Posts tagged “Trends

What Letter is Your Recovery?

Just when you thought you were out of the worst of it … Bam!  Another 200+ point drop.

I’m telling you this economic stuff is driving folks crazy.

One of my favorite subjects of discussion is what “letter” the economy will resemble over the coming months.  This has been the focus of discussion of everyone from AARP to SeekingAlpha to to MutualFundSmarts.

LettersFirst, there is the “V” shaped recovery.  The one we all want.  Straight down and straight up.

Then there is the “U” shaped recovery.  The one more likely.  Straight down, suffer for awhile, and then go back up.

Now comes the really bad letters of the alphabet.

The “W” shaped recovery.  As if we haven’t had enough of Ws already.  Sort of a bipolar recovery.  You go broke.  Make money.  Go broke again.  Make money.  Suffer. Enjoy.  Suffer.  Enjoy.

Finally there is the dreaded “L” shaped recovery.  You decend into hell and stay there.  Hopefully over time you’ll learn to enjoy it.

We need a new monogram.

2009: An opportunity taken … or squandered?

Hi there.

Hope you’re having (or had) a wonderful New Year’s Eve.  There’s a lot of talk about putting 2008 behind us.  Indeed, in the annals of “Auld Lang Syne” (arguably one of the world’s strangest song) our serenade to end 2008 was one of the most sincere in recent memory.

For most normal people — that is, if you are not a high-level senior executive of banks, insurance companies and auto companies making seven figure incomes while bankrupting your respective company —  2008 was a financial train wreck.

Owning a home and having a traditional 401k in 2008 was not quite the equivalent of living in downtown Manhattan on September 2001, nor was it like being on an island in the Indian Ocean on December 2004.  That said, in all three cases a significant portion of lifetime effort was swept away.

You may consider the various Bernie Madoffs of 2008 to be the equivalent of Osama Bin Laden except that that they stole wealth rather than innocent lives.  Or you may consider that 2008 was the violent correction that naturally takes place — just like a tsunami — when the basic forces of mother nature are denied over time.

In either case.  Poof!  There goes $6.9 trillion!  Trillion.  A THOUSAND billion.

Now we have talk of being prudent and frugal.  People discuss the novel idea of spending LESS than they make.  We’re going to increase transparency, enforce regulations, and make things more equitable.  We’re going to come together as a country and fix these seemingly intractable problems that face us.  And who can stop us?  We have Obama now.  Everything will be alright.

After September 11, 2001 we said we’d come together as a nation, put aside partisan differences, and start acting like a responsible, unified nation.  Everyone in the world was an American.

An global opportunity squandered.

Today in 2009 we have another opportunity to begin to get things right, this time with our fiscal and economic policies.  Everyone in the country seems to be behind a new administration’s call for change.

Let’s hope we can do better this time.

Happy New Year.

The Spirit of Christmas

Merry Christmas!

Did you get the “Christmas spirit” this year?  Yes?  Well what kind of spirit was that?  I’m just checking cause a lot of what I see out there doesn’t synch with my idea of the Christmas spirit.  So just for fun I typed in “Christmas” into Google News this morning.  Here’s a sampling of what I found:

The Queen’s annual Christmas talk was one of a “sombre” Christmas that, according to Her Majesty, conjures “feelings of uncertainty.”

“Hallelujah!” “Joy to the World!”

Paris Hilton’s Christmas spirit took the form of a pink Bentley.

“Away in a manger … no crib for a bed ..!”

According to reports, Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has called Jews animals will say Jesus, if alive today, would be against bullying, ill-tempered nations.  (Someone needs to tell him that Jesus was a Jew)

“Peace on earth, good will toward men.”

Google, with a gazillion dollars in market cap and sitting on billions in cash, canceled its Christmas bonus and instead will give its employees a cell phone.

“I have no gifts for him pur-um-pa-pum-pum … Me and my drum.”

The annual Disney parade will be hosted by Ryan Secrest and Matt Dallas, star of the television program in which he plays Kyle who has the 2008 version of the “virgin birth” … a boy without an umbilical cord and belly button living inside a chamber, until he woke up in the middle of a forest covered in pink fluid.”

“Oh come, let us adore him.”

There was the guy who dressed up as Santa and massacred people.  There was the WalMart shoppers who trampled to death the poor soul chosen to open the doors to the store.  And indeed, most stories were about shopping, retail, and sales.  So much that one story retold the quote from Bill O’Reilly who said in 2005 that, “Every company in America should be on its knees thanking Jesus for being born.  Without Christmas, most American businesses would be far less profitable.”

Not the spirit of Christmas that I know.

“Fear not, for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people” … “For unto you a child is born.  Unto you a son is given.”

Have a Merry Christmas.

Watch Out … They’re Fading Fast

It is the day before Christmas and there’s still shopping to do.  What to buy?

A watch?  Huh?  I say that because I open up the Washington Post on the Monday before Christmas and every other page is a full page ad — a FULL PAGE — of nothing but watches.  OK.  A full page ad isn’t as much as it used to be.  But still.  That is some heavy spend.  All for something that fewer and fewer people seem to use.

What is it with Christmas and watches?

They still make nice gifts, right?  Ask John Mayer.  He reportedly gives Rolexes to (some) of the women he gets “romantically involved” with (I think that means he is having sex with them).

But not everyone is John Mayer.   And watches seem to be going the way of the buggy whip, particularly among young people (the object of my shopping for today).

Here’s a snippit from a story written a year ago by Martha Irvine of the Associated Press

In a survey last fall, investment bank Piper Jaffray & Co. found that nearly two-thirds of teens never wear a watch — and only about one in 10 wears one every day.

Experian Simmons Research also discovered that, while Americans spent more than $5.9 billion on watches in 2006, that figure was down 17 percent when compared with five years earlier.

Why buy a watch when a cell phone will do?  Apparently it is a sentiment widely shared.  I read in the New York Times that 2009 isn’t looking good for our Swiss friends.  Is time is running out?  Will the watch make a comeback?  Will, as some claim, the watch have to turn it into some Dick Tracey type multi-function device in order to survive?

Too late!  The smart phone got there first.  I think I’ll go buy one of them.  Then again, it we are in a recession and the kids already have a phone.  I think I’ll buy (another) book.

Merry Christmas!

Redefining Consumption

In the aftermath of the trauma of 9-11, President Bush gave us this advice:

Go shop.”

In so doing our President told us to go out and feed our nation’s greatest addiction and increasingly what many consider to be one of our last remaining economic assets:  consumption.

The ability to consume.  That is our heritage.  Damn the economy.  To heck with the environment, education, and the sinking stock market.

Our ability to — no, our NEED to consume seems to know no bounds.

Note that this is not the consumption that our forefathers celebrated the first Thanksgiving.  Back then they called consumption a disease.  Among other things, consumption was more likely known as a “progressive wasting of the body” … not picking up something at the country store.

Based on what I read in this morning’s papers, we should go back to the old meaning of “consumption” — that of a deadly disease.

It is bad enough that two people pulled out their guns and died in a shoot-out at Toys R Us after their respective female companions got engaged in a bloody brawl.

But that a crowd of shoppers would actually trample to death the poor WalMart employee who has the unfortunate job of opening the door in the morning?

This, my friends, is sick.  Shopping meets greed meets madness meets total lack of disregard for any one meets violence.

Welcome to the new Kris Kringle.

Here’s my advice.  Don’t shop.  Take a day off.  Go check out the folks at “Buy Nothing Day.”  Or at least shop online.  Apparently a lot of people of are.

I am thankful for a lot of things.

Not shopping on the Friday after Thanksgiving is one of many.

Happy Holidaze.

The Anti-Web Site Web Site

Check out Modernista! They are the advertising agency behind such brands as Hummer, Cadillac, and TIAA-CREF.

Modernista!’s non-site-site was brought to my attention by Bill Mount of Trephine Inc. via John Brodeur, both of whom are working on the new web site for the agency I work for, approporiately called, Brodeur.

In the words of Bill, Modernista! may have …

… created the first ‘siteless website’ and, in so doing, have sent the message that these are people for whom unconventional thinking is like breathing (they didn’t say ‘we’re unconventional’, they proved it in th every form of their communication). They ‘simply’ appropriated parts of the web that everybody’s already familiar with and used them to tell the Modernista! story:

* About us is on Wikipedia
* Leadership team bios are on Facebook
* The TV reel is on YouTube
* The Print Portfolio is on Flicker.

And it is all bound together by a discreet, little red banner in the upper left corner of your browser. Damn! I mean, seriously. Damn!

I don’t know if Brodeur’s going to have a “siteless website” but the Modernista! approach shows the power .. and the logical extension? .. of true social media.

I agree with Bill.