The recovery is here!

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taco's picture
taco
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The recovery is here!

Anecdote time:

Something strange has happened over the past 2 months in my neighborhood -- the recovery has appeared. I'm observing behaviors that contrast starkly with what I've seen in the past 2 years.

1. The mall is now packed full of people -- most of them with bags in their hands. Also whereas mall stores used to be closing at the rate of one every other month, now the empty spaces are being filled with new stores. Also, 2 of the big anchor stores that have been boarded up for > 1 year, are being renovated for confirmed tenants.

2. Local restaurants are now bustling.  Places that I would eat at once a week for the past couple of years are now so busy that I can't get a parking space -- even on weekdays. Also, two new largish chain restaurants have opened up up the past 2 months and they are doing so well that they employees are complaining that they can't catch a breath.

3. Local traffic is back to the pre-2009 madness. I had forgotten what it was like and now I miss the reduced congestion.

I'm sure some of this can be attributed to the fact that it is summer in the northeast USA, but this is very different from summer of last year.

 

Anyone else noticing anything strange?

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joemanc
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Re: The recovery is here!
taco wrote:

I'm sure some of this can be attributed to the fact that it is summer in the northeast USA, but this is very different from summer of last year.

Anyone else noticing anything strange?

Where in the Northeast are you? I live here too and I really haven't been able to tell that we were ever in a major recession or depression. I mean, sure, some businesses and restaurants went under, but that was the extent of it.

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Doug
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Re: The recovery is here!
joemanc wrote:
taco wrote:

I'm sure some of this can be attributed to the fact that it is summer in the northeast USA, but this is very different from summer of last year.

Anyone else noticing anything strange?

Where in the Northeast are you? I live here too and I really haven't been able to tell that we were ever in a major recession or depression. I mean, sure, some businesses and restaurants went under, but that was the extent of it.

Here in western NY nothing has changed in our perpetual depression.  Everything looks the same, but everyone I talk to is afraid of what's coming.  It is mostly an inchoate sense of impending disaster, but most can't articulate it.  I can, but nobody wants to listen.  The next few months should be interesting.

Doug

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Johnny Oxygen
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Re: The recovery is here!

Thats interesting. I would think 'the coasts' would show signs of breaking first.

I live in Kansas and you can definately see the depression/recession at work. Vacant strip malls, lots of houses that were for sale but are now for rent, and jobs disappearing rapidly.

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EndGamePlayer
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Re: The recovery is here! (north mid-west)

We're in southern MN and other than the news of problems around the country of unemployed, we haven't seen a drop in employment though they "say" there are double the number of homeless people, no one sees them, they "say" fewer houses are sold, but looks the same to me.  I did hear of 2 people who applied for home loans who didn't "qualify".

I can say the state gov is not spending money like water as they once were and schools are are not the entertainment places they once were . . but the food will most likely still be manufactured junk.

The stores were busy with school shopping in August but have been slow all summer. Gas is down so we expect guests over Labor Day so we're busy stocking up for that.

I can say food prices are rising - went to look for white beans in the store and they went from $.59 2 yrs ago to $1.87 now.  Our farm items - fencing, feed, and materials have also sky-rocketed so we put off buying until after construction season. The price of plywood is a killer.

The LEED info is getting out there as more and more companies, cities & states look into reducing carbon emissions - in the last 2 weeks I've seen 3 companies pass on info on it. Sounds like if you buy/sell a home, own a business or run a city, county or state - carbon credits are going to be the new economy so I think they will be adding that new tax to us and people might want to get what they need before that hits us in the wallet.

I also think a large portion of unemployed are "doing other things" for income. Under the radar jobs will always be available to those who want to do it.  Babysitting, selling roadside food, crafts, selling fire wood, . . .

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Doug
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Re: The recovery is here!

I should have added that I see For Sale signs in front of a lot of houses that have been there for a long time.

Doug

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Re: The recovery is here!

Kind of an interesting thread.  Some thoughts:  Unemployment rates for college educated people are not bad - and just a fraction of what less educated rates are.  Further, a reduction in spending of 5% is totally unperceptable to the person walking through the vast majority of America.  There was/is still so much excess that most who need to cut back a little barely notice it after a month.  The change is from distusting glutony to distusting glutony....that is to say we still eat anything we want, buy any clothes we want, go out almost as much.  The differences are trivial.

I dont want to downplay the hardships seen in the midwest/michigan/Vegas..etc.  And, if you drive through manufacturing cities full of less educated people, the scene is bad.  But, if you are in white educated pockets of America its tough to see much difference.  Thats whats kind of scary - is that its really not hard to imagine a MUCH further decline in the economy when the educated start taking a bit more of a hit.  The major difference of course is they, as a whole, had some more cushion than the less educated.  By cushion, I dont mean wealth - but perhaps either wealth saved up and more likely just more room on credit.  That is disappearing quickly, and the result is unlikely to be pretty.

Attempting to reconize/know your perception vs reality....so important when trying to forecast what may happen.

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Subprime JD
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Re: The recovery is here!

Im from Southern California and I spend a ton of time on the road as our family business has several locations spread throughout the southland. I see many shut down auto dealers, restaurants, retail stores, distribution centers, tent cities (if you know where to look). Large parts of LA look like Detriot. The Inland Empire has gotten obliterated. Downtown San Bernardino is a nightmare.

The only reason "white" America has not felt the severe pain yet is due to the resiliency of the dollar. When the dollar goes caput, even your middle class Joes and Burts will be feeling the pain. Give it some time as we are entering the 3rd inning.

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EndGamePlayer
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Re: The recovery is here!

IMHO - not yet. My general assesment is that a transformation will take place and it might look something like this:

The country will not make jobs for a while, at least until the re-thinking of an energy based economy takes hold and (I think) that may occur as more and more individuals, companies, cities, counties, states and countries find it to their benefit to implement LEED and other low energy cost cutting, recycling and re-purposing systems that work for them. Yes, I've been listening to Kuntsler's podcasts and totally agree- the cities built most recently are most auto-motive dependant will suffer the greatest and may collapse completely as a result of their design around their dependancy for energy.

Unlike the US's transition to the automobile based lifestyle, the transition OFF the cheap energy based economy will happen in the bell curve but it won't ever be a "booming" economy again, but more to a human scale and more community based. I think in hind-sight we will see the automobile shape society be a curve up to a cliff - not so much because energy is scarce but because no one will be able to afford it at any price as the economy continues to slide.

I don't see human or animal labor taking over the demand for energy except in that people will do more earthy activities for themselves as "insurance". Things like growing their own food to ensure their food safety and supply, as a trading item and to improve their own health. I think there will be a powering down period before alternatives begin to offer some serious relief and become dedicated to the most pressing of energy needs - refrigeration, lighting and communications/entertainment will trump pleasure-drives in the country.  World-wide people, corps and governments will be reducing their energy demands to trade (what I think might be a future type of currancy) their carbon credits. Those who make the switch earliest will benefit the greatest as they accumulate those credits (like wealth accumulates).

I see some encouraging products on the market and growth in several sectors of the economy. Almost anything having to do with energy reduction and recycling waste into useful items will be key industires. Possibly even turning wastes into energy on the household, neighborhood and community scale. I like the compressed air motors and hope to see it develop further. I see lawns transition to more natural plants and edible landscaping. I see less excess waste in households, corporations and governments. I think US farmers will be happy with their grain prices and and rural towns will benefit for the next few years from these harvests. Hopefully many will see to it those funds are used to implement energy saving and even energy production on the farm scale.

So there is a light shining at the end of the tunnel, but not everyone will follow it (hoping that things will return to "normal"). Without good strong leadership and a pro-active message with a clear vision, on every level of society, those resistant to change will be the most volitile and possibly become an explosive part of society.  When leadership fails us, then it is up to us individuals to share the vision and help plant the seeds of change that is on us. 

Hoping everyone had a bountiful harvest and please remember to save and share your seeds over the coming winter.

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jneo
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Re: The recovery is here!

 

no recovery, just a facade Money mouth

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taco
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Re: The recovery is here!

Interesting responses everyone. To answer joemanc's question, I am also in western CT.

More anecdotes:

This morning I went out to get some breakfast at a local diner. I go there about once each weekend for the past 3 years. Today it was crazy! Parking lot completely full. People having to park in nearby lots across the street. The place was packed and there were crows outside waiting for tables.  I have never seen this before.

More "recovery"! I feel like I'm in the twilight zone here...

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ao
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Re: The recovery is here!
taco wrote:

Interesting responses everyone. To answer joemanc's question, I am also in western CT.

More anecdotes:

This morning I went out to get some breakfast at a local diner. I go there about once each weekend for the past 3 years. Today it was crazy! Parking lot completely full. People having to park in nearby lots across the street. The place was packed and there were crows outside waiting for tables.  I have never seen this before.

More "recovery"! I feel like I'm in the twilight zone here...

It's just "Happy Days Are Here Again" misplaced optimism just like it was when the song was written back near the start of the Great Depression.  Summertime and the living is easy and all that ...  This fall and winter will be a different matter.

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SagerXX
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Re: The recovery is here!

Things here (New Paltz, NY) seem to be off a bit (some stores/restos shut down, a lot of houses for sale that have been on the market a long time) but overall not bad or scary. 

Having said that, there is most definitely this undertone that "something just isn't right".  Of course, anybody who'll hold still for 10 minutes will get an earful of what that "something" is.  <smile>

Our business has been holding up pretty well -- although Summer is traditionally a slow seez, with clients away on vacay, etc.  We'll see if it ramps back up by mid/late Sept.  It's also time for our biannual price rise (we bump our hourly prices ~5% every two years to keep up with the inflation in our costs).  Makes me nervous to do it right now.  Hopefully our clients take it in stride -- overall in dollar amounts it's not a lot of money, and our clientele are generally pretty affluent.

¡Viva la recuperación!  -- Sager

taco's picture
taco
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Re: The recovery is here!

Just an update on the recovery:

I continue to see increasing amounts of  consumer participation in my town.  Traffic continues to increase. More and more people at the restaurants and stores. I mentioned before that I saw lines out the doors where I had never seen lines before. This is now a common occurrence at more and more places. And all of this in the face of a reportedly decreasing population (many illegals are reported to have returned to their birth-country. I can't quantify this, but it has the potential to be a significant number of people since illegals were estimated to be ~20% of the population).

How is the rest of the USA looking?

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Wendy S. Delmater
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Re: The recovery is here!

My husband and I were just talking about that. What we see in the Carolina midlands is people being extremely careful with their money. They replace broken appliances with efficient ones, and they might occasionally eat out: but there are no credit cards being used: debit or cash. Any home improvements are DIY with help from approprite handymen: nothing much in the way of large kitchen remodels or arge additions. Housing starts were decimated in this area and new home builders are closing up left and right.

We live near the two largest flea markets in the state and they are always busy - much more than before the Great Recession started. There were a number of thrift stores here and new ones have opened in the last six months. Folks here in Lexington County were always big on recycling--the "dump" makes you separate everything (they even compost the yard waste) and trash pick up is very expensive! But the Columbia Earthcylce and Freecycle have taken off in recent years. Those are internet resources that might be in your area. Originally set up to keep junk out of landfills, they are a great source for the thrifty. We gave away a used basketball hoop, used tires with rims, and an RFD mailbox to three total strangers, and got a storage cabinet and surgical supplies from two other total strangers: all free.

Back-to-school shopping  was pretty basic here: kids grow, and they need new clothes that fit, but the malls were not as full as the previous year. What's encouraging is the new businesses starting up: all places that promise to save you money, mind you, but still! New businesses! Lots of dead ones out there: RV dealerships, duplicate car dealerships, gas stations that found ti cheaper to close than to upgrade, garden nurseries, and printing places. I find that folks in my area are very aware of has happened and what could happen to our economy, although some  prefer wilful ignorance. Either way, everyone is being incredibly cautious with their spending. God help the high-end retailers: necessities and basics are selling briskly, but that's about it.

taco's picture
taco
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Re: The recovery is here!

Interesting safewrite.

You made me think about whether all the new business I'm seeing opening are discount-type stores. I think some of them might skew in that direction. Off the top of my head, the following stores just opened in my area: Dicks Sporting Goods, Buffalo Wild Wings, Chuck E Cheese, DSW Shoes, a big chain electronics store that I can't remember the name of, and a bunch of new mall stores I've never heard of before. None of these is a very high-end store, but we have never been a high-end town. The shoe place is a discount store, but the others? And while I don't think the housing market has rebounded in my area, I know the rental market is improving. Rental prices for a 2-bedroom are up 200-300 dollars/month over the past 2 years.

My eyes tell me that the recovery is here, but everything I read says otherwise. I'm having trouble reconciling the two.

 

taco's picture
taco
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Re: The recovery is here!

I've said it before and I'll say it again: the recovery is in full swing in my area in terms of people shopping and eating out (e.g. restaurants I've been eating at for five years have gone from having two tables occupied to every table occupied). Apparently I'm not the only one seeing this phenomenon. See:

http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2010/11/anecdotal-evidence-shoppers-out-in-...

and

http://charleshughsmith.blogspot.com/2010/11/key-to-understanding-recess...

 

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