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The cabbie indicator: What’s really going to happen in 2013

Instead of agonizing over what Mark Carney or Ben Bernanke think about the state of the economy, Report on Business Magazine decided to talk to the folks that hear and see all — the cab drivers who ferry around Canada’s financial bigwigs. Think of them as the leading indicators of what’s really going to happen in 2013.

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Taxi driver Asres Welday Desta at work in Toronto's financial district.

We asked several drivers: How long have you been a cab driver?

Longest: 19 years

Shortest: about 2 months

Average: 7.4 years

Ian Willms/Report on Business Magazine

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Taxi driver Francis Iyare at work in Toronto’s financial district.

We asked several drivers: Do you think the Canadian economy is doing well?

“The economy is not good. The government has the economic action plan, but it’s not helping the people living hand to mouth, or day to day like me. I can’t take a month off.”

“The economy is not so good. Nobody tips now. Just one, two dollars maybe.”

“There are a lot of problems in Europe and in the U.S. — it’s not going to be good for Canada either.”

“I see it slowly improving.”

Ian Willms/Report on Business Magazine

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Taxi driver Uththaradevan Rajesegarar at work in Toronto's financial district.

We asked several drivers: What about Canada in 2013? Are you optimistic that things will get better?

“I have hope. If you don’t hope, how can you live?"

“Anything that happens to the U.S. happens to us too, so I’m watching to see how they do.”

“I think there’s at least another tough year ahead.”

“I think maybe the U.S. is doing better. Maybe it will be better for us then.”

Ian Willms/Report on Business Magazine

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Taxi driver Hussein Azraq at work in Toronto's financial district.

We asked several drivers: Do you think President Barack Obama’s re-election is good for Canada?

45%: Yes, it’s good

33%: No, it’s bad for Canada

22%: I don’t think he’ll make a difference

Ian Willms/Report on Business Magazine

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Taxi driver Anm Yousuf at work in Toronto's financial district.

We asked several drivers: How’s business now?

“It’s been slow the past four years. Nobody’s taking cabs.”

“Summer, winter, it doesn’t matter. It’s not a good time right now.”

“Maybe the winter it will pick up a bit. It usually does.”

“It was better in Sri Lanka where I had my own private car.”

Ian Willms/Report on Business Magazine

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Taxi driver Hossein Hamiri at work in Toronto's financial district.

We asked several drivers: Who are the best tippers?

“Women. Sorry man, but the ladies always tip the best. Young, old, doesn’t matter.”

“American businessmen tip the best. The worst is Montreal! Oh man, bad tips always from Montreal.”

“Mid-level managers, tradespeople, they’re okay. The bankers are the worst. Bankers and lawyers are bad for tips.”

“Immigrants are the worst. They never tip.”

“One lady gave me a $25 tip yesterday — out to Oakville. She was sick in my car. It was 3 p.m. That’s not a tip, that’s the cost to clean the car.”

Ian Willms/Report on Business Magazine

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