Is a Double Dip Recession Looming?: Tips for Surviving the Next One

Landscape Architecture for Landscape Architects Forums PROFESSIONAL PRACTICE Is a Double Dip Recession Looming?: Tips for Surviving the Next One

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    Thomas Rainer
    The landscape-related professions are broad and diverse. They represent a wide range of occupations, including designers, nurserymen, contractors, horticulturists, arborists, writers, and scientists. But one thing they all have in common is that they suffer badly during recessions. For years I’ve argued that our outdoor environments deserve greater financial investment; that our society does not spend enough on our landscapes.
    But the unavoidable economic reality is that when times are tough, landscapes get cut first. Want to know how the economy is doing? Ask a landscape contractor how business is. When it comes to economic indicators, we are the proverbial canary in the coal mine.
    The Great Recession that began in 2008 devastated landscape-related professions. Generations-old nurseries sold their inventory and declared bankruptcy; powerhouse landscape architecture firms either laid off workers by the dozens or closed their doors forever. Out of sheer luck, I survived two waves of layoffs at a previous firm. I still remember my heart sinking every time the principals got together for a meeting. Will it be me today?
    Perhaps that explains why I now lurk on market and economy websites. I always keep one eye on the financial news. Which is why I’m a bit nervous now. The economic headlines are rather grim: Greece and Italy’s debt threatens to destabilize Europe, China will be forced to take measures to bring down inflation, and in America, even though Congress patched together a deal to extend the debt limit, the forthcoming spending cuts by government will slow down growth. “If you want a recession after a credit crisis, just stop stimulus” says Barry Ritholz, one of the few economists who foresaw the previous economic crisis, “Austerity is another way of saying recession.”
    Gulp. So what the heck are we to do? I’m certainly no economic or personal finance expert, but I have spent a lot of time thinking about the next recession. Heck, perhaps the Chicken Little economists have it wrong. But it never hurts to be prepared, right?  Here are seven tips for surviving the next recession:
    Visit Grounded Design blogto read the rest of the article.

    Heather Smith

    We are keeping an eye on things…the only thing we can do is keep our heads down. We are fortunate to have work…grateful everyday. I’


    If I were you, I wouldn’t worry about something that hasn’t happened, and I certainly wouldn’t yell fire in a crowded theater. And why analyze the numbers? What the heck can you do about it anyways? Of course, you should be prepared, but don’t suddenly start saving 100% of your income just because you hear someone else yell fire. I think just being responsible with our money like we should have done before this darn economic crisis is really all we can do right now.


    Things will get better.


    The news media certainly has a love affair with fear and drama

    Tanya Olson

    The key word here is ‘unstable’ environment for business – everyone is FEELING uncertain, Congress is so incredibly volatile and antagonisitc that people just don’t know what to expect, as you say. But my intuition is that without this FEELING of volatility we’d be recovering pretty well – more cautiously, but still recovering.

    I suspect, from what you list, Jason, and from the odd combination of both negative and positive economic indicatiors that the double dip is a confidence game. I’m not  blissfully ignorant, just not drinking the kool-aid. Might be foolish, but I’m feeling more confident than fearful and am writing to my congresspeople nearly daily to ask them to get their act together so we can get back to work. I can’t believe our economy rests in the hands of such a bunch of whining adolescent ninnies.


    On a related note, I had a little laugh when I read that ad for a landscape architect in Abu Dhabi on the board here.  It states that they want a female European.  Reminded me of how different labor laws are in some places.  You can’t discriminate like that on craigslist…at least the US craiglists!

    Heather Smith

    I agree Tanya. If nothing else at least appear to try to work together. On top of that, laying off thousands of government employees is hardly going to boost our economies.

    Rob Halpern

    I can’t believe our economy rests in the hands of such a bunch of whining adolescent ninnies.

    Sadly, as citizens, they are OUR ninnies that WE put there doing for US what we didn’t want to think much about over the years. Any one of us can say “Well I voted for smart people not that jerk,” but that’s moot in a “democracy.” And L.A.s can look to the housing boom that gave so much work and now has been a factor in this mess and ask where were our insightful analyses then when we were collecting our fees?


    In a republic none of us are innocents


    Thomas J. Johnson


    Thomas J. Johnson

    Yeah, things are so much more FUBAR than people realize…
    I love the term “recession”, especially “double dip recession”… this isn’t a freakin’ ice cream cone we’re talking about!

    Here in the US, we’ve been hovering at 9% unemployment since 2008, despite consistently losing jobs for the last 3 years. It’s some pretty creative math they are using… 10% is a psychological barrier that they are just not willing to cross…

    The longer we’re in denial about the reality of the situation, the worse off we’re going to be when reality hits. We’re not going to shop our way out of this one… The “double dip recession” is quickly going to turn into “The Greatest Depression” (How’s that for putting a positive spin on it?)

    The big difference between our “Greatest Depression” and the Great Depression of the 1920’s is that we’re going to be pissed off! Instead of rolling up our sleeves and getting to work like “the greatest generation”, this generation of spoiled, soft, kids is going to implode. Seriously, can you imagine them waiting in line for work, riding the rails across the country for work, going without their laptops and cell phones, resoling their shoes, making due? No way. They all think they are hollywood stars who can’t get their hands dirty. They have no idea how to build or fix anything. They’re all going to be waiting for the government to bail them out…and that’s not going to happen. It’s going to be so ugly we can’t even wrap our heads around it… I just read  that we’ve set a record for people on food stamps… 45 million (yet unemployment is magically holding at 9% ?). That’s more than the populations of Los Angeles, New York and Chicago combined… Still wanna call it a recession?


    I would also recommend investing in hand tools.  If you don’t need them yourself, they will retain high value when you barter.


    What stage of societal collapse do you think we will hit?  Where do you think we are now?


    Stages of Collapse

    Stage 1: Financial collapse. Faith in “business as usual” is lost. The future is no longer assumed resemble the past in any way that allows risk to be assessed and financial assets to be guaranteed. Financial institutions become insolvent; savings are wiped out, and access to capital is lost.

    Stage 2: Commercial collapse. Faith that “the market shall provide” is lost. Money is devalued and/or becomes scarce, commodities are hoarded, import and retail chains break down, and widespread shortages of survival necessities become the norm.

    Stage 3: Political collapse. Faith that “the government will take care of you” is lost. As official attempts to mitigate widespread loss of access to commercial sources of survival necessities fail to make a difference, the political establishment loses legitimacy and relevance.

    Stage 4: Social collapse. Faith that “your people will take care of you” is lost, as local social institutions, be they charities or other groups that rush in to fill the power vacuum run out of resources or fail through internal conflict.

    Stage 5: Cultural collapse. Faith in the goodness of humanity is lost. People lose their capacity for “kindness, generosity, consideration, affection, honesty, hospitality, compassion, charity” (Turnbull, The Mountain People). Families disband and compete as individuals for scarce resources. The new motto becomes “May you die today so that I die tomorrow” (Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago). There may even be some cannibalism.



    Thomas J. Johnson

    I think we may be experiencing all 5 simultaneously…

    Trace One

    I prefer douglas adams’ “three stages of man’s evolution”


    How shall we eat?

    What shall we eat?

    And where shall we do  lunch?


    I could be worse, couldn’t it, guys?


    Nicely done, although bleakly done, Chupa!  Been reading Cormac McCarthy?  Or did you find this someplace?  Personally I’m at stage three due to watching this recent debacle over the debt ceiling.  You want to say HEY!  If more people were WORKING and PAYING TAXES and PRODUCING and CONSUMING, then we wouldn’t have the deficit we do.  But no, that was nowhere to be found in the conversation.


    I’ve seen some signs of Stage 5 with families breaking up.  My relationship with my girlfriend failed some months ago, partly due to me not being able to find a job.  It was also due to the meddling of her ex, taking her to court for child custody.  Of course that meant a lot of pain and big legal bills for her.  Do I think he would have done it if he didn’t need that child tax deduction and was still making the money he used to?  Not at all.  He also just wanted to make her life miserable and create an unbearable situation for a relationship.


    My Dad rents a room to a woman who is going through a divorce.  Her husband sold their house out from under her, that she and the kids still lived in when on school breaks.  He’s an attorney.  Since the divorce is not settled and she has no job and no alimony, she is on food stamps.


    Yeah, so far it hasn’t been a shining episode for human nature from my perspective.  Instead the cracks and seedy underbelly of our society are becoming more visible.

    Jon Quackenbush

    With a nice bottle of Chianti and some fava beans.

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