Posted by Neal Lipschutz
on August 17, 2010
, Luxury Goods
, United States
If current economic patterns continue to hold sway in the U.S., all sorts of unusual relationships will influence a variety of investment decisions.
Consider an economy growing at 2% or less, but growing. That seems a reasonable outlook for the medium term, given the downgrading of growth that’s been going on around us.
Inflation hovers around a worrisome 1% or so. Housing prices won’t likely again collapse, but they also won’t make generalized gains, either. And employment, at the heart of it all, refuses to drop much below the current 9.5%. Economic growth just doesn’t warrant it and employers are especially cautious.
High unemployment is expected to be with us for years to come.
The only thing slightly dilutive to the embarassment that accrues from realizing I have become way too attached to my BlackBerry device is the firm knowledge I am not alone.
I am confident I am not the only person in the Americas Tuesday night, who upon noticing a too-long delay between receipt of emails, started monkeying with the instrument with increasing amounts of frustration and despair.
I am confident I am not the only person who shut the instrument off, took out the battery, and, when the thing still wouldn’t work, again carried out both procedure. I did eventually go to sleep. No messages from about 730 pm to 230 am U.S. eastern time.
Research in Motion, the company behind BlackBerry, apologized today to users for the email outage, citing technical factors.
As discouraging to the company as no doubt such outages are, they do perversely prove the loyalty and dependence of the customer base. Not bad things for a business.
Posted by Gabriella Stern
on November 12, 2009
, Luxury Goods
… on General Motors, Opel and Germany’s Angela Merkel; Fiat and Chrysler; the future of luxury cars in China; and the generally sorry state of the global automotive market, circa 2009. He also engages in some self-criticism about his time at Chrysler. Here are some tidbits from our interview with Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche today in NY; the full text is on the Dow Jones Newswires. Also, here’s a video of a shorter chat with Zetsche.
INVENTORIES: Daimler’s inventories have never been as “cleared out” as they are now. He plans to maintain or even reduce the days of supply Daimler is carrying, even though he acknowledged that low stocks of Mercedes-Benz cars have had “some negative impact on sales” at certain dealerships.
THE EURO: The German company is planning for a year in which the euro, which accounts for a huge chunk of its overhead costs, remains as strong as it was this year, “which would be a major burden,” the CEO said.
California is continuing its trend-setter ways. You’ll recall the giant state was out front in trying to tame auto emissions, among other things. Now it’s after big-screen televisions.
Marc Lifsher reports in The Los Angeles Times the California Energy Commission is scheduled to release new proposed energy use standards today for public comment, with a final vote in November. Maxium energy use rules for televisions would start in 2011.
The article reports mixed views from the affected industry. It will be interesting to see if other states follow suit. With the booming consumer desire for ever-larger televisions, this could be an emerging energy issue.
Lifsher reports: “The average plasma screen uses more than three times as much energy as a bulky, old-fashioned cathode-ray tube TV.”
It’s become clear the past few weeks – as retailers, gadget-makers and food producers have revealed financial results – that Americans are buying three things – and eschewing much else: cheap trendy clothes and accessories for their teenagers (Aeropostale, Buckle); cool mobile and light-weight devices (Dell); and basic food staples (Heinz, Hormel.) Otherwise, they’re saving money, and that’s good. Americans need to save. Thanks to advances in healthcare, we’re going to live longer, G-d willing, and enjoy (or endure) long retirements. For that, we’ll need money. Our kids will go to colleges that seem hellbent on raising tuition fees each year, and for that we most certainly will need money. And we need to stop eating out, for the sake of our wallets and waistlines. Buying food at supermarkets and cooking it at home makes sense, and this is what Americans are doing. It’s also emerging that companies are generally beginning to spend, or think about spending – witness Intel’s ability to forecast better-than-previously-expected third-quarter sales. As I noted yesterday in a blog about home builder Toll Brothers, Americans are also dipping a toe into the housing market – but they’re doing so at beaten-down levels, which is prudent. One hopes mortgage loan purveyors are requiring 20% downpayments this time around… Being a contrarian, I’m not particularly pleased by the fact that people are inching back to Tiffany & Co. It’s good for Tiffany, of course, but I’m not sure Americans should feel ready to buy luxury goods just yet. Continue reading…