Construction jobs on the rise

From the Vancouver Sun:

Although January construction numbers are up to 198,600 jobs, it is below the 202,100 jobs from a year ago, and a far cry from the 220,800 jobs during the boom.

The good news is that new construction is on the rise in the province, with the seasonally adjusted annual rate of housing starts reaching 186,300 units in January, a 5.8-per-cent increase from December.

That’s much better than the 149,081 housing units to begin 2009, but the construction starts have progressed steadily until now, according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. It’s even better than the figure that economists from financial institutions had been predicting.

The pessimistic CREA throws some cold water on this positive news by predicting that the HST and higher interest rates will push the real estate market down in 2011.

52 Responses to “Construction jobs on the rise”

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    Seasonally adjusted housing starts adjusts for the time of year. In reality housing starts have more to do with the weather than with the calendar, so it's only natural with the weather we've been having there would be a burst of activity. It remains to be seen whether this is an actual trend in activity or just an early start to the construction season brought on by our unseasonably warm and sunny weather.

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    On my way to work I can see quite a few new paper-mache complexes being built at an amazing speed here in Richmond.

    It seems as they are trying to complete them within a month! Maybe they want to finish them before the stool hits the ventilator…

    Regards

    arit

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    Interesting, in my little bubble I have a couple friends that are moving away this week. Both were in construction and their last projects are complete and they can't find work. Another works for a glass supplier that worked on most the towers downtown and they have 3 projects they're currently wrapping up and see nothing else coming up.

    I guess it depends on your perspective. Personally, I hope they build millions more this year and flood the market with supply.

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    grandmaster G Says:
    4

    @Vansanity: same in my circle, lost one guy to South America: "Vancouver is nice, but I need more sun. Also I need people that are real and not so full of themselves."

    Another one headed off to the east coast, Montreal. He was laid off here and couldn't find a new job (entertainment software industry).

    The third one was laid off as well and moved to the Okanagan(entertainment software industry).

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    "In reality housing starts have more to do with the weather"

    I don't think multi-million dollar projects, or even $300K projects for that matter, would start by the developer popping his head up and not seeing his shadow. There is too much planning involved. Starts are up because there is demand for new housing again, not because of the sunny weather.

    I agree that construction jobs have a lot to do with weather, with developers able to advance their schedules with dry warm weather. I would look for completions to accelerate in the coming months.

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    @jesse: Drawings, land purchases etc… yes, are done way before.

    However Drachen is right, when it comes to breaking ground and starting construction on the excavation, footings and foundations, they are dependant on the weather. Even in balmy Van-city. If we had a typical winter, the ground would probably be frozen right now and construction starts would wait until the spring.

    Anyone even remotely close to the construction industry is aware of this.

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    @jesse:

    "Both months suffered from unseasonably poor construction weather which likely depressed starts as well as causing a large pickup in construction layoffs." -reedconstructiondata.com

    "Weather may have played a role in depressing December housing starts, economists said." -Bloomberg.com

    "Cold Weather Chills Housing Starts" – Headline, the Wall Street Journal

    "Cammarota, using a more highly parameterized model, finds evidence that warm weather (say) in cold months in cold regions, does have a significant favorable impact on housing starts." – from a paper called "The dynamic impact of unseasonable weather on construction activity."

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    The construction stats are like watching a game of musical chairs. In short order once the new mortgage regs bite the specuvesters and intrest rates rise and Ottawa forces FTB's to have some skin in the game the party will stop and we'll some more holes in the ground and unfinished projects flapping in the breeze. So what if the weather is good? Hey , its much better in a lot of other places. If I was going to fund a lovenest for my Swedish Stew it sure as hell wouldn't be in Vanasswipe!

    The close circuit media hype of Vanshithole is running out of lies to tell. I listened to the Big Slut show on 98 this am. The pity party predicted some weeks ago is on ! The 'own the podium' backpeddling is going full spin. Its come down to crying jags about 'getting back to Canadian values' Bwahahahahahahahaah. BTW anyone see Gordon Campell or ANY of the provincial leaders? How about the Vision Vanc sluts? Where are they? This train wreck was all sooooooo predictable.

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    @Drachen: Thanks for the clarification.

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    I talked to someone in construction management recently who said that his company and too many other companies were finishing big jobs right now with no jobs lined up once they're done. He also said that any new contracts were bid so competitively that the winning bids probably won't make any money. They're just trying to stay in business.

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    Metrotower 3 is now completely mothballed. All the scaffolding was removed two weeks ago and all other materials that were likely rented have been removed. Several workers were on site up to last week wrapping up, but now there is no one working on site.

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    Everyone sing along with Jim Morrison now:

    "This is the end

    My only friend, the end

    Of our elaborate plans, the end

    Of everything that stands, the end

    No safety or surprise, the end"

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    Anyone else notice all of those tourism Ontario commercials that are being played during the Olympics ("There's no place like this")? I have this fever now and the only cure is more cowbell… I mean to buy some real estate out there. Better get in now before the whole world sees it during the Panam games in 2015!

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    caps for sale Says:
    14

    I am still a little confused about the HST. Is it like the gst and only applied to new homes? Or is it on all purchases?

    With GST, they waive the fee if it's your first purchase. Is it like that on the HST, too.

    What effect will the HST have? Will it just bring down prices enough to accommodate the HST, or will it have a cooling effect in general (ie has this been tried before somewhere else and if so, what happened).

    I've been googling around, but you maniacs probably have opinions about this!

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    This is crazy– it looks like BC's building as though we're going to grow 11% in a year!

    BC's population is just under 4 million people.

    186,000 housing starts per year, at 2.3 people per unit, is enough capacity for 428,000 people. Or, to put it differently, 11% population growth!

    Given that our growth is more like 1% or so a year, it seems like there's a lot more job loss to come in the construction sector…..

    (admittedly, some of those units are "replacing" old housing stock– such as, 6 houses knocked down, 50 townhouses go up in place, but still…)

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    permantlybullish Says:
    16

    When you bears grow old and are living on catfood because the rent keeps going up I'll think of you from my chaise lounge on my twice yearly carribean cruise. I really will.

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    No Longer Looking Says:
    17

    Sometimes I wonder if the TPTB are getting ready to open the immigration floodgates again, like they did in the early 90s.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    Nonymouse Says:
    18

    @permantlybullish:

    Nice fantasy. Please put your pants back on you're at work and you can't afford to get fired again.

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    White Payer Says:
    19

    @permantlybullish:

    Hey, do you have a cat permantlybullish? (or did you mean permanentlybullish?) Because if you did, you'd know that cat food isn't really cheap. I have no idea why people insist on using it as a symbol of poverty. I think you should edit your post and insert a no name macaroni and cheese in there instead. Hell, even Spam is cheaper than cat food.

    Oh, and by the way, I'm afraid it is renters who go for cruises more often than owners these days.

    Just sayin'

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    So what indications do we have about the top? The Olympics are here, how about listings? Are there any surges that we can compare to 2008?

    How about craigslist ads? Are they a useful measure?

    Anecdotally, I am starting to see more "for Sale" signs, but not many…

    Regards

    arit

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    White Payer Says:
    21

    I get property search results sent to me from my agent and I see tons of "price reduced" AND quite few foreclosures.

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    best_place_on_meth Says:
    22

    @fecalpaul:

    Hey fecalpaul, you'll love this!

    NO FIRST PLACE FINISH, COC ADMITS

    http://www.ctvolympics.ca/news-centre/newsid=4935

    It seems that the goal of the COC to come first will not be met, according to the head of the COC.

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    best_place_on_meth Says:
    23

    @arit:

    Arit,

    Check the charts on Agent Will's website, you will see an eerie similarity to the start of 2008 with regards to total listings, weekly listings and weekly sales.

    The major difference between now and 2 years ago is that the BOC can't lower interest rates.

    Tee hee!

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    White,

    Foreclosures! thats where the fun starts. but will be interesting to see how the market responds to the foreclosures at first. I hope you arent crying wolf. Not that I would buy one, but they do wonders for pushing down house prices. Especially if banks are being prudent. Nothing like a foreclosure to push down the comparables when the appraisers are doing their homework.

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    patriotz patriotz Says:
    25

    @No Longer Looking:

    Sometimes I wonder if the TPTB are getting ready to open the immigration floodgates again, like they did in the early 90s.

    What? Immigration to Canada today (gross numbers) is at its highest level ever and substantially higher than in the early 90's.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immigration_to_Canad

    If you mean that the Feds will try to boost immigration still more going forward – in a time of rising unemployment and a stagnant economy – I don't think so.

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    patriotz patriotz Says:
    26

    @SD92129:

    Foreclosures… do wonders for pushing down house prices. Especially if banks are being prudent.

    Banks have no discretion in handling foreclosures of insured mortgages (which are virtually all foreclosures). They must follow CMHC's rules.

    I think that CMHC actually has a foreclosure abatement program (in response to the Alberta bust of 2007) although it doesn't seem to have had much effect. I wonder whether they will try to come up with something to deal with the upcoming bust here (and the resumption of the Alberta bust, and Toronto) But that can only slow things down at best.

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    I meant being prudent from an appraisal standpoint. when the prices are dropping agressively, its difficult to determine an appraised value which might allow for a buyer on the sidelines to jump in with what minimum downpayment is required for the day. Doesnt the mortgage originator still have to have proper appraisals before they can lend… or has that flown out the window also?

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    patriotz patriotz Says:
    28

    @SD92129:

    I don't see why the appraisal for a mortgage on the sale of a foreclosure would be a different issue than on a discretionary sale. You would be looking at the same comparables.

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    catfood_gourmet Says:
    29

    I've always found catfood to be pretty good value compared to spam and max and cheese since cats are picky about taste while most welfare moms and hawaiian sumo wrestlers are not. You do pay a price premium for catfood but just like condo ownership you get what you pay for.

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    I am not saying that appraisal on a foreclosure is different from a voluntary sale, but rather, the presence of foreclosures is a sign that the market is headed down quickly and this tends to make appraisers do their homework more carefully. In a rising market, an appraiser can overvalue a home, but no big deal, the market is heading up, value with eventually made up and the bank doesnt care. In a falling market appraisers have to be much more careful to not overestimate the value.

    In the US anyways, once the ball started rolling, comparables would be looked at, but they would have to be very recent, and even then appraisers are more careful to factor in an "allowance" in a dropping market.

    This appraised value impacts the loan to value ratio which can lead to downward pressure on the loan to insure that the loan is not too high for the property. In that case, the buyer usually needs to come up with more downpayment to get the loan he needs (in this case up here, qualify for the 10% down based on the new rules).

    In one situation, someone I knew won an auction on a foreclosure. But the appraisal came in too low such that he had to find more downpayment to reach a 80% loan to value to avoid mortgage insurance. (the analogy would be to reach 90% loan to value in canada just so they could qualify for CMHC under the new rules).

    Another point about the appraisal mentality on different parts of the RE cycle, during the boom, they could do their appraisal online, just by looking at comparable. During the bust, they would actually show up and check the place out. Even the home insurance appraisers were showing up to do their work. In this one instance, the new homeowners were told by the insurance people that their pile of carpets in the back yard (from their ongoing reno) was a fire hazard and that they had to take care of it immediately.

    I have a feeling that the banks, appraisser and everyone else will be doing their jobs slightly differently when the RE market is pointed in a different direction.

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    patriotz patriotz Says:
    31

    @SD92129:

    I have a feeling that the banks, appraisser and everyone else will be doing their jobs slightly differently when the RE market is pointed in a different direction.

    Well that's a given. But they've already had practice with the 2008 mini-bust. Until the low interest rates turned things around we were showing a faster drop than any US market.

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    Patriotz,

    I dont believe foreclosure rates in 2008 were anything here like they were/are down there. Also, sales volume was relatively low. Once it starts to become painful for the banks, thats when the banks might start to rethink their lending practices.

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    patriotz patriotz Says:
    33

    @SD92129:

    I dont believe foreclosure rates in 2008 were anything here like they were/are down there.

    Foreclosures did not exceed historical norms in the US until 2007, a year after the bust started. Foreclosures are a lagging indicator of a bust.

    The Vancouver mini-bust of 2008 didn't last a year.

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    patriotz patriotz Says:
    34

    @SD92129:

    Once it starts to become painful for the banks, thats when the banks might start to rethink their lending practices.

    The banks will rethink their lending practices when CMHC tells them to. As long as someone else is holding the bag, there is no reason for them to do otherwise.

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    realpaul Says:
    35

    #22 BPOM , I predict an increase in dope revenues.An increase in grow ops should affect real estate prices accordingly. New development in the Punjab and Vietnam is also dependant on BC Bud, so come on Vanshithouse, smoke smoke smoke that dope. Do your part for sustainable growth in the third world.

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100222/ap_on_re_us/u

    And yes, the official death of the over hyped 'own the podium' bullshit campaign was forecast by myself long before the games began. A smart guy like yourself knows that the entire advertising campaign promoting the Olympics was written on used toilet paper that flowed out of one of the 26 sewage outlets that flows daily into False Creek at the gateway to classy Yaletown and the front steps of the desirable Olympic Village . Everyone wants to live with raw sewage pouring out like waterfalls into the pristine harbour, it's so greeeeeeeeeeeeeeeennnnnnnn.

    Vanoc sent out the invitation on the outgoing tide of billions of liters of fresh stinky shit that Vanpoover pours into English Bay every day.Speaking of shit in the water. The enviornmental scientists found that 90% of fish in English Bay have pre-cancerous lesions and that the sand has dangerously high content of choliform ( raw shit)but I saw a tourist video the other day promoting fresh seafood caught in the water off Vanpoodump being served in a restaurant. How fucking funny is that. Nice hosts we are, feeding our guests fresh shit and cancerous tumours. Bwahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. Ya, like you want to feed your kids that shit.

    The whole fecal thing would be funny if it wasn't so deadly serious.

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    BeggarCity Says:
    36

    permantlybullish Says:

    February 22nd, 2010 at 2:25 pm

    When you bears grow old and are living on catfood because the rent keeps going up I’ll think of you from my chaise lounge on my twice yearly carribean cruise. I really will.

    ———————————–

    Hey permabullshit!

    Psssssst…. I have a podium to sell. Podiums always go up, you know that, don't you?

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    bestplaceonmeth Says:
    37

    This is for you, fecalpaul!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oxrq6AX45bo

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    rubberduckie Says:
    38

    Wow, does it look to you folks like rental listings are up?

    I normally have a look daily on Craigslist under my search parameters, just to see if there might be something better… and wow did I have to scroll today!

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    bestplaceonmeth Says:
    39

    @rubberduckie:

    They've been increasing for at least a year but it's accelerating now.

    Crap economy, Games ending with unrealized dreams of making a killing, real estate market turning.

    Expect to see heavy listings for rentals and sales in the coming months.

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    Anonymous Says:
    40

    'No Canadian housing bubble: Bank of Canada deputy governor'

    The Canadian housing market is strong, but it is not experiencing a bubble, Paul Jenkins, senior deputy governor of the Bank of Canada, said Monday.

    The federal government said last week it will bring in new mortgage rules to cool the housing sector and prevent home buyers, tempted by record low interest rates, from overextending themselves.

    At the same time, it said there was no housing bubble, a point echoed on Monday by Jenkins, who was speaking at a panel discussion at the Government of Canada and Financial Times Global Business Leaders Day in Vancouver, where the housing market is especially hot.

    "At the moment, we are certainly seeing a certain amount of the recovery in the Canadian economy coming from the housing sector" he said.

    "I would certainly not say we are looking at a housing bubble," he added.

    Unlike the struggling U.S. housing market, sales and prices of existing homes in Canada soared last year, boosted by the central bank's near-zero interest rates and the resulting low-cost mortgages. Many in the industry have forecast further strength in 2010.

    http://www.vancouversun.com/business/Canadian+hou

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    @grandmaster G:

    I am apart of that industry too and like you said many moved out east, to the states, overseas and up north. I still know some people with 10 years of experience still looking for work in town. It's still pretty rough out there … and to think most of these people are your above average income bracket earners.

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    Was googling my way through the coverage of the delirious statement by Paul Jenkins today (apparently Canada has no hiusing bubble — by the way, if he is wrong could he be held accountable for misleading statement of facts?) and I found a recent entry on Garth Turner greater fool blog:

    http://www.greaterfool.ca/2010/02/22/planning/

    Now, I always thought the guy was a bit of a weirdo, but does that change the fact that he completely spot on with his analysis?

    Here is something i could not have written more clearly:

    "…Greenspan allowed both to form due to lax regulatory oversight and, most significantly, too-cheap rates. In fact, the US real estate bubble could end up destroying the States for a generation or two, throwing it into unrepayable public debt after hollowing out the net worth of the middle class. By refusing to act address the bubble with higher rates, lest he look bad for weakening the whole economy, Greenspan ended up blowing the entire wad…There’s only one reason a house today costs 20% more than it did a year ago. Or that untold numbers of young couples are now dangerously leveraged. Or that average families can’t afford average homes. Or that the legacy of these times will be debt, not equity."

    Sad, maybe, but true.

    My opinion of Garth has taken a quantum leap up.

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    @permantlybullish:

    Nicely said. These bears have been around crying since a few years ago. They've been sitting on the sidelines bickering and have watched their neighbors get rich.

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    @BeggarCity: Your name suits your perfectly, continue to beg. Market is going up, face reality boys and girls.

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    Vansanity Says:
    45

    No Housing Bubble, eh? I've been saving this gem for a while. I sent my MP an email some time ago regarding CMHC. I heard back from several ministers, most of them simply giving me a canned response. One office (will remain nameless) however sent me an email had the following tidbit:

    "As you note, there are many aspects that still need to be addressed to prevent serious fallout from a potential housing bubble and ______ has forwarded your input to our Finance Critic for their information. _____ has also flagged these concerns with the Parliamentary Budget Officer and requested that his office take a closer look at these regulations."

    There are many aspects that still need to be addressed to prevent serious fallout from a potential housing bubble. The fact they even used such language meant more to me than anything else in the email.

    The fact the BOC has changed mortgage rules for the 2nd time in as many years again reflects the fact they see a bubble and are trying to acknowledge it without being blamed for its formation or its destruction. Warnings and restrictions from the BOC are a political tactic as much as they are a way to thwart further debt inflation.

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    [...] February 2010 · Leave a Comment Vansanity at vancouvercondo.info 22 Feb 2010 at 10:56 am – “I have a couple friends that are moving away this week. Both were in construction [...]

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    Laud Speaker Says:
    47

    In response to CREA'S HST and INTEREST RATES concern.

    HST:Only apply to new housing,Developers can pass the cost of hst to buyers in bid to keep their jobs alive or they will reduce the construction of new homes.

    RESULTS:Resale home market will move up to the extent where buyers will be agree to pay HST and they will countinue buying new house.

    HST on Realtors commissions:It will put pressure on realtors to reduce their Commissions to find buyers and sellers or buyers and sellers will learn to deal directly to save HST and realtors COMMISSIONS rates.Seller can pass half or equal of full commissions to buyers.

    INTEREST RATES:Interest rates pressures grow through the gauge of economy recovery and Interest rates proceed up wards gradually,Specially interest rates never poise any threat without any outer reason like Inflation rates,employment rates.

    when all wires keep on proceeding to one direction- buyers and sellers chase each other again and again and likely to pay asking or over the list for housing and matterials.When labours from the suppliers and recievers get tired and stuff soaks with mistakes other hand transportation become unavailable then developers bid to pay double double and increase their asking prices double double that's the time when some one must pass out or pass away to break the oura of gauge of economy.

    Conclusion:While the economy pace is little fragile and Oil Prices moves back again and again this provision provide natural life support to the sector(housing) that is already leading the economy.In short words.

    WE ARE 29 year behind from the collapse that does not hurt VANCOUVER R.E. by more than 7% or again = Realtors commissions.

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    Working guy Says:
    48

    Hey Supra, can you do me a favor please and brief us on who's in town from famous and celebrities hanging around and having fun in downtown's clubs and bars where action is? Are there any real world jet-setters or it's mainly local high rollers and celebrities like yourself and high-end realtors. Who is attending all those VIP parties and after-parties during Olympics?

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    #41 @Anonymous: To Paul Jenkins, Deputy Governor of the Bank of Canada. Thank you for discrediting yourself and your institution. The fact that you came to Vancouver (of all places) to deny a housing bubble shows that you are either so stupid that you lack any basic powers of observation, analysis, and critical thought, or you believe that we are that stupid and you have a wicked sense of irony. On that second point, I see our local media did not disappoint.

    However, by adding your voice to the cacophony of morons and vested interests denying such a massive and obvious problem, you put yourself squarely in the column of "contributor". So in the increasingly likely event of some kind of crisis, be aware that your culpability has been noted.

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    Supraboy Says:
    50

    fuck you all rentas! i'e got rich sitting oin my condos and you are all so poor. ha, eat my left overs at the all wonderful Cactus club plebs!

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    scullboy Says:
    51

    Oh Supra, how sad…..

    You've mistaken your Daddy's lap with condos. Though I'm sure he's stuff a couple of loonies into that teensy little thong, 10 of 'em won't make you rich.

    Have another Lychee martini sweetheart, then it's time for bed. Clearly you can't hold your drink.

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    I had to laugh…

    I attended the Laurie Anderson performance at the Playhouse on Sunday, and she opened by saying she was surprised that she didn't know more people up here recalling that in 2000, when Bush was first elected, acquaintances were threatening to move.

    When Bush was re-elected in 2004 the often heard response was, "that's it we're really going!"

    Actions speak volumes.

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