The Skyscraper Index is Off the Charts and There’s a New World Order a Comin’!

The Skyscraper Index is Off the Charts and There’s a New World Order a Comin’!
Bette Davis Drinks to the Bumby Ride Ahead

I’m pretty sure the end of the world is nigh. (On a side note: When else do you get to use a cool word like “nigh”?!)

I’m stocking up on food and booze. I figure, if they drop the bomb, I’ll take a sledgehammer and head for the nearest liquor store, anyway. What can they do? We’ll be drinking to the end of the world. I’ll also give the homeless guy that’s always out front with the cardboard sign as much cash as I have on hand before I take my first, satisfying swing. It’s a government store: this one’s for you, Trudeau! But I’ve got a couple 26er’s of gin and vodka here in case things get rough before that.

Show Me the Money

An exciting milestone will soon be occurring in my life – I am applying for my pension from a former employer. I hope to get at least some money before the end comes. Ha! Of course, because I only worked there for seven years, this pension isn’t huge but the fact that I’m getting “free” money just blows my mind.

I’ve Spent the Morning Crunching Numbers

I found out that there are a few “low income” programs I will be eligible for next year, since I make so little money from my part time job. One of them is a low interest “loan” to pay for my property taxes. This takes some pressure off. I have the money saved to pay the house taxes (plus car and house insurance) this year but at the rate food prices, gas, and insurance are rising, I am not sure I can save enough to pay for them next year.

My lower income tax bracket in 2022 means I’ll get to keep more of the paltry money I earn. I should also qualify to get a tax rebate on the amount I pay for Goods & Services, which sits at 7% and is in addition to the Provincial rate of 6%. They charge this on pretty much everything except vegetables & fruit. Again, it’s not a lot but it’s better than a kick in the ass with a frozen boot, as my Mother would say.

What?! No Big Bang?

There has been rumbling about economic trouble coming over the past few months that has triggered me to start preparing for hard times. If history repeats itself, as it has for 500 years, a financial collapse will occur (governments have been printing money), after runaway inflation, supply chain breakdowns, and a class divide that breeds resentment. Ray Dalio details this in his latest book, The Changing World Order. If I was buying books right now, I’d buy this one. He has a snippet on YT that will set you straight and have you stocking up – see the video here.

Basically, governments have been massively spending money they didn’t have for many years and the time to pay the piper is coming – unless they can come up with another major distraction. I am going to say this very clearly: You must look after yourself – no government will be able to save you.

Most people I know are only aware that they are paying more for gas and groceries. They have been listening to the government narrative without question for two years now and have taken the money the government gave them. Like a child that continues to get her allowance from a parent in bankruptcy proceedings, people are refusing to see that the “parent” is failing financially and will soon be unable to provide even the basics.

Grow Up!

Which brings me to my other strategy for security: I am expanding my garden this year and am growing as many vegetables as I can. Of course, this will only give me produce for the summer but I will dry or preserve what I can. I have a new canner and jars and hope to put up some salsa at least! (This is my third set of canning supplies as I kept giving them away when I moved.) I will buy more tomatoes from the Farmer’s Market and maybe some fruit for jam, too. If my garden works out, it means my grocery bills will be lower for a few months and I’ll be eating absolutely delicious, pesticide free, organic produce.

My tomatoes didn’t do well last year, mostly because of the “heat dome” that sat over our Province for weeks. Cherry tomatoes, herbs, onions, and cucumbers did fine, though. I am going to add beets, beans, kale, peppers, and butternut squash this year. I have some chicken wire so will grow the cukes, squash, and beans vertically to save space. Most of my yard doesn’t get enough sun to grow veggies so I have to make the best of the space I have. Of course the best place for a garden would be the sunny front yard but the deer basically eat everything that isn’t nailed done out front!

Don’t Turn Up the Heat

I’ve been scoping out blinds and window coverings that I can tack up outside if things get really bad again this year. My house is a 70s split level, with original furnace and air conditioner so when it gets really hot, my air conditioner groans loudly and just quits. The tenants have the bottom two floors and are comfortable enough but during the heat dome last year, my main level registered 44 degrees Celsius or 111 degrees on the main. Upstairs it was even worse. If it wasn’t for the portable air conditioner my son snagged second hand, I don’t know what I would have done.

That little air conditioner was able to keep one bedroom at a decent temperature if we put towels in front of the door. For days, the cats and I couldn’t leave that room for more than a few minutes at a time. Even when I tried to open a window at night, there was no breeze, just a dead, smoky stillness.

Fires burned all around us for weeks and weeks, starting in June when one whole town burnt to the ground. I’m not complaining – they lost everything. Just don’t let the warning of disasters go unheeded. Prepare as best you can. Have a bugout bag ready. Here is a list of items to collect:

This Old House

I taped tin foil up over every window I could reach since most of them have not been replaced. Taping plastic over the fireplace and the hatch to the attic didn’t help much but I’m going to do it again, anyway. I have made bolsters out of a set of curtains that are filled with batten and rice. They sit on every window sill and in front of every door in my house to stop drafts in winter and heat in summer.

The Trades Are Too Busy for You

I also thought that more insulation in my attic might help. So in the fall, before I knew I would be axed, I called an insulation company to get a quote. I called and emailed several times but I couldn’t get them to call me back, let alone come out and quote.

This, in itself, is a familiar red flag for me.

I started to think about how it has been for years now: the trades are just too busy to bother with a small homeowner. They chase the big contracts. Horror stories abound where a tradesman will start tearing out a bathroom and then leave in the middle of the job, having gotten a better offer for a more lucrative, easier one. (You can read of my struggles to find a contractor to help put my basement suite in this post.)

When they do come out, you pay top dollar. For example, my back tap was leaking and I couldn’t fix it because a solder was involved. I should have bought a soldering kit and tried. That simple half hour job from a plumber cost me over $300.

When Have I Seen This Before?

I remember 2007 and this feels very much the same. I used to watch all the trades vehicles arriving in the neighbourhood, one after another; plumbing, electrical, restoration, and contracting companies with commercial vehicles of every size and type. Everyone was working flat out.

And then, in the late summer, almost overnight …the vehicles stopped. It was so sudden, it was eerie.

Skyscraper Index – Modified

From Wikipedia: “The Skyscraper Index is a concept put forward by Andrew Lawrence…which showed that the world’s tallest buildings have risen on the eve of economic downturns. Business cycles and skyscraper construction correlate in such a way that investment in skyscrapers peaks when cyclical growth is exhausted and the economy is ready for recession. Mark Thornton’s Skyscraper Index Model successfully sent a signal of the late-2000s financial crisis at the beginning of August 2007.”

I have modified the index for the small town that I’m living in to include any large building projects. Yet, even here the tallest of our buildings were built just before (or finished) during our economic downturns. In fact, nothing much happened downtown at all during the 70s and 80s eras because things weren’t great and the cost of borrowing money so high. (The higher the cost of money, the lower and less the building that went on.)

Build and Bust

In the past year the biggest project we’ve ever seen has begun with the destruction of two city blocks downtown and not one but two high rise towers planned. This is in addition to four other buildings and is unprecedented. Whether this massive project gets completed as per the flashy marketing campaign promises is doubtful.

In 2006, a similar project was planned with a series of buildings up across from the university, one of which would be the tallest in the city. Of course, it was never built and a much more subdued building was eventually constructed instead (still with not enough parking).

One of our largest contractors went belly-up over his overly ambitious project of two buildings with sweeping views of the city in 2007. Those sat as empty husks for over ten years until someone had the cash (or borrowed it at the cheap rates) to purchase and finish them.

Out With the Old

I did a search and there are so many permits approved for residential buildings with commercial spaces planned for every area of the city that I couldn’t count them all. New construction, mostly multi-family, with old houses unceremoniously torn down can be seen on a drive through any neighbourhood in my town, including my own.

Within a few blocks I walk, there are three construction projects that meant two houses torn down including one that we used to call the “Secret garden house” because of its overgrown garden with gazebo. There is also the telltale ominous orange paint sprayed across the road in front of a house where two large trees were removed last year. First the removal of the trees, then the orange paint, then the house gets torn down to make way for the new duplex or fourplex or ?

Enough Money to Throw Around

Even our museum is getting an upgrade, to give you some idea of the cheap cash flowing around this town! No one except a few old-timers seems to care much about the museum. Most people are gung-ho for local hockey or ball teams so funding always goes to sport stadiums or fancy, ten fields, 300 acre slo-pitch “ranch” projects.

Right now, I couldn’t afford to buy my house, which has doubled in value from 2019 to 2022. Of course, it’s all on paper. If you cash out now, you would come out ahead as long as you don’t buy anything. Still, you’d be paying astronomical rent (if you could find anything) while you waited for the fire sales!

So the optimism of building huge residential towers, upgrading places that haven’t seen an upgrade in decades, new neighbourhoods being developed, expansion after expansion at the university, a completely overblown housing market, and every contractor too busy to give you the time of day, is setting off red flags.

On the Eve

Honey, pay off your credit cards and any outstanding loans as fast as you can. Sell your car if you owe money on it and buy a clunker…or a bicycle. Be prepared to hunker down. This could be the bumpiest ride yet! A stiff cocktail might be in order….

All About Eve – 20th Century Fox

All About Eve – written by Joseph L. Mankiewicz

Nunquam non Paratus

I have also started to stock up on food staples like rice, dried beans, peas, quinoa, pasta, canned beans and tomato sauce, olive oil, dried spices, sugar, and flour. Not too much flour as it gets weevils, although sieving it is one way to handle those little critters. Remember this if all Hell breaks loose: weevils are not at all harmful to eat and in fact, they add protein. Ha!

Even if food shortages don’t occur (it certainly looks more and more like they will), the speed at which the price of food is rising means that I am getting 10% or more off these items if I buy them now vs. six months from now. I consider the investment in food a great one. Much more practical than a stock or a gold bar!

No One Goes Hungry on My Watch

My two tenants helped me haul down a few plastic bins of food for storage and I joked with them that no one in this house would go hungry if a financial collapse happens! We’ll be eating a tasty vegetarian stew with homemade bread and a fresh salad, at least during the summer.

Sucking in the 70s

I am old enough to remember how my Mom and Dad struggled through the 70s and 80s. This is probably the reason I’m so good at making do with what I have. It was best not to ask for a bike or a new pair of shoes or lessons of any kind. We just didn’t have the money for those extras. My parents, too, did without vacations or fancy clothes. They had one old car and shared it. The kids in my neighbourhood were mostly the same so we made up games and played outside. We would head into anyone’s house for lunch – none of us ever went hungry. (Some cooking was preferred over others, however. My brothers and I still joke about the earthiness of Mrs. Beanie’s pea soup!)

My Mom finally started working in the early 80s and things began to improve financially after that – in time for my brothers to benefit. I left home at 16, earning a whopping $2 an hour. Did I mention that I was grateful for that job? (That story is in here: Does Big Hair Make You Resilient?)

Don’t Let This Happen to You

My kids were too young to realize what the bust of 2007 meant. They didn’t understand the stress we felt when our house deal fell through because the buyer suddenly couldn’t get financing. Unfortunately, we had already committed to buying another house. (For the record, I was against this. I said we should play it safe and sell first and then purchase. I was in the doghouse, for multiple reasons, so didn’t insist on this when my ex fell in love with the house. We were basically on the hook for two mortgages.)

It worked out after some fancy financial footwork from our mortgage broker but the lesson will be with me for all my life. Our broker, in business for over 30 years at that time, said she had never seen anything like it. Overnight the main company she dealt with began to refuse mortgages for every client she had, even if they had AAA credit ratings and huge sums for down payment. They were running scared.

Simple Prep

I have written several posts on how to stretch a dollar to get you started: How to Make Your Money Go Further Series

Just buy a little extra dried food every time you shop. A few cases of beans, a few jars of peanut butter. Buy yourself a bit of food security. Maybe a bottle of wine as a treat and tonic for your nerves here and there.

And let’s toast to better times, yeah?


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