Economics -101

Yeah, you read that right, ‘minus’ 101. Read: Confusion. Implied meaning: we are not progressing in our understanding of economics, we are regressing. We might just be getting stupider…hard to say……especially if you are one of those getting stupider (like me).

Quick synopsis: The world economic engine has kinda shut down…that should be a negative influence on all the economies…and it is. Planes don’t fly, hotels don’t book, tourists don’t go on cruises and locals don’t dine out or socialize. They say retail stores are dead. The world has added 24 trillion dollars in debt to the books in one year. That is a pretty big negative, too – less cashflow, more debt payments and way more bankruptcies. Then there was the cumulative effects of the Trump years-of-international-alienation marked so dramatically by the Capitol Building riot and the demolition of the Trump Plaza in Atlantic city. That did NOT Make America Great Again. And it hurt everyone else as well. We could not even make face masks and yet Canadian unemployment is in the double digits. Oil is cheap (and, for Alberta, virtually land-locked). Then you gots your polar vortex and overdose deaths adding to the C-19 death toll (500,000 and growing in the US) and, of course, the significant increase in the homeless population all over North America. And the list goes on and on and on.

Don’t forget, the economy is basically a reflection of the collective MOOD of the people.

And yet…….every real estate market in Canada is up by a huge margin (except Regina). The average price of a home in Canada is $650,000. In Vancouver, it is $1,000,000!!! Toronto is pretty close behind in the high $900’s. And, get this: amongst the fastest growing markets in Canada is ‘Cottage Country’. I read where some modest 2 bedroom cottage on a distant Ontarian lake (think mosquito hatchery) sold for double the asking price! They wanted $400K and got $800K??????

Is the basic MOOD one of escape, retreat, run away?

When I spoke to my Bosch tankless repair guy in Vancouver, he said, “Oh, God! You live OTG? That’s my dream. I gotta get out of this madness. I’m 55 and, if I had the money, I’d leave in a heartbeat.” (I told him that he already had enough money but he didn’t believe me).

Seems the urban dream has been indelibly tarnished and the exodus has finally begun. Maybe. I guess we’ll see. But, let’s be real here: as much of an OTG booster as I am, I know that the urban centres are the economic engines of a country — even ones that rely so much on resource extraction such as Canada. People do NOT get money-rich in the country. Maybe some oil companies or logging companies do but the people working there do not. Living up or down country is NOT Wall Street, Bay Street or even Main Street….it is usually just a logging road.

Put another way; we have more and more homeless. But rents are dropping and, in Toronto, they are dropping as much as 30%. The poorest still can’t afford the rent. In St. John, New Brunswick, the average home can be purchased for $200,000. $500 a month will buy an average home in an urban centre! Pick a small village outside of that and the places are even cheaper!

So, the question students is how does that all work out? Record unemployment and homelessness but increasing real estate prices everywhere? And yet, more and more rental vacancies! More and more debt but the government does not care unless the debt is owed to them. More and more people living online. More and more people exiting real life for the ethereal. More and more people exiting the urban for the wilderness. More and more people incapacitated by climate change, C-19, drug addiction and unemployment. And the Boomers are getting older as I write.

If this is the apocalypse, shouldn’t Facebook tell us?

PS: As of Valentines Day Canada has vaccinated one million people with at least one third having received both doses. We are, in partial effect, 3% done. The dysfunctional, C-19-denying USA has vaccinated 60M people with both shots complete. Their math claims about 13 – 14%. But my math (328M / 60M is 18%). They are 18% complete their population. We are not keeping up with the Bubbas! All I can say is I am unimpressed with our institutions, as you know. I am also disturbed that they have not said out loud what I just did. The good news is that the politicians ARE saying: LET’S OPEN THE ECONOMY UP!!!

44 thoughts on “Economics -101

  1. This blog makes many powerful points. One of the points you raise is this the “apocalypse”? I surmise that apocalypse is a synonym for a “failed state.” There are many failed states in all parts of the world. Is Canada a failed state…perhaps. What criterion of a failed state does Canada meet?


    • I am mostly being fatuous (as well as being a bit pudgy) but I am serious about the confusion. I do NOT see how RE prices can go through the roof when society is falling through the floorboards. Especially when the government is taking on huge debt. Makes no sense. If RE prices were stable, that would be typical Canadian – we tend to ‘hold on’ when things get tough. But homes do not go up when times are hard and rents do NOT go down. Furthermore, it portends, if anything, to an increase in staples and a decrease in discretionary consumer products. It looks like ‘hunkering’ to me. Our generation has enjoyed cheaper food costs for decades (poorer food, tho) and that is maybe gonna change, too. Bottom line: we cannot keep killing, drugging, abandoning, excluding and NOT employing people in society while, at the same time, charging more for housing. This suggests the seeds of a major and long Depression resulting in an eventual revolution…..maybe…and institutions dropping the ‘safety and security’ ball (that is all that governments have to sell us on) is a double whammy.


  2. Part of the rise in real estate prices in B.C. Is tied to demand and profitability. Real Estate in Vancouver is forecast to increase by ten percent in 2021. It seems that money is being parked in Real Estate in Vancouver which is seem by many as a secure investment. Bank interest is currently low which makes housing an attractive purchase.


    • True. But Canada as-a-whole? Cottage country? Our economy is in the toilet, our finances sinking in that same pool of sewer water and no one is doing much of anything except the poor and homeless and addicted who are dying off like flies and yet RE market flourishes in the pandemic? Sorry. But Vancouver’s appeal is not enough of an answer to clear away the confusion for this ol’ doofus. I do not get it.


  3. Off shore money is being invested in many locations including the lower mainland, Montreal, Toronto and other hot markets. I never mentioned cottages as a hot investment but throw in the Okanagan. If Canada’s economy is in the toilet then that by definition makes Canada a “failed state.” I see places such as Somalia, Venezuela, Lebanon and Afghanistan as failed states. Canada is not a failed state.


    • Compared to Afghanistan, we are NOT a failed state? Thanks…..good to know….but are we firing on all eight cylinders? Are we all that we can be? Are we even doing a good job? I suggest that we are, at best, a C+ on Covid and a B on most other things. Canada is good. Canadians are good. The land is great. But our leaders suck! They really do not know what they are doing. Are the Liberals better than the Conservatives? Yeah….but just by a smidge. That comparison is the Neanderthal vs the idiot. I am really hoping for something much, much better.


      • Politically and environmentally correct Canada cant “fire on all cylinders”….not Green enough.
        Perhaps “powering on all batteries” would be more inclusive in our pc state of mind?
        As for our 40’th ranking in vaccine injections world wide….pathetic….criminal.
        Once again proof that our dilettante photogenic frat boy is way way out of his depth.
        Watching the intelligent staff being fired ( Jody Wilson Raybould, Morneau, Phillipot, all being forced to “walk” to take the blame.

        I noticed that the International Monetary Fund has just stated that Canada’s extravagant budget expenditures are unsustainable.

        Get ready for higher taxes, a historically lower dollar, a housing price crash and….finally….a recession.
        Hopefully if PM Blackface is still in office….and he can wear it…


  4. Dave, this is what is happening in Australia. It may or may not have relevance to Canada.
    We have a financial policy called negative gearing. People with property investments can offset the interest costs of their loans against their taxable income. Property investments also benefit from capital gains tax concessions which makes property an attractive investment. Because interest rates are so low, people with means are instead investing in property. Property investors crowd out owner occupiers which adds to the cost of rentals by boosting demand. Young people, and many others who through no fault of their own have found themselves on the scrap heap, cannot get on the property ladder because they can’t compete with investors, their rents are too high, they have to pay back huge student loans, their employment is far more precarious, they are more likely to be unemployed due to c-19.
    On top of that, many property investors are approaching retirement and are using their equity in their city home and property investments to buy property outside the cities (people leaving cities for more affordable housing), which in turn drives up real estate prices in the country and places housing stress on long term residents of regional communities where income is not as high. In Oz, the regional property market is now out performing moribund city markets.
    Governments are artificially sustaining the housing bubble because so many are exposed. Those people in the bubble vote.
    It is economics 101. The rich get richer ….
    My adult children still living at home because we have the highest rental prices in the country, are waiting for us to die so they get our little house. However they may not yet get that because if their parents need to go into an aged care home, we will need to sell our home to pay for that. We have no other investments on which they can rely.


    • Canadians cant use the Interest on mortgages as a tax deduction.
      I wish.
      BUT we have the same bubble mentality.
      Far too many people here have ALL their “investment” in real estate.
      Houses always increase in value….until they dont.
      We have been stuck in Historically low interest rates for several years.
      All indications are when Covid shutdowns end … economies are going to explode with more stimulus deficit spending , job creation, etc….resulting in inflation.
      Expect higher interest rates. Gradual but damning for people barely making payments now.
      The amount of people barely hanging on financially ( 10 million mortgages in the US are behind in payments and the federal protections banning foreclosure are soon to be lifted) 10 million renters in the US are also underwater and the hammer comes down when the federal govt lifts the eviction bans.
      Covid vaccinations are a double edged sword.
      As the majority become vaccinated ….ALL the people that have been out of work and sinking hopelessly in debt will be expected to pay……
      Canada has just announced an extension to our National unemployment payment plan to double the amount of weeks you are eligible to draw “free money”
      Our Prime Minister has been tossing hundreds of billions around for the past 12 months.
      This is the same fiscal incompetent who once stated “the budget will balance itself”…..
      We’re all still waiting for that magical event.
      Prime Minister Trudeau has spent this country into a fiscal abyss.
      Our grandchildren will still be paying for his incompetence.


    • Bleak picture. But Canadians do not get the interest deduction…..otherwise the same is true here. This whole ‘economic construct’ everything is based on is flawed. But it is too far down the black hole to reverse course now. It will crash someday but I do not see the precipitous event….too obscured by political bandages, stimulus, bailouts and fiscal sleight of hand.
      If you can , get out. Where? I dunno…..some backwater where the pigs, crooks, corporations and governments don’t look….Tas? Perth? Borneo? Falklands?
      Let’s all chip in and buy some obscure island……..hmm….like the one I am on, perhaps?.


  5. The Canadian Prime Minister has not been “tossing hundreds of billions around…”! These funds were approved in a minority parliament and were approved by a majority of the elected members of the house. The PM’s party does not hold majority control in Parliament. For Legislation to pass it requires support from other parties. Canada is a parliamentary democracy and the PM is the leader of a political party, he is not a dictator. Blaming the PM is wrongheaded.


    • Really?
      I seem to recall the PM at multiple pressers on the Cottage lawn announcing the Billion Dollar Baby handouts with the occasional presser in his office with his bobblehead doll Freeland nodding in agreement so much I was worried her head was going to fall off.
      For god sake man it seemed like every time he stood in front of a camera he was handing out more billions.
      “The Budgets will balance themselves”….bwahahahahahahaha

      Oh well at least next month we’ll finally get a budget after two YEARS without one.
      And our national debt has jumped how much since he became PM 5 long years ago?
      $500 billion? 600 billion?
      Trudeau is the most inept, financially ruinous PM to ever infest that position…..and he’s not done yet.

      I hope you like paying and paying aaaaaand paying more taxes.


      • Insults, name calling and a deeply flawed understanding of Parliamentary Democracy. If Erin O’Toole were the PM he would be announcing how he would “Make Canada Great Again.” You do recall his campaign slogan for leader of the Conservative Party of Canada. You do recall the Conservative MP who contributed to Trump’s re-election. Yes, really.


      • You guys are a lot of fun……all that sniping and bickering….I really HAVE to get you all in the same room someday. For the record, I am pretty sure I know who anonymous is (writing style) and, of course, NonCon. Neither of you would be good PMs or even MPs (forget the diplomatic corps) but both of you would be better than the choices we have now.
        Me? You want me, for PM? Really? Well, OK, I guess. I am truly flattered and I will do my best for the country but well, I might be the first Canadian PM to be assassinated within week of my appointment… how ’bout good ol’ Sal instead? She is kind, honest, charming and knows how to actually work. Fiesty, right-ish NonCon for Minister of Defense!
        Anon#1 for Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion. RB for Attorney General and Scotch Importation. JA for Fisheries, of course, and a double portfolio as Minister of Women’s Equality.
        Untidy for Health. Margy for Community Development and Wim for Foreign Affairs, of course (and special liaison to Quebec).


  6. Same story everywhere. Since interest on savings account are close to zero, you actually lose money on your saved money. So it is either investing in real estate or launch yourself on the stock market. But both systems are in a bubble and soon will collapse, and a lot of “small” players will lose their precious savings, only the big fish have already cashed big time. So the rich get richer again and we are left behind paying the bill the coming 30 years. And “country estate” is at an al time high, everyone wants to escape to the country side, so prices rise like crazy. Land is being bought by the big corperations, so also prices for land are in a bubble. My “strategy” is to wait untill the bubble bursts and then try to buy property OTG. Hopefully, I will still be fit enough 😉


  7. It is not about bubbles. Some novices cash out at the right time and that incentivizes other novice investors to jump in. The steady money is made by those who have the tools and the knowledge to jump in and jump out of the market in a timely way. Many novices may not thrive in the market.


    • Trying to “time” the market is an amateurs game.
      Long term investment has proven time and time again to be the best strategy.
      Its worked for me ..


  8. Anonymous
    “If Erin O’Toole were the PM he would be announcing how he would “Make Canada Great Again.” ”


    Trudeau good.
    O’Toole bad.
    Is that about the gist of your simplistic argument?

    Don’t blame me when our National, Provincial and Municipal DEBT , taxes, user fees, tolls …all skyrocket while our infrastructure, medical systems, dollar and economy wallows in the toilet.

    I pay more than my fair share in taxes and when I see the ex school drama teacher dilettante attempting to create his experimental vision of what Canada should be and his ex-journalist polyglot equality feminist Minister attempting to be Finance minister……
    I cringe at the result.
    “The budget will balance itself….”
    My god .
    Just keep voting for your progressive, environmental, cancel culture hero Justin if you like higher taxes and a lower standard of living.
    I wonder how the ex ministers who were actually qualified ( Attorney General Jody Wilson Raybould who refused to kowtow to SNC Lavalin , or Finance Minister Bill Morneau forced to resign for accepting WE Charity “goodies” while Trudeau’s wife, brother and mother swam in the same WE Charity cesspool of cash……..)
    I wonder how they feel with “squeaky clean” Justin still in power , snuffling at the trough.
    He’s an incompetent poser who will drag this country into a decade long recession with his sophomoric dalliances on the world stage.
    I hate to break it to Trudeau …. Canada may be physically large but our population makes us irrelevant in the grand scheme of things.
    Canadian voters should be like the other world leaders at international events and ignore him…..eventually he’ll go away.

    We’re talking Canadian politics not US so your references to Trump are pointless….and …..Newsflash.
    Trump is gone. Good riddance.


  9. Your red ‘MCGA’ hat is in the mail. ‘’Make Canada Great Again”! Oh by the way Erin O’ Toole saw the light and took the MCGA slogan off the Conservative Party site. The Conservatives continue to pass the measures in Parliament to support Canadians during the COVID-19 crisis and during Question Period beat the drum of fiscal failure (they did vote for the money) and cry about Canada as a failed state. The Conservatives want it both ways. Voting in Parliamentary for buckets of money and then cry the austerity ‘crocodile tears.’


    • Nah, I always thought Canada was great.
      No need to make it great again.
      It already is.
      No matter how hard Trudeaus inept fiscal policies push it over the edge.
      You seem infatuated with Trump.

      Did you hear the latest from our fiscal incompetent ?
      Trudeau’s increasing EI eligibility for another 24 weeks.
      The kids get a whole year to play video games .
      Billions more down the toilet just to buy votes from the rubes like you that think he actually cares.
      Taxes uppa uppa uppa.

      Apparently its not just me that disagrees with the Trudeau apologists on this blog.
      The IMF is voicing serious concern about Canada’s ( insert Trudeau here) unsustainable spending spree.

      Oh, right.
      They’ must be Trump pumpers as well.
      That would explain economists and bankers voicing serious concern about “Blackface” tossing the kitchen sink out with the bathwater.


      • Yup the Conservatives voted for all this spending in Parliament . Yup they did. Here is a bit of reading for you, “Harper, Serial Abuser of Power: The Evidence Compiled .” Aug 10, 2015. The Tyee. By the way MP O’Toole was channeling MCGA with his leadership slogan. . Don’t you recall your spouting Trump propaganda about China?


  10. Nine of the ten years Harper was PM the Conservatives ran a deficit. The deficit hawks ran a deficit! Deficit hypocrisy again. When they came to power they inherited a surplus. When in power they run deficits and when the conservatives do not hold a majority in Parliament 2020 they vote for deficits.


  11. “Don’t you recall your spouting Trump propaganda about China?”


    All my “propaganda” is my own.
    Trump cant combine two coherent sentences about anything other than his bragging about alleged sexual assaults, let alone opine about foreign relations.

    Last week the Taiwanese military “locked on” to another (one of hundreds) of Chinese air force incursions into sovereign Taiwanese airspace.

    It’s only a matter of time before we are dragged into a proxy war with China.
    OR in typical Liberal talk forever fashion, we turn tail and let them bully their way into “owning” the South China Sea…..what’s next after that…… ripe with raw materials, plump, virtually empty…….Australia?


  12. The IMF is following you on this blog. How astonishing. SNC-Lavalin plead guilty in 2019 to bribery. The time frame for this bribery was 2001 to 2012 approximately so why didn’t the Conservatives under Harper prosecute SNC? As the biggest cheerleader for Harper, the man who mislead Parliament and was censored, why did he lie?


    • Why did Trudeau fire Liberal MP Jody Wilson Raybould when she was Attorney general?
      His perfect appointee for his equality cabinet..
      An aboriginal female with impeccable legal credentials?
      Fired over a corruption case that SNC delayed and delayed and delayed for over a decade.
      Far be it for me to suggest they delayed until they had a more “compliant” govt in power (Liberal) that would be easily swayed…..?
      We heard taped phone conversations from Trudeau’s hacks “suggesting” she should go “easy” on a major Liberal campaign contributor….SNC.
      She refused to “deal” and was fired…….

      But you just keep shrieking like a seagull, ” All Liberals Good! Harper bad! Harper bad, Harper bad.”
      P.S. Harper, like Trump, is old news.


      • Have you read the piece on Harper in the Tyee? Did you read “Harper and Trump: Political Peas in a Pod” iPolitics Nov26, 2017. No one I know thinks that the Liberals need boosterism. The stone cold fact that Mr O’Toole was reading form the Trump play book (copycat slogan). Plus “Harper and Trump are two peas in a pod”…check out the iPolitics article. Trudeau went from third place to Prime Minister against all expectations. The defeated Harper went into a newly formed Conservative think tank in his image with a dour black cloud over his head. Conservatism is not for everyone. If you have any influence with Conservatives, dour and negative is a tough sell. Trump’s populous message has a continued resonance check the polls in Canada . Trump is not really a populous but some folks think he is. The Conservatives are elitist and so is Trump.


  13. Anonymous
    Just keep telling yourself

    “The budget will balance itself”


    I have some swampland in Florida for sale. Interested?


    • So, guys……(I am crazy about you both) let me fill you in a bit…..NonCon turned on Harper, too. Eventually. He is a conservative-thinking guy but is pretty progressive in most of his thinking in fact. But, like many, if the label of the crooks is CONSERVATIVE and he is legitimately a small-c conservative, he gets lumped in the same group. I think he is a small – L conservative or, better put: ‘in the middle’. Socially progressive, fiscally conservative. More a free-thinker than a label.
      Now, Anony, on the other hand, is also a small-c conservative. He is invested more in the system than most. He has the faith (not in religion but in institutions). He is NOT a large L Liberal so much as a conservative NDP’er. Anony is very progressive society-wise so he kinda has to support Trudeau and the liberal social agenda (poseur)…but he is quite invested in small business as well. Anony does not ask for hand-outs nor does he expect them. Bottom line: they are very similar in many ways. It is the political branding that has them opposed. If they sat down and set the planks in the political platform for XYZ party, they would only disagree on taxation or, rather, the degree of taxation. NonCon would prefer half the taxes, Anony would go the Swedish route so long as it was as successful as Sweden. Me? I am Mr. In-between. I do not trust government to do a good job with the tax they suck but I agree that a strong, efficient government-scale, ‘people-owned’ way is the only way to go for highways and bridges and such.
      Why do you two NOT argue actual policy rather than throw politicians names at one another? Politicians are all dickheads – even the women – because they do not keep their promises on their policies. Those folks followed the lead-sheep until it was their turn at the trough and they give lip-service only to actual work, policy and action. They all are lead weights regardless of the label they tout.
      I offered to run again. The party (Green) asked what I could bring to the table. “Well, I will NOT take a salary. I will not take a pension. The generous expense allowances will cover my service time and I think a politician should serve and not be enriched by so doing. Plus, I bring a bit of common sense, very little patience and no fear whatsoever of speaking my mind. The party Whip would have nothing on me.”
      “Thanks, we’ll get back to you. But, uh, you aren’t female or indigenous are you? You are an old, white male, right?”


      • Thanks for the interventions. I’m interested in a debate based on facts. Claims that the Prime Minister Trudeau is responsible for the legislation not yet passed in Parliament is false. Trudeau has one vote in Parliament. The Liberals are in a minority in Parliament and are incapable of passing legislation without the other parties. A recent comment blamed the PM for proposing extending the number of weeks of regular EI benefits to a maximum of 50 weeks. But so far no legislation to this effect has passed and will need support of the other parties to pass it. To the writer who opposes the extending of EI benefits stick to the facts. Canadian families will benefit from such legislation if it were to pass. It might not pass. I would prefer to discuss the facts. I do not know the PM but I would defend any politician from wrongheaded opinions based on nothing more than personal animus and misinformation.


  14. Nine out of ten years in power and the Conservatives ran deficits. Keep telling your self that Conservatives know how to balance budgets.


    • At no point have I said Conservative know how to balance budgets.
      I have said Trudeau is an incompetent leader.
      The conservatives under Harper weren’t angels by any stretch but at least they didnt blow the doors off in one year while Parliament was ruled from a cottage lawn.

      Oh, and note to self.
      I also voted “anyone but Harper ” in his last election because he had become an arrogant prick.
      I held my nose and voted for Trudeau thinking at the time, “Its a minority govt, how bad can he be….?”
      Little realizing that Frat boy Butz and Trudeau were planning on reinventing the Canadian economy from the top of the G7 in fiscal responsibility to the bottom…..

      Let’s wait and see how many more billions he promises to squander in the looming budget in March.
      He cant help himself.
      Perhaps some of his mother’s Manic episodes have finally surfaced.
      Its easy to promise the world when you could care less who pays for it…….

      He….is… …..unmitigated……disaster for this country’s future.
      Its been great listening to your delusional rants Anonymous however..

      I’m off to top up my RRSP’s.
      My last , legal avenue to avoid the punitive taxes that “boy wonder blackface” will be obligated to increase after the international bond markets spank his bottom for spending way, way, way more than he has.
      Interest rates goin uppa uppa uppa and watch the fallout.


      • More animus and a weak grasp of the facts. But for some opinion is reality. You give ending incivility two thumbs up so…will be civil in the future?


      • No but you are a deficit hawk…right? If the Conservatives were in power they would be running a deficit too. Or would they act like Conservatives of the 1930s and count the ribs of starving children before they gave relief. True!


    I’ll not attempt to compete with Anony or Noncom, but observe that it was Churchill (I think) that lobbied against ending a sentence with a preposition, or maybe it was a proposition?
    More to the point: LET’S OPEN UP THE ECONOMY!!!

    Sorry, but it’s been a pretty boring month.


  16. John many people see the opening of the economy as an aspirational goal. Some provinces that follow medical advise rather than following the advise of the province’s political masters have had more successful sustainable openings by heeding medical advise. Some provincial leaders have overruled medical advise. Current medical advise is to proceed with caution and not to give in to political pressures to open the economy. Let’s see how Spring Break openings are handled.


    • It will be interesting to see if there is an upsurge in Covid infections in China in the next few weeks.
      Feb 12 was the big travel day in China with 10’s of millions potentially on the move to visit family.


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