Monday, February 27, 2012

Garage Sales as Economic Indicators

Forget GDP, forget Consumer Confidence rankings, and forget S & P 500 index, the best indicator for the economy is the number of garage/yard sales you see on a given weekend. As I drove down Bonita Avenue this Saturday, what I saw is a poor  indicator for future economic growth. Many garage and yard sales, with the usual books, old clothing, kitchen utensils and furniture, but many selling current CD’s, DVD’s, and even Easter gifts. Forget what POTUS says, all is not well.

The City of La Verne is your typical small town in America; good caring people, who go to church, pay their taxes and cheer for their local sport teams. But like all small towns they suffer from overpaid public and private bureaucrats whose main economic solution is to move money from one fund to another. Instead of finding efficient forms of management, revenue (taxes) are raised or jobs are sacrificed to bail out these inefficiencies. Cash strapped citizens, have their own financial inefficiencies as well; $100 plus monthly cell bills, HDTVs in every room of the house, underwater mortgages, and student loans up to their eye balls.  Citizens, like corporate and public institutions, are finding different ways to make ends meet.

The same in Claremont, a more upscale town but still garage/yard sales galore. The only difference in Claremont, you have to wear socks to these sales or you will be turned away, should you live east of Claremont (i.e. Upland or Montclair) and try to attend these sales alarms go off and you are politely asked to take your business elsewhere.

Where ever you live, watching Joe, Andrew and Becky every morning on Squawk Box is no way to gauge economic conditions. Count how many garage/yard sales on a given weekend, they even take credit cards.

THE ECONOMIST cover, "Over-regulated America," with image of Uncle Sam eyeing a monstrous pile of paper and holding a blowtorch: "The home of laissez-faire is being suffocated by excessive and badly written regulation ... Consider the Dodd-Frank law of 2010. Its aim was noble: to prevent another financial crisis. ... But Dodd-Frank is far too complex, and becoming more so. At 848 pages, it is 23 times longer than Glass-Steagall, the reform that followed the Wall Street crash of 1929. Worse, every other page demands that regulators fill in further detail. Some of these clarifications are hundreds of pages long."

THE BIG PICTURE - Global marts up in '12-- "Major World Stock Markets, percentage change year to date," Investor's Business Daily: S&P 500 +8.6% ... Nasdaq +13.8% ... Canada +8.6% ... Mexico +11% ... Brazil +20.8% ... UK +9.3% ... France +14.2% ... Germany +20.6% ... South Africa +13.6% .. Russia +24.3 ... China Small Cap +23.1 ... China Big Cap +15.3 ... Hong Kong +16.5% ... Taiwan +13.9% ... South Korea +13.4% ... Japan +10.5% ... India +30% ... Australia +10.8%. (Returns based on benchmark exchange-traded funds.)

IMPROVING ECONOMY SHIFTS PLAYING FIELD - Barring a major unforeseen crisis knocking the economy off track, President Obama now appears likely to be running for re-election against a weakened GOP candidate in a strengthening economy with people feeling increasingly positive about their circumstances. That storyline has been taking shape for weeks and is confirmed by results from the latest POLITICO-George Washington University Battleground Poll of 1,000 likely voters ...

President Obama's job approval rating is up nine percent since November at 53%; Obama now leads Romney by 10 points (53-43); Matched against Santorum, Obama leads by 11 points (53-42); Against a generic Republican untarnished by attacks, Obama leads by 5%; in November, he was tied; Twice the number of Americans (35%) believe the country is on the right track than they did in November (18%). Wrong track numbers have fallen from 75% to 59% since November. ... These numbers remain poor but the trend is very positive for the White House.

CHINESE REFORMS - China could face an economic crisis unless it implements deep reforms, according to a report by the World Bank and a Chinese government think tank, which urges Beijing to scale back its vast state-owned enterprises and make them operate more like commercial firms. The recommendation is contained in "China 2030," a report set to be released today, according to a half-dozen individuals involved in preparing and reviewing it.

LAST DEBATE FOR A MONTH - Hard to believe this past week was probably the last GOP debate for a while. It's not as sad as the end of the Downton Abbey season. But it's a close second.

MAUREEN DOWD, "Ghastly Outdated Party: The Republicans in retrograde, partying like it's 1959": "IT'S finally sinking in. Republicans are getting queasy at the gruesome sight of their party eating itself alive, savaging the brand in ways that will long resonate. 'Republicans being against sex is not good,' the G.O.P. strategist Alex Castellanos told me mournfully. 'Sex is popular.' He said his party is 'coming to grips with a weaker field than we'd all want' and going through the five stages of grief. 'We're at No. 4,' he said. (Depression.) 'We've still got one to go.' (Acceptance.)"

THE PRESIDENT'S WEEK AHEAD: "On Monday, the President and the Vice President will host a meeting with the National Governors Association in the State Dining Room. The First Lady and Dr. Biden will also deliver remarks. On Tuesday, the President will deliver remarks at the United Auto Workers conference in Washington, DC. On Wednesday, the President and First Lady will host a dinner at the White House to honor our Armed Forces who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn and to honor their families. ... On Thursday, the President will travel to Nashua, New Hampshire, and deliver remarks on the economy. In the evening, the President will attend campaign events in New York City. On Friday, the President will travel to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, to visit with wounded service members."

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Mario Andretti (72), Harry Belafonte (85), Ron Howard (58), Jon Bon Jovi (50), Catherine O’Hara (58), Ben Roethlisberger (30), Maria Suffredini ….an Angel, Joanne Woodward (82).

COLLEGE HOCKEY PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 3/3, 4:00 PM ET, NESN – University of New Hampshire Wildcats (14-16-3) visit #10 ranked University of Maine Black Bears (19-11-3). This final weekend of the Hockey East regular season has this old rivalry rematch in Orono. Maine is headed for a match up with Boston College in the playoffs, but they first must take care of UNH and they do. Season to date (3-6).
THE SWAMI’S TOP PICKS – Maine 5 UNH 3 (men’s hockey), St. Lawrence 3 Harvard 2 (women’s ECAC playoff semifinal), Arizona 70 Arizona State 58 (men’s hoops).  Season to date (12-10).

NHL POWER RANKINGS – through ¾ point of season: (1). Vancouver Canucks, (2). Detroit Red Wings, (3). New York Rangers, (4). St. Louis Blues, (5). Boston Bruins.

RINK RATS FACTS: Women speak about 7,000 words a day while men average 2,000. For the first time, more than 30 percent of adults in this country have at least a bachelor's degree.


persnickety \per-SNIK-i-tee\, adjective:
1.     Overparticular; fussy.
2    Snobbish or having the aloof attitude of a snob.
3.     Requiring painstaking care
The point here is to make your neighbor understand that his neighbor in Claremont is exceptionally persnickety about territory.”
ganas, noun
to feel like doing
When you want to talk about what you feel like doing, or don’t feel like doing, tener ganas de followed by the infinitive is the phrase you need:
“Tengo ganas de ir al cine.”
I feel like going to the movies.

DRIVING THE WEEK - Germany votes on Greek bailout package today ... Romney seems likely to win narrowly in Michigan and by a wider margin in Arizona on Tuesday. But Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul will fight on at least through Super Tuesday on March 6th and probably beyond ... Top economic data include S&P/Case-Shiller home price index out Tuesday expected to show declines slowing to 0.4 percent from 0.7 percent ... Senate Banking has a housing market hearing Tuesday at 10:00 a.m. ... Second read on Q4 GDP out Wednesday not expected to change from 2.8 percent (though some say it will bump up to 3.0) ... Fed Chair Ben Bernanke is on the Hill on Wednesday where he gives semi-annual monetary policy testimony to House Financial Services at 10:00 a.m. ... President Obama travels to Nashua, New Hampshire on Thursday and will deliver remarks on the economy followed by evening fund-raisers in NYC

Next week, March Madness and Dear Rink Rats.

Until Next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA
February 27, 2012
#II-44, 97

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