Herb's Hotline Part 2: More Anecdotes of a Slowdown

This time with a little inflation thrown in for good measure.
Publish date:


Alan G

(as in span), if you're listening. After running anecdote after anecdote here yesterday regarding a

slowdown, I asked for anecdotes of a speedup. Well, sorry, but what I got, for the most part, were more anecdotes of a slowdown and/or inflation, which, of course, leads to a whole bunch of confusion. (Anybody ever taken the time to see the quality of


readers? From all walks.) ...

Listen to

Greg Rose

, who writes of what I like to call the secret inflation: "I own a restaurant in a Dallas suburb and business is booming. My last price increase was in February 1999. Since then, labor costs have slowly eroded profits to the point that I recently grew sufficiently frustrated to raise them again ... 10%! ... across the board!! I've been in the restaurant business 20 years and that is the biggest price increase I've ever pulled off. It got to the point that I didn't care ... labor had steadily risen and then my cost of goods began creeping up so I jacked prices since it was the only thing I could do to offset these increases and maintain an acceptable profit margin (my money). Now here is the amazing thing: No flack from my customers ... NONE! 10% AND NO FLACK!! Long live the strong consumer!" (Hear, hear!) ...

And how about this, from a Bay area general contractor: "My business is booming and hiring carpenters is out of the question. However, my hardwood-flooring sub called the other day saying he had an open schedule due to so many cancellations because of the market. He hasn't had openings for three years." (But I'm getting


the opposite story from other nonhyperinflationary areas like Michigan!) ... But

Phillippe Fossier

, also of the Bay area, says the boom there is continuing: Just two days ago, I was shopping for expensive furniture (imported from Europe). " 'What's the lead time?" I asked. '20-plus weeks,' the manager answered. 'We are swamped.' " ...

On the other hand, there was this:


, who works in information technology for a big financial-services firm, says that he's suddenly seeing resumes again; not only that, "we're actually succeeding in hiring! ... Also my own plans to quit a well-paying Wall Street IT job and go off to a start-up have cooled. Now my top priorities have changed back to traditional things like providing for my family and improving my current lifestyle instead of conquering the world with the next hot idea!" ...

John Decker

, who is shopping for a new Jeep, reports: "The dealership owner, who we know, stated that car sales are so slow right now -- yes, even for those gas-guzzling sporty Grand Cherokees -- that they may have their first layoffs for salespeople in years." ...

The flipside: In an effort to point out how things are booming,

Doug Rife

writes: "My acoustical-instrumentation business is booming. Exports rising." But how do we know people aren't really


to acoustic from electric?!...

Finally ...

Brant Graede

, a Realtor in Tuscon, Ariz., who was bugged by the "over and out" end to yesterday's

Hotline, writes: "Herb, Herb, Herb ... You don't say 'Over and out'! You say 'Over' or 'Out'! 'Over' means I am done and it's your turn, while 'Out' means I'm done and outta here. You don't get to talk no more!" Thanks, I needed that, just like you need every edition of ... The Hotline.

Check out

Part 1 of today's Hotline.

Herb Greenberg writes daily for TheStreet.com. In keeping with TSC's editorial policy, he doesn't own or short individual stocks, though he owns stock in TheStreet.com. He also doesn't invest in hedge funds or other private investment partnerships. He welcomes your feedback at

herb@thestreet.com. Greenberg also writes a monthly column for Fortune.

Mark Martinez assisted with the reporting of this column.