The Gloomy and Dismal October of 2008
Thursday October 23rd 2008, 1:51 pm

There is nothing that marks the end of summer like closing down the cottage for the year. Depending on the weather this task is usually done during the month of October. We like to pick a nice sunny day in order to make it as pleasant as it can be. One day last week we loaded the car with boxes in order to take home anything which will freeze during the winter. We drained the pipes, put away the lawn furniture and boxed the food from the freezer, fridge and cupboards. Unfortunately, this year we didn’t spend much time at the cottage because the weather wasn’t very good. The spring was cold and damp, June and July were great, but August was too damp and cloudy to be able to spend much enjoyable time there. October is always the end of the good times at the cottage and the start of getting ready for winter, which to me is gloomy and dismal.

In early September I was very concerned about the rising cost of heating oil. I was advised by Irving Oil that it would cost about $4,000.00 to heat our house this winter. At that time the price of heating oil was $1.28 a litre, so it would have cost about $1,000.00 for each fill up of our oil tank. This is double the amount it cost a few years ago. We bought weather stripping and foam insulation for our windows, and I booked an appointment to have an energy audit done. The audit will be done in January and will tell us what we can do to make our house more energy efficient. With the way things were going, the cost to heat our home would be increasing substantially every year unless we did something to use less oil.

What a difference a month makes, and what a month October turned out to be, although things started going downhill much earlier than October. We thought our economy was great, our dollar was great, and the cost of oil was steadily rising. We thought the credit crunch wouldn’t effect Canada. Now the global economy has tanked and so has our dollar and the price of oil. I don’t even want to think about how it will end. Canada is better off than many countries because we have a more stable banking system and we didn’t have the housing bubble or the subprime mortgage problem they had in the United States. We are told that Canada won’t have a recession, but because we are so tied to trade with the United States, we will definitely feel it.

I am glad I don’t own any stocks, so my income won’t be affected, but so many people all over the world will be feeling it for the next year or two. It is doubtful that anyone will take the blame for this mess, or for bankrupting so many people and businesses. Europe is blaming it on the greed on Wall Street. The Americans are trying to put the blame on everyone except themselves. There were so many things which contributed to it, from the Clinton administration in 1999, which allowed the subprime mortgage fiasco, to the greed and corruption of the Wall Street banks. They were making so much money that they didn’t care how it would end.

We are used to up and downs in the economy, and recessions, or near recessions, come along every ten years or so. The difference this time seems to be that so many people are affected globally. So many people have so much debt, especially in the United States. They have massive mortgages and credit card debts are mind boggling. I am glad that the obsession of buying, selling, flipping, or redecorating our houses will subside to a more reasonable level. The unfortunate thing is that it will be replaced with people and businesses trying to find ways to cope in a recession, and trying to pay so much debt. The only good thing about it is the price of oil has dropped substantially, and for the average person, that is great news.

Octobers have had more than their share of stock market problems. I hope the gloomy financial outlook improves so that next October looks much better.