Posts Tagged ‘economy’

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“Mac” Week

July 13, 2008

Is it just me, or has there been a lot of “Mac” in the news lately?

IndyMac seized as financial troubles spread (July 12)

Freddie Mac’s Next Hurdle: Raise Cash (July 13)

Bernie Mac makes off-color joke at Obama event (July 12)

Hmmm…should I check Apple’s site for some new development?  There could be some big news right around the corner.

Nah.  I’m actually kind of hungry now, and I might as well celebrate the discovery of the nexus with a…. 

Seriously though, I think I sense a business opportunity.  There’s definitely a market for a “Stick-Up-The-Ass Remover”, as evidenced by some of the hysteria out there over the Bernie Mac thing.  On the other hand, there was at least one blogger out there who put the truly cosmic impact of a couple of jokes by a comedian friend of Obama’s into the proper perspective.   Still, as I’ve highlighted before, there are plenty of Weenies out there, so maybe I really am missing out on the opportunity to make a boatload if I don’t at least look into some R&D on this.  But the first thing I should do is protect the name of my invention, so its gonna be Stick-Up-The-Ass Remover ™ © ®

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The Patriotic Duty Of Blowing One’s Stimulus Check

May 9, 2008

The other day I saw an article in the St. Paul Pioneer Press:  The economic-stimulus rebate: Save it or spend it?   Having not yet received my check from Uncle George, I decided to read on.

America needs help. Sue Wagner, an economic patriot, is answering the call.

The Brooklyn Center telecommunications worker used her $600 check — part of the $168 billion national economic-stimulus package — for a spa that was installed in her back yard Tuesday.

I want this country to be stimulated,” Wagner said.

That’s exactly what government officials want to hear. Checks began to flow from Washington, D.C., this week, part of a program to lift the economy out of the doldrums by boosting consumer spending. Every taxpaying adult is supposed to get $600, plus an extra $300 per child for families. But as officials await the impact of the rebates, a Pioneer Press online survey showed fewer than a third of volunteer respondents would spend the money as officials hoped.

It got me thinking.  Should I blow this thing?  And if I do, will I feel patriotic?

I sat and thought about all the things I could do with an extra $600, and my practical side kept telling me that I should put it on a gas card to combat the ever-soaring gas prices.  Then I thought I should just dump it into my mortgage.   Heck, there are probably a thousand things that I could have done that would have been financially safe and reasonable. 

As I was arriving to work the next day, I got out of my 2000 Cougar, walked toward my building and looked back to confirm that I had armed the car alarm.  As I looked at it I was reminded how old the car was getting, and that it wasn’t looking as good as it used to.  It had a crack in the fiberglass front bumper valence, and my carbon-fiber hood was looking cloudy and discolored (having been subjected to the elements for a few years).  I decided right then and there what I was going to do with that check:  My Cougar was going to get a makeover.

So, I contacted my body shop and scheduled the appointment.  I told the guys while I was there for the estimate that this was a stimulus check expense.  They smiled and a few of them told me that work had been pretty slow lately and that they really appreciate the business.  Apparently people had better things to spend their money on than repairing cosmetic damage on their vehicles, or so I guessed.  I handed over the keys and told them I’d see them in a week.

Well, I recently got the car back, and I gotta say that I couldn’t be happier.  I figure that I killed a couple birds with one stone.  I had fixed up something that had been bugging me for quite some time, and used my chance to stimulate the economy.  I guess the added bonus is that I get to advertise it all over town as I drive around:

Ahh…patriotism!

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Dump The Truck

May 2, 2008

Today I spotted this NYT article (via memeorandum): As Gas Costs Soar, Buyers Flock to Small Cars

DETROIT — Soaring gas prices have turned the steady migration by Americans to smaller cars into a stampede.

In what industry analysts are calling a first, about one in five vehicles sold in the United States was a compact or subcompact car during April, based on monthly sales data released Thursday. Almost a decade ago, when sport utility vehicles were at their peak of popularity, only one in every eight vehicles sold was a small car.

The switch to smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles has been building in recent years, but has accelerated recently with the advent of $3.50-a-gallon gas. At the same time, sales of pickup trucks and large sport utility vehicles have dropped sharply.

In another first, fuel-sipping four-cylinder engines surpassed six-cylinder models in popularity in April.

I post this as a follow-up to the Gas Price Rant Thread, but also because I work at a dealership (yes, every once and awhile Chamber visitors will learn a little more about ChenZhen the man, and it’s true that I sell cars).

So, I guess I can say that this is hardly surprising to me, but I’m amazed at the change in the market in just the last 6 months.  We can’t give these trucks and SUV’s away, and the cars that many people would have previously laughed and pointed at (like the pictured Chevy Aveo) are now holding their values and flying off the lot.  People are doing the math at this point, and the cost of ownership of these V8 trucks is simply getting outta hand.  

For an example, let’s compare fuel costs between the Chevy Aveo (since I mentioned it) and the Chevy Tahoe (since the NYT mentioned it’s 35% drop in sales in the article), using my 10,660 mi. annual commute to work and back that I used in the “rant” thread:

 

That’s a difference of $832, or about $69 extra a month…just to drive to work.

Or, if one uses the default EPA estimates of 15K miles/year with 45% hwy and 55% city average, there is a difference of $1264, or an extra $105 a month.  Within the context of buying a new vehicle, it’s definitely going to be a factor because when you’re talking about a $600/month payment on a new Tahoe, you’re really talking about $700/month in relation to picking a more fuel efficient car instead.

The additional problem for those who already own one is that the market is so soft on them that they won’t get squat for it on a trade-in, so you’ll see more and more people flipped upside down on their payments (lingo we use to describe a situation where the owner owes more on their vehicle than it is worth), perhaps to the point that they can’t get out of it even if they wanted to.   We’re seeing these people more and more.

It’s getting rough out there, let me tell ya.