Friday, December 5, 2008

All piled up, and nowhere to go.

Bulletin Headlines, today:

PILED UP AND READY: But ready for what? I have no reason to believe that snow won't show up, except the superstition and experience that when things start going wrong, everything goes wrong...

GUN SALES SOAR: It's heartwarming how we're all pulling together in this time of trouble.

SMILE -- TURNS OUT HAPPINESS IS CONTAGIOUS: By all means. But fake smiles are kinda creepy.

ADMIRING THE MORNING PERSON: Really? I just want to shoot them. With my new gun.

A HARD SELL FOR BIG 3 EXECS: Despite what I said last time, showing up in hybrid cars and offering to take 1.00 salaries no longer counts. Too late, bozo's.

SEVENTH MOUNTAIN FACES NEW LAWSUIT: I thought that last lawsuit ended a little messily. It's a crappy situation and probably irreconcilable in this economic climate. time-shares EVER work?

GOTTSHALKS HAD LOSS: All because they came to Bend, I'm sure.

4 IN BEND ARRESTED AFTER SERIES OF THEFTS: A perfect circle jerk. The sleazy robbing the crooked and just all around mindless twittery. Mugshots in KTVZ and KOHD.

BEND MUST DO WHAT IT CAN TO SAVE CITY BUS SERVICE: Editorial. Which says, basically, that because she knows some people who need it, it should be supported. Which is a bit like saying, I know some people who can't mow their lawn, so we should create a massive bureaucracy, with lawn care employees and warehouse of lawn mowing machines, to take care of it.

There are always individual problems that need to be addressed, but not everything requires a government program. Not saying that it isn't needed, just that a few examples of people who need it aren't proof.

It's almost certain that the bungled managing of the buses doomed the measure. And, I think that is about as liberal a turnout as Bend is ever likely to get. So, I just can't see how they can count on the public ponying up for this any time in the near future.

BUSINESS DINERS TAKE A RAIN CHECK: Lately, I've been saying to people. Go back a couple of years; rich people were moving in droves to Bend, supposedly saving our asses from ever being in the wilderness again.

But the scenario I keep imagining is this:

Real estate agent takes rich client out to dinner.

Anyone want to guess who paid for the dinner?

So thank you, Bulletin, for your endless blog fodder. Without you, I'd be lost.


Bend Economy Man said...

There was a phrase bandied about a lot on the national Housing Bubble Blog that inspired me to create my blog: "revert to the mean."

I understood this to mean that once the excess credit leverage was eventually gone from the economy, you'd see the pre-boom economic situation establish itself (in housing, for example, there would be a correlation between median income and median house prices).

Bend is/was a highly leveraged place. You saw the terms "upscale" and "affluent" used all the time to describe newcomers to Bend but media outlets like The Bulletin and KTVZ could never seem to give an adequate explanation about why the median income in Bend did not reflect the new "affluence."

The Occam's Razor explanation of how a large number of "affluent" people could move to Bend and yet have a relatively small effect on median income numbers would be that the money was borrowed. Borrowed money doesn't show up as income. But The Bulletin ran stories attempting to reconcile the inconsistencies, where local economic boosters said that Bendites were, in effect, big capitalists rather than big earners: they had a lot more stock, real estate investments and other ASSETS, i.e., WEALTH, but not necessarily assets that spun off a lot of income, I guess.

Well let's assume for the moment that The Bulletin was right - that we had a lot of newcomers who were asset-rich but cash-poor. Aside from people who've lost their jobs and have NO assets, those are exactly the people who have taken the biggest hit. There's been huge losses of value in just about every asset class you can think of. You hear "I'm heavily invested in stocks and real estate" nowadays and think "ouch!" rather than "wow!"

So to me, "reverting to the mean" in Bend means that people are needing to live on the money they can earn working at a job. There's not a lot of money to be made wheeling and dealing right now.

The people who are sitting the prettiest right now, other than the TRULY rich who can lose large portions of their wealth and still be wealthy, are those with steady, high-income jobs. And Bend is notoriously short on steady, high-income jobs (a problem which should be priority #1 here to fix).

In short, all rambling aside, whether Bend's "affluent" class was (1) living on borrowed money or (2) asset-wealthy but not high-earning, it ain't good for those who cater to the upscale Bend customer in today's economy because either way those folks are hurting.

Bend has a small high-earning professional class (like doctors and lawyers) that is doing just fine. Other than that it's hard to imagine that there are a lot of people around here who would describe themselves as "affluent" today.

Duncan McGeary said...

You always make sense to me, BEM.

That's what I read into too.

I had a nice tourist lady in the other day, and she said, "I shouldn't say this, of Bend are really ugly."

So much for Bend being exceptional.

Sure, it is. And so are lots of other places.

I just automatically suspect that when someone says we're different -- richer, smarter, cleaner and blonder -- that it's mostly B.S.