Wednesday, March 06, 2019

I hate to sound like a broken record but.......

All I hear right now is how strong the US economy is. All the while economic numbers are being compared to 2008 and 2009 left and right.

I took the above snap shot late last week. And just in my neighborhood, 19 of the 22 houses sold recently went for under asking. Now, most were not a lot under. A few thousand dollars. But that is roughly 90% of what moved on the market.  Just in my neighborhood. And I don't live in a unique neighborhood at all.

Until the price declines turn around, retail is effed. Remodeling is effed.

Back in the 80's the US could live without all the other countries, but for a couple of decades we've woven these countries into our economic fabric. China has been in contraction for three months now. Canada - super close to contraction. Australia - just WTF? And our numbers are not looking good at the moment either.

How can everything be so strong?


  1. Capital of Texas RefugeeThursday, March 07, 2019 1:35:00 AM



    Back in the 1980s, there was this theory called "trickle-down" and a "kindly old man" in the White House who saw it into US economics.

    Carter was a nuclear engineer, did y'all know?


    Never trust a technocrat as a President, I tell you ...

    And so the "correction" was to spend, spend, spend, even more spendy than a bunch of drunk Texan bankers pondering global domination and the rise of The Kings of Silver.

    But America was cheering, oh yes ...


    Sales for those yellow ribbon makers must have been off the chain before that!

    And so nobody seemed to give a shit about "deficit financing" except when it was Democrats saying that they wanted higher taxes again. (Yeah, some of you remember Paul Tax-on-gas? He's dead now, you know.)

    It was smooth sailing for a while, and then one morning the NHK broke the news that Japan's stock market had crashed, crashed, crashed ...

    I got the news first-hand that morning straight from the NHK in Japanese on an actual Tee-Vee, before we had a World Wide Web.

    Eventually the bad news finally percolated through some heads who figured out how our being interconnected in terms of economies means that when Japan gets fucked up, so does the United States.

    What really got crapped on were some obvious things: construction and tourism.

    So no retail, no remodeling ... and no tourism?

    Wow, sounds like 1981 all over again ... and 1991, and 1992, and ...

    The point is you're not the broken record here.

    People are just too damned thick to realize it's happening all over again, but not the same way: history might not repeat the song exactly every time, but it's damned sure humming and rhyming along to the tune.

    You see, I've lived this crap before, and I wound up having my career changed because of it ...

    I went into a Lowe's and a Home Depot during what should be a busy time on a weekday evening over the past two weeks, and what did I see? It was frickin' dead at both of them -- both places turned off the self-scanner registers and there were still no lines at the cash registers.

    This can't end well.

    BTW, Google seems to enjoy making it even harder for me to post comments, so there has been a reduction because of that. I'd counter you Snarkasm(tm) for Snarkasm(tm) except Google seems to think I'm a highly intelligent shade of blue or something.

    *accentuates that last point by holding my breath and turning purple* :-)

  2. Fritz! I was waiting for you to pop up. I've been seeing some crazy video come out of your area. Everything okay up there?

    Yes, housing is due to correct. Although... it's not too far out of the historical range. From what I have observed - real estate will double every 10 years come hell or high water. If it takes a decade off? It makes it up in spades. The population has doubled in my lifetime at least.

    Texas Refugee - you come up with the most interesting stuff. You really know how to make a gurl feel better (said in the most sarcastic way.) I mean, reality is reality. I was one of the very few to survive the last REO speedwagon.. I'd like to say that people got the best gift they ever asked for with low interest rates. But people always find a way to screw that up.

    And........ I think I've started to miss you a bit when you don't pop up for a while.

    P.S. Captcha started spitting out boat pictures. So great- now google thinks autonomous cars are going to crash into boats.

  3. Yeah. That's the video I saw. Pretty impressive! It's kinda amazing how even eraser sized hail (if you get enough of it) will start defoliating trees. Which I found out recently. That must have been chaos in your area.

    I agree with industry. It just can't (naturally) be less expensive to make things in China and ship them here. It just doesn't make sense. Those companies have been incentivized to offshore. And I'm huge for trade. I am a capitalist to the core. They just went way too far. We can't depend so heavily on other countries for our wellbeing.

  4. Capital of Texas RefugeeFriday, March 08, 2019 10:32:00 PM

    Let's go on a walking tour through a place that has no equivalent in the US.

    Let's go on another!

    "Those companies have been incentivized to offshore."


    People who aren't stuck in abusive relationships tend to go where they're treated best.

    People who wake up to being in abusive relationships tend to leave after waking up to their reality.

    Common sense, simple common sense.

  5. I see what you are saying. See - I think it started out that way and then turned.

    Over the whole recession I've heard a bunch of stories about startups basically being forced into going to China. You could't get VC money if you didn't. It cost these particular companies a lot of time. I mean, they all have insurance on the products, but not for the time you waste. For a small startup - it could make or break you.

    Thanks for the vids. I'm somewhat familiar but I haven't seen the videos of that area.

  6. Capital of Texas RefugeeSunday, March 10, 2019 6:48:00 AM

    The small "maker" company in America has a problem: getting the various players needed for systems integration together winds up being a giant hassle.

    Huaqiangbei exists because it solves a problem by simulating vertical integration by putting all of the suppliers either under one roof or under a roof that's very close by within that part of Shenzhen.

    In fact, Shenzhen itself exists because it solves a problem: maker companies need a "Mos Eisley of electronics manufacturing" because it eliminates all of the irritating problems of scale that otherwise crop up.

    There are floors within these buildings where you can tell some people that you want mid-sized production quantities for your prototyping facility, and with that you will stand a very good chance of being able to walk out that same day either with partial quantities or everything you want, much of it being sent directly to your prototyping facility.

    So you can get PCB manufacturing, component sourcing, and all of the stuff needed for prototyping to come under one or several roofs with a lot of the stuff being coordinated within the same city ...

    That's why the VCs appear to insist about this: they won't take you seriously unless you can solve your vertical integration problem, and the easiest way if you haven't done this is to hire some "local guides" to the Shenzhen maker and manufacturing community to help get your products made.

    If a company has solved the problem some other way, that's great, but most small-scale production companies (mine included) never really had all of that local sourcing crap figured out on Day One, and so we're highly amenable to letting someone make that all easy for us.

    As for how that's going to get shipped ...

    If most of the fabbing and assembly's done in Shenzhen, what I really need instead of "fleets of merchant ships" (HUZZAH) is a really good corporate service rep at Singapore Post to help me get my stuff on the way reliably and with minimal in-transit losses.

    Anything going to the US market gets put into a shipping container so we can clear it ourselves at the port of entry, which is something we have to do for any shipment valued over two thousand dollars. Everything else never makes it into the US, even though the US sees tax benefits because of our corporate earnings.

    This all goes into what I really meant by being treated better.

    Huaqiangbei treats those of us in the small-scale electronics prototyping and manufacturing business pretty well on the whole, a lot better than what we get in America with various people telling us to "suck it up, buttercup", those people not having any clue how we make anything or how our component supply chains in America are totally fucked up by comparison.

    That's why there's no Huaqiangbei in America.

    Even a "well-stocked" Fry's Electronics is a joke, because it's a supply chain destination, not a source for components except for one-off builds with bizarrely not-very-good-value-but-very-well-packaged crap from the likes of NTE.

    When it comes to consuming metric fucktonnes of someone's manufactured product though, yeah, build all of the "fleets of merchant ships" (HUZZAH) you want for that, and send all of that merch to Fry's where they can stack it next to the mattresses and the air fryer kitchen gadgets. :-)

    But if you want to impress the hell out of some people in American electronics tech, have someone in a position of power explain how he's going to create the next Huaqiangbei in America.

    Maybe while he's at it, maybe he can explain why the US is so toothless in pursuing intellectual property violations on behalf of US companies ...

  7. Well that explains why every product is just the same thing with a different wrapper. What is good for those VC guys is necessarily what's good for a start up. I mean, some of these guys seemed like hostages honestly. If it's better for your bottom line - then by all means. But that is not the impression I've gotten for the past handful of years.

    "Even a "well-stocked" Fry's Electronics is a joke, because it's a supply chain destination, not a source for components except for one-off builds with bizarrely not-very-good-value-but-very-well-packaged crap from the likes of NTE."

    Maybe those things are ya know...... connected. 20 years ago Fry's was not too bad of an option, but as China took the reins, Fry's just turned into an end consumer store. Not that it was ever completely fab ready. But it used to be way different. Not even hobbyists find it useful these days. There just aren't enough of them because most products are expendable.

    Really - I think America has learned their lesson a little. What used to be the attitude 5 years ago, is not the attitude now. American manufacturing is hungry like I haven't seen it in forever. I get invited to a lot of stuff. And a couple of times I thought I was going to see one thing and wound up on a manufacturing tour. I was quite shocked because higher up the food chain, companies are trying everything to keep you out, but here I was on a tour and they wanted you to see ~everything~. They were ready to help in tons of ways I didn't expect. They were very clear their intention was to save you money though the fab process.

    "Maybe while he's at it, maybe he can explain why the US is so toothless in pursuing intellectual property violations on behalf of US companies ..."

    Well... with an administration bookmarked by "you didn't make this" - why would they have to have any teeth at all? People set their own boundaries and the US was so thirsty they had none. Give it all away was their motto.