As a Nation, Canada has built itself on living up to the self-proclaimed moniker - "The True North Strong and Free" - it is true that we drink beer, can have cold long winters in the Prairies, and really, really pride ourselves on our resources. The lands of the true north were first settled by the migratory paths of the First Nations, visited by the Vikings, then settled, colonized and patriotized by the British and French, and finally globallized with our hockey haircuts, lumber and hydrogenated carbon molecules. As a young child, I used to honourably chant our national anthem, I would stand proudly and envision our great country full of trees, mountains - mother nature at its finest - it was almost the only thing that would shake off the incurable shyness from my innocent voice... That was until a new slang entered the precipices of the stars and stripes, or red-dyed maple leaf, in the instance of my home nation.
I was in Pennsylvania at the time, the leaves had fallen and the countryside was darkly stained with the onset of winter in 2007. I was travelling with two older mentors, so to speak, pitching a project which tied directly with the surge in activity in the true north. The Americans, were relatively new to the concept, having received broadcasted analysis from 60 minutes in January of 2006 - they were relatively confused as to why a product would be extracted without generating some type of electricity, or co-generation, as the industrialists coined. In any regard, the moments not spent in meeting rooms were typically consumed driving countrysides which hid peppered settlings from the Amish. What was most noticeable in the quiet moments of contemplative messages exchanged with the ever-escaping horizon were the number of homes for sale dotted along the passing roadside. Curious to my new itch, I inquired on the facts - and was duly noted to hear that an oncoming mess was about to hit homes from west to east, and the turmoil and splatter would not be quick to wash off...
The sub-prime mortgage mess was first explained to me at this time... indexes and confidences were at a peak and markets were ballooning with prosperity and promises of more - people were consuming the words as ravishly as they were their expendables incomes - and an amateur economist with a dime-store degree in engineering mechanics raised on a potato farm from the true north explained it all, or 'forecast' as the top executive economists would publish. It was remarkable really, as studiously as I searched for answers in top-rated publishings and economic magazines - very few verified this madman's claims - an economic crash was as close as assininity was to an ass. But all in cue and on target - banks popped and plummeted as the truth was finally revealed - it seemed as though nobody saw this coming, and the promise of quick relief, blips in the radar, resurgence and recession-proof were soon spread across article to article.
As the time ticked by and pages upon pages were reviewed and examined with explanations on how we got here, the promises of relief and returned revenue spread across newsprint, or webpages as we now know them. A new leader of the States proclaimed a calm amongst the masses, and a partial resurgence in the beaten and bruised economy emerged. Economists once again become figureheads in determining the exact length, time, location and speculatory existence of a renewed recovery. Facts and figures in the economists articles were instead replaced with distorted statistics and allegorical words like confidence and sentiment... As soon as consumer confidence was restored, sentiment towards ravishing ourselves with lavishness will propel market emergence - so told the tale of the market economist. But in this tale, a paradox that dances with chickens before the egg is hatched suddenly cracks its embryonic fluids into the skillet of hot kitchens - the masses must first be employed before they can spend - but if no one is earning anything - how can the flirtatious relationship with consumer confidence be rekindled?
As statistical analyses go, I'm an amateur at best - I once described my experience in collegiate studies in Statistics as more favourable than an enema, yet slightly worse than a kick in the balls... But as statistical eggheads go - my shortcuts and lazynesses have led to observatory embellishments.
For starters, unemployment continues to be the key figure in restoring a healthy economy - but at the present moment, we are stalled in the effort to lower unemployment. The statistics released today have been proclaimed as 'the relief we needed' - as if the published letters were acting as the Advils and Aspirins in our worries. But hidden amongst the straw and haystacks from the plains of the true north's statistics are the summer surges of part-time playbooks - data which doesn't represent the true plight of our struggles as companies have recast their votes in the survival to compete in an everclosing competitive industry - part time statuses have surged, even the senior populace of 55+ have returned to work, no longer supported by their peers and families - and have begun overtaking the youth in employment - a decrease in youth's work means an increase in family support - and an increase to the debt ratio of the normalistic household family. Yet many pieces of the puzzle have yet to be revealed - unemployment statistics only tell tales of scripted categorical numbers - what truly reveals the health of the economy is the total income of our patrons - and by part-time status surges - this indicator could well have taken the biggest hit of all...
Another note in note taking is that a recent development at the G-8 summit proclaimed a standard for combating the global climate change war. The highly developed nations have set their sights on an end-target. Yet as the stools stood in the wake of shadows, our leader shook a hand in the slightest of contradictory poses - the aides and cabinet walkers perhaps could not mime the puppet to speak its spoken scripts: Canada committed to the global war against heat. Yet hidden in the black bunkers of the bases in our fortresses, the commitment seems to contradict the cavalry of cowboy connoisseurs of synthetic crude oil that our leader sent to the south - and in committing to the cause, we could have possibly committed economic suicide - our prized possession of economic prosperity and fortitude has little bubbles of oxygenated carbon seeping from it's barrel - our prized resource has suddenly been labelled as the key enemy in the fight against climactic terrorism. It's as if the good minister of masses nodded politely as the pain from the bullet shot through his foot surged the nerve cells towards complete agony.
Another noted inquiry of observational madness I've made, is that the housing bubble we once created has been held firmly in place with branches of structure from the CMHC. At the time of the bubbling burst, we surged and stressed our debt indicators to a capacity never before seen - investors flocked like seagulls to the discarded breadcrumb - increasing borrowing limits to the teetering totter of a leveraged crutch. The bankruptcy statistics are showing this - the foreclosure statistics continue to mount - yet we continue to build and build. The bounty of the surge jacked up the rates on home ownership from 2004-2008 by 80% in some cases, and although the customary 20% regression has been experienced and tolerated, it is far below the
additional 25% regression required to match the normalized 5% trendlined increase of a 'regular growth' product such as real estate experiences. In my layman perspective - alot of money will be lost in fictitious equity as things slow down to the pace that growth should have occurred - we hit a pre-pubescent growth spurt, and the true north strong and free is become feebly weaker and fainter in our chants.
A final allegory to consider: the re-emergence of another U.S. housing collapse. The initial surges were positive in wiping out the bad debt owed by the sub-prime mess - but as waves and surges go, the sub-prime fiasco instigated a propelling tsunamic force that led to economic collapse and high unemployment. As months continue to roll from new moon to new moon, wallets have become squeezed, and the 'practical' home buyer - those that were employed and positioned a valid mortgage - will emerge as the next purveyor of lost fortunes - the U.S. is precipitously balancing on another hit to it's homefront - a population of bad debt cratered from unemployment... And as patriotism drums fainter and fainter beats, Canada, whose exports are up to 75% tied to the tune of the withering drums, will be suffering a similar fate - a wave of increased unemployment will surge through the ranks of consumerism bringing increased tension, retrospected perspective and the review of how things unfolded...
The above noted stripes in my critical stance on the Canadian economy can easily be defined as pessimism - the outlook I paint is gloomy, as an economist would note. However the pessimism emitted is rooted in reluctance towards the blind optimism portrayed by our media-hungry economists - it seems that the prevalent thought is that optimism breeds confidence and sentiment. It's my pessimistic viewpoint that highlights that blind optimism always has that twinge of faith and the unknown - and when things are unknown, how can confidence spread? Confidence is the ability to know how things works - to know what's what is who's who... confidence is the surge of information and quick acknowledgment of any situation and it's outcomes - and right now - no one seems to know what the economic recovery will look like... As it stands, we're shifting our employment towards seniors - our youth will be suffering a setback in their money tree seeds - our employers are trimming costs and executing 'efficiency programs' - our energy exports are labelled as dirty oil and our homes are overvalued and incomes are depleting - yet as pages continue to update and refresh, more information is passed that will convince us that we've turned the corner - those that dive into the corner too fast will be caught in the momentous inertial pull of gravitational forces - forces unseen yet potentially catastrophic...
Transparency is truly something that can never be seen...