Biz Fix

In the money: Airline crisis? What airline crisis? WestJet inked a deal today with Southwest Airlines to share passengers on cross border flights. So at a time when Air Canada and other legacy carriers are dramatically scaling back their flights, Westjet will shortly be able to sell tickets to any of Southwest’s 64 U.S. destinations, and vice versa. (Like old faithful, the Dallas-based airline announced the agreement by trucking out that most Canadian of clichés: “Want to Get Away – Eh?) This is a huge deal for the Calgary carrier, which modeled itself on Southwest’s low fare structure. It’s kind of like getting a call from your mentor to come and be his partner.

Trading down: BC’s beleaguered forestry sector gets far, far, far (I could go on) less attention than Ontario’s struggling auto industry, but the two have a lot in common, namely they are both bathed in layoff notices. In some northern communities, like Mackenzie, every single mill has gone under. Today another mill near Campbell River closed and another 440 people lost their jobs, bringing the total number for the province’s forestry sector to 10,000.

Number cruncher: We’re a glum lot in Canada. Almost as glum as the Americans, if the latest consumer confidence data is any indication. According to the Conference Board of Canada, consumer confidence has fallen to the lowest level in 13 years. That level of pessimism nearly matches the situation in the U.S., where confidence is at its lowest level in 16 years. Given the Canadian economy is performing far better than America’s on all fronts, from employment to housing, imagine how gloomy we’ll be if we actually go through a U.S. style slowdown.

Boom or gloom: David Rosenberg, who left Canada to become Merrill Lynch’s chief economist, and is roundly seen as the most bearish of all the big Wall Street economists, has charted out the five phases of the current down-cycle. It gives a whole new meaning to the five stages of grief. Only, instead of ending with acceptance, Rosenberg predicts this will end with “the most significant recession since the mid-1970s.” The Big Picture has a copy of the report, but my MacBook must be feeling gloomy too, because it keeps freezing on the spot.

Ticker tape: The papers are following Google’s attack on Bell Canada’s practice of “throttling” the Internet… It’s often forgotten that while Ford and GM are sucking wind in North America, their sales in China are powering up, but the question remains will it be enough to save them…