7 steps to heaven in the Globe and Mail .. as the economy goes guess where?

Aug 5th, 2011 | By | Category: In Brief

An electronic board displays trading activity on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday, Aug. 4, 2011. Photo: AP /Jin Lee.

It used to be the Canadian English language newspaper of record. It may be somewhat less than that now? But the current online version is still where a person like me looks first, laid back on the waterfront in a much-hated big city. And here’s what I seem to be getting, at the end of the first week of August, in the still-crazy-after-all-these-years summer of 2011:

(1)Dow falls more than 500 points in worst one-day drop in years” (Thursday, August 4). So the apparently phony US debt-ceiling crisis on August 2 did not happen after all. But there was a mini-stock-market crash anyway.

(2)TSX takes another sharp drop … The Toronto stock market tumbled again Friday, a day after investors punished stocks and sparked the worst one-day decline in two years, with no comfort coming from a stronger-than-expected reading on US employment.” Think about it, Canada: we’re hardly immune, after all!.

Like oil and gas in Western Canada, mining in Western Australia has a lot to do with the country’s current economic buoyancy. But it’s an old question: can a country’s economy really prosper by natural resources alone?

(3)Beyond jobs report, U.S. labour market remains weak.” Which is no doubt one reason why  the stock markets saw no comfort in a stronger-than-expected reading on US employment. There are other reasons. And I for one can’t see how “government” has much to do with any of them. (Ed note: See “Down to the wire on debt-ceiling blues .. US economic royalists are back, but hardly anyone is calling their bluff,” on this blog last week!)

(4)Clouds gather over Australia’s sunny outlook … ‘If we didn’t have mining, Australia would be like Portugal, Spain, maybe Greece and Ireland,’ Mr. Byrne said.” If you add “oil and gas” to mining, some might say almost the same thing about Canada? There have been various signs lately, in the Globe and Mail as elsewhere, that economic scepticism is widening and deepening, among various economic deep thinkers. The US debt-ceiling hub-bub was just a bit of froth on top of deeper waters. Stock markets in various places right now seem to be asking: how deep and wide does it go?

Canadian Bollywood actress Lisa Ray: the world is changing, and like Toronto-born Ms. Ray Canada has to try harder to “reap the spoils of global trade.”

(5) Why Canada must reap the spoils of global trade … On the export front, Canada sold $478.1-billion worth of goods and services abroad in 2010. This is up from $439.5-billion in 2009, but down from a peak of $563.1-billion in 2008. Among our G7 peers, Canada is second only to Germany in total exports as a percentage of GDP … Since hitting a high of 45.6 per cent in 2000, though, exports as a percentage of GDP has been on a downward trajectory. In 2010, the figure was 29.4 per cent (up slightly from a recessionary low of 28.7 per cent in 2009).” Again, think about it, Canada: etc, etc. (Ed note: And also see “The debt-ceiling blues .. what does latest crazy Washington game of chicken mean way up north?” — on this blog about a month ago.)

(6)North York Hebrew academy defaced with swastika.” Someone stateside on MSNBC TV this morning alluded to how President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign was starting to bear some family resemblance to Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s campaign of 1936. The defacement of the North York Hebrew academy in Toronto suggests other signs of a 1930s revival in the air. There is still some agreement among economic historians that it took the Second World War to finally get the western world out of the Great Depression of the 1930s. Lately it is sometimes hard not to wonder: what will it finally take this time?

Another piece of good news: Jennifer Aniston, 42, seems to have found true love at last, with fellow actor Justin Theroux. At the moment they are apparently vacationing in Hawaii, birthplace of President Obama — who may not be doing as badly as many think right now .

(7)The media’s game of ‘gotcha’ can teach the NDP some lessons.”  I want to end on some  positive note. One obvious candidate is that things today are still not as bad as they were in the 1930s (and especially, it does seem, in Canada, where we remain somewhat more loyal to the old modern public service state that began to dig in during that troubled decade!). Another piece of good news is that today’s Globe and Mail has a column by local New Democratic Party guru Gerald Caplan, whose writing I almost never agree with.  And today I can only bow in almost unreserved admiration for at least Mr. Caplan’s final paragraph: “It’s only a matter of time until Quebec realizes the province and its interests are no longer a priority for much of Canada, especially for a right-wing government that Québécois repudiated and where the west and Ontario dominate. For all of us who can’t envision a Canada sans Quebec, there is dangerous potential here. Unexpectedly, the NDP has emerged as the best federalist bridge between Quebec and the rest of Canada. Jack Layton and Nycole Turmel are the embodiment of that bridge.” (My “almost unreserved” etc relates to Mr. Caplan’s “only a matter of time.” The time, I think, is already here — even if many of us outside Quebec are still living in an impossible dream.)

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