It’s official, the recession is over, and the recovery is underway.
You may be wondering how I know this. I direct you to Lou’s Leading Economic Indicators.
It’s reliable, perhaps even foolproof. Lou’s Leading Economic Indicators are the composite of several technical readings that Lou takes whenever he feels like looking. These readings are combined into a highly scientific, technically complex and exceedingly reliable measurement of economic activity.
Okay, I know you’re curious, so I’ll explain the details. Don’t worry; you won’t need your Econ 101 textbook.
Last year, I lost about 50 pounds. I know; it’s wonderful. But, I have to admit, I had some help. Actually, I got sick. No, don’t start getting out worry beads and hankies. It was nothing life threatening. However, it did destroy my appetite and that started the ball rolling on my diet.
After I got well, I thought, being thin is kind of nice. Why not keep on losing weight or at least try not to go back to being a parade float. I started looking for ways to extend my weight-loss trend.
One of my strategies was to find some replacement snacks for my customary carbo-treat at the bedtime hour. This usually consisted of what I call a bread sandwich. That’s two slices of white bread toasted with a third slice stuck in the middle. Usually I would have a fourth slice since the toaster had four slots so it seemed sensible not to waste the energy heating air in that fourth slot. The whole thing was held together by butter and jelly.
After searching and searching, I selected a nice little replacement snack. Nestle’s Frozen Lemonade Cups. These things are incredible. I could almost live on them. It didn’t take long until I found I was addicted and needed to have a good supply on hand at all times. Initially this wasn’t problem. However, time went by, and other people started looking for refreshing snacks as well. The lemonade cups became more and more difficult to find at my local grocery story.
As of now, the store manager tells me he can’t keep them in stock. So, there it is; sign number one, a run on lemonade cups. People are either opting for lemonade cups over filling prescriptions, or they have huge amounts of disposable income to squander on my favorite snack. I’m guessing it’s the latter.
I live and work in the Cincinnati area. Cincinnati has been called the River City for many years. It also could be called the Railroad City. We are the home of one of the busiest and largest rail yards in the country. The rail industry has been good to Cincinnati, and a lot of rail history is present here.
Ironically, we can’t seem to get a commuter rail system here. We started one during the last depression, but ran out of funding, and now we use the tunnels for storage. However, this is off point—back to the return of prosperity.
One by-product of the rail system is being treated to long waits at rail crossings. Some trains lumber by, taking their time, dragging car after car of steel, coal or automobiles. The engineers smile and wave at you while you wait in your car. They seem to be saying, “Look at me, I’ve got plenty of time, it’s fun driving a train!”
Others scream through the crossings. These are easier to bear psychologically. At least they are moving and they must be important or they wouldn’t be moving so fast. Regardless, during slow times, it’s great for me because I don’t have to worry about being delayed at the crossing just three blocks from my office.
In good times, you can almost count on being stopped for a train in Glendale, OH, a suburb of Cincinnati. This means adding 10 minutes to my commute, getting out of the house 10 minutes earlier, eating up 10 minutes of additional gas and so forth.
Over the past several weeks, I have been stopped on nine out of 10 trips through Glendale. You can’t tell me they aren’t building stuff somewhere. I see pig iron, coiled steel, slab steel, coal, kaolin clay, potash and every other imaginable substance moving through Glendale by train. Well, everything other than lemonade cups.
For several years preceding this, you could have easily forgotten that the railway even passed through Glendale. The only reminder was the bumpy place where the tracks cross over the road. No economic activity is great for your commute as long as you have a job to commute to.
Those days seem to be gone. In fact, there’s no doubt about it. Someone is buying stuff because they don’t move any of that junk unless someone, somewhere has bought it. Sign #2 is locked in on the recovery side of the dial.
My final metric is tied to two important sectors: disposable income and travel.
As last Thanksgiving rapidly approached here in the States, Barbara and I were headed west to spend that time with the family in Missouri, as is our custom. Travel is never easy for us. We have two pet beasts at home that really run our household and allow us to share the house with them.
The two beasts will not settle for just any old kennel when it comes time for boarding. Once they experienced the delights of a particularly nice doggie resort, none of the other boarding options would be considered acceptable. I’ve found that dogs have particularly expensive tastes when it comes to dog food and overnight boarding. They are easily spoiled and getting them to go back to standard dog food or to a regular dog kennel is like asking Leona Helmsly if she would mind sleeping in a camper for a couple of nights.
Well, you can just imagine my surprise when I called up the Pet Palace and they told me that they were booked up solid throughout the Thanksgiving holiday. The best they could do was to offer me a spot on their waiting list.
Sorry pal, people are traveling this year. You have to make your plans early.
Wow, now I have to explain to the girls that they’re going to be staying at the regular pet hotel. It’ll be tough, but I’ll just have to put my foot down.
When I was done, Chloe and PJ informed me that this just wasn’t negotiable. Arrangements had to be made!
Oh well, it is still good news, because it is a positive reading on my third metric. People have enough money to pamper pets while they subject themselves to the Bates Hotel or living with in-laws for a couple days. Sign #3 is fulfilled.
So there it is. Lou’s leading Economic Indicators. The economy is on a roll because I’m going to bed hungry, I’m chronically late for work and we’re not going to see the folks this Thanksgiving.