From February 26, 2007:
My mind keeps circling back to the comment by the real estate agent in yesterday's Bulletin article on downtown condo's.
Let's quote it in all it's brazen glory:
"The urbanization we are seeing here is so unique to the community this size, I think we're just going to have to see more inventory and see how that goes before we'll really know.
"No guts, no glory."
This is the very definition of speculation; let's build more and see if they sell."
I'm beginning to recall that much of the predicting me and others were doing was in direct contradiction to what we were hearing from real estate and developers. They were pretty shameless, in hindsight. Yet they were continually quoted by the Bulletin and other local media.
March 6, 2007.
Here's a prediction I had wrong: thinking comic stores would be immune to a slowdown. Wishful thinking:
The media seems to be full of bad economic news; meanwhile, Pegasus isn't feeling it much. Not sure it would in any case; comics shops often do well in bad economic times. My sales tend to go up or down due to trends in my particular and peculiar part of the world, rather than because of overall economic conditions. The major exception, of course, was the depression that Bend went through in the early 80's. Still, I think it's early in the cycle, especially for Bend. The pain signals haven't reached the brain yet.
March 14, 2007.
An interesting comment on the prevailing mindset back then. I'm posting this because anyone reading this is going to go, "Well, of course we had a bubble. Of course, we were going to see a bust." But that isn't the way people were thinking back then. Being a contrarian was truly rare back then, though few will admit it now:
"Interestingly, whenever the subject comes up in the store, not only do customers not agree that there is a slowdown, or even a potential slowdown, but they seem surprised that anyone would think so.
Oh, I don't know. Anyone who reads the news? "
Another post that reflects the mindset exactly four years ago, today. April 9, 2007:
"We had an old family friend join the table yesterday. She was thinking about selling her house. So I told her, I thought she should try to sell this spring and not wait until summer or fall. The brother in law who lives in Bend, chipped in, saying he thought that Bend was going to continue booming, that we were a baby boomer mecca.
Interestingly, our old friend seemed very receptive to what I said. I think because she had already been looking into the situation, and seemed aware of some of the developing dynamics. But what was interesting to me was that my B-in-L hasn't changed his opinion about Bend's growth whatsoever."
On April 6, 2007, I have a long blog about how I think there is still a moment of "grace" where it might still be possible to escape the coming downturn if you act NOW:
I think I'll post it in full, because it turned out to be pretty correct.
"In every bubble I've experienced, there is a period of grace at the end, when it is still possible to get your affairs in order. To escape. You have to be paying attention, you need to trust your instincts, but that moment is there.
I do believe it's possible Bend is at that moment.
A couple of days ago, there were three positive economic news items on the front page of the Bulletin. I then turned to my U.S.A. Today, and there were four negative economic news items on the front page.
It's spring, and if houses are ever going to start selling, it is now. But if they aren't selling, we aren't going to really hear about it for another few months. It's still a positive moment in time.
We are the second fastest growing urban area in America. But that information is from last year. You can ride that wave of positive news, but paddling out to sea expecting another big wave is more questionable. There will be plenty of people who will look at the improved sales this spring, and the positive news in the newspaper, and think the lull is over, good times will continue. That's what gives you your opportunity. You have a period of grace.
And if it should happen that they're right, and you're wrong, you don't look back. You at least got out while it was still possible to get out. You at least didn't lose money, and you have removed the distinct possibility that you could be the last fool.
It appears to me that the fundamentals just aren't on the side of the optimists. Reality has a way of reasserting itself. But there is always that moment when the optimists are still in charge, but the pessimists are right. There is no proof, no one knows for sure, but that's the way it feels to me. Feelings can be wrong, but if you wait for the evidence, it's usually too late.
God knows, I could be completely wrong. And I don't have a house for sale, which would color my thinking. And to be honest, I'm kind of in the middle in my own business between the expansion of the last few years, and the cutting back in fear of a downturn. I'm sort of maintaining the momentum. But this feeling I'm having, that this is the period of grace, is very nostalgic and very strong. As usual, I'll wait to take action when there is a bit more evidence, and as usual that may be a little too late. I'm no different than anyone else.
That's the way of a bubble. Everyone tries to play it a little too cute."
4 days ago