03.08.2011 06:45 AM

In today’s Sun: Nice place to visit, etc.

FORT MYERS, Fa. — If you want an idea about how the recession could have happened in Canada, but didn’t, take a look around here.

Once the playground of the affluent and the super-rich, coastal Florida was one of the first places to be hit by the global recession. It’ll be one of the last places to exit it.

All around southwestern Florida, there are ugly scars — unmistakable signs people are still struggling. Foreclosure notices are everywhere, as are ads for bankruptcy sales — and bankruptcy help. Shuttered businesses can be seen wherever you look. And, along a sunny stretch of beach once favoured by Floridians piloting big yachts, someone has planted some hand-written signs. “Our house for sale,” it says. “EMERGENCY.”

11 Comments

  1. Dave says:

    To hear some (and by some, I mean Garth Turner) tell it, Canada is heading down the same path just 5-10 years later. He regularly argues that Canadian lenders did find ways to offer pseudo-subprime loans by doing things like cashback mortgages and stated income loans.

    Time will tell – his blog (and esp. the commenters) sometimes have the feel of a guy on the corner with a “The End is Nigh” sign with multiple dates scratched out.

    • jenjen says:

      It’s not just Garth Turner who has expressed concern about Canadian mortgage debt. Among those who claim we have our own housing bubble are economists Robert Schiller, Paul Krugman and Dean Baker, Mish Shedlock, the Economist, the Canadian Center for Policy alternatives and others across the ideological spectrum.

      Even if people don’t think we are in a bubble, the fact remains that many smart people who called the US bust are calling for one here. Moreover there is a lot of smart investors (US hedge funds primarily) betting money expecting a serious housing dip in Canada.

      Sad but true.

      So while there is a lot of optimism by government officials, we simply can’t dismiss the concerns expressed by Garth Turner as those of a doomsayer.

      • Dave says:

        On rereading my comment I can see how you took it as dismissive – I was trying to be neutral and overcorrected.

        I happen to agree with/enjoy most all of his writing.

  2. Peter Mumford says:

    Warren, you might be interested in this article from a recent Rolling Stone – the phenomenon of Florida’s “rocket dockets” which are set up to fast-track mortgage foreclosures through the courts: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/matt-taibbi-courts-helping-banks-screw-over-homeowners-20101110

  3. JH says:

    Depends where you are. I’ve spent 3 months in a new development on West Palm Beach Blvd. outside of Ft. Myers. Homes for regular middle income folks are all sold and being paid for, plenty of pools going in and landscapers on the job, lots of big gas guzzlers and trucks in the driveways. Breadwinner of the house just got a raise and a bonus from Chico’s where he works at HO. They’re having best year in some time. Parking lots are busy, lots of folks on hand for spring training and you still have to wait a bit for seating at the better restaurants.
    Life is still good in So. Florida for many.

  4. Lipman says:

    My folks are there right now. They spent a couple of days in Naples, Fla, and I bet it is the same story in that wealthy city. I remember going down to Fort Myers as a kid, and being astonished at the level of poverty in the depressed areas, then being equally stunned by the exorbitant wealth in Naples.

  5. Mike Tevlin says:

    I remember being in florida about a year before the recession hit. There were ads on the radio offering no-money-down mortgages to people with “poor credit or no credit”. At the time I couldn’t figure out how that business model worked. It turns out it didn’t work.

  6. gretschfan says:

    In my own travels in America, what gets me is how wide the gap is now between the haves and have-nots. Yes, it exists here too, but stateside in the south there seems to be almost no middle class left. Another thing…about signs like the “emergency” one you saw is how depressingly often it’s because of a medical issue either not covered by insurance or where someone’s been hosed by their insurance co. It’s a great place to live when you’re young and healthy. But like Cormac McCarthy observes, no country for old men.

  7. TDotRome says:

    Interesting quote from the The Economist. I can’t help but wonder, is it possible that the lack of a Parliamentary majority kept the Harpers from going off the deep end? Was a successful stimulus created because he didn’t have complete autonomy in creating it? I don’t know the answer. Frankly, I still question how successful it was. It is a source of wonder.

  8. sha says:

    http://canada.greekreporter.com/2009/11/20/winner-of-pontiac-silverdome-auction-revealed-andreas-apostolopoulos-of-triple-properties-inc/

    Greek-born Toronto-area businessman Andreas Apostolopoulos was the winning bidder in Monday?s final cry auction for the Pontiac Silverdome, according to the Oakland Press.
    Apostolopoulos, of Triple Properties Inc., agreed to pay $583,000 for the stadium, built by the city in 1975 for $55.7 million.
    He told the newspaper he?d be visiting Pontiac soon to see his new property and introduce himself to residents.
    ?We want to have sporting events there,? Apostolopoulos said. ?But first we?re concerned about finalizing the paperwork.?
    Apostolopoulos also said he?d like the Silverdome to host music concerts, as it has in the past.
    Pontiac Emergency Financial Manager Fred Leeb said on Monday that Triple Properties Inc. would try to bring a Major League Soccer team to the region, with the Silverdome serving as home field.
    A judge yesterday temporarily blocked the sale after Bloomfield Hills attorney H. Wallace Parker filed an injunction claiming he signed a $17 million purchase agreement in August 2008 for the stadium that is still valid.

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