Migration musings: Five surprising things we learned in the pandemic

Article content continued

Buyers, wherever they might be, are bypassing the need for physically viewing a house or high-rise condo and are making purchases based on virtual open houses. Simon Fraser University researcher Joshua Gordon published a peer-reviewed study this fall showing wealthy non-resident buyers of Metro Vancouver real estate are a key reason for the ‘de-coupling’ of the region’s astronomical housing prices from its limp local wages.

Another scholar, Andy Yan, has said satellite families, defined as those in which the breadwinners earn more than 50 per cent of their wealth offshore, are one of the reasons for the hollowing out of the west side of Vancouver. Attorney General David Eby doesn’t disagree. Since he recognizes foreign capital and investment can contribute to empty and under-utilized dwellings and tax avoidance, he’s open to reforming the speculation tax to make it more effective.

COVID-19 and the de-globalization of Canada

The virus has created more barriers to trade and transnational migration. Many economists believe more of the North American public is realizing the risks involved in relying on global supply chains, as well as how vulnerable ordinary people are to seemingly distant foreign threats.

“Will the pandemic bury globalization?” asks Canadian Jeff Rubin, the former chief economist for CIBC World Markets, in his punchy new book

The Expendables: How the Middle Class Got Screwed by Globalization.

Rubin argues globalization has raised national GDPs but lowered average incomes. Politicians of all stripes (including left-wing Democratic presidential contender Bernie Sanders), Rubin says, have drawn attention to how the free movement of money, products, technology and labour creates winners and losers, with blue-collar workers the most common victims.

We shall find out in the next few years if Rubin is right when he predicts: “What is likely to emerge from the pandemic is the polar opposite of globalization.”