Sunday, February 22, 2009

Tain't no market bottom....

Today's article in the Bulletin, "National recession takes its toll locally," was pretty darn dire.

But you know what?

Bend was going to have it's comeuppance whether or not the national economy tanked. It's just plain disingenuous to pretend our problems stem from a national collapse (who could've predicted? who could've known?). We created our little bubble within a bubble, and I for one was hoping the national economy would help us out when our bubble burst. Instead, the national economy is helping drag us down further.

It would seem with such an article that we've finally admitted our problem.

But there was still a little too much emphasis on 'silver linings' and 'calling the bottom' to really be the bottom.

As Paul-doh said today over on BB2:

"Pretty bleak.

But what's funny, is you can still smell a whiff of hope there. A whiff of, "We'll be back to bubble times again, if we just believe!"

I, too, think Duy nailed it when he said we'll never go back to that bubble economy again.

I don't know what percentage of the local economy was based on the boom, but it's not a small number. 25%? 50%?

It's extraordinary how many people are quoted in these stories who arrived in Bend in 2005 or 2006 or 2007. I hate to say it, but these people have NO IDEA how bad it could get around here. You can just see them grasping at straws.

Again, the emphasis is on 'true grit' and "pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps" and "putting our nose to the grindstone", and every other American Work Ethic cliche you can imagine....

Take away the boom, and what do you have left?: Tourism (which is down) and retirement. Both are minimum wage jobs.

Hollern seems to be seeing it somewhat clearly. I think that's because, like me, he knows that the real base of the Bend economy is far south of what's been going on. Like me, he probably hoped for strong, steady growth...not the insane bubble we saw.

I think this whole idea by the part of the Bend bubble boomers that: "Oh, the boom is over? That's O.K. I can live without buying a new car every year, or going out to dinner every night. I can adjust."

No...that's how you should have been living DURING THE BOOM. Now you need to sell your EXTRA car, and NEVER go out to dinner, and start looking for an exit strategy.

But you won't get to that point until it gets to, "Let's get out Dodge." And by then it may be too late for that....

All through the boom, I maintained my infrastructure and debt level as low as I could get it, while boosting my inventory and sales. When I saw it was going bad, I cut down to that base level, which could conceivably allow me to take home just as much pay at 50% sales level.

I'm not looking too far into the future, right now. I'm already at base level, and all I can do is maintain that. My problem will be to restrain my spending on inventory. That will be a constant adjustment to the level of sales.

But if I do that, I should be O.K.

Because I never believed the boom was real. I never based my business upon it.

P.S. The revised job loss figures are interesting. My business saw a drop in August, 2007. As far as I'm concerned, that's when the recession started. Job losses may have started in Dec. '07, but that probably reflects several months of lower sales before people got laid off.

August, 2007. Folks. Whatever they say.

1 comment:

BENDBUST said...

I saw the drop May 2007, actually it was a plummet to almost zero, there was a little blip of INTL in early 2008.

To me the recession started in May 2007, that's when my CORPORATE CUSTOMER quit issuing Purchase Orders.

Seen this before in 1992, seen this before in 1982,...

My CPA said it would come roaring back in 2009, and he said that summer 2007. Now he's not talking anymore at all on the subject.

Yes, I get so damn tired of ALL these experts like the Forbes article the other day with these people talking about Bend that have been here months, and some even as much as 1-3 years. It's like they NEVER talk to anybody that was here in 1983 and saw the real Bend.

Things will come back, some kind of new equilibrium, but I too agree that DUY is 100% correct, it will NOT come back to Bend, like Verizon closing shop, or Les Schwab selling to a major, and Suterra losing its Cali contract to poison people. It wasn't just calis that came here and bought real-estate, corporations bought the kool-aide as well, and came here and setup shop, and they have gotten bit and hard, like Verizon, they setup shop to ride the growth curve, and now the writing is on the wall, that the area will collapse in population, the corporations are pulling out at light speed.

The job loss will accelerate, for Dunc, things will remain static, he'll be one of the few open businesses in downtown Bend, there will always be people on I97, that will walk downtown Bend to stretch their legs, they'll stop and buy a book from dunc or linda....

I have long predicted that Bend would return to 1983, but that is the BEND that always preferred, so to me this is all very, very, very good.

Bend went to shit in 1986 in my mind, that's when the traffic became like Beaverton, OR, ... That's when crossing I97 on foot became suicide. A slower, quieter Bend, ... Who could have guessed?