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Guest Post: What's Your Favorite "On the Ground" Recession Indicator?

Tyler Durden's picture




 

Submitted by Charles High Smith from Of Two Minds

What's Your Favorite "On the Ground" Recession Indicator?

Beautifully maintained trophy cars are being dumped for cash. What does that say about the "real" economy?

Everybody has their own "on the ground" recession indicators: the mall parking lot, the tony restaurant that used to be packed every weekend, and so on.

I have two favorites: freight trains rumbling south down the main line of the West Coast and "sell your own car" used car lots.

The freight trains are self-explanatory: at the top of the housing bubble, they were loaded with flatcars of lumber. Now? A lot of empty flatcars and container flats. A lot. Yes, the official statistics indicate rising rail traffic, but they must mean one more car has a load in a 100-car train and there's only 20 empties. The freight trains I see are still running with beaucoup empty cars.

There may be some explanation of why this is so, but I can report that these trains pulled no empties in 2007.

"Sell your own car" lots reflect the "private market" for used cars. If you want to know what people are trading in for new cars, then go look at new car dealers' used lots. At the local Honda dealer, I saw a number of Lexus SUVs on their used lot; people trading down to save on gasoline?

I've sold a few cars myself at the local "sell your own car" lot, so I know it's reputable and a model that works for buyers and sellers. For a flat fee, you park your car on their lot and price it however you want. Potential buyers get to test-drive it, take it to their mechanic, etc. It's a big lot, so the selection of cars and prices is suggestive of larger trends--at least to me.

Back in 2009 at the initial depths of the recession, the used Toyotas and Hondas vanished and the lot filled with Volvos and other big-car-payment brands. I took this to reflect people were ditching their car payments and snapping up older reliable cars they could buy for cash and get another 100,000 miles out of.

I hadn't been by the lot in a while and what I saw astonished me. The lot was packed with "fun" cars and luxury brands: four recent-vintage Cooper-Minis were lined up (none sold in the week I monitored the lot). A cute yellow VW Beetle--another "fun" car-- was over by the Mercedes. Yes, Mercedes, and Porsches, all beautfully maintained.

For the first time in the two decades I've scanned this lot, it was chockful of luxury cars: a pristine black 2002 Porsche Boxter with low mileage that raised my blood pressure and sorely tempted me because it was "priced to sell"--and for a Scots-Irish-French tightwad, that's saying something; an equally beautiful Mercedes 500-series two seater, low mileage, brand-new in appearance; a fairly decent Jaguar; another pristine 300-series Mercedes, a classic, unbelievably well-maintained Porsche 911 (1991)-- the list goes on.

In the good old days, these "still look new" luxury cars would have been snapped up at these prices. But now they sit here, unsold, day after day.

Another class of "fun" car was also represented--the muscle car: a very clean recent vintage red Trans Am attracted onlookers in one corner of the lot.

Sellers can add comments to the sales tag, and on at least two of the luxury vehicles it was noted that the car had been their father's, one owner. Others indicated the original owner was selling.

If you know some car buffs, or you are one, then you know what these low-mileage super-clean luxury cars represent: they represent the lifetime achievement car for a guy, or the trophy car the rising exec takes out on the weekend. There is no other explanation for a 10-year old car to have 17,000 miles, or 33,000 miles--they were all garaged and enjoyed as a third or fourth car.

It seems Dad is getting too old to drive, or it's no longer feasible to ease into the low-slung Porsche, and so he's given it to one of his kids. And the kid drove it to the lot to turn into cold hard cash.

As for the "fun" cars: maybe they're still selling big numbers of new vehicles, but the glow of owning a mediocre-mileage car with no room for the dog or kids seems to be fading for existing owners. My sister-in-law spent a fortune having her Mini Cooper fixed last year, and our friend with a cutsy VW Beetle had a repair bill after a few years of ownership that could have bought a decent used car instead.

For whatever reason, "fun" cars that I never saw on the lot before are now there in abundance.

This is all anecdotal, of course, and wide open to interpretation. If you go to the techie-hipster favored neighborhoods in San Francisco, the tony cafes and restaurants are crowded: there's plenty of Web 2.0 money floating around. If you only look at these concentrations of talent and free-flowing investment capital, the economy looks like it's booming. Ditto if you try to book a table near the Opera on performance night: there's plenty of old money around that can spend $100 per dinner, too.

Once again, there were no older Toyotas or Hondas on the lot, only a few 2-year old models asking near-new prices. I interpret this thusly: older reliable cars that will last another five years without major expense are snapped up immediately, and superfluous "fun" cars and luxury trophy vehicles are being turned into cash.

When people are driving their pride and joy cars out of their pampered garages and selling them for cash, not trading them in for a new car or keeping them for pleasure, I think that's saying something about the "real" economy you won't find if you hang around Twitter HQ or the bejeweled Opera crowd.

You may intepret it differently, of course. That's the beauty of "on the ground" recession indicators.

 

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Wed, 02/29/2012 - 15:33 | 2209200 The They
The They's picture

mine is probably this: http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/staffer-refers-mustache-bill-committ...

 

Our country is going to hell.

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 15:39 | 2209237 Cindy_Dies_In_T...
Cindy_Dies_In_The_End's picture

CNN article about "Local Currencies" being used to pay for health services caught my attention the other day. Its getting more difficult to juggle those Obama wins by a ;andslide faux polls with the need to make money in reality.

 

Recession Indicator? Toll Booth operators on Turnpike telling me they are ready for a revolution.

(But then again we are relentlessly hostile in Secaucus...)

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 15:40 | 2209247 Cindy_Dies_In_T...
Cindy_Dies_In_The_End's picture

Also, I was wondering if ZH was going to start a Vote for the Worst contest. Oh nevermind, we already have that...

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 15:44 | 2209271 knukles
knukles's picture

If Washington DC ever gained statehood it would be called "the Blow Me State"

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 15:53 | 2209315 CrazyCooter
CrazyCooter's picture

Mine is the cheapest 12 pack of aluminum can beer at the beer store:

  • Grains
  • Heat to brew
  • Aluminum for the cans
  • Paper packaging
  • Energy to transport

That is a hell of a cross sample of core commodities in a single product.

People drink beer. Poor people drink beer. It is highly price sensative when poor people want their beer, thus, a true market indicator of inflation.

Regards,

Cooter

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 15:55 | 2209322 El Viejo
El Viejo's picture

When I did a project at a major brewery they told me the demand for beer always goes up during recessions.

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 16:02 | 2209367 Smiddywesson
Smiddywesson's picture

Absolutely.  My brother works for Seagrams.  He told me that people won't buy a new car in a recession, but the industry knows they will buy a $100 bottle of tequilla.  They had a word for it, something like "comfort luxeries" or something.  The theory goes that people will spend ridiculous amounts on booze during bad times because it makes them feel better.  Their most expensive lines of booze are doing the best, so I guess that validates the theory. 

Also, alcohol related misconduct is up six fold within my company.  It has to be the economy.

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 16:11 | 2209404 Gully Foyle
Gully Foyle's picture

Smiddywesson

That and everyone has their personal brand. Only drunks drink anything thrown at them.


Wed, 02/29/2012 - 16:36 | 2209520 mkhs
mkhs's picture

And I always thought I was being polite not refusing a gift. 

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 23:39 | 2211040 FEDbuster
FEDbuster's picture

Go to Walmart (the largest grocery seller in America) tonight at midnight (or most of the day tomorrow) after the EBT cards of 46 million Americans get refilled.  The hidden "soup lines" of the first Great Depression during the second Greater Depression.

Thu, 03/01/2012 - 09:32 | 2212079 Thomas
Thomas's picture

I count fake or clearly unprofitable stores in the mall (think: lawn tractors with no attendant or some room filled with things for kids to jump on) 

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 23:55 | 2211090 Coke and Hookers
Coke and Hookers's picture

Spot on. This is a well known phenomenon with all kinds of comfort foods. For instance, chocolate sales have very strong negative correlation with real economic indicators (not the fake ones everybody uses these days though). People skip bigger purchases and instead have a cozy night at home on their couch and comfort themselves with chocolate or primo booze. The correlation is particularly strong for high grade stuff like you mentioned with the $100 tequila. Swiss and Belgian chocolates sell like hotcakes during recessions.

Fri, 03/02/2012 - 12:06 | 2216863 e-recep
e-recep's picture

that explains my new addiction of lindt lindor truffles and remy martin vsop. taken together!

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 16:09 | 2209398 Gully Foyle
Gully Foyle's picture

El Viejo

Yep, alcohol consumption is up now.

People can't afford to drink out so they buy and stay home.


Wed, 02/29/2012 - 16:15 | 2209423 SheepDog-One
SheepDog-One's picture

Sure a $50 bottle is way cheaper than just a few drinks at the bar. Buy and stay at home.

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 17:55 | 2209969 ClassicalLib17
ClassicalLib17's picture

A 1.75 of Makers Mark goes for 47.99 around here.  That lasts about a week.  I went from 70k in 2009 to 22k a year today, but I can still afford my Makers.  Debt free, bitchez

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 18:24 | 2210070 CrazyCooter
CrazyCooter's picture

I only keep two bottles in my house; Makers and Belvedere. Usually, I just drink beer, but occasionally I like to sip something. :-)

Regards,

Cooter

Thu, 03/01/2012 - 03:49 | 2211581 Common_Cents22
Common_Cents22's picture

Costco Kirkland vodka is as good or better than grey goose at half the price.  

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 16:09 | 2209390 Jason T
Jason T's picture

PBR uses high fructose corn syrup instead of sugar.. i still buy it though cause its cheap and doesn't taste that bad.

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 16:48 | 2209599 IAmNotMark
IAmNotMark's picture

I think the number one indicator of how bad it really is in America are the number of people that say PBR doesn't taste that bad.

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 19:02 | 2210200 toady
toady's picture

I hadn't seen any PBR, or heard the acronym. 'PBR', in twenty years, until recently. Now I see and hear it everywhere, even here...

There's an economic indicator for you!

Thu, 03/01/2012 - 04:02 | 2211602 Likstane
Likstane's picture

Times are tough when you see the pile of olympia empties in your neighbors backyard.

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 19:13 | 2210229 spinone
spinone's picture

Utica Club!  The best working man's beer.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yn7b2djfMKY&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CqXLFWIuLNE

With the voice of Johnathan Winters!

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 19:53 | 2210350 Bob
Bob's picture

This I like to spring on people for the clean retro design. 

http://www.google.com/imgres?q=genesee+beer+can&hl=en&biw=1280&bih=549&g...

Thu, 03/01/2012 - 00:13 | 2211145 CompassionateFascist
CompassionateFascist's picture

I'm from Milwaukee

and I oughta know

its draft-brewed Blatz beer

wherever you go

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 19:26 | 2210274 BooMushroom
BooMushroom's picture

I went to the local bowling alley for a cheap night out with the Missus. Pitcher of soda =$7.25, pitcher of PBR =$6.00. Guess what we drank?

Perverse incentives work, too!

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 17:59 | 2209985 BrotherBroGo1
BrotherBroGo1's picture

I have recently ventured that way as well....not bad at all especially in bottles.  Cramer mentioned it on CNBC a couple days ago as a favorite of his recently....made me seriously question my company!

 

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 18:04 | 2210005 daveedollar
daveedollar's picture

Real beer doesn't have sugar as an igredient.  I'm probably drinking high fructose corn syrup too; my paw in law always suggested getting the brew that "popped your cork".  He lived a frugal and pretty happy life. 

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 18:22 | 2210054 ClassicalLib17
ClassicalLib17's picture

Fuck Pabst Blue Ribbon.  My friend bought his 92 year old mother a 40 of King Cobra and she liked it. She typically drinks whiskey and water,  but in these hard times you gotta do what you gotta do to cut costs. 

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 21:58 | 2210717 PrintPressPimpin
PrintPressPimpin's picture

In south lake tahoe which is having the worst snow I have ever seen in over 20 years right now PBR is like an Icon.  I think every joint around sells PBR cans for a buck.. All the kids drinking it on the lifts..Shit is garbage..  I did like it when they were serving the Olympias as an alternative though

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 16:45 | 2209568 Dick Gazinia
Dick Gazinia's picture

Strip Joints

Parking lot with 6 cars on a saturday night.

Short BJ's

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 17:51 | 2209951 Postal
Postal's picture

No BJ's. Hell, I'm unemployed, so I can't even pay the cover.

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 15:55 | 2209334 trav7777
trav7777's picture

it'd be the African State

my recession indicator is clubgoer population

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 19:19 | 2210249 johnnyBoy
johnnyBoy's picture

backwards..."I'll blow you" state

 

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 15:47 | 2209290 TruthInSunshine
TruthInSunshine's picture

More filthy prostitutes who clearly can't afford to keep up their appearance in Manhattan.

Apparently, these employees of financial firms and banks are trading down on attire and such.

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 16:14 | 2209418 sessinpo
sessinpo's picture

How many times I get hit on by anyone. I am one real ugly dude but I do have a full time job with health care for the time being.

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 20:31 | 2210429 UP Forester
UP Forester's picture

Maybe you can just wear a hat that says "I'M EMPLOYED, INSURED AND SINGLE" instead of a paper bag now....

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 15:46 | 2209283 Iwanttoknow
Iwanttoknow's picture

Gone to hell.Fixed it for you.

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 15:49 | 2209292 Gully Foyle
Gully Foyle's picture

Mine is the amount of people posting on websites.

If they were busy working they wouldn't have time to post bitchy little snippets and get into hissy fights.

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 15:52 | 2209314 Internet Tough Guy
Internet Tough Guy's picture

You must be laid off from the dot-com crash, eh?

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 15:59 | 2209356 Gully Foyle
Gully Foyle's picture

Internet Tough Guy

Retired, worked hard, got sick, stopped working.

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 16:11 | 2209412 Moneyswirth
Moneyswirth's picture

You "retired" then "stopped working"?

Government employee I take it...

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 16:23 | 2209466 Gully Foyle
Gully Foyle's picture

Moneyswirth

Sorry, for confusing you. I should have had a period after retired.

If I were a government employee I would still be there not working and collecting cheap bennies.


Wed, 02/29/2012 - 16:26 | 2209480 WonderDawg
WonderDawg's picture

I doubt it. Government employees stop working long before retirement.

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 18:57 | 2209544 Flakmeister
Flakmeister's picture

But not quite as soon as the inheritors of vast fortunes living off dividends taxed at 15%....

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 16:42 | 2209559 NotApplicable
NotApplicable's picture

Stop? That would imply they've started at some point, which is an absurdity, as there's no work to be done.

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 16:50 | 2209606 fourchan
fourchan's picture

mine is the bass base factor

 

i live in the hood and the amount of bass going down the street durring good times was rediculious.

now everyone in detroit has lost their jobs and abandoned half the houses, its nice and quiet, crickets

wind rustling leaves in the trees. thanks great recession of 08 09 10 11 12 ect...............................

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 15:49 | 2209297 jekyll island
jekyll island's picture

Emergency Room visits.  They are up 20% in Memphis.  It is a very sensitive marker for the economy.  People lose their jobs, lose their insurance, now they go to the ER when they get sick. 

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 15:56 | 2209337 CrashisOptimistic
CrashisOptimistic's picture

One better one . . . SSDI disability recipients explode.  They lose job, then their unemployment expires and they have to eat, so they become "disabled".  Avg payment $14K/yr.  

I know of two people who became disabled this year.  They got laid off last year.

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 16:04 | 2209370 Gully Foyle
Gully Foyle's picture

CrashisOptimistic

Pretty fucking hard to get SSD. Initial filing is denied in most of the cases, unless it is mental illness. Then there is, at minimum, a year wait for a court date. Menwhile you need to not only have your doctors say you are eligible but also the testing doctors.

I'm really question that get on right away claim you made.

And to be successful you need an attorney who will claim a quarter of your back pay. Plus they get paid first before you see a cent, paid directly from the court (close enough).

But I am starting to wonder if the states are throwing people from Social Services to SSI.


Wed, 02/29/2012 - 16:10 | 2209403 BandGap
BandGap's picture

In-law is a lawyer who deals in cases where SSD is denied (BTW - over 75% of the INITIAL claims are denied). Hired gunslinger. Business is booming.

Check out the ads in the latest fishwraps.

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 16:27 | 2209485 jekyll island
jekyll island's picture

Crash:

I have been told by hospital case managers that the benefit for SSDI has been increased to $1800/month, still trying to confirm primarily. 

Gully,

Not sure what lawyers in your area are charging, here it is a flat fee around $4k.  No more need to wonder about the states moving people to SSDI, the SSI offices have quotas, probably a handshake agree with Federal gov't to help bail out, errr, support individual states, just like with Food stamps. 

 

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 17:40 | 2209896 lolmao500
lolmao500's picture

1800/month is a lot of free dough.

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 21:30 | 2210089 boiltherich
boiltherich's picture

Really, before my Mom died she was getting a WHOPPING $918.  In California.  With SSI. 

I made $34k and 44k  in the several years running up to my disability claim and I have a princely sum of $965 per month, it is no joy ride.

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 18:55 | 2210172 Landrew
Landrew's picture

Sounds like you have no clue! Look at your S.S. statement and it will tell you, if you made max over 5 of the last 10 yrs your benifit is 1.4 k . I don't think you can live very well on that. You can have it, I couldn't live on that!

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 19:36 | 2210309 takinthehighway
takinthehighway's picture

Depends on your "needs", bro...

 

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 19:15 | 2210239 Bob
Bob's picture

The amount a recipient sees depends upon their work record, just like regular SSI.  The vast majority of people I've worked with over the years--mentally or physically disabled lower working class folks--get less than $700 a month. 

It is no gravy train for most. 

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 19:51 | 2210342 The Andy
The Andy's picture

My ex-wife has been on ssi since 2005 I believe.  She gets $1300 per month for herself, and $350 per month for each of our two children.  And she's allowed to earn up to $10K per year without affecting her disability income.  She was initially denied, then hired an attorney on contingency.  The case took almost two years, but the payment was retroactive to the original filing date so the intitial payment was significant, even after the attorney took his fees.  If I remember correctly, the attorney fees are capped by SS, so it's not like it was 33% or something.  I think it was around $4500.  She's been told that once you've been approved for disability, you'll be on it for life.  Her issues are related to depression and some back problems, but I'm sure she could probably work if starvation was the alternative.

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 21:28 | 2210567 boiltherich
boiltherich's picture

cap on legal fees=$5.300 as of 2007

Thu, 03/01/2012 - 08:13 | 2211789 boiltherich
boiltherich's picture

I might add that my attorney spent all of 20 minutes with me for that, wrote one letter, and bingo 2.7 years later PAYDAY for him.  SS just sort of automatically rejects all but the most obvious claims, but when years later I got an appeal hearing the judge interrupted me after ten minutes of telling my side of the story and was flabbergasted that I had ever been denied.  She summarily ruled in my favor. 

I originally applied in 1991 and same thing, they rejected my claim practically while I was still standing at the counter to turn it in.  I had a letter informing me of my appeal rights within three days.  So I go in to file an appeal but back then the policy was that SS would not consider any records from the veterans administration, so if you were a disabled vet it was almost 100% likely your only medical evidence would be from the VA which they would not even look at.  Pretty cool eh?  Functionally denying any and all veterans claims that were military related.  And you wonder why veterans were homeless in mass numbers?  A judge put an end to that in 2002 though, now they have to consider all evidence you can produce. 

But back in 1991 when I went to file the appeal from my original claim they told me it was a waste of time don't bother because I already had a vet disability of $897 per month and so my net from SS even if I were to win would only be about $6 per month.  So, I did not appeal that 1991 ruling.  But when the judge ruled SS had to consider VA records it was not retroactive, it only allowed you to re file with back pay to that day of refiling. 

 

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 16:48 | 2209567 CrashisOptimistic
CrashisOptimistic's picture

Art Cashin was all over this 2 weeks ago.

Initital application is 80% refused.  Appeals of that refusal using a lawyer  are 80% SUCCESSFUL.

This is the source of the unemployment decrease of late derived from workforce participation decline.  People on disability are not looking for work and are out of the workforce.

So it's a double fiscal hit.  Unemployed so not earning salary on which to pay taxes, AND they draw the disability benefit, increasing govt spending.

The reduction in unemployment rate is icing on the cake.  They are disabled so they help decrease the workforce participation rate and therefore the reported unemployment rate.

And now you know how we got from 9% to 8.3% in 6 mos.

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 17:23 | 2209785 dolly madison
dolly madison's picture

I'm really question that get on right away claim you made.

You just never know.  There's 5 people in my extended family on social security disability.  Four of them fought long and hard, one was approved quickly.

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 19:29 | 2210285 Boondocker
Boondocker's picture

I have dealt with disability from the employer perspective.  I had a great employee who tipped a forklift and was truly jacked up and it took him 3 years to get approved for disability.

Then I had a rotten employee who got it right away over a "soft tissue" back injury.  go figure....

Our legal team could not tell me why the cases went the way it did and the decisions, made no sense when you read them.

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 21:58 | 2210716 ExpendableOne
ExpendableOne's picture

It's the "lottery" in southern west "by God!" Virginia.  I know of numerous people who have hit that one over the years.  12-14k is more than enough to scrape by back there.

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 16:11 | 2209406 masterinchancery
masterinchancery's picture

For Sale or Lease signs everywhere.

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 17:17 | 2209766 optimator
optimator's picture

The largest expanding company in my state has their signs all over the place on factories and businesses they've acquired.  They are doing great.  I can't find their stock symbo however.  Anyone here familiar with "Now Leasing"?  (humor).

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 16:25 | 2209477 candyman
candyman's picture

Its finally snowing in Tahoe, Everyone that skis is dying to hit the slopes, tickets are about a hundred bucks, here is the cam in front of the Squaw enterance, see all the traffic?

 

http://video.dot.ca.gov/asx/d3-squaw-89.asx

 

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 18:48 | 2210153 TahoeBilly2012
TahoeBilly2012's picture

I ski Squaw too. I work the race dept as a volunteer and I actually just started asking many of the guys how they were doing as I met up with old friends. Nearly everyone said things were the shits and these are pretty varied group of independent types, real estate etc. Reno has been slammed hard and so has Tahoe. Squaw laid off 2/3 of their force over Xmas with no snow, though they had a good year last year due to the low pass prices. This is a tough gauge as the seaon looses momentum with no snow. I expect weekends will be a bit better. People who come from out of the area will go where the snow is or maybe have cancelled. Weather plays a big role.

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 17:00 | 2209667 Stuck on Zero
Stuck on Zero's picture

My favorite recession indicators are toilet paper and cereal packages.  The toilet paper rolls are now 3/4" narrower and cereal packages have become very thin.  Also, here in Southern California we are sending delegations to Mexico to attract investments.

Thu, 03/01/2012 - 08:22 | 2211800 boiltherich
boiltherich's picture

Stuck, you just reminded me of an incident a couple months ago that pissed me off along those lines.  I opened a two liter bottle of Refresh Lemon Lime soda (Safeway house brand version of 7UP) I went to tip the bottle to pour into a glass but the bottle was so thin and weak it bent in half at the middle and soda went all over the countertop.  Not only was half wasted but I had a big mess to clean up, now I try to remember to support them like I am holding a baby.  Any thinner and they will be like mylar bags of pop.

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 15:34 | 2209209 toxic8
toxic8's picture

If I could,  I would post a picture of the poor "cash 4 gold/silver" human signpost on my Brooklyn corner.

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 17:12 | 2209738 kridkrid
kridkrid's picture

broke people finally getting Internet service?

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 20:36 | 2210439 UP Forester
UP Forester's picture

....on their spanking new, gubmint issued smart phone for "emergencies"....

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 15:36 | 2209213 SheepDog-One
SheepDog-One's picture

Guy I saw at the gas station in a Lexus panhandling money for gas.

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 16:08 | 2209386 lolmao500
lolmao500's picture

LOL is this guy for real??

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 15:36 | 2209214 Mercury
Mercury's picture

Barter.

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 15:41 | 2209253 TwoJacks
TwoJacks's picture

zactly.  seen that word thrown around by more than a few friends recently who in the past would never have used that word.

Thu, 03/01/2012 - 03:58 | 2211599 Common_Cents22
Common_Cents22's picture

I'm working on a web app/social networking for neighorhood co-oping,  bartering, group buying etc....   Should be interesting.

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 15:37 | 2209219 Flakmeister
Flakmeister's picture

Empty retail space... not the small stuff, but the bigger stores..

 

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 15:54 | 2209323 NotApplicable
NotApplicable's picture

Around here, ALL categories of retail space are well represented.

You couldn't tell it by the lease rates though.

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 15:37 | 2209221 bpj
bpj's picture

My indicator is when surveyors don't get called out from the union hall. No surveying, no construction. So far they have been sitting in the hall for  5 years. Operating Engineers, Local 12 Southern California

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 16:10 | 2209401 bonderøven-farm ass
bonderøven-farm ass's picture

I've been a land surveyor for over a decade and have worked >250 hours for the entirety of 2011......recently started work as a travelling pipeline surveyor just to keep the farm.  The Hill (through the DHS) is throwing a shitload of fiat toward the energy sector; get your cut now before this carnival pulls up it's stakes too.......

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 18:09 | 2210019 Money 4 Nothing
Money 4 Nothing's picture

Hope they catch a break bro. Good luck to them.

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 18:09 | 2210025 Dirt Rat
Dirt Rat's picture

Another indicator in the same area: the recording of deeds and mortgages in your local land records. If the clerks are busy and the books being quickly filled, good times. If not, not so great.

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 15:38 | 2209223 Cognitive Dissonance
Cognitive Dissonance's picture

Increased advertising for pawn shops. And "Cash for Gold" store fronts.

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 16:19 | 2209442 Debeachesand Je...
Debeachesand Jerseyshores's picture

That's the truth CD.I swear since the first of the year I have seen "Cash for Gold" ads in the local papers and every weekend some new "buyers" are trolling for PM's in Motels and Hotels around town.

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 16:58 | 2209659 johnQpublic
johnQpublic's picture

cash for gold kiosks in the local malls

people panhandling at every intersection

 

but mostly, the three children with the red wagon going door to door in my neighborhood trying to sell their toys

children of single mother of four who has been doing hair out of her house for the last four years since she lost her job

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 17:14 | 2209751 kridkrid
kridkrid's picture

that sucks

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 18:28 | 2210085 Umh
Umh's picture

Panhandlers are my indicator along with the state of cars going down the road. I know that many of the panhandlers aren't really broke, but they can function only because people believe that they are. Cars with obvious problems are a real tell too; I live on a busy road so I can hear when people have some types of car problems.

Thu, 03/01/2012 - 08:35 | 2211824 boiltherich
boiltherich's picture
I have noted that as well, but what gets me are the cars that have paper DMV temp plates pasted in the rear window so you KNOW the car was just purchased in the last few days/weeks and yet the tires are bald and tons of blue smoke pour out the tailpipe when they take off from a light.  Often you see cars now with personal possessions piled up to the roof, it is obvious people are living in them.  I have been there and it really is sad.  Doubly so when there are over 22 million vacant housing units in the USA.  Someone owns all those vacant housing units, someone is rich enough to have multiple dwellings while millions are living under bridges and in cars, that is what I call immoral.

 

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 16:47 | 2209578 Frank N. Beans
Frank N. Beans's picture

yesterday when I went to my local coin shop to buy a silver eagle, there was a guy in front of me who had bags and bags of silver coins, so many that the dealer just dumped them into his coin counter rather than hand count them.  I saw a large bag of silver half dollars and another of silver Morgan and Liberty dollars and a couple dozen rolls of large coins.  I asked the seller if that was his whole collection and he said, "yeah."  He was about 60 maybe.

May be more people selling their gold/silver than buying it at the coin shops.

 

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 19:14 | 2210231 AustriAnnie
AustriAnnie's picture

I would be curious if he is selling the silver while keeping the Cox Cable and the SUV.  Or if he had already cancelled/sold all other services or items to sell.

People often sell off the items of the greatest value in order to support the consumption of other goods/services that have no real value whatsoever.  But when the man who bought silver to KEEP it as insurance is in the pawn shop selling it, then that is quite an indicator.

Thu, 03/01/2012 - 00:40 | 2211224 AllThatGlitters
AllThatGlitters's picture

Maybe it was Blythe's cousin.  Dude timed it right, LOL.

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 15:38 | 2209229 FrankThinkTank
FrankThinkTank's picture

Mcdonalds dollar menu...now $1.30+ in chicago loop

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 15:46 | 2209263 duo
duo's picture

The 79 cent taco at the Bell is now $1.19.  I spent $7 to eat lunch there last week.  You used to be able to stuff yourself for $3-4.

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 15:53 | 2209312 Gully Foyle
Gully Foyle's picture

duo

Funny. Mexico subsidizes Taco/Burritos. At one point the government stopped the subsidy but people became so pissed off it had to be reinstated.

The deal is no matter how poor you are you should be able to afford a Taco/Burrito.

Thu, 03/01/2012 - 08:45 | 2211849 boiltherich
boiltherich's picture

Gully, eh?  The Mexican government subsidizes the prices of tortillas and has a strict control on their price because for quite a large part of the population especially in rural Mexico, that is the only thing between them and stravation.  When they reduced the supports people did riot, the subsidies were restored.  Personally I think since the Catholic church is so active and fundamental to overpopulation and ignorance in Mexico they ought to be the ones paying the price supports for tortillas.  There is a big difference between a tortilla and a taco or burrito though, don't be a borderline racist.  Still, you get a green arrow for bringing it up. 

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 17:27 | 2209808 Rentenmark
Rentenmark's picture

No McDoubles on Dollar Menu across from Wrigley!

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 15:38 | 2209231 bbq on whitehou...
bbq on whitehouse lawn's picture

Dollar store traffic.  New cars and dollar store bags.

 

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 15:39 | 2209232 taniquetil
taniquetil's picture

The number of college Freshman who take first-year Economics and say "I'm an economist and we're definitely in a bull market right now"

 

I'm not joking.

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 15:54 | 2209317 Gully Foyle
Gully Foyle's picture

taniquetil

Dude, the BIL just advised my son to take out college loans because the interest is so cheap now.

Fucking moron!

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 15:59 | 2209347 CrashisOptimistic
CrashisOptimistic's picture

 

Not that bad a recommendation.

They may never have to repay them.  I expect a proposal from Obama to forgive them all long about October if his poll numbers are poor.

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 16:06 | 2209381 Gully Foyle
Gully Foyle's picture

CrashisOptimistic

Ridiculous! Like Medical bills student loans are exempt from Bancruptcy filing.

I suspect someday those with student loan debt will be forced into some type of government service, military most likely.

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 19:26 | 2210278 AustriAnnie
AustriAnnie's picture

It has already started.  The student loan bill increased interest RATES, but decreased the PAYMENTS (as a percentage of income) that you will have to pay.  Thus, you become more indebted, yet you make small payments in perpetuity, never getting out from under them.

However, the exemptions are growing. You think of the forgiveness as happening after the loan is taken out.  But many of the priveleges are granted by issuing grants instead of loans to certain people in the first place.  Those who take out the loans and are obligated to pay them do not include the students who have been pre-screened out of that debt system by being switched over to the entitlement programs for free money.

If these special students do have to take out student loans, they get subsidized interest rates lower than the rest of the student body due to their being "needy" or "underrepresented".  Federal loans issued to "low income" have lower rates (e.g. reduction from 8% to 5% just for being "low income").  

Ultimately, the student loan forgiveness will occur in larger scale, but only for certain people, and by stealth.  They will likely do it in similar manner to the housing forgiveness programs, by giving banks a cut of the action to re-write the loan for the chosen few.  

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 19:30 | 2210286 malek
malek's picture

Excuse me, since when are medical bills exempted from bankruptcy??

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 23:46 | 2211064 Mary Wilbur
Mary Wilbur's picture

There was some statistic on the news tonight about increasing rates of default on student loans. They should be permitted to file for bankruptcy. The Fed's student loan program is unconscionable. Young people who may or may not get a decent paying job in the best of times are burdened with thousands of dollars of debt which take years to pay off when they should be saving for mortgage down payments or their 40lK or to fund their privatized and voluntary social security account. The student loan program also contributed to if not caused the outrageous rise in tuition which has occurred in the last 10 or so years.

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 16:17 | 2209434 MachoMan
MachoMan's picture

having paid off my wife's loans last year, I'll probably throw up all over the keyboard if that happens...

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 17:45 | 2209922 lolmao500
lolmao500's picture

Yep. One of my ``friend`` is like that... I'm trying to talk some sense into him... he won't listen... he has been corrupted by Bernanke.

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 23:33 | 2211018 Mary Wilbur
Mary Wilbur's picture

The cartels always need people.

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 15:39 | 2209236 RobotTrader
RobotTrader's picture

Guys out here in California are buying new vehicles in droves.

 

A buddy of mine just bought a "Harley-Davidson" edition of a souped up F-250 Ford truck, paid over $60,000.

He flips houses for a living, had his best year ever.  Paid cash for it without even blinking.

He has been buying junked out houses in Temecula, Wildomar, Canyon Lake, etc. for $100k, fixing them up and selling them to first time home buyers for $240k.

He says Fannie/Freddie loans are so affordable, many renters are buying hand over fist.

Any wonder why the XHB, LOW, and HD have gone vertical the last 6 months?

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 15:42 | 2209244 SheepDog-One
SheepDog-One's picture

Youre a total wanker.

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 16:18 | 2209436 hedgeless_horseman
hedgeless_horseman's picture

 

 

In 2011, banks foreclosed on 11% of all homes in Florida.

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 18:14 | 2210040 ClassicalLib17
ClassicalLib17's picture

Is that called synchronicity if I just upticked sheepdog and he went up 3 and downticked robo who went down 3?

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 15:42 | 2209256 Cindy_Dies_In_T...
Cindy_Dies_In_The_End's picture

Hi Robot--glad to see you. Not too many "old timers" left.

 

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 15:43 | 2209264 SheepDog-One
SheepDog-One's picture

'Old Timer Robo'....heh heh....hey did he tell you he dumped his gold at $900 and has been chasing IBD Momo's like a retard in a candy store since?

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 17:06 | 2209692 WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot
WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot's picture

Retards fucking LOVE candy!

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 15:44 | 2209267 Village Idiot
Village Idiot's picture

RoboWorld (TM)...

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 15:47 | 2209286 somethingisrotten
somethingisrotten's picture

Love it!  He's definitely in his own world . . . . . . . . . . . . . alone.

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 15:52 | 2209311 knukles
knukles's picture

"vacant"

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 15:51 | 2209275 duo
duo's picture

You mean he's buying short sales (probably illegally)  using his connections at a bank, ripping the taxpayer off, patching them up with substandard repairs, and selling them to desparate suckers that still believe real estate can only go up?.

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 16:31 | 2209504 object_orient
object_orient's picture

He's probably buying vacant foreclosures at auction for cash. But other than that, you're spot on. House buyers who need financing can't compete at the low end with investors paying cash. Cheap houses usually have some damage and won't pass FHA required inspection, thus no loan.

Flippers are buying 100k houses, putting 15k of repairs in them, and selling for 175k. The 203k rehab loans were supposed to bridge the gap, and allow non-cash buyers to make their own repairs and save money. But AFAIK, those loans are impossible to get.

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 19:35 | 2210306 malek
malek's picture

If what RoboTroll says is true (I doubt it), makes you wonder how many of those are planning to really pay off their mortgage?

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 15:48 | 2209289 Dixie Rect
Dixie Rect's picture

That bullshit stinks worse than Barney Frank's tongue.

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 15:51 | 2209304 falak pema
falak pema's picture

Is he dating lesbians and buying coke from priests? 

You are sooo original; you are more bot than butt, as in cigarette butt. Burn to extinguish to ashes.  

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 15:54 | 2209321 alien-IQ
alien-IQ's picture

complete bullshit.

Even Bernanke lies better than you do.

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 15:59 | 2209349 Internet Tough Guy
Internet Tough Guy's picture

Are those your friends who are millionaires but collecting Cali welfare, and scarfing down $1 double cheeseburgers at the drive thru window in their monster truck? Or is that you? LOL....

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 15:59 | 2209353 candyman
candyman's picture

Complete and utter bullshit, The only guy claiming to be buying houses is the "flip this house guy" advertising on the radio wanting to find 20 qualified people at seminars to learn how to flip a house in your area. No more hummers on the street, seeing Dad's driving the kids to H.S., parents out joggin in the middle of the day, multiple 30 year old local fly fishing stores closing cause no business, empty ski slopes, and if your not paying cCCR's guys are cutting their own lawns.

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 16:05 | 2209379 lolmao500
lolmao500's picture

If everyone in Cali is as dumb as you, it needs to be nuked from orbit, just to be sure.

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 16:13 | 2209415 Smiddywesson
Smiddywesson's picture

Thank God Robo, I thought the economy was f*cked. 

I feel so much better...

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 16:38 | 2209473 TuesdayBen
TuesdayBen's picture

Robo is correct.  Modern houses in California cities selling for $100K in a very low interest rate environment is a solid indicator of economic recession.

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 16:37 | 2209525 JPM Hater001
JPM Hater001's picture

"Paid cash for it without even blinking."

Should have bought silver.

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 19:08 | 2210216 Landrew
Landrew's picture

What was that about big money in Chinese Solar Stocks? That's what I call a big loser.

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 15:39 | 2209238 Timmay
Timmay's picture

I traded in my Viper last year out of fears of a coming crash and having an expensive toy sitting in my garage that I couldn't get rid of. I f-ing loved that car too, supercharged coupe.

I look at my parking garage and see how many spaces are available. Used to be a time when if you got there after 8:30 you had to park outside. Been able to take you pick of spots inside for a while now....

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 21:25 | 2210553 TheMerryPrankster
TheMerryPrankster's picture

My newest economic depression indicator.

The average age of the check out clerk's at target. 4 years ago it was mostly students, now its guys in their 50's. And they are so so so polite, its like they haven't had a job in 2 years and are so happy to be working and so scared they might get fired, that they are the nicest guys in the world.

probably because they haven't had a job in 2 years.

Thu, 03/01/2012 - 04:09 | 2211610 Common_Cents22
Common_Cents22's picture

Yup, just as reported elsewhere on ZH, the employment rate of young people is at a 64 year low of 54%.    Seniors must be taking up the jobs at low wages since they've been killed in the market and in their fixed income investments.

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 15:40 | 2209240 GeneMarchbanks
GeneMarchbanks's picture

Gartman's unadulterated bullishness.

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 15:43 | 2209241 SelfGov
SelfGov's picture

Traffic has always been hellish where 694 turns into 494 north-west of Minneapolis...Untill 2008. Afterwhich rush hour ceased to be a "thing."

Recession is definitely upon us when the suburban freeways are no longer jammed with traffic during rush hour.

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 15:51 | 2209308 El Viejo
El Viejo's picture

Yep that's a good one. Especially if at intersections of major Interstates. I noticed it too during 2008 and the slow increase in traffic afterwards.

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 17:01 | 2209670 DavidJ
DavidJ's picture

My dad just got a job (thats bullish.  In healthcare) and expected a long high traffic commute on I294 (western suburbs) of Chicago.   Nope.  Traffic moves nicely during rush hour.

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 16:14 | 2209417 Northeaster
Northeaster's picture

"freeways are no longer jammed with traffic during rush hour." -

That's my indicator.

The train was my first sign in mid-2008. Previous to that time, the train was packed, standing room only, after that time, any seat you wanted, no standing needed. Then, as fares increased so Conductors could make $80k with ridiculous Ponzi Pensions, I switched to driving. What was once an hour-fifteen minutes is now thirty-five minutes, with Friday's being a little longer as people go further North on the weekends.

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 17:20 | 2209776 kridkrid
kridkrid's picture

except in DC (where I am, often).  But yes... cities that used to suck to drive in... not so much.  where I live... I NEVER see traffic (minus accidents)... that wasn't the case 5 years ago.

Thu, 03/01/2012 - 04:11 | 2211613 Common_Cents22
Common_Cents22's picture

But MN is still building lanes all over the place in metro area and still pursuing more light rail.   Unreal.   Of course the roads are plastered w/ the "You can thank Obama at the voting booth for this lane" signs.  (community reinvestment act signs)

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 15:40 | 2209246 Cursive
Cursive's picture

Wal-Mart.

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 15:53 | 2209318 El Viejo
El Viejo's picture

Big Lots. Save-A-Lot, Family Dollar, Dollar General.  and there stock goes up when the crash hits.

I wonder about the price of Cat Food.

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 15:56 | 2209330 Gully Foyle
Gully Foyle's picture

El Viejo

"I wonder about the price of Cat Food."

Keeps rising. Cats are costing us a fortune.

Laughed my ass off over this

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-02-27/dog-owners-seeking-discounts-as...

Dog Owners Seeking Discounts as PetSmart Confronts Bite: Retail Enlarge image

Nearly four out of 10 U.S. pet owners in a September Packaged Facts survey said they’re spending less on pet products, up from 27 percent in February 2010. Photographer: Matthew Staver/Bloomberg

Enlarge image

Closely held Petco Animal Supplies Inc., PetSmart’s main competitor, now offers to give $5 back to owners for every $100 they spend under its Pals Rewards loyalty program. Photographer: JB Reed/Bloomberg

Liz Harper’s dog once dined on bowls of Mars Inc.’s Royal Canin tailored to the Boxer breed and packed with the heart-healthy amino acid L-carnitine. She’d wash it down with Bowser Beer, a dog drink brewed from malt barley and salt-free chicken stock. Today, Billie Holiday has to settle for kibble from the local Target Corp. (TGT) store.

“It’s probably worse than toxic waste, but she loves it,” said Harper, a 36-year-old attorney from Pelham, New York. “It’s cheap and way easier to buy than anything else. She’s a dog -- she eats out of the garbage can and drinks out of the sewer. She doesn’t need organic dog food.”

Harper is among a growing proportion of pet owners who are seeking bargains and shunning more opulent items such as $600 Swarovski crystal dog collars, according to researchers Packaged Facts and Mintel. The $87 billion pet-product market, once deemed recession-proof, is starting to show cracks as owners struggle to make ends meet.

Nearly four out of 10 U.S. pet owners in a September Packaged Facts survey said they’re spending less on pet products, up from 27 percent in February 2010. Three-quarters of them are looking for deals, particularly on non-food items like apparel and toys. The U.S. is the world’s largest pet product market, according to researcher Euromonitor International.

“The totally discretionary stuff is increasingly being cast aside,” said Lee Linthicum, head of food research at Euromonitor. “People still want to spend a fair bit of money on their pets, but they are reevaluating their priorities.”

Pet Promotions

That has led pet retailers such as PetSmart Inc. (PETM) to offer promotions to keep customers from defecting to Target, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) or specialty websites like www.wag.com, part of Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) Discounts caused PetSmart’s profit margins on merchandise to narrow last quarter for the first time in two years, according to David Strasser, an analyst at Janney Montgomery Scott LLC in New York.

Michelle Friedman, a spokeswoman for PetSmart of Phoenix, declined to comment on the company’s discounting practices. Strasser has a “neutral” recommendation on PetSmart, which offers a Martha Stewart-branded line of toys, apparel, and $120 dog beds. The company plans to report full-year results Feb. 29.

Closely held Petco Animal Supplies Inc., (PETC) PetSmart’s main competitor, now offers to give $5 back to owners for every $100 they spend under its Pals Rewards loyalty program.

“In America, you have to push harder to get people to spend,” Euromonitor’s Linthicum said. “There are similar factors in Europe as well.”

Smaller Pack Sizes

To cater to frugal consumers, some pet-food producers have borrowed tactics from human food-makers like Kraft Foods Inc., (KFT) reducing pack sizes to minimize the impact of rising ingredient costs, according to London-based Mintel. Prices for dog and cat food have increased nearly 10 percent since 2006, excluding currency fluctuations and inflation, Linthicum said. Americans’ disposable income has declined in each of the past five months.

Closely held Mars leads the $71.8 billion global pet food market with a 24.8 percent share, according to Euromonitor, followed by Purina maker Nestle SA, (NESN) with 23.9 percent. Nestle’s pet-care unit had organic sales growth of 4.3 percent last year, the slowest of the Swiss company’s five product groups.

Suppliers of pet services are also doling out deals. Leo Sanders, the owner of a grooming and boarding business in Corning, New York, offers one free day of pet daycare for customers purchasing a full week. Dogs under Sanders’ care romp around five acres of outdoor play space and relax to the strains of classical music.

‘Recession Flexible’

“Our industry is not recession-proof -- we’re recession flexible,” Sanders said. “People will still spend, but instead of frivolous spending on squeakers and rawhide bones, now they are reading labels and making sure it’s a quality product. And they’re asking for discounts more.”

Sanders, whose pet bulldog has its own Facebook page, said services like day care, boarding and grooming are now 75 percent of his total revenue, compared with several years ago when the majority of sales came from food, dog collars and apparel.

“Customers are going away from some of the pricier accessories and more to the services you can provide,” he said. “They are more willing to purchase a spa treatment than a leather collar studded with Swarovski crystals.”

Joanne Mahon, managing director of Diamond Dogs in the U.K., supplies just those collars to luxury department stores such as London-based Harrods Ltd. and pet boutiques in Manhattan and Laguna Beach, California, whose customers include Jennifer Lopez and actress Jessica Alba.

Swarovski-Laden Collar

Sales of Mahon’s items, which include a Swarovski-laden collar and leash pairing for $1,135, fell as much as 25 percent last year, she said in an interview conducted over the din of 10 new Saluki puppies. Buyers in Asia have helped pick up the slack, she said.

“The saving grace for pet products is emerging markets,” Euromonitor’s Linthicum said.

Mahon said some customers save all year to buy her products, which include bespoke beds that start at $3,100. One- in-six pet owners has cut back on other household expenses so as not to skimp on pets, Mintel has found.

Tighter household budgets have also had a “sobering effect” on pricey pet apparel, according to Joan Volpe, managing coordinator at the Center for Professional Studies at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology. FIT sponsors a pet apparel fashion show, where this year 14 dogs will model nearly 30 outfits, from casual sportswear to evening ensembles.

“There has been a turn to practicality,” Volpe said by e- mail. “The seemingly frivolous items of just a few years ago like net tutus are no longer in demand.”

Pet Food Spending

Food, which makes up the biggest slice of pet expenditures, is the last thing that owners skimp on, according to Packaged Facts analyst David Lummis., who is based in New Orleans. A 2007 recall, when tainted ingredients were found in dozens of brands of Chinese-made pet food, sent panicked owners flocking to more- expensive suppliers. U.S. sales of pet food should reach $20.8 billion by 2016, up from $18.1 billion, Mintel estimates.

Andre Marin, a recruiter based in Arlington, Virginia, hasn’t changed the brand of dog food he feeds his mutt Rupert, who is sensitive to other foods, he said in an interview. He doesn’t bother with fancy collars or sweaters, though.

“Rupert is part Huskie,” Marin said. “These are dog’s dogs -- they chase deer. They’re not into the sweater thing.”

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 16:04 | 2209371 lolmao500
lolmao500's picture

Especially human cats. We call them furries.

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 16:39 | 2209533 LFMayor
LFMayor's picture

Those freaks that wear the fur costumes, like they're auditioning for the Banana Splits?  Those sick bastards need to visit my favorite vet.  Dr. Woods.

First office visit cures 99.9 of ailments.  Guaranteed.

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 22:55 | 2210893 sullymandias
sullymandias's picture

She’s a dog -- she eats out of the garbage can and drinks out of the sewer.

I wonder if they'll feel that way when doggie starts looking more and more like fresh meat.

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