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Will this recession force communities to take responsibility for their own survival?

Some Background

On the economic front we are in the middle of what some dare to call a “rally” amid a recessionary mindset, but this news today should check some of that enthusiasm:

Canada’s economic headache is set to explode into an agonizing migraine with a much worse-than-expected recession, warned two independent agencies. The darkening conditions would likely cause the budget deficit to blow out as the government rushes out fiscal stimulus, which would at best soothe, but not alleviate the recession, economists say.

Source: Financial Post – Reality check on Canada’s economy

For those who think that short term gains are worth chasing, ponder this quote:

Valuing stocks based on short-term earnings is like choosing a partner based on a first date — both depict a distorted picture of future behaviour.

Source: Financial Post – Markets not as cheap as you think

Economic Resilience in the Kootenays?

Should we focus on economic resilience in these times rather than business as usual? The big companies are not going to save us from ourselves, and sure as heck the government is intent on propping these behemoths up at any cost. As a community we need to reduce our dependence on external goods and services, supplying locally those products and services that reduce dependence on fossil fuels and create social and job opportunities – and no, a gaming centre doesn’t make a community more prosperous or sustainable in a global recession.

Is it possible to achieve economic resilience, which I’m sure it is fair to say we all want – if we do nothing but follow a business as usual  model of commerce and trade? Local Communities need to actively participate in building local economic resilience – it is clear that the finance sector cannot predict anything with a level of certainty, and the governments of the world are prepared to splash money at any project with the word “Stimulus” attached to it, printing the money as fast as it is being requested. There are some who are set to make money from these times of uncertainty, but for most of the people in communities such as those in the Kootenays, BC, they will see very little of the dollars being shoveled out of the federal coffers. This problem isn’t going to fix itself, it requires some intervention. But the idea of kick starting the same system that got us into the mess in the first place is arrogant against the weight of history.

Parting Thoughts on the Canadian and Global Economy

Some snippets from this weekend’s financial columns, these are challenges we need to face, the opportunity lies within each community to rebuild it’s own resilience.

“If you don’t take on the banking issue, the stimulus is just like a sugar high. It pushes some energy into the system but then you get the letdown unless you reopen the credit markets,” said Robert Zoellick, president of the World Bank, speaking in London before the meeting.

Source: More money ‘sugar high’: World Bank

Mr. Harper also said Canada will experience a “surge” in unemployment during 2009.

Source: ‘Extraordinary measures’ necessary: Harper

What began as a reversal of the real estate market in the United States has spun out of control with extraordinary global implications….[snip]The world’s financial and banking systems have had a near meltdown; entire economies have been swamped; trillions of dollars worth of assets have evaporated; and millions of people from Windsor to Wuhan have lost their jobs. Governments have collapsed, tent cities have sprung up for foreclosed families, senior executives now work as janitors, once-mighty financial institutions have been humbled, investors devastated, consumers terrified and governments bewildered….[snip]

“No country escapes from it. It has not yet bottomed out.”…[snip]

Economic collapses have already touched Brazil, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Pakistan, Russia, the Baltic republics and Central Asia. Anger has spilled out onto the streets of Europe, with anti-government riots in Lithuania, Bulgaria, Latvia and Greece….[snip]

The U.S. economy has lost 3.2% of its jobs – 4.4 million – since December, 2007, and unemployment has reached its highest level in a quarter-century. Figures for Canada released yesterday show unemployment rose to 7.7% in February (from 7.2% in January) and analysts expect it to exceed 10% before year end.

Source: Global mess gives birth to new era

“The global capitulation in trade is catching up with Canada and suggests heightened risks of an unprecedented collapse in Canadian exports,” Richard Kelly, senior economist with TD, cautioned in a report released Friday. “As the data rolls in around the world, our models for Canadian exports have fallen to the floor.”

Source: Global trade in the midst of a nosedive

We have been humbled as a nation, humbled by our own greed and need for more. Rather than citizens, we have become consumers and we are addicted to oil and all the good things we get from this magically powerful, solar concentrate. A barrel of oil is able to produce about the same energy as over 20,000 man-hours of labour. We have become complacent as to the real meaning of our addiction to this substance – we abuse it and the earth that provides it, and the tipping point of sustainability is here right now. Communities are the only group that can effectively re-localize the goods and service networks, trade and commerce and exchange of money to ensure that communities prosper and survive when the big companies and big governments are unable to provide for our needs and wants.

Will this recession force communities to take responsibility for their own survival?

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Published by Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas P.Eng. ENV SP, is the author of and Director of Engineering at the City of Revelstoke in the Interior of British Columbia, Canada.

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