Morton Fox (mortonfox) wrote,
Morton Fox


Cart Rider

While buying some apples at the A&P this evening, I noticed that the self-checkout scanner rang up the apples at a different price/lb than the price/lb posted next to the apples. So I told the attendant at the courtesy counter about it. Because of the supermarket's policy on mispriced items, I got the apples free of charge! Not bad, although it's nothing compared to what this lady does. You know, I sometimes wonder just how many items are mispriced in the supermarket. Even if their accuracy is 99%, that's still a lot of mispriced items. However, since I haven't been going out of my way to look for such errors, I only come across those errors a few times a year.

I got an email from a Flickr employee letting me know about Flickr's new support for geotagging. Flickr now has a system where you can drag photos onto a map to indicate their locations. Anyway, he pointed me to a URL where I can import my geotags into Flickr's geotag system and I did that. So now, you can see all my photos on an interactive map! Looks like Geosnapper has been usurped.

Since around April of this year, I've been watching stocks in the restaurant, homebuilding, and home financing categories take big hits. The latter two sectors are easily explained because the housing bubble has already peaked and we're now on the declining side. I'll deal with restaurants later. Anyway, I've been wondering when the housing malaise will spill over to the broader economy and how steep the fall will be, and I believe I've found just the chart.

This is from John Mauldin's 8/25/2006 newsletter (PDF):

NAHB housing market index vs S&P 500

The chart shows the NAHB housing market index superimposed over the S&P 500. The latter has been shifted back by 12 months. Notice that the two appear to be strongly correlated. Indeed, the real estate market has had a lot of influence over the economy recently, so it should not be a surprise. So, if the correlation continues to hold, we can expect the S&P 500 to do what the housing index did a year ago. Which means that we're in for a big tumble!

About the restaurants...

Borrowed from Mish: Restaurants shave prices, plump menus

Mid-priced casual-dining restaurants, like TGI Friday's and Outback Steakhouse, are middle-class luxuries. Since the middle class has been squeezed for years by rising costs (education, health care, energy, higher interest rates, etc) on one hand and wages that don't keep up with inflation on the other hand, and now that they no longer have home equity extraction to fall back on, it's no wonder that they have had to cut back on restaurant meals. In fact, it appears that they've been switching to the cheaper fast foods, which may explain why Cheesecake Factory (NASDAQ:CAKE) is down 30% since April, while McDonald's (NYSE:MCD) is up about 6%.

This is my kind of downturn though! If those restaurants start offering big discounts in an attempt to remain in business, I may just be persuaded to go to TGI Friday's, Cheesecake Factory, or Applebee's more often than... uhhh... hardly ever.
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