Waking Ideas Publishing - Health & Life Stories
Written By Danny Nicolas
Yves at Naked Capitalism asks her readers how their own local economies are doing, while providing her own answer.
But why has the media been so clueless? Cynics might argue that they are paid to be clueless, and there is more than a bit of truth in that. However, I suspect at least as powerful is that the overwhelming majority of reporters live in New York or Washington DC, two cities relatively unaffected by the downturn. DC is awash in lobbyist dollars and New York has been kept afloat by super low interest rates and other sops to the banks.
I’ve gone to the Casco Bay area (Portland is at the south end of Cacso Bay) around this time of year for over 20 years, including the particularly bad 1990-1991 recession, which seemed to hit this economy harder than most of the US. Some indicators:
1. The roads are just not busy enough. We rent a house in a major vacation area. The traffic level is notably lighter than in the past. We expected to see this in 2008 or 2009 and didn’t much then.
2. Normally we avoid Freeport entirely till after Labor Day. Freeport is the home of LL Bean and has become a America shopping town of sorts, with lots of aspirational middle class outlet stores (Calvin Klein, Nike, J. Crew) and is typically mobbed in the summer and still pretty busy right after Labor Day. One of my relatives was in desperate need of a book fix, so mid-week we relented and went to a used book store on the edge of Freeport and could tell the roads in and out were way underpopulated relative to the norm. We decided to venture in today so the nieces could shop, and Freeport was a ghost town.
3. We always go further up the coast to Boothbay Harbor, and often take a cruise. There were notably fewer options on offer. Again, this is one of the biggest weeks of the year, and suggests the tour operators have cut back their schedules from past years.
And consider this too: given the strength of the Canadian dollar, you’d expect Canadians coming to the US to be a partial offset to any fall in domestic holiday spending.
I live in Silicon Valley. Supposedly things aren’t so bad here, however when I drive down El Camino Real I see loads of empty store fronts in Palo Alto, Menlo Park and Mountain View. there are also loads of empty store fronts on Santa Cruz avenue, which has been a popular shopping area since we moved here 15 years ago.
I think that the unemployment rate here would be higher, if it weren’t for the fact that housing is so expensive, so when people lose their jobs they move out of the area quickly, back to other parts of the country where they have relatives. it seemed to work that way during the tech bust.
Things in West TN proceed at their usual languid pace. Like others have pointed out; quite a few empty storefronts. In fact was trying to rent a storefront in a half-empty strip mall. The landlord wouldn’t budge from his premium 2007 rent price. I pointed out to him how his property was worth 45% less now and he needed to start working on some reality-based leases.
In other news, we took in an 18 year old homeless girl. We’re sharing her with a few other families to distribute the burden. Also; all the kids have moved back home, pets included.
One serious accident or medical bill and we will all be out on the street.
To begin with, Los Angeles is a total disaster. Poverty and homelessness are dismal, and there are no jobs to speak of. Some of the areas north of LA where I commuted to are actually almost third world, with poverty, addition, and crime completely out of control. So, outside of the affluent areas, California seems to be falling apart.
Traffic in Houston was not nearly as bad as what I was told it would be, although the freeways are a complete disaster in terms of maintenance. Houston’s freeways were the worst I have seen anywhere in the US. In general, the infrastructure in Houston is falling apart. Not only are the potholes the size of canyons, but there are mountains of trash and roadkill on the side of the roads that never get picked up. There is a “Space for Lease” sign in front of almost every building, many strip malls are almost entirely empty, and there are panhandlers at every intersection. Most malls I visited are like ghost towns (except for those in the oligarchic areas), and the infrastructure in the poor areas of Houston, such as Pasadena, resembles those in Afghanistan. As if this were not enough, thanks to a massive aging petrochemical industry littering the Houston area, the air and water pollution there are by far the worst I have seen anywhere.
Hi end and even nice restaurants are having a progressively harder and harder time remaining opened. Cookouts are smaller this year. Steaks to burgers, burgers to brats and hot dogs. Food vendor business at our terrific free (mostly) outddoor music events is down.Alcohol consumption is up statewide. Dayton has apparantly bottomed and may bounce, Toledo is a disaster, as are vast tracts of Columbus and Cleveland, Akron, Youngstown well….
I hate to put it this way but the former homes of the people who worked in the factories and their neighborhoods are now indisdtinnguishable by race.If you are not management of a quite successful business you are in deep trouble.
Published on Saturday, September 3rd, 2011 at 12:44 pm | Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.