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Old 11-29-08, 04:01 AM   #1
mike
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Buy that new bike - the recession is over

The recession is apparently over - even before it started.

I went shopping today - the first time ever encouraged to shop on Black Friday.

I was at a HARDWARE STORE, and it was so full of people buying stuff that there were seven lines of people waiting to pay for their purchases. The lines of paying shoppers went all the way to the back of the store and looped around. Every aisle was filled with people waiting to pay for bushels full of merchandise.

News comes out today that people are killing each other at stores around the USA in a mad furry to make purchases.

That doesn't sound a like a recession to me.

It further encourages me to believe that all this "news" about a recession is media fueled hype. The vast majority of people still have jobs and have not had pay cuts. Fuel prices are Waaaaay down. Home prices are waaaay down.

Step back for a minute and it sounds a lot like these are pretty fat times.
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Old 11-29-08, 05:57 AM   #2
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I hope you are kidding.

Dis/uninflation, or prices going down (eventually/now, respectively), is usually indicative of a contraction if not a recession through the logic that inflation has to happen with growth. I still think uninflation is not a problem here, yet, and probably won't be.

As for wages and employment, wages are generally bound by contracts and other external costs such as statutes and regulations that would be a pain, not to mention possibly costly, to change immediately. Unemployment here; it has risen sharply, but historically isn't that bad. More than 60% of the labor supply had job in the Great Depression - that is a majority also.

Fuel price here; more likely a response to the contraction than anything else. We are paying about 2006 summer prices. When the world has substantial growth again, look forward to price increases, especially fuels, and the foundations for another contraction.

I should also add that one way to get out of any recession is for consumers to buy a lot. Or at least don't cut back from normal. Though Americans do need to save. If only we can convince the high-saving Asians to buy things at least like normal, then all will get better faster....

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Old 11-29-08, 06:25 AM   #3
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It further encourages me to believe that all this "news" about a recession is media fueled hype. The vast majority of people still have jobs and have not had pay cuts. Fuel prices are Waaaaay down. Home prices are waaaay down.

Step back for a minute and it sounds a lot like these are pretty fat times.
I appreciate your optimism, but at the same time I'm thankful you're not my financial planner.
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Old 11-29-08, 06:34 AM   #4
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I appreciate your optimism, but at the same time I'm thankful you're not my financial planner.
Seriously. Why do you worry about the economy except for the all the news you are reading and hearing that is telling you to worry?

How can we see people flocking to stores and buying in a frenzy and seriously be worried about economic slow-down. Most people haven't missed a beat despite all the crying on Wall Street.

Most people have reigned in their spending not out of true necessity, but simply out of anxiety.

Do you have job that is paying you at least as much as you were making last year? Are the prices you are paying for fuel and many other items lower than you paid this time last year? Good pay and lower prices are a winning combination for you and most other people.

If you invested in stocks, you didn't lose those stocks. The value might have fluctuated, but that is normal. The stocks still represent ownership of a tanjible corporation.

In times of inflation, people cry about rising prices. When prices fall, people scream "deflation = recession or worse!"

Don't worry for the sake of worry. Recognize the strength of your own personal economics and be thankful that you have a legitimate reason to use a toothpick three times a day.

Don't worry about what might happen. Appreciate what IS today - and today is very good for most of us.

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Old 11-29-08, 06:45 AM   #5
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I hope you are kidding.

I should also add that one way to get out of any recession is for consumers to buy a lot. Or at least don't cut back from normal. Though Americans do need to save. If only we can convince the high-saving Asians to buy things at least like normal, then all will get better faster....
Uh-oh. We might be in trouble now.

I just spoke with my Chinese friend Mr. Yang last night. He said that the Chinese are saying "If only we can convince the high-spending Americans to buy things at least like normal, then all will get better faster"

So now we have a stand-off; Asian buyers vs. American buyers. Who will reach for their wallets first and start shooting money?

Please, people of the world, start spending soon before you kill us all!
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Old 11-29-08, 06:59 AM   #6
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Seriously. Why do you worry about the economy except for the all the news you are reading and hearing that is telling you to worry?
I am interested in economics and I know what the pure data from http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/ tells me. I know that experts on the economy, such as this guy (sure some say he is a right-wing hack, but he is economically sound and it is not as if liberal economists are positive nowadays anyways), believe.

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How can we see people flocking to stores and buying in a frenzy and seriously be worried about economic slow-down. Most people haven't missed a beat despite all the crying on Wall Street.
Store-flocking on a national sale "holiday" is hardly indicative of anything. You can assume from it that people are even more desperate to spend relatively less.

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Most people have reigned in their spending not out of true necessity, but simply out of anxiety.
Possibly true, but the majority is so overwhelming it can be fatal. Lets say I convince Pres. Bush to somehow do away with the FDIC and to announce that everyone needs to get their money from banks for one reason or other. Gullible people will want to get their money. Hardcore Bush supporters will want to get their money. Smart people who initially hold out will realize that if those two categories get their money, there won't be any left and therefore they will get their money. And then hardcore anti-Bush people and not too smart people will be screwed because banks, with their marginal deposit requirements will all go belly-up.

Anxiety goes a long way - as I recall, only a handful (as in single digit) of people have had the influenza strain related to bird flu, but remember the anxiety about that?

Also, I know plenty of people the reign in on their spending due to necessity.

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Do you have job that is paying you at least as much as you were making last year? Are the prices you are paying for fuel and many other items lower than you paid this time last year? Good pay and lower prices are a winning combination for you and most other people.
Future expectations are important. Most people know that current "lower" prices is indicative of future decrease in wealth, be it from wage cute, increased taxes, etc.

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If you invested in stocks, you didn't lose those stocks. The value might have fluctuated, but that is normal. The stocks still represent ownership of a tanjible corporation.
Once again, it is about wealth. Most people, at least economic data shows that they act this way, think of their stocks, houses, savings, etc. all as one. Losing stock value and home values essential wiped away their "rainy day" fund. Stocks do represent an ownership in a corporation, but keep in mind if that corporation goes kaput, common stock holders are the very last to get anything, and that usually amounts to nothing.

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In times of inflation, people cry about rising prices. When prices fall, people scream "deflation = recession or worse!"
Former is just lack of good education about economics in basic schooling and just people's propensity to whine. Latter is overreaction that the media does not help. And I am pretty sure that change in prices is lagging to contractions so a recession would equal deflation, not the other way around.

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Don't worry for the sake of worry. Recognize the strength of your own personal economics and be thankful that you have a legitimate reason to use a toothpick three times a day.
What strength? U.S. savings rate, last I saw equals 0.1%. Economist almost unequivocally agree that is unwise, if not idiotic.

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Don't worry about what might happen. Appreciate what IS today - and today is very good for most of us.
Unfortunately, what might happen eventually becomes what will happen.

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Old 11-29-08, 07:03 AM   #7
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Uh-oh. We might be in trouble now.

I just spoke with my Chinese friend Mr. Yang last night. He said that the Chinese are saying "If only we can convince the high-spending Americans to buy things at least like normal, then all will get better faster"

So now we have a stand-off; Asian buyers vs. American buyers. Who will reach for their wallets first and start shooting money?
I am Chinese.

Last resort is for the government to step in and spend like crazy.

Just be glad you don't live in Iceland where their industry is banking and they import everything on credit. Imagine stores always looking like post-Black Friday mania - empty. No matter how cheap things are, it is pointless if it isn't in stock. I think the IMF stepped in, though.

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Please, people of the world, start spending soon before you kill us all!
That was the message with those economics stimulus packages.

Unfortunately for the bottom line, spending has dropped.

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Old 11-29-08, 07:19 AM   #8
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While I will not go as far as to say its all hype, I too was out rather early yesterday at the mall and what not. The crowds and cars lined up were spectacular. So many people, so many lines.

My personal economy is OK, being a Mechanical Design Engineer working full time, which is somewhat of a recession proof field, with alot of side jobs working from home at $55/hr. (A bargain)

People have ideas or patent type visions of grendaur....and I try to make things happen.

Create, envision and strive for excellence.
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Old 11-29-08, 07:26 AM   #9
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Lucky you. You are pretty much recession proof and might even do better in a recession as novel ideas might get sprung up during hard times.

Just worry about the day people get stupid, lol.
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Old 11-29-08, 10:12 AM   #10
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Unfortunately, what might happen eventually becomes what will happen.
Uhhh well... That is kind of fatalistic pessimism if you believe that "might happen eventually becomes what will happen AND you listen to the media. That would have you constantly anticipating bad things to happen.

If you heard that the economy was going to be excellent in the next nine months, would you react to it positively?

Did you ever notice that the news media never tells you that the economy will be good in the near future? Somehow, though, the economy does improve and it is usually good.

Live for today, z415. I kid you not, these are very good times - the best economic times in my lifetime. Enjoy it. Worrying and strategizing about the future of the USA and world economy will get you nowhere.
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Old 11-29-08, 10:16 AM   #11
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Dang mike, why didn't you tell us years ago that you are really John McCain?
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Old 11-29-08, 10:25 AM   #12
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Paul Simon said it well in "American Tune" (while cribbing a timeless melody line from J.S.Bach):

"And I don't know a soul who's not been battered
I don't have a friend who feels at ease
I don't know a dream that's not been shattered
or driven to its knees
but it's all right, it's all right
for we lived so well so long
Still, when I think of the
road we're traveling on
I wonder what's gone wrong
I can't help it, I wonder what's gone wrong"

I have bolded the song's dual punchlines.

We lived so well so long by building a house of cards on unsustainable levels of debt. Traditionally, and with damn good reason, buying a house required a 20% down payment, so that the borrower and the lender had a shared stake in the property. One kept a relationship with the same lender for 30 years and owned the house free and clear before retirement. No one dreamed of taking equity out of the house to buy granite countertops to replace perfectly serviceable tile. As real estate gradually became more expensive, "creative financing" exacerbated the problem by boosting demand without assuring that some of the zero down / interest only / variable rate / etc. borrowers could ever hope to pay off the house. As long as housing prices kept escalating, the bank could always repossess and resell to a new sucker at a profit. Add to that criminally fraudulent mis-rating of mortgage bonds, derivatives, and over-leveraged hedge funds, and you have a recipe for disaster. The 1979 gasoline "crisis" led to a moderate recession by 1982, but this time the house of cards is piled much higher and has much farther to fall.

Am I angry and frustrated? Absolutely. Will my wife and I get through this and move on to a reasonably secure retirement? Eventually, but this meltdown has cost me 5 years of wealth accumulation, and I now plan to work into my early 70s more because I have to than simply because I want to.
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Old 11-29-08, 10:32 AM   #13
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One day's retail sales is hardly an indicator of the economy as a whole, especially on the busiest retail day of the year. And one person's anecdotal evidence, plus a couple of news stories, doesn't mean much. Wait for the actual data to come in.

And for every piece of anecdotal evidence like yours, you can find stories like these:

http://money.cnn.com/2008/11/28/smal...ex.htm?cnn=yes
http://www.ajc.com/homes/content/hol...ping_1129.html

What you're doing is like saying that the coldest day in January disproves global warming.
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Old 11-29-08, 10:32 AM   #14
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Lets get this to P&R where it belongs.
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Old 11-29-08, 10:43 AM   #15
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Mike,

A common criterion for a recession that economists use is two consecutive quarters of falling GDP. Do you think that this is a good criterion to use? How would you incorporate your hardware store experience into this?

Last edited by apricissimus; 11-29-08 at 10:59 AM. Reason: Killed some data; not sure if I was reading it right
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Old 11-29-08, 12:03 PM   #16
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Mike,

A common criterion for a recession that economists use is two consecutive quarters of falling GDP. Do you think that this is a good criterion to use? How would you incorporate your hardware store experience into this?
I believe that we are creating an economic slowdown that doesn't need to happen.

When I heard about the economic slowdown in mid-summer, I went to my business leadership group and asked those folks how there businesses were doing. It was a banner year for everybody - myself included.

It wasn't until the media kept yelling recession loud enough and long enough that things actually started to slow down.

Here in my city, far away from DC and Wallstreet, people have jobs and are not taking pay cuts. Still, the retailers are feeling a serious slow down in purchases. Why is this? The simple reason is the anxiety that people feel from hearing the word "recession" often enough that they stop spending.

The problem begets itself. There is no need for it. I believe that people are struggling with the anxiety about the economy that they are told to believe pitted against the real fact that their income has not been reduced or threatened except by the media boogyman. The rumor of impending disaster does not jibe with the reality in which people are living.

IF people believe in the hyped up fear mongering long enough and hold back on their spending long enough, then there will certainly be a slow down - a slow down that does not need to happen - a slow down generated explicitly by a fear mongering political system and a negative-focused media machine.

If you are among the 94% of employable people with a job, go out and buy that new bike. The sky is not falling.
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Old 11-29-08, 12:03 PM   #17
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Mike,

A common criterion for a recession that economists use is two consecutive quarters of falling GDP. Do you think that this is a good criterion to use? How would you incorporate your hardware store experience into this?
+1...good one.
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Old 11-29-08, 12:16 PM   #18
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Am I angry and frustrated? Absolutely. Will my wife and I get through this and move on to a reasonably secure retirement? Eventually, but this meltdown has cost me 5 years of wealth accumulation, and I now plan to work into my early 70s more because I have to than simply because I want to.
I feel your pain, John. I lost too.

We were set up for the fall. The USA tax system encouraged people to save their money through 401K and mutual funds that are all Wall Street based. There are few other investment strategies that allow the middle-income employee to take advantage of a tax sheltered retirement plan. You couldn't do it with real estate because capital gains taxes are punitive. No sir, you were nearly forced to invest in a 401K type program - nearly wholly based on the stock market with some smattering of bond market.

It was not difficult to find ways to abuse the system and cause your investments to devaluate.

John, you are smart enough to have thought how vulnerable your investments were. Like most other people, however, you probably didn't actually think it would happen. Now that you have been bent forward to touch your toes and take it up the back, prepare to bend backwards and take it up the front when the tax burdens of all these corporate give-aways raises your taxes and evaporates your social security and medicaid.

It isn't the fault of the economy. It is the fault of some greedy and well positioned individuals on Wall Street and Washington DC.
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Old 11-29-08, 01:16 PM   #19
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The recession is apparently over - even before it started.

I went shopping today - the first time ever encouraged to shop on Black Friday.

I was at a HARDWARE STORE, and it was so full of people buying stuff that there were seven lines of people waiting to pay for their purchases. The lines of paying shoppers went all the way to the back of the store and looped around. Every aisle was filled with people waiting to pay for bushels full of merchandise.

News comes out today that people are killing each other at stores around the USA in a mad furry to make purchases.

That doesn't sound a like a recession to me.

It further encourages me to believe that all this "news" about a recession is media fueled hype. The vast majority of people still have jobs and have not had pay cuts. Fuel prices are Waaaaay down. Home prices are waaaay down.

Step back for a minute and it sounds a lot like these are pretty fat times.
This is the most ridiculous and ignorant post I think I have read. Befitting for A&S really so it doesn't surprise me. If anything it's a perfect example of people continuing to live beyond their means and still learning nothing about responsible spending.
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Old 11-29-08, 01:18 PM   #20
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Hmmm. Raw economic numbers versus Mike's Friday hardware store observation, Mike's current paycheck, and Mike's business group's opinions.

I agree that financial trends are often self-fulfilling prophecies, but the damage they do when they fulfill is not media hype, it is real.

I can't decide if this is some form of dark sarcasm, ignorance, or total delusion. Please take the time to pull up a chart or two and try to put into perspective that most citizens do not self-direct their 401Ks. Good luck finding a mutual fund that hasn't shrank substantially in the past year. People are watching their life savings disappear, the US has just nationalized the sub-prime financial institutions..do you have any idea what will happen if the auto makers go bankrupt? An entire city will be unemployed...

Silence in the Stores on Thanksgiving:
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/new...cle5254318.ece
Not in Mike's hardware store!

It is like you are saying there is no such thing as cancer because nobody you know has got it yet, so they all must be lying. Then go ahead and ignore all evidence.

You are the kind of person I profit from in the stock market.

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Old 11-29-08, 01:40 PM   #21
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... prepare to bend backwards and take it up the front when the tax burdens of all these corporate give-aways raises your taxes and evaporates your social security and medicaid.

It isn't the fault of the economy. It is the fault of some greedy and well positioned individuals on Wall Street and Washington DC.
I concur. The government has only about three options right now, none appetizing:
1) raise taxes;
2) print money and eventually trigger inflation;
3) accept a depression.
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Old 11-29-08, 02:00 PM   #22
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your hardware store experience is just another example of a populace in deep denial continuing to run up balances they won't be able to pay on their overused credit cards.
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Old 11-29-08, 02:07 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by mike View Post

Step back for a minute and it sounds a lot like these are pretty fat times.
You're either completely delusional, or joking, or you're not exposed to a wide variety of business contacts and information sources.


You could start by asking all of these retailers how much they enjoyed Black Friday...

http://www.timelydemise.com/

Last edited by BengeBoy; 11-29-08 at 02:13 PM.
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Old 11-29-08, 02:28 PM   #24
dobber
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Originally Posted by BengeBoy View Post
You're either completely delusional, or joking, or you're not exposed to a wide variety of business contacts and information sources.
It's easy to isolate yourself from what's really occurring. In the past several downturns, having been quite secure in my employment and living a fairly comfortable lifestyle, it was easy to adopt the Alfred E Neumann attitude and say "Crisis, What Crisis?"

Just last year I took it on the chin from my employer of 22 years and now have quite a different awareness of the economy.

Yes, people will continue to spend money. That's what we do, that's why we work. But where you might have had 20 people spending a $100 at your store last year, this year you might only have 18 spending $90. And given that retailers increased costs, the missing $400 is meaningful.
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Old 11-29-08, 04:40 PM   #25
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Recession overall, sure... compared to last years sales we're down (20% down, though I blame a lot of that on poor management), but every week sales are climbing... so I'm feeling good.
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