What Recession??

Braving minus 30 degrees centigrade temperatures with windchill of up to -41*C, I ran out to do some pre-Christmas errands today and noticed again the massive line ups at various stores and malls for perhaps the 3rd straight weekend.  I understand it is the Christmas season, but, in -30*C weather, news that Canada has fallen into recession,  and amid a global financial crisis, I am intrigued to why or how people are still spending money in Alberta; and lots of it. 

I suppose most Albertans' confidence is much greater than mine as of late; I have taken my licks in substantial losses in the value of my assets over the past year; the market meltdown would make anyone who has any money at all, whether it be in real estate, stocks, mutual funds, or just Canadian savings accounts, to be on edge and take on a negativity towards the markets and government inaction not seen since the tech meltdown.  I try to be very in tune with current events, politics, natural disasters, etc.,  as it has been very lucrative for me and my portfolio in the last 10 years I have been actively trading.  Except, scanning the headlines these days is enough to make most queasy as market leaders such as Merck, AT&T, Yahoo!, and Citibank all announce thousands of layoffs or are faced with the dire consequences that the Detroit 3 are facing currently.  The reason for my pessimism is thus justified:  as exemplified in my posts in the last while.

But, in retrospect, I have to admit that 2008 has been my best year ever in earnings career-wise as it has been for most Albertans;  I have taken more time off this year for holidays and days off by choice than any other year in my 20 years in the Steamfitter trade; I have no outstanding debt, credit card or mortgage; and have been able to pay cash for large purchases such as a Honda Odyssey and a Christmas vacation in Vegas this year.  Granted, I do not live in a large home and bought it pre-Oil Boom circa 1997; it was a used Honda I bought; we are only staying at the Planet Hollywood in Vegas for 5 nights; and, my losses in the market are only paper losses as I still figure I can afford to wait on my core assets, Apple and Potash, which comprise of 95% of my non-cash portfolio, to make a comeback in the next 25 years before I can retire.    
The Alberta jobs outlook is still very optimistic, though a slowdown is evident, but needed coming off the torrid pace of growth it had the last three years.  The Shell Scotford Expansion and Epcor's Keephills 3 power project west of Edmonton are already underway and predicts to ramp up in manpower significantly in 2009; as is various maintenance turnarounds at Imperial Oil and Petro-Canada are slated; which will keep our Building Trades workers at near full employment for the next 2 years.  Stores and restaurants and hotels are still in a hiring spree competing for any available staff this Christmas season.

Agreed that there will be a slowdown and a dip in employment for 2009 as Canada is only at the start of a recession that will last well into the year.  But, because consumer spending or consumption is such a vital part of in maintaining the health of any economy, this shopping orgy Albertans seem to be on, may actually help keep our economy purring along right through this recession.  

So long as Albertans are not getting out of hand with their credit cards; keep paying down their lines of credit; and not using their home equity as if it were an ATM, we will be fine and, I could be a little bit more optimistic in looking at Alberta's near economic future.  So, tell the Big 3 to bring their cars here, make us feel there's something called service around here still , make us feel we're getting somewhat of a good deal, and Albertans will buy just about anything.  But, if Albertans don't watch their debt levels creep up on them and follow in the same footsteps of our American neighbors, spending beyond their income levels can afford, hang on for a very steep fall.

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