In terms of eventful, 2022 was definitely eventful. We lost some very well known public figures this year, such as Queen Elizabeth II. We also witnessed global events that we had never seen in our lifetime like the war in Ukraine. We saw the end of COVID-19 measures here in Canada, but we also saw the rise of interest rates and the cost of living, the highest it has been in decades.
One peculiar thing that happened this year was the global worker shortage that seem to be hitting all industrialized nations. It was announced this year that the world had reached 8 billion in population, yet we are having worker shortage issues globally and effecting all professions. Something is definitely different than before the pandemic. I did not hear a satisfying explanation from the so-called experts from anywhere to explain the phenomena. Some of it could be explained by an aging population (people retiring during the pandemic), but not all of it. Quiet quitting, which made headlines this year, is nothing more than a smoke screen. This always existed to some level and in my opinion does not really apply here. In any unionized environment you come across this type of behaviour, doing the strict minimum at your job. Some will say the pandemic made people realize that they wanted to do something else and went back to school or just changed profession. I could understand this happening in the restaurant business, in which the industry is currently adapting to the new realities and giving the workers more pay with some also adding some benefits like healthcare coverage. However, this does not explain how all the professions, labor intensive to white collar workers (office clerical work) are having a hard time finding staff. You would think with the high cost of living, people would be looking for work, even a second job to make ends meet.
On the employer side, they keep mentioning in public they can not find any qualified workers, however their recruiting criteria are the same as before the pandemic. They will have to adapt and offer training for employment or lower their qualifications. I do not mean to hire a janitor to be a Director of Finance. Experience should be taken into consideration, not only diplomas and age should not be a factor. Too many companies discriminate on the grounds of age, which I always found odd. Companies should embrace older people, especially since the new reality of it is that they will most likely continue to work past 65 years old. They should use their experience to possibly avoid making some mistakes and result in growing faster. I know it is a North American culture issue, but it is one that will have to change if companies want to survive in the future.
Before I continue to my expectations for 2023, a few words on the economy. We are experiencing events that we never experienced in our lifetime, which could be scary to many because we do not know what to expect. I never thought I would live through a pandemic, high interest rates, and an even higher cost of living all within a couple of years. Ray Dalio wrote this book entitled "The Changing World Order", in which he explains in detail what we are currently living through. In a nutshell, everything comes in cycles, and now we are in a cycle where the rising power (China) is challenging the current power (USA). Ray demonstrated this through different past empires and does a great job explaining it. I encourage you to go see his website to see what it is all about. For a more condensed and visual version, check out my previous post on the subject.
That being said, what we are witnessing is the slow death of the American Empire. It is not dead, but if the internal conflict does not resolve itself, another nation will take its place as the dominant one. People may deny it, and say it is impossible that this would happen, but it is the truth. All the facts align to this, and Canada is in just as much peril as the States. We are tided to the hips, so if the USA goes down, we will follow suit.
Climate change is another topic that made the headlines this year. Not only because of the different conferences held around the world with world leaders promising the moon in order to make the green turn. What really stood out this year are the notable increase of extreme weather events that happened cross the world (torrential rains in the offseason, drastic weather changes, or just recently a one in a lifetime snowstorm that left Buffalo buried under many feet of snow). If you were a denier that the climate was not changing, well this year should have been a wake-up call for you. We are now past the preventive stage, and should be in the adapting stage, but you never hear about that. In my opinion, it is too late for preventive measures to make an impact immediately. We need to adapt to the new extreme weather tendencies because that is the new norm.
I found this video from Time that does a good job to recap the year in pictures. I thought you would enjoy the break from my long prose:
I do not want to be the bearer of bad news, but I think things will get worse before it gets better, especially when we talk about the economy. I think people will go back to being conservative when coming to investing for their retirement. No one can predict the stock market and the economy. If anyone says they can, either they met Nostradamus, have a crystal ball or they are full of sh*t. No one really says this but the central banks have adopted a strategy that worked in the past, but I am not convinced that it is working per say. In the past, higher interest rates meant people bought a lot less, which slowed down the economy. In this era, it slowed down the high-ticket purchases like real estate, but not the consuming goods purchases, like TVs and electronics. We have a generation of people who got used to buying on credit when they wanted something. Higher interest rates will not deter these people from purchasing. That is why I say 2023 will be tougher than what analyst are letting on, which at least admit that a recession is around the corner.
The financial situation we are in will continue to cause instability globally. The distribution of wealth will widen the gap even more between the wealthy and the poor. The middle-class will be pulled downward. The days that the middle class could flourish are long gone, for the time being anyway. I would not be surprised more wars breakout in the upcoming year like in Taiwan/China.
Reading all this could sound very grim and dark. Well, we are not in prosperous times, however as incompetent the human race could be at times, we are also resilient. This year there was a fusion energy breakthrough that is bringing hope for the future of green energy. This major breakthrough may change the way we make and consume energy. That is definitely positive.
Most of us also survived a pandemic. What an ordeal it was for the past 3 years. The governments followed China's lead with the confinements, but that proved to be way too extreme. It cost many businesses to close down, especially the small mom and pop stores. We are now slowly recovering and basically back to normal. That is a positive note.
Despite the dark days ahead, life continues on. All these experiences are just that experiences and we have to constantly find a way to get through it and learn from our failures. Failure is just a result meaning that your solution did not work and that you need to find a new one. I learned that years ago and it definitely applies in these modern times.
Before I let you go, I found this compilation from Time Magazine of public figures that we lost in 2022. I did not realize how many famous people had passed away this past year.
I would like to wish everyone that took the time to read this a Happy New Year. May 2023 bring you some joy and happiness.
I would like to thank you for your support. My intention in 2023 is to write much more, so stay tuned for my future articles. Thank you again and keep on smiling !!!!!