Recession? What recession?

I know some people are in denial but this is ridiculous.

Cashmere loo paper? Aisle 3... right next to the Angora Tampons.

Waitrose buyer, Carla Smith, explains…

Cashmere provides that stamp of quality to any fashion garment from a designer suit to the finest luxury knitwear. It’s indulgent, it’s stylish and it’s helping provide that extra softness to our new premium bathroom tissue collection.

Recession? What recession? I wipe my arse with cashmere…

Is the Champagne bubble about to pop?

Champagne producers have spent hundreds of years ensuring their product is associated intimately with notions of power and luxury. The Madrid Treaty of 1891 protected the brand from usurpers, and lawyers working for the producers have fought a number of legal actions in order to continue Continue reading

Recession: The Bitter Price We Pay

Some horrifying news has reached The Notes from Trinidad and Tobago where the firm that owns Angostura Bitters has been hit by a liquidity crisis. The factory that has produced the vital ingredient in Manhattans and Pink Gins since 1824, was forced to cease production in June and panic buying has meant shelves are rapidly emptying around the world.

Caution Sobriety Ahead

The chief executive of Angostura USA, the North American distributer, has said production will come back on line soon thanks to a re-financing deal but you can’t whip a bottle of bitters up overnight… this ancient brew takes time and supply could take up to a year to return to normal. The only solution is to race down to the local liquor store and hope you can nab a few bottles before the rest of the panickers get there.

Needless to say, I panicked last week and am currently sitting on a case of the stuff. Any offers?

The Weekly Revisit

This is just a quick update on a few of our posts from the last week.

Follow up #1: Will a new “American Dream” emerge from the current recession?

First of all, in recession news, the New York Times yesterday carried another story of large amounts of people applying for Continue reading

Will a new “American Dream” emerge from the current recession?

The number of newly laid-off workers filing claims for jobless benefits rose more than expected last week, after falling in five of the past six weeks, as employers remain reluctant to hire even with the economy showing signs of recovery.  (MSNBC Oct. 22, 2009)

Consumer spending stayed soft, as jobs remained hard to come by for the nation’s 15 million unemployed … in large part because companies aren’t hiring. (Wall Street Journal Oct. 22, 2009)

Yesterday, Harvard history professor Niall Ferguson predicted the decline of the American Empire. Basing his analysis on the fact that “America today is similar to the Spanish Empire in the 17th century and Britain’s in the 20thcentury”, Ferguson believes that the US is caught in a Continue reading

Nooo, don’t take away my castles!

Reportedly, actor Nicholas Cage is financially up shit creek from a whole lotta gone bad real estate investments. Here’s what he’s selling in order to cover his debts: Continue reading

Fine Dining in the Recession

La Gavroche

La Gavroche -- London

As a quick follow-up to last week’s restaurant recession report, new information in the past week further supports a significant difference in the effects of the recession on restaurants across the U.S and those in London.

Particularly hard hit in the U.S. have been fine dining restaurants, with many Continue reading

BANKRUPT: America’s highest earning restaurant

Recessions are incredibly destructive to the hospitality industry. Personally, I believe this may be a good thing as it does clear away a lot of dead wood from what is a very competitive business. Having said that, it’s never nice being on the receiving end, and I speak from experience here.

One restaurant that hasn’t made it through is New York’s famous Tavern on the Green, which has filed for bankruptcy protection. Ironically, the restaurant opened in 1934 during the Great Depression and has been taken down, in part, by the current recession. Figures in 2005 showed that Tavern was earning nearly Continue reading

Where is the economy headed? Don’t ask an economist


This should be easy. I'm an economist, after all. Or does that mean I'll get it wrong.

My sister has worked for the OECD in Paris for 20 years. I’ve asked her a couple of times about the sorts of things that the economists around the organisation  have been saying about the current recession (and believe me, that place is jammed full with economists). As she says, the OECD economists only seem to be able to tell you what went wrong, not predict that it was going to happen. In the early days of the recession, when confronted about the economic downturn,  these economists would mumble incoherently about Continue reading

Porn Industry Gets F**ked in the A**

A recent feature article in the LA Times on the porn industry looks at the changes facing the business as it grapples with a major drop in revenue:

I'm as hard as a rock.

I'm as hard as a rock.

Industry insiders estimate that since 2007, revenue for most adult production and distribution companies has declined 30% to 50% and the number of new films made has fallen sharply.

“We’ve gone through recessions before, but we’ve never been hit from every side like this,” said Mark Spiegler, head of the Spiegler Girls talent agency, who has worked in porn since 1995.

Continue reading

“They’re Happy Because They Eat Lard”: remembering the current recession

lardI was making a sandwich a couple of days ago and sitting on the kitchen bench in a cup was the solidified fat—the dripping!—from the previous night’s roast, destined for the rubbish bin. Eyeing it up, I was reminded of how my parents used to talk of eating bread and dripping during the Great Depression. And the Depression was not an easy time for them—my mother’s family lost their home, taken by the bank, and my father talks of his father, a builder, going out looking for work every day for several years, scratching by on the occasional odd job.  Sacrificing on luxuries became an engrained part of their lives. Continue reading