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‘This isn’t what we were promised’: Amid GM closures, Trump’s economic policies are coming home to roost





At one time, Donald Trump’s words sounded reassuring to Tommy Wolikow. Now more than a year later, they just torment him.

“Don’t move, don’t sell your house,” the U.S. president urged a cheering crowd in Youngstown, Ohio, in July 2017, promising to resurrect the region’s dwindling manufacturing jobs. “They’re all coming back.”

Wolikow, a 36-year-old father of three, was standing there listening, hopeful. The former General Motors quality control worker at the GM Lordstown Complex had been laid off months earlier, and bought a two-storey home for $110,000 US with his wife, Rochelle, located just three kilometres from the factory.​ He was hoping to soon return to work.

Wolikow voted for Trump in 2016, inspired by his pledge to reinvigorate the manufacturing economy. He was a believer. So when Trump encouraged supporters not to sell their homes, to trust his economic stewardship, Wolikow accepted it.

But as 14,000 layoffs were announced by GM on Monday, it became clear that Trump has not lived up to being the manufacturing messiah he claimed to be.

Among other factors, many economists are faulting his trade policy and confirming their doubts that a tax-reform package benefiting corporations would save factory workers.

After nine years at GM, Trump’s inauguration day, Jan. 20, 2017, turned out to be Wolikow’s last day on the job. Once a diehard Trump supporter, Wolikow’s faith has waned. Over the last two years, he has seen only job losses in Ohio — including both his and Rochelle’s, who was a GM employee on the door line at the Lordstown plant.

“The information we got is devastating,” he said about the new layoffs and GM’s plan to idle five factories in Ohio, Michigan, Maryland and Oshawa, Ont.

Tommy Wolikow is shown with his wife, Rochelle, and their daughters Ali, 6, and Natalie, 11. Wolikow and his wife were both laid off last year by GM. Rochelle has found work as a waitress, while Wolikow is still seeking work. He says the couple has maxed out their credit cards. (Tommy Wolikow )

The couple worry about the value of their home diminishing. “How are you going to sell a house in the area when nobody wants to live there anymore?” Rochelle said.

Economists like Steve Bell predicted this outcome. 

Consumer preferences are changing. Only 30 per cent of American automobiles sold today are cars, like the Chevrolet Cruze compact, manufactured in Lordstown. Trucks and SUVs make up the remaining 70 per cent.

Yet Trump’s vow in Ohio last year seemed to disregard that fact, as well as the shift toward autonomous and electric cars, in favour of crowd-pleasing pledges to build new plants and reverse manufacturing job losses.

“The moment that was said, it was literally an impossibility,” said Bell, a former senior director of economic policy at the Washington-based Bipartisan Policy Center who now does consulting work. “It’s like saying we’re going to make coal have a huge comeback. We’re not.”

The Wolikows bought this house in Youngstown, Ohio, shortly before they were laid off. Tommy Wolikow attended the local rally last July when Trump told his supporters not to sell their homes, promising to revive the manufacturing economy in Ohio. (Tommy Wolikow)

Trump’s apparent lack of understanding for global supply chains and his insistence of imposing 25 per cent tariffs on imported aluminum and steel likely exacerbated GM’s challenges, he said. Hiking the price of those metals simply passes the costs onto consumers, hurting the automaker’s bottom line.

And it’s not just people wanting to buy cars who would be adversely impacted, said former U.S. trade representative Carla Anderson Hill.

“If you put a 25 per cent tax on steel, aluminum, washing machines and a tax on solar panels, you’re going to price out a number of people who would otherwise want those products.”

Take, for example, the Missouri-based Mid Continent Nail Corp., the largest nail manufacturer in the U.S. It’s now clinging to life, unable to price its steel competitively.

While Trump sold the metal tariffs as necessary for saving the U.S. steel industry, it has been a net negative for job creation, Hills noted. The Trade Partnership, a Washington-based economics research firm, found that there would be 16 jobs lost for every one job created by the Trump-imposed tariffs.

Wolikow, second from left, has been attending Trump rallies with a coalition called Good Jobs Nation, which has worked to bring attention to the struggles of workers in the U.S. manufacturing sector. (Tommy Wolikow)

North America’s auto and motor vehicle supply chain was once the most competitive in the world, Hills said. Now she believes the Trump economy is experiencing the unpleasant human cost of some of his economic policies.

“Tariffs,” she said, “are just not an effective mechanism to improve the trade relationship.”

To win re-election in 2020, Trump will likely have to once again take the manufacturing states of Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan. Tariffs could become a sore point.

GM had already seen it coming. The company warned back in the summer that the tariffs could lead to “a smaller GM,” including job cuts in the U.S. and abroad. The company also said Trump’s tariffs have already cost it $1 billion US, prompting Democratic congressman Tim Ryan to accuse Trump of being “asleep at the wheel” and demanding he keep his vow to revive Ohio’s manufacturing sector.

“This isn’t what we were promised,” said Albert Sumell, an economics professor at Ohio’s Youngstown State University.

“I would say that when Trump was campaigning, he was the emperor that wears no clothes, making promises that any objective analysis would prove false — to the extent that most of the jobs that were lost were not lost due to China, they were lost due to automation.”

Americans are also witnessing how slashing the corporate tax rate may have pleased shareholders, but failed to fulfil its premise of incentivizing companies to reinvest in workers and spur manufacturing growth.

That hasn’t been borne out in reality — despite GM posting a $2.5 billion third-quarter profit at the end of last month.

“Look at it from a business perspective,” Sumell said. “All of a sudden, you have millions of more dollars than you expected to have. There’s no rule that you have to use those dollars to invest in new plants and new jobs.”

A survey of 42 economists last year found every expert, except for one, doubted the tax bill would help the economy result in substantially higher GDP. All those surveyed agreed it would increase the debt.

Dwayne Killingbeck bolts parts to a Camaro on the assembly line at the GM plant in Oshawa, Ont. The facility is one of five the automaker says it will soon mothball. (Norm Betts/Bloomberg)

Michael Graetz, a former U.S. Treasury official and tax law expert, agrees the tariffs should blare a “caution sign about trade wars.” But he isn’t so quick to criticize the president’s tax-reform policies, believing it’s still too early to tell whether the lower tax rate will ultimately produce more jobs in the U.S. — even though he says “there’s no question” most of the savings have gone into stock buybacks.

Much as it might be convenient to blame the president, Charlie Chesbrough, a senior economist with Cox Automotive, said the biggest driver was shifting consumer tastes.

“I don’t think we can hang this one around the president’s neck,” he said.

The cuts on Monday could be GM trying to play catchup to Fiat Chrysler, which announced in the summer it would cease making cars in the U.S. to focus entirely on pickups and SUVs. Ford made a similar announcement.

After he was laid off, Wolikow went back to school to earn his diesel technician’s degree. He’s still looking for work. Rochelle is scraping by as a waitress at Cracker Barrel, earning $4.15 an hour, plus tips.  

In the meantime, he’s waiting for the president to respond to a letter from his United Auto Workers president — a letter he hand-delivered to Trump’s 2020 campaign chief operating officer at a recent rally, pleading for help for autoworkers.

“I’m still holding on hope Trump is going to do something,” he said. “But how do you support someone when you know they’re not supporting you?”


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Real Estate

Canadian Homeowners: Meet the Costs of Window Replacement Projects





Various factors could lead you to consider replacing your windows. However, there are multiple factors to think of that would affect the costs of this project. On average, a window replacement project could cost anywhere from $500 to upwards of $2000. The price is significantly affected by factors such as the design, materials used, and how energy efficient you would like your windows to be.

There are various types of windows to choose from. Understandably, the costs to replace your current window would depend on the kind of window you would like to replace it with.

It is essential to keep in mind that although there are different designs when it comes to windows, you need to take into account the functionality as well. Several types of windows may look suitable for your home but are actually not right for what you need.

Unless you are more concerned with the aesthetic of a window, you should understand what the different types of windows are best used for. To properly understand what makes each window type different, you should be familiar with the term sashes.

Simply put, window sashes are the part that holds the window in place. Depending on the type of window you get, the sash may allow for manoeuvrability or may simply be there to keep your window on the wall.

Moving on, there are several types of windows to choose from. This may all look confusing at first, and you may be tempted to select the best looking one, but you have to put into consideration the functionality of the window.

Unless you’re okay with having a poorly ventilated home or one that is continuously cold because of your window, thorough research and consideration should go into the choosing process.

The thing to remember is that you have to take the process one step at a time. You might feel overwhelmed and indeed, being overwhelmed is not something that will benefit you at all.

So what should you do now? The first stride you need to take when considering a window replacement project is to choose the replacement window. There are various types to choose from. However, it would do you good to consider the six most in-demand window styles first.

Double-hung windows are perhaps the most common choice. The benefits extend to it being easily operable and quick to clean. It operates using two sashes. Both sashes are manoeuvrable and provide you with a top or bottom opening at your choosing.

Single-hung windows are slightly different. Although they operate on generally the same principle, the most significant difference is that one of the sashes is stationary and cannot be moved. One of the sashes usually located at the top is fixed and cannot be moved while the bottom sash can be manoeuvred either upward or downward to allow for air. The benefit of a single-hung window is its ability to decrease the chances of air infiltrating your home. This ultimately means that single-hung windows are incredibly energy efficient.

Casement windows are the optimal choice if you’re looking for ventilation. It operates using one sash and is manoeuvrable through a crank that allows you to swing it open in one direction—usually outward. In addition to its superior ventilation properties, you are also able to enjoy a full and unobstructed view of your surroundings.

Slider windows are perfect if you’re looking for something that requires little to no effort to manoeuvre. Due to its aesthetic and design properties, slider windows are great additions if you would like to have plenty of natural light in the room. It operates using two sashes that allow you to manoeuvre it horizontally, mostly sliding the window from side to side.

Bay windows are an ideal design choice if you would like something that not only looks aesthetically pleasing but also allows for excellent ventilation and natural light. Bay windows are certainly aesthetically pleasing. However, they are also perfect for larger rooms where you would like to bring in a certain amount of outdoor life.

Awnings are generally recommended for areas with damp weather. The easiest way to describe it would be to imagine a casement window that has a top opening instead of side openings. This type of window is perfect if you are looking to add a modern and chic feel to your home.

Now that you have selected the type of window you would like to put into your home, it is time to consider what material to use. There are various options ranging from vinyl to aluminum. Understandably, the costs will vary depending on the type of material you choose.

The best thing to do to ensure that you are making the right choice is to contact a professional in window replacement. The right professional will have all the answers to your replacement windows FAQ.

Contacting an expert not only ensures you make the right choices for your home, but it also guarantees that your window will be installed appropriately and as quickly as possible.

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Real Estate

Window repair or replacement is the responsibility of the condo corporation





If the windows in your condo are hazy, drafty, or have rotting frames, it’s an indicator that they need repairs or outright replacement.

However, under the Condominium Act, it is the responsibility of the condo’s board to carry out such changes as a replaced window is a common element.

“Under the Condominium Act, a declaration may alter the maintenance or repair obligations of unit owners and the corporation but cannot make unit owners responsible for repairs to the common elements,” said Gerry Hyman is a former president of the Canadian Condominium Institute and contributor for the Star.

“A declaration for a high-rise condominium invariably provides that the unit boundary is the interior surface of windows. That means that the entire window — whether it is a single pane or a double pane — is a common element. Necessary repairs or replacement of a broken pane is the obligation of the corporation.”

According to Consumer Reports, selecting an installing windows replacement can be very overwhelming for homeowners. Therefore, if you aren’t covered by your condo’s corporation, it would be necessary to hire professional hands.

Wood, vinyl and composite windows need to be tested on how they can withstand various natural elements. For wind resistance, a window can be very tight when it’s warm but get quite cold too—especially when it begins to leak a lot.

Whatever the case may be, the bottom line remains that replacement windows can save you heating and cooling costs, but it’s best not to expect drastic savings.

Additionally, while getting a new window might help you save on your electric and gas bills, due to their expensive cost, it may take a long time to offset their cost.

Mid-last-year, the government withdraw a $377 million Green Ontario program that provided subsidy on windows to installers and repairers. Window companies had to install energy-efficient windows in order to qualify for the government subsidy that pays for up to $500 of a $1,000 to $1,500 window.

Due to the largely generous subsidies from the government under the Green Ontario program, a lot of window dealers were fully booked for months—even after the program had ended.

“We’re fine with the program ending, we just need more time to satisfy consumers,” said Jason Neal, the executive director of the Siding and Window Dealer Association of Canada, the industry group representing window dealers in a report.

According to Neal, the Progressive Conservatives acted hastily, making massive changes with no prior notice.

“No notification was given to us by anyone,” he said, noting he learned about the change through one of his dealers.

“It’s created a ripple effect.If they had just given us notice we would have pushed that down the line from the manufacturer right into the dealer right down to the consumer.”

Neal noted that he wasn’t particularly sad to see the Green Ontario program end, as it was “the worst rebate program in the history of the window industry.”

“It’s been horrible,” he said. “$500 a window has created such hysteria.”

However, despite the program ending about a year ago, numerous homeowners have been contacting window dealers consistently with concerns that they might not be able to afford replacement windows without the government’s subsidy.

“I understand their concern,” said window dealer Chris George. “I would suggest they reach out to their local representative of the government in their riding and let them know about their concerns.”

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7 Vancouver Real Estate Buying Tips





The real estate market in Vancouver is turning around for good for everyone looking to purchase a home.

Previously soaring prices are now beginning to ease up, making it a perfect time for buyers—with real estate agents already getting ready for a very busy spring and summer season.

However, before splashing cash on a new property, there are some very important tips you need to know to ensure you make the most of the buyer’s market.

Here are some few expert tips that would guide you when purchasing a home in the sometimes frustration Vancouver seller’s market.

  1. Get adequate financing

It is very important that before you make the move to purchase a property, you put into careful consideration your credit score.

Normally, home buyers with lower scores use the secondary mortgage market to finance their purchase, as they’re more likely to pay a higher interest rate.However, it is advisable to get loan approval long before purchasing the house. This way, you are fully aware of how much you are able to spend—but never be tempted to borrow the maximum amount of money available.

“What’s your mortgage payment that you’re comfortable with? And take into the fact the taxes you’re going to have to pay, if it’s a strata – what the maintenance fees are, if it’s a home what type of maintenance are you going to have to pay in the future?” said Phil Moore, president of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver in a report.

Always be careful of the type of loan you secure and ensure that you can comfortably afford it over a long period of time.

  1. Get a real estate agent

Buying a property without professional help is a very risky move and can be likened to choosing to represent yourself in court without a lawyer. While you might trust your negotiation skills, only realtors are permitted to present offers directly.

Therefore, it is necessary to get a professional real estate agent in the area to represent you. So, screen a few agents and select the best one who has in-depth knowledge of the markets and has a great reputation.

“They’re there to protect you. They’re there to walk you through each step of the process,” Moore said.

  1. Sign up for automated alerts

Most—if not all—realtors have access to the Vancouver real estate board’s database which is updated approximately two days before the public MLS website.

Therefore, you can request from your realtor to sign you up for automatic real-time alerts of all new listings. Doing this gives you an edge as you’re among the very first to know about new properties.

  1. Do a thorough inspection

After receiving an alert for a new listing, it is necessary to push almost immediately for an inspection from your realtor. In this current market, buyers now have time to make an inspection.

Making a quick inspection eliminates any surprises—as there could be major maintenance or repair issues that could spring up. Therefore, you can now table your offer based on the outcome of the inspection, with clauses about claiming your damage deposit back if everything isn’t as was advertised.

Additionally, if you notice that renovations were done, you need to be sure that it was permitted work and carried out appropriately. Failing to do this would ultimately lead to further cost down the line and simultaneously affect the resale value.

  1. Have a back-up plan

There’s always the possibility that everything may not go as smoothly as you’d want. From the inspection being a failureto the property not living up to your expectations—or not being able to agree on the closing date that matches with your needs.

However, a professional real estate agent will definitely help you get past all of these things. If you plan on selling the property as you buy, you can table that and make it part of the deal.

“You’ve got an option, especially in a buyer’s market: you can put in an offer subject to selling your place. So maybe you want to have a place lined up,” Moore added.

Additionally, building contingencies into your buying plan is necessary. Things such as unexpected delays in closing the deal, closing cost and moving costs that could result in added living expenses if that’s your permanent home.

  1. Don’t fall for the buyer frenzy

The Vancouver market buying frenzy that caused a serious climb in the prices a couple of years ago has ended. Thus, it is important not to get caught up in bidding wars with properties that have been deliberately under-priced—with the hope of initiating multiple offers.

“Some of the sellers have been on the market for over a year and they’re eager to sell. So what I’m saying to consumers is: you have a lot of choices, you’re in the driver’s seat, let’s go out and take a look at what’s available,” said Moore.

  1. Never be wary of multiple offers

When purchasing a property, don’t be afraid of multiple offers as you have the same opportunity as anybody else.

Typically, there are just a few offers below the asking price: a couple priced fully, and two or three above the asking price—depending on how close the fair market value is from the asking price.

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