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Old 07-24-2009, 08:56 PM   #21
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As most of you probably already know, we escaped the financial crisis and the recession thankfully! In 2007 the worlds best performing stock market (+180%), In 2008 the second best economy, up 9.2%. In 2008/2009 real estate up 150-300%.

In Jan 2009 when the USA fell off the cliff we were supposed to grow by 5% but it is probably more like 3.5% with 1-2% inflation.

Regardless, five star restaurants are jam packed, Auto sales up 85% We had 800,000 tourists the first half of the year and you can not get a parking spot
on the weekends.

Although new construction sales are up 14% year to date, prices seem to have leveled off for now at about $100.00 a sq.ft.

We live in one of the few dual-currency economies in the world and have the ability to take advantage of both weakness/strength in the Dollar.

One of the favorite past times of retired expats is to brag over coffee at Starbucks, as to who got the best exchange rate from the cute little gal on the corner.
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Old 07-24-2009, 09:51 PM   #22
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My laundromat sales are down about 20% YTD in Dallas. About 98% of my
customers are Hispanic and I think a lot of them went home because of
the lack of construction work. Restaurants are hurting for the same reason.

Cheers,

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Old 07-24-2009, 10:13 PM   #23
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A few local observations. One neighbor cut back to 4 days a week, state worker. Another neighbor, single mom/ healthcare worker, cut back to about 2/3 time.

I live about 1/4 mile from two major rail lines, a Norfolk Southern Intermodal line and Conrail. Rail traffic is almost dead at night and greatly reduced during the day. Maybe off by 30-40%. No auto cars and very few piggyback cars. They are still moving coal to the great lakes terminal on lake Erie.

Strip malls are dying but we had too many to start with.

A neighbor just sold his house after about 6 months on the market. Three or four years ago it would have been gone in 30 days. He's 92, moving to an assisted living facility. He's been retired about 30 years, a LBYM type. He was asking $180k, he could have gotten $210k easily a few years ago.

House construction is dead and building supply businesses aren't selling much these days.

The city stopped free yard waste collection, if you want it it's $49.95 for April through October.

Other news on the home front, about 15 people have been laid off at the old salt mine since I retired two years ago. They removed the early retirement incentive form the pension plan. Now you have to stick around to 65 to get what I got at 62. It's progressive so the oldtimers didn't get hit but the newbies are whining.

The best CD rate I can find locally is 3%/5 years.

Other than that things are just ducky.
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Old 07-24-2009, 11:13 PM   #24
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...I live about 1/4 mile from two major rail lines, a Norfolk Southern Intermodal line and Conrail. Rail traffic is almost dead at night and greatly reduced during the day. Maybe off by 30-40%. No auto cars and very few piggyback cars. They are still moving coal to the great lakes terminal on lake Erie...
Rail freight isn't the only traffic getting thumped. I started working for a truck (as in tractor/trailer) dealership early this spring, and we're hearing from some of the bigger carriers in the area that their frieght has dropped upwards of 40%. People are buying less, so there's less to ship, so there's A LOT of trucks sitting idle, which really sucks for us.

Magna, a large auto supplier, has a good-sized presence here in eastern Iowa. I think they have, well, had, around seven plants. I know they are closing at least two of them, which effects around 800+ employees, not to mention the small communities in which the plants operate. I have numerous siblings who were caught up in that malaise. It sucks to watch........
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Old 07-25-2009, 06:24 AM   #25
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I see it in my pay cut instead of a pay raise for a job well done. Can be made up with more Hulu watching and longer lunches, but I'd rather do the job well and have the money to spend how I see fit. Besides, this has really been a lost decade for me. I was making a little over $100k in 2000, but the salary has been "increasing at a negative rate" since even with 2 more graduate degrees, more experience, and more focus on the job. The only way to give myself a raise would be to go to California and start growing "medical" marijuana.
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Old 07-25-2009, 07:42 AM   #26
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I have seen people drop their health insurance coverage like crazy. Senior mgt has always been under the belief that individual policies pick up during recessions as people are let go from jobs and group plans. Not the case at all.

I have noticed that people at work are much more on edge than usual following a big round of job cuts and smaller ones here and there. People seem to hoard their knowledge and skills in fear of being replaced. The company is outsourcing as much work as possible to cut wages.

Unemployed in the state is close to 11%, metro area is around 10%. Toyota and Ford plants are ramped down along with all the suppliers Toyota's presence created years ago.

Real estate sales are very slow but prices don't seem to be dropping although I'm sure some deals can be found. Real estate never really experienced a huge price boom but a lot of construction took place. A lot of 1/2 developed neighborhoods & communities are still visible and will be for some time.

I have seen more vacancies in commercial strips. Small businesses, I believe, have been the victim in most cases. We had one GM dealer go under as well as a boat dealer.

Job section got so small it was combined with another section.

Seems like groceries are still still doing well but everything else is slow. People still seem to be eating out quite a bit.

And for my unofficial sign - I took the day off from work and went fishing at a local public pond. Normally on a week day, I don't have much competition and the banks are fairly vacant. Not the case this past Friday. Tons of people out there (looked like a weekend) and everyone seemed to be keeping their fish

Hard to imagine the stock market gains when you see stuff like that going on...
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Old 07-25-2009, 08:03 AM   #27
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I was out of work for 5 months here in Calgary, Alberta. Where I worked last (a major engineering company and typical) dropped from about 1,100 to about 250 (my estimates).

Many of those still working had their salaries cut 10-20%. I am getting about 7% less today.

Traffic on the roads and on the commuter trains is down.

According to the radio, Calgary was gaining population at the rate of 100 people a day. Now it is down to about 30 people a day.

Condo prices are down. Apartment rents are down. Both due to increased supply and reduced demand.

Our son-in-law, a finish carpenter in the Pacific Northwest, was working full time this time last year. Now, no more than two days a week, often none.
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Old 07-25-2009, 09:21 AM   #28
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I work in NYC in finance. I'm shocked at how few unemployed people I know. While I know many, many people who've lost their jobs, nearly all of them have been reemployed. A surprising number of new companies have been created by displaced Wall-Street professionals. We're actually seeing an exodus from the large institutions to smaller shops as people flee the "loving embrace" in which Uncle Sam clasps the larger firms. Creative destruction, indeed.

Locally there are more empty store fronts and "For Sale" signs. But from my limited vantage point, it doesn't look like the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.
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Old 07-25-2009, 09:24 PM   #29
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I see the recession in the price increases in the things I want or need. In my town, restaurant prices going up, not down. Coupon deals at same restaurants getting less generous. Beer prices in restaurants and stores going up, up, up.
A plate of Nachos is $10.50. An 8 oz hamburger and fries is $9.50. 2 years ago it was $6.00 for the Nachos and $6.95 for the burger and fries. A pint of beer was $2.95 then, now it is $4.00. But the place is always packed whenever I go there.
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Old 07-25-2009, 09:47 PM   #30
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I see the recession in the price increases in the things I want or need. In my town, restaurant prices going up, not down. Coupon deals at same restaurants getting less generous. Beer prices in restaurants and stores going up, up, up.
A plate of Nachos is $10.50. An 8 oz hamburger and fries is $9.50. 2 years ago it was $6.00 for the Nachos and $6.95 for the burger and fries. A pint of beer was $2.95 then, now it is $4.00. But the place is always packed whenever I go there.
Good heavens, remind me to never move to your town (wherever it is)! Those prices are awful.

Tonight Frank and I ate Chinese. I ordered sesame chicken with shrimp fried rice and an egg roll. That cost $8.25 (the most expensive dinner combo on the menu). The plate was piled high enough to feed three people (there was well over a half pound of chicken, 1.5-2.0 cups of rice, and an egg roll 2" thick) and the food was great. Service was very good and the atmosphere quiet and informal.
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Old 07-26-2009, 01:06 AM   #31
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I was out of work for 5 months here in Calgary, Alberta. Where I worked last (a major engineering company and typical) dropped from about 1,100 to about 250 (my estimates).

Many of those still working had their salaries cut 10-20%. I am getting about 7% less today.

Traffic on the roads and on the commuter trains is down.

According to the radio, Calgary was gaining population at the rate of 100 people a day. Now it is down to about 30 people a day.

Condo prices are down. Apartment rents are down. Both due to increased supply and reduced demand.

Our son-in-law, a finish carpenter in the Pacific Northwest, was working full time this time last year. Now, no more than two days a week, often none.
I'm in Alberta too and the construction company I work for cut about 20% of staff in the fall. We are Canada wide and things in Ontario are about 40% behind last years pace while in Alberta and BC it was pretty close to last year which was a record year. Having said that, the second half will be bleak as that is the story our major customers are telling us. I expect unemployment in Alberta to hit 10% in 2010 (6.5 now) as a couple of major projects will be finished at that time ( about 15,000 tradesmen employed by these projects). The provincial gov't also just announced a hiring freeze.
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Old 07-26-2009, 01:37 AM   #32
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Good heavens, remind me to never move to your town (wherever it is)! Those prices are awful.

Tonight Frank and I ate Chinese. I ordered sesame chicken with shrimp fried rice and an egg roll. That cost $8.25 (the most expensive dinner combo on the menu). The plate was piled high enough to feed three people (there was well over a half pound of chicken, 1.5-2.0 cups of rice, and an egg roll 2" thick) and the food was great. Service was very good and the atmosphere quiet and informal.

Want2, that sounds like the prices here 10 years ago. I hope your prices stay low.
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Old 07-26-2009, 07:16 AM   #33
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good and bad

Western Michigan, so we've been in a downturn for at least 8 years (since 9/11).

Auto industry has been hit very hard and that has ripple effect that goes to suppliers, plastic mold injection industry, seats, seat covers, ....you get the idea. Furntiure industry (office) which used to employ quit a few is down. State government contiues to cut which has a impact on schools, roads, state police and just about everything else.

OTOH, medical industry is growing, animal health is growing, agriculture has had its ups and downs, seems that the auto industry will have some kind of rebirth although it will definitly been smaller, so there are positive signs.

Housing prices are down, but this has been going on for quite a while because of the auto industry downturn, construction is down and there are some housing/retail/commercial/industrial vacanies.

Yet, most good business and good locations are holding there own, most people do have work, most people are out spending money....just a bit more cautious. Still some new construction, mostly commercial or governmental, on the residential side lots of people are staying put and improving their homes.

So overall, we are in a recession, a pretty severe one, but not a depression, not even close, and this is in Western Michigan which is the hardest hit state in the Country.
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Old 07-26-2009, 07:43 AM   #34
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DW mentioned that there seemed to be more closed stores at the mall, newspapers frequently carry articles about how pressed food pantries are, but we haven't really seen much change. The houses for sale take longer to sell, but they do usually sell eventually.

All the local banks have signs out front that they are lending.

But being close to the Washington, D.C. area and the government employees and contractors (of which I am one) this area is still somewhat insulated from the real free market world. Many of my neighbors take the train to DC or endure that brutal commute up and down IS 270, which on a good day is an hour and a half. And thanks to Senator Byrd, there are a number of govt. installations nearby. When we first moved here I wondered why the Coast Guard would have a facility in WV, then it came to me - "Ah, Senator Byrd!"
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Old 07-26-2009, 07:57 AM   #35
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But being close to the Washington, D.C. area and the government employees and contractors (of which I am one) this area is still somewhat insulated from the real free market world...
I have read that the "small government" pledge by politicians is certainly a myth. The DC area employment has been growing for the last 10 years or so.

Note: I have nothing against gummint employees. One has to go to where the jobs are. It is just sad that society cannot create jobs elsewhere for people. The cause of that would be the subject of many threads belonging in the soapbox, which has been closed.
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Old 07-26-2009, 08:12 AM   #36
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I see the recession in the price increases in the things I want or need. In my town, restaurant prices going up, not down. Coupon deals at same restaurants getting less generous. Beer prices in restaurants and stores going up, up, up.
A plate of Nachos is $10.50. An 8 oz hamburger and fries is $9.50. 2 years ago it was $6.00 for the Nachos and $6.95 for the burger and fries. A pint of beer was $2.95 then, now it is $4.00. But the place is always packed whenever I go there.
The deflation is largely in the big ticket discretionary stuff that people can live without in tough times.

And if you're not buying much of that kind of stuff but are sticking to the necessities, there is definitely inflation out there, and a fair bit of it.
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Old 07-26-2009, 12:00 PM   #37
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The deflation is largely in the big ticket discretionary stuff that people can live without in tough times.
Maybe I am not looking at the right things, but I am not seeing it even in the big ticket discretionary stuff. However I am seeing lower prices for:

(1) gasoline, and
(2) houses

around here, compared with last summer. Nationwide, these prices would appear to be significantly lower.
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Old 07-26-2009, 12:32 PM   #38
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Maybe I am not looking at the right things, but I am not seeing it even in the big ticket discretionary stuff. However I am seeing lower prices for:

(1) gasoline, and
(2) houses

around here, compared with last summer. Nationwide, these prices would appear to be significantly lower.
Maybe -- but $2.50 a gallon for gas is only "lower" in the context of a short-term speculative spike in the price and spikes related to Katrina and other hurricanes in the Gulf in 2005. If you smooth out a curve over time, it appears the long term trend is still up.

And as for houses, once you already own one, falling home prices do little or nothing to improve your cash flow or lower your cost of living. That's different from, say, food and energy prices, or other goods most households constantly consume.
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Old 07-26-2009, 12:38 PM   #39
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Maybe -- but $2.50 a gallon for gas is only "lower" in the context of a short-term speculative spike in the price and spikes related to Katrina and other hurricanes in the Gulf in 2005. If you smooth out a curve over time, it appears the long term trend is still up.

And as for houses, once you already own one, falling home prices do little or nothing to improve your cash flow or lower your cost of living. That's different from, say, food and energy prices, or other goods most households constantly consume.
That's for sure. Doesn't help me much, personally, this summer. I don't even use much gas and I am not selling my house until after ER.
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Old 07-26-2009, 02:58 PM   #40
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Besides homes taking longer to sell at reduced prices, some workers having their hours trimmed, and the casino's take down, the most telling is the CT state budget deficit of over 8.5 billion dollars (annual budget of 23 billion) for the next two years. Being a "blue state" controlled by the dems I don't see budget cuts as the probable solution. That leaves only one alternative and that does not bode well for future growth.
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