Blammo the Magnificent
Years ago, I used to attend Frederick Keys baseball games with my kids. It was a fun evening and usually they had give aways for the kids or some special event to attract fans. This one evening, the scheduled highlight was a guy, who we'll call Blammo the Magnificent, who had a rather unique way of earning a living.
Blammo was taken out to mid-center field, while wearing a superhero kind of tights, and then placed in a wood box, sort of like an oversized coffee table crate, and then his scantily clad assistant would nail the box shut. The reaction in the stands was predictable. (What some guys will do for pretty girl on a date!) With appropriate half time music and a swelling volume of almost thunderous applause the assistant pulled out a pack of matches (we never figured out where the matches came from in that costume) and lit a fuse leading to the box now containing Blammo. Within the alloted coundown, there was a huge explosion as the box disintegrated into the air, leaving Blammo lying on the pristine, althoughly slightly torched outfield.
For a few seconds, Blammo remained motionless, and then finally after some prompting from paramedics and his visibly worried assistant, he was helped off the field to the reviewing stand. Once he regained his balance, the game announcer congratulated him on yet another triumphant performance (kids don't try this at home) and asked Blammo to comment.
Said Blammo, "I don't think I want to do this anymore."
That, it seems to me is now the theme of this recession.
As recession weary consumers start to try to make some sense of their financial imperative, the epidemic of curtailed spending now seems to be even more evident in the business sector. Despite continued spending across the various federal initiatives, the mood of the consumer and business owner remains somber.
Interestingly, there is a sense of frustration with how long the recession has been in the news and in the neighborhoods. Said some local real estate professionals, "the recession will simply end when people tire of it."
There is some historical precedent to this and the fact that consumers have the choice to spend or not underlies a very important point. Once consumer spending picks up, industrial production and imports will gain momentum and the recession will begin to slip away. In all likelihood, we're looking at a consumer initiated, business followed contraction, with the endpoint within the next year. The best estimate we can offer is that when dated officially by NYBER, the recession officially ends by November of this year, but we won't see employment gains (remember my point about a jobless recovery at first) until February/March of 2010.
I hope we don't see more former corporate types trying to earn a living like Blammo, and even more to the point, that nothing in stimulus package has earmarks for pyrotechnic performers.
But don't be surprised if they do.