Wed. Sept. 16, 2020 – nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen,….

Hot and humid.  Storm and rain possible.

Yesterday it never did rain on me, and it got stinking hot in the afternoon sun.  So I mostly hid from sun and work.

Pickup went well.  Everything needs some little thing to be complete, but given the money saved, I’m happy enough.  Really F’d up though, the way people are stealing through returns fraud.  One of the things I picked up was a Glock G19 factory magazine.   Got it today and someone stole the guts out of it.  They split open the cardboard  of the blister pack, stole the spring, follower, and base plate and re-sealed the cardboard.  It was a bit wrinkled but looked fine, like the packaging was crumpled.  Then they returned it to wherever they bought it, and it ended up in the auction.  Looked like an unopened package to me and everyone else.  I’ve got a couple of items now, I’ll take them with me next time I go to that auctioneer and see what he’s willing to do, if anything.  Technically it’s all sold as is, where is, with buyer responsible for doing an in person inspection before bidding.  Usually though, if not as described, the house will take it back.

One of my security trade magazines noted that retail “shrink”, ie theft by insiders and shoplifting, was up dramatically.   I’m guessing that as things get tougher for more people, theft and fraud will go up dramatically in all sectors.

Speaking of trade mags, one of the things I watch as an indicator of the health of the broader economy is the thickness of trade magazines.  If it’s a reliable indicator of supplier sentiment (you don’t spend money on ads when you’re broke, so the trade mags can’t afford to print the same number of pages) then we are majorly F’d.  Machine Design is down to less than 40 pages, and is just center stapled instead of bound.  Electrical Design is the same.  EC&M is as thin as I’ve ever seen it.  Some mags for the material handling, pipeline, and plant equipment industries are thinner than that.  Even Military & Aerospace is thin, but it’s still bound, not just stapled.  The mags are all thinner than I remember them being at any other time, even in the aftermath of 2008.  The publishers also tend to send out more mags and to more marginal recipients (like me) when times are tough.  They are trying to pump up their circulation numbers and capture more of the reduced business… I started getting some mags I’d never seen before just a few months ago, and re- started getting mags I’d stopped getting when times were great.  All in all, not good indicators of the state of American businesses.

And all the more reason to stock up if you can.  Manufacturers and suppliers are going to fail.  Their warehouses and existing stock will be blown out at auction, and then there won’t be any more.  In the last month, I’ve seen two large local wholesaler/distributors come through my auctions, a ship chandler, and a general industrial distributor.  There are two Chuck E Cheez stores being liquidated this week.  One auction has the contents of several CVS stores- which is especially telling, as that stock would normally just be redistributed to other stores, they must not want it.  Heck, a month ago, a major jewelry store chain had the contents of two stores seized and sold off to pay their school district tax bill here in town.

Everywhere I look I see signs of real trouble headed our way, outside of the trouble in the news.  Certainly there are going to be bright spots.  The rush to get out of the cities is producing some local boom times in some areas.  UHaul is probably making money.   Bankruptcy auctions are picking up.  Auto parts stores and used car lots will probably do well.  Optional services like housecleaning and yard maintenance will likely do poorly.  Repair should do well in general.    A lot of cleaning, repair, and remodeling already happened though.   And the secondary economy/grey market/resale is booming as people look for bargains, and sellers are unloading excess or closing out stock.

It’s gonna be important to keep your economic head on a swivel too, so to speak…

And keep stacking.  That will likely help, no matter what.

nick