Having just returned to London from snow groomed Montreal, I find myself looking for visible cues of global recession. The news shows seem to be a little more serious in London than they were in North America. Call me crazy, but beyond George W's announcement of the car industry bail-out, I didn't hear or read as much distress in the headlines or programming as I do back here in London. Yes, there were tips on how to reduce your chances of having your head on the employment chopping block, and suggestions on how to make gifts from North American friends on Facebook, but the tone is not as gloomy as it is here in the UK.
Naturally it could be the weather playing a vital part in this observation, but the job cuts being announced here on a daily basis, including where I work, are hardly encouraging. The financial industry was among the first to head to the guillotine; Merryl Lynch has just announced 1,900 cuts in its London workforce, but the construction industry also expects to see record drops with housing starts 'tumbling to the lowest level since 1924'. Retail sales fell 1.4% in total in 2008, and we can only expect sales to drop even more because of a lack of consumer confidence.
So have we hit rock bottom yet? Some economists say yes, others are less inclined to believe there is light at the end of the tunnel any time soon. A programme on the effect of the massive layouts in the car industry showed many African Americans heading to Church for some sign of salvation. They are among the worst to be affected by the car industry meltdown. And while things don't seem very cheery from where I'm standing, they must seem more grim for those who have always worked on the assembly line.
In the face of this economic turbulence, one question the global stage is asking: Obama, you ready?