HMMM, WHEN IT comes to the fate of the economy, I've always thought that casual, anecdotal signs beat the official data by months. Egghead economists may be smarter than this low-rent blogger, but I'll take my dismal soothsaying over their fancy forecasts any day. My totally unscientific take: I think the U.S. economy likely may might could lift off the rest of this year, through the holiday season.
Why? Because the rush-hour traffic is noticeably heavier on the highways in the San Francisco Bay Area, often a bellwether for the U.S. economy. (More jobs.) Because more cars seem to be parked in office parking lots on weekends. (More project deadlines.) Because restaurants and movie theaters and shopping malls look busier than a few months ago. (More spending power.) Because more realtor signs and open houses are sprouting in local neighborhoods. (More active lenders, more baby boomers retiring, more overseas immigrants' cash.) Because local art and music festivals are booming, with weekend crowds groovin' to live music, gobbling down burgers and barbecue, snapping up gifts and clothing and jewelry from happy booth vendors. (More consumer confidence.)
Don't worry, be happy. Maybe it was Michelle Obama's killer convention speech, or the dull but confident Costco CEO, or the folksy down-home Montana governor ("That dog don't hunt!"). But there's a feel-good street vibe in my tiny corner of the world that sure seems livelier, more vibrant, than earlier this year. Something in the air.
And that means more cash could pump through the economy, up and down, to and 'fro, wallet to wallet, bank to bank, business to business, sector to sector, stock to stock, fund to fund, tax shelter to tax shelter, consumer to consumer, flow flow flow in a virtuous cycle of wealth creation and beautiful capitalism oh zip it you know you like money that will get not only the auto industry but the rest of us firing on all cylinders again and put an iPad on every desk and bust open the economy like the great tech boom of the 1990s and make millions of people in the Republic a whole lot happier because money may not buy happiness but it sure makes life a whole lot easier now don't it.
Or maybe that won't happen.