Wednesday, October 27, 2010


When I dropped off my truck to have the snows installed Jenny looked up and had a few interesting words to say. The morning after the municipal election. The mayor just had his ass kicked.

Now, understand that the Bunker sits in a semi-rural area (better to dig the missiles in and divert watercourses) outside of Toronto, where most people commute to jobs in surrounding cities. There are currently scores of million-dollar spreads for sale, lots of Beemers and Benz doing a morning crawl towards the distant skyline and the mistakable patina and veneer of upper middle classness.

Down the blacktop in godless Toronto, citizens had just eschewed a former provincial deputy minister and seasoned politician and elected as mayor a blustery, untelegenic, homophobic local councilor with a dodgy past who promised to slash government and Javex city hall. It was a right-wing sweep and a repudiation of political insiders. More ass kicking.

But here in the sleepy town where my local garage sits, Main Street was buzzing with the same anti-elite sentiment. “It’s the economy,” Jenny said, barely glancing up from her keyboard. “You would not believe the number of people here who don’t have jobs.”

I handed over my key.

“No jobs,” she said, “no hope. People are pissed.”

How much hurt will become evident Tuesday night when they count votes in the US mid-term elections. While it’ll be a referendum on two years of Obama, it’s really a verdict on the economy. With 17% actual unemployment, record personal and public debt, deflation and house prices in a four-year slide, millions of voters have decided that Keynesian economics is a crock. To them, trillions in government borrowing and spending bailed out banks, but did nothing for homeowners, created no lasting jobs and ballooned the size and cost of government, guaranteeing a generation or two of higher taxes.

This gassed the TEA Party movement, resurrected Sarah Palin, discredited the political class and turned a transformational figure into a potential one-term president. The economic consequences of this are unknown, but likely terrifying. If what attracted over-taxed and under-employed Torontonians to a slash-and-burn mayor grips the USA, squirrels everywhere need to take cover. After all, if spending a few trillion trying to stimulate things didn’t work, imagine what turning off the tap will do. Or protectionism. Or letting banks and the real estate market fail.

The consequences of that would be a much weaker America, and a Canada in which you can be assured the average house price in 2013 would be a fraction of what it was in 2010. Our currency would be worth a buck and a half US and the federal deficit out of control. This blog would be taken over by bullion Huns and Visigoths, resplendent in their iron helmets, broadswording off the limbs of anyone without enough gold to save their pathetic metrosexual skins.

But, maybe I’m exaggerating a little. A little.

The current political climate is largely toxic, and as people look for some new solution they risk a lot. Of course, the US is more at play than are we – but the emergence of the none-of-the-above movement here needs to be taken seriously. What people at my garage and on Main Street know is that they’ve largely been lied to over the past 18 months. The recession did not end. Jobs are not coming back. Households are in a money vice. And now negative real estate stories are in the media every day. Hence, the assault on the middle class is under way, and that makes ‘em angry.

If my predictions are half right, this gets worse. And most people will walk right into the middle of the storm they should have seen coming months ago. No telling what they’ll do then.

Fortunately for us, most folks don’t read this blog. If they did, they’d know what to do. Sell real estate at the top. Move into balanced financial assets. Avoid tax. Buy things that pay income. Be liquid.

If everyone did it, there’d be no more greater fools. And, damn, we need them now.