decline, itâ€™s conceivable Canada is about to fall off a cliff.
Too bad most of our countrymen and women will miss this. It might be Canuck arrogance. Maybe that pervasive whiff of anti-Americanism we love. Maybe nothing but denial.
In Windsor you can now buy a house for less than a car. Think this couldn’t happen in Mississauga, Burnaby, Nepean? Think again.
Note: Regarding the photo on this posting…
Hi Garth: Took these pics yesterday, while walking around Merida, in the Yucatan. I read your daily blog. When I saw these black vultures sitting in a vacant colonial home near downtown Merida I thought of your blog. You always display such great photos. Maybe you could use one of these photos the next time you write about real estate vultures.
Your book “Greater Fool” and also previous books, is one of the reasons I have the luxury of spending the cold winters in Mexico for now. I was lucky enough to have sold a property a minute before midnight. As each day goes by, I am more and more grateful to have sold when I did. Just waiting it out…gotta know when to hold ‘em, gotta know when to fold ‘em. Enjoy all your postings. Thanks for your efforts. Benita.