What do YOU see in the Economy?

What do YOU see in the economy?

From where I sit, working for a hedge fund in Manhattan, it seems like the local economy is doing relatively well. Restaurants are full, there are some empty storefronts but not many, and I’m not hearing to many stories of pain from people I know.

This doesn’t mesh with the economic situation that my training and instincts tell me is happening. As I look at total debt / GDP for the US and other countries, I think we have an incredible amount of pain ahead of us. I think the government has our economy on life support and I don’t see an easy way to wean us off it. Needless to say, I’m very very bearish on the US economy, the US dollar, and the US stock/bond markets. However this view doesn’t mesh with market action and the local, Manhattan economy that I can see.

The question I have for the Dope is: What does the economy look like from YOUR perspective? Do you think things are getting better, or worse? What is your gut feeling?

Since the OP is asking for personal opinions, this is better suited to IMHO than GQ.

General Questions Moderator

Breaking news! Manhattan hedge fund employees not struggling financially. Some will admit to tightening the belt, but vow that after spending this winter at Aspen, they’ll be back in St. Moritz next year.

I saw an article in the Times saying New York did relatively well because you guys got bailed out.

Here in Silicon Valley, some companies are beginning to hire again, and traffic on 880 seems to have picked up. I know some senior people who were laid off at my company now have jobs. More for sale houses now have sold signs on them. So things are a bit better.

If the media will quit acting the part of Chicken Little we ought to continue the recovery.

In Nevada, unemployment in Washoe country (Reno) hit 13.5% and the local shopping center built in 2006 is 50% vacant. My brother is in the process of losing his home and homes that once sold for $210,000 are selling for $40,000.

South Carolina has 12.6% unemployment right now. I’m so glad your hedge fund life is doing so well, but all I do all day as a librarian is help people look for jobs that literally are not there.

I see both…

I personally have made out like a bandit in this recession. I finished paying off several debts right as we went in the toilet and I was switching to investing mode in December of '08… also I was able to get a 3 bedroom condo foreclosure off of the Freddie Mac for less than 75% of its appraised value (not including the $8K from government)… I took a risk and borrowed to buy stocks two weeks before the bottom last year.
However a friend of mine,

His day time employer closed the division he was in, and was lucky to be able to switch to the main corporation & his business which he’d borrowed heavily for to buy the building for went under because all his customers (mostly teenagers) are unemployed. Luckily he found a buyer recently for the building… but I was really worried for him for awhile.
If you where heavily mortgaged, or bought a house in 2007, 2006 with little down you might be in trouble. If you were one of the unemployed, things are pretty scarey. If you panicked and liquidated your 401K last year, your probably not feeling so good about things. But I think some people, mostly those not deep in debt, probably were able to take advantage of some real deals in the stock market, real estate or even deals on some big ticket purchases like cars.

But the Chicken Little shtick sells newspapers and gets viewers to watch TV news.

I will tell you how it is for me. Last week my niece got sick and I had to take her to the doctor. All the way over there I kept thinking “there goes our grocery money for the week”.

That didn’t really answer your question, sorry.

I see people being very cautious and not spending too much. Lots of folks here are out of work and struggling to make ends meet.

I’m doing fine, as I’ve kept my secure job and did not have any debt. But I’m not seeing any signs of increased hiring anywhere near what we’ll need to make a dent in current unemployment.

Our government agency hired numerous folk who had been canned by private firms - who would never have considered government work if given a chance. And I don’t see them going anywhere.

My wife has pretty much back-burnered her attempts to find full-time work after a year with NO results. As we didn’t NEED the income, she/we decided the unrewarding grind of the search was negatively impacting our lives.

My eldest is graduating college next fall with a degree in music ed. She had a very good interview for a very good student teaching position - seems very promising, but who knows what will be available in terms of full-time work come January?

In addition to jobs, is there any “magic bullet” for the states’ budget crises? I don’t see what can be done other than slashing services/payroll/benefits AND increasing taxes. Both of which will hurt a lot of people.

My wife was at the doctor’s the other day. She mentioned something about being down about her job search. He said to stop being so hard on herself. He said we sounded like we were doing fine. He had any number of patients who were in extremely dire straits, and were experiencing health problems as a result.

Personally, I’m comfortable, but genenerally, I’m not sanguine.

I work for a company that sells electronic components to manufacturers.
For a long time, we were seeing our customers only buying small quantities, for immediate need. That translates to they had no confidence that they would be building anything in the future, and they didn’t want to costs of carrying parts inventory.

At about the beginning of the year, our customers started placing long-term POs with us again. They are now willing to bet that they will be making their widgets for the next 3+ months. I’m seeing customer placing POs 9+ months.

I’m in the middle of a kitchen remodel. All of my contractors are telling me that they are seeing an uptick in business, in just the last few weeks. That might be because it’s looking like spring. Or maybe it’s a sign that people are feeling better about their jobs, and so are willing to spend money.

Locally, there are tons of empty store fronts. I’m not yet seeing anyone move into them. But I’m not really surprised by this. I think that we were WAY overbuilt in retail space, before the recession.

I think that the economy is recovering, but we have a long way to go. I am a professional (scientist), am unemployed, and know a bunch of other people in the same boat with similar backgrounds and educations. I know of engineering consultants that are working for free just to get there foot in the door. That said, the people I know in finance are do just fine.

From where I stand we are at the beginning of (about 10 years into) a sea change with regards to the US and world economies. The days of 6 figure salaries are on the way out thanks to globalization and high bandwidth digital networks. I believe that this will affect all professions including those in finance. Currently accounting, payroll, and bookkeeping functions are being outsources to India and other countries at a great savings for US companies. Engineering / design services are being outsourced to less expensive and more hardworking engineers in China. Cat scans, MRIs and X-rays are being outsourced to doctors in India. Software is outsourced to Singapore and China. Because of this, I am not sure that the economy is ever going to get back to where it was in the eighties and nineties. We are going to have a hard time competing until world salaries are comparable to ours, either by their salaries rising or ours falling.

On edit: my first paragraph comes off a little too negatively. While unemployed, I am not really worried yet. I fully expect to find a job in the next 6 months (I lost my job February 1), and believe the other people with similar backgrounds will also be OK.

We live in a town and state with relatively diverse economies and while they’ve struggled a bit, overall things are very sound. I believe median home prices actually rose here each year, albeit at a slower rate.

We both stayed employed with good careers, energy and medical, although a percentage of coworkers were either layed off or let go and rehired as contractors. While certainly not abandoning our conservative fiscal attitude, we did use the downturn to our advantage, moving into a much larger custom. We sold our previous home almost immediately, although a couple of would-be buyers struggled themselves with arranging financing. The federal tax incentive played no part in our buying but did encourage our timing on when to sell.

We continue to recognize that nothing’s a given though and stay positioned to make whatever adjustments are necessary as the economy meanders out of this morass. More of our retirement vehicles we now have under the guidance of investment advisors. We also are helping some family members out who’ve been impacted more severely and pray that everyone negatively affected by all this get back on their feet as quickly as possible.

I think those with jobs are doing fine, because a lot of deadwood was weeded out.

I think it’s interesting in my area of Chicago, which is about one step above the ghetto, the shops have closed and every other person is on food stamps and the drug dealers are back again. But in the Yuppie areas like Lincoln Park, I can’t tell the difference. The fancy cars are still there, not one of the resturants, shops or boutiques have gone out of business.

There’s definately a creeping divide between the haves and have nots. I think we’ll see an even bigger divide than we saw in the early 80s after that recession ended

Unemployed except for brief intervals since Oct. 2008. Applied for my very last unemployment check this week, after which I will have exhausted the third extension of original benefits :eek:

On the plus side I have found more new job applications to make in the last two weeks than the previous six months. Before that there was zero out there, not even grocery bagger and fast food positions. So I’m keeping my fingers crossed. We have enough savings to get by for a few more months.

Things have stopped getting worse (for now?) and are marginally better. I would compare the economy to someone who was brought into the ER flatlined, was defibed twice and then was in a coma for a week. Now they’re conscious and able to drink through a straw. I just hope there are no unpleasant economic surprises lurking out there- the recovery is too fragile to take another jolt. In particular, I hope there isn’t going to be a second wave of mortgage defaults, as people who had sound mortgages finally can’t make payments anymore after their last reserves are gone.

I live just outside of Detroit, and it looks like the world ended.

Boarded-up houses falling apart, whole malls nearly empty, that kind of thing. People begging me for money more and more often. I finally got a job after searching for about 2.5 years, and it turns out that it pays less than my old one did, which wasn’t even very much.

If their chicken little bullshit hadn’t made a bad situation worse, maybe more people could afford to buy newspapers and/or pay the cable bill.

My Mig works construction but there’s NOTHING, so he’s been laying carpet and vinyl for sixty bucks a day for twelve hour days. There’s just nothing else he can find and nothing I’d be able to do would cover day care for a child with special needs who has to be taken to therapy, someone to work with her, etc.

We have taken in Mig’s brother, who is doing the same work. With my daughter working we just barely get the bills paid. We are in a lot worse shape than we used to be, given about two years ago he was making almost 200 a day.

I compile fluffy news stories for a national, decentralized charitable organization. I’m still seeing a LOT of stories about communities having spaghetti dinner fund-raisers for families that are down on their luck or can’t pay their medical bills or the bills for their 2-year-old or whatever. Hard to say if it’s more than usual because I haven’t been in this job for very long.

Personally, I’m apparently going to get a very small raise this year after no raises last year. On the other hand, two years ago I was unemployed so I’m really in better financial shape than I’ve been in years.