Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Organic Economic Observation

OK, I was not on the road yesterday, I was on the water taking a long overdue half a day off. Here is a little observation in the Peter Lynch tradition of walking around with your eyes open.

A friend who lives on the waterfront on the south shore of Long Island invited us down for some swimming and a ride on his boat. Considering it was 195 degrees with 200% humidity, the technical analyst in me admired the timing of the offer.

As we motored around the bay I noticed that we were practically alone out there. Yes, I realize it was Tuesday but it is July and there are a few million people living within 20 miles so the silence was eerie. My friend pointed towards the shore where million-dollar houses on quarter-acre plots paying 30K in real estate taxes crowded the horizon.

Normally, there would be a boat in nearly every slip. This summer, my guess is that there were boats in only a third of them. My friend told me that people are leaving their boats in storage. The fees to bring them out for the season and re-winterize them in the fall were adding to the current high price of fuel. We can speculate on the current employment state of their owners.

He added that people were also using their boats for more mundane purposes such as getting from one place to another - even if it is a restaurant on the water. Contrast this to using a boat to tool around the bay for hours just to see how big of a wake they could kick up.

And speaking of restaurants, none of the ones we visited using the boat were open. Again, it was a Tuesday but this is the high season.

High brow retailers such as Tiffany and Coach may be soaring. Low end fast food such as McDonald's may be soaring. Not so much for Winnebago and not so much for boating. You can decide where on the affluence spectrum the latter two lay.


Normand said...

Same here on the lakes in the Eastern Townships in Quebec, Canada. Very quiet for this period with the kids out of school.

Will said...

Same in Port Jeff. The harbor use to be packed. Now it's like a ghost town.


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