Pizza as an Economic Indicator: The Charts to Prove It…

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

Haven’t been posting lately because of family obligations….aging parents take lots of time…

However, I’ve been mulling over the investing scene in very brief spare moments.  It’s a process of re-education, after nearly 20 years of “buy and hold.”   No more of that. Oh, it’s OK to hold, but it’s time to learn how to take money off the table.  Being 20 years OLDER puts some urgency behind this effort.

Trying to understand technical analysis, learning about business cycles, you name it.  Then, trying to figure how that all actually fits in during a time when NOTHING is normal!

Of course, most of the official economic numbers are pure fiction, as is the story about how everything is “improving.” Even phony numbers can’t hide the truth, that the long-term picture is not rosy at all. Full time “spinners, ” however, have the story down pat and a lot of Americans are willing to believe it.  It’s an easier story to buy into if you’re in financial trouble.   HOPE, you know…

Locally, I’ve discovered an economic indicator that might apply to your neighborhood, too.

I’ve noticed a SEVERE drop-off in pizza deliveries! No kidding, before the economic mess hit, the Papa John’s, Dominos, and Pizza Hut drivers were in and out of here constantly, not only for dinner, but for lunch, too.  These day…nada.  Oh, last week there was one delivery I saw, to a house were new people were moving in. But, as for the regular trade?  It’s gone. Kaput. Zip.

If you want to get a view of how officialdom views the economic landscape these days, then take a gander at this stuff from the Council of Foreign Relations’ Center for Geoeconomic Studies.  They’ve issued  a nifty-keen treatise entitled…(drumroll)

Quarterly Update: The Recession in Historical Context (pdf file)

How does the current economic and financial downturn match up to past contractions? As before, this chart book provides a series of answers, plotting current indicators (in red) against the average of all post–World War II recessions (blue). To facilitate comparison, the data are centered on the beginning of the recession (marked by “0”). The dotted lines represent the most severe and the mildest experiences in past cycles. Because the current downturn is frequently compared to the Great Depression, the appendix plots the current recession against the 1930s.
Three things to look for in this update:
• Some economic indicators suggest a rapid return to economic growth. Manufacturing sentiment has breached 50, indicating an expansion, and is now nearly at its post-war recession average.
• The fiscal deterioration is unprecedented, but the stimulus that is in part driving the budget deficit has had some positive impact. The “Cash for Clunkers” program raised auto sales relative to the start of the recession to a normal level from well below its post-war minimum. This has helped clear auto inventories.
• Although financial market spreads have come down from unprecedented levels, they remain well above the average during recessions. And even though the rate of job losses has decreased, unemployment is still increasing. Even in the worst previous post-war recession, unemployment was improving by this point in the cycle. Difficult credit conditions and a challenging labor market could impede a sustainable recovery.

The charts are fascinating…here’s the first one (sorry it’s so small):

• The year-over-year fall in real gross domestic product (GDP) is the worst in the postwar period.


(Recessions start at “0” and baseline numbers indicate the number of months out from the start…in these charts, “12, 16, 10, 24” represents 2009.)

There are loads more fascinating charts which tell the tale and belie any talk of  “positives”…

It’s worth a visit to the CFR site, because it has lots of data floating around that’s interesting and discussion of current foreign affairs and global economics.  It’s like going into the belly of the beast, but it’s not all kissing up to our current leader, either.  So, pick your way around and you can find some interesting nuggets.

I have to wonder if, while these think-tankers are churning out their reports, they’re sending out for pizza as often as they have in the past…


PS: Check out the section of the blogroll titled Economic News/Analysis/Contrarian Blogs on the right which lists various economic blogs and resources if you want an ongoing dose of reality…

10 Responses

  1. I sure haven’t ordered a pizza in months and come to think of it I haven’t seen many delivery vehicles wheeling about as they used to. If anything good has come from this downturn I have learned to cook. It’s not as if I couldn’t before, only that I didn’t. Lately it has become a necessity.

    The numbers the government attempts to lift our spirits with are pure fluff. They are designed to lighten our tensions against the fools that put us in this mess. Not much more.

  2. The govenment attempting to “lift our spirits” works for some fools and for the ignorant. Propagandizing the public will always work for these people. As the old saying goes, “you can fool some of the people some of time”. How well that is gonna work when people can see and feel that things aren’t getting better for them is another story entirely.

    Even a fool knows when he/she is unemployed, underemployed or when their life is getting to be more of a struggle every day. No amount of happy talk by a mistrusted media is gonna change that.

    The Kool-Aid addicted, the super partisan Democrats and the just plain stupid may buy into the drivel. But many/most won’t. And that way lies trouble for the party in power.

    Blaming George W. Bush will only work so long. Even now it sounds more like whining than fact. For someone that was so determined to plant his ass in the Oval Office and for someone who spent more money than anyone in history to get there, he needs to quit pointing fingers and do the job he was elected to do. If only he was capable of that.

    • The sad thing is that Bush/Obama are part of the same continuum…people will vote Republican and dig themselves into a bigger hole …and this will repeat ad nauseum!! No one will break the cycle, no one.

      • WE need to break the cycle (as KenoshaMarge calls us the “Hell No” party). We’re the only ones that can, and the only ones that will.

        It’s time to boot both the Left Wing and Right Wing terrorists out of the District of Corruption and take OUR Republic back from the Banksters!

  3. Well said, Grail. I’m finding it very difficult to put any trust in anything that is forecast anymore. I’m finding that the fairy tales put out by the administration bear nothing in common with the actual picture. We are still sliding down that slippery slope that began with the first TARP giveaway, and as far as I’m concerned anyone in the administration who MIGHT have the skill to actually read the tea leaves is just another liar who hopes that we stupid voters are TOO stupid to read them ourselves.

    Until the electorate wakes up and fires the lot of them there is no hope for our country in this financial mess that we are in.

    The way the administration conducts business is so far from the “Generally Accepted Accounting Principles”
    that I studied that it may as well be greek. There is no resemblance to factuality. It is all day dreams concocted by a non-American group of thieves that only are interested in their own agenda. Their credo is “tell the fools anything often enough and it becomoes fact.

    God help us all.


    If I get started on this subject I could be here all day, so rather than bore you to death, I’ll sign off.

  4. Not a bit boring lee M. I feel the same way myself most of the time. Hard on the blood pressure though.

    My mums are doing quite well Grl. As for fall weather, we’ve had it most of the summer so it’s not treat. Expecting a frost today or tomorrow so at least the cool weather will bring forth the beauty of the autumn colors.

    Same old colors in the District of Corruption as Grail so appropriately calls it. Whether Red or Blue it’s all the same. Red for all the red ink and Blue for us being blue in the face and they still don’t listen to us.

    I don’t know what color corruption is but I do know it has an odor. And it ain’t Chanel #5. It’s politician #Stink and we need to Febreeze (vote) the hell out of Washington unil the stench is gone.

  5. The fall off is in large part being caused by the trillion dollars in consumer credit card debt that then results in an additional 15-25 billion dollars in new interest rate charges each and every month.

    Instead of throwing the baby out with the bathwater, aka rising credit card default rates, eliminating interest rate charges on anybody that can afford to PAY DOWN their EXISTING credit card debt would in turn free up more and more paycheck money in local economies.

    And, the freed up money would be in the form of CASH.

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