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Deflation and the Global Garage Sale

By: Rick Ackerman, Rick's Picks

-- Posted Wednesday, 11 July 2012 | | Disqus

[Our good friend Victor R. is finding it increasingly difficult to sell things online and at garage sales. Could it be because everyone has turned seller in order to pay some bills? RA]

The media frequently report the chronic disappointment of the political elites that the economy isn’t rebounding. Is this perhaps because people with different incomes see the economy differently? The simple fact is that people buy less if they are jobless or working part time. These days, quite a few of them, including those The Government would count as employed, are seeking additional sources of income. It may be all the same to the Labor Department’s statisticians whether the economy is creating full-time or part-time jobs, but the latter don’t put much spending money in the hands of those who hold them. Buying power is something that those who work full-time with benefits and some sense of security possess. Those are the jobs we all want, because they amount to a career.

For everyone else, needing to make ends meet leaves one scrambling for other sources of income. Holding garage sales or selling things on eBay are popular ways to go. I have experience in both, as a garage-sale seller and the eBay seller. As a garage sale veteran, I have noted patterns of buyers who can be grouped into four waves. If the sale starts at 9 a.m. the first wave is there and raring to go a half-hour early. When the clock strikes 9:00, they give the merchandise a once-over in less than a minute, then they either leave or make a low bid on one item. These early birds are the eBay buyers, and they know exactly what they’re looking for and nothing else. After them comes a second wave of buyers — dedicated bargain hunters who spend more time looking but are pretty picky and want to negotiate. The third wave, the mid-day group, are there to enjoy themselves, to discover things they may not have intended to buy, and to do a little haggling. The fourth wave brings the dregs. They arrive near the end of the day, pore over what’s left, and, before they leave, try to haggle you down to 50 cents for something that is priced at $1. If you don’t budge, they just walk away, sometimes with a few sharp words.

eBay Locks Up Best-of-Junk

Now the flip-side. The eBay buyers who have picked over all the garage sales are now the sellers. The trouble is, there are so many of them that eBay itself has become the place where best-of-garage-sales merchandise is offered. It’s also the place where the best thrift-shop stuff turns up. Such shops used to feature more old cameras and jewelry, but now anything potentially worth more than $20 is no longer given away but featured on eBay. My recent eBay sale of 10 photography items showed a very telling difference between a sale in 2011 and one in 2007. The main difference? A glut of sellers and hardly any buyers. Of eight things I sold recently, only one drew multiple bids. The rest went for the starting bid, or didn’t even get a bid, despite starting prices on the low end of what had recently sold.

Thus does the global garage sale, if not the revenues, continue to grow. To the jobless and other have-nots, the economy stinks, and selling on eBay is just coping with hard times. Millions who are out of work have come to eBay with an “anything-to-make-a-buck” attitude. But because buyers haven’t nearly kept pace with this growth, it is a buyer’s market where low prices prevail. With the economy mired in recession, garage sales are everywhere. eBay’s durability is itself a reflection of the widening gap between the well-employed and the masses struggling in hard times to trade things for money amongst themselves. Meanwhile, the garage sale “waves” could be said to represent four classes into which we could all be grouped: market makers; the fully employed; strugglers and the bitter bottom. If all of them need expanding credit to chug along, it’s possible their lot may get worse before it gets better.


Trading stocks, options and commodities in these treacherous times calls for great patience and skill. Click here if you’d like to see how Rick’s Picks approaches the challenge.


Information and commentary contained herein comes from sources believed to be reliable, but this cannot be guaranteed. Past performance should not be construed as an indication of future results, so let the buyer beware. There is a substantial risk of loss in futures and option trading, and even experts can, and sometimes do, lose their proverbial shirts. Rick's Picks does not provide investment advice to individuals, nor act as an investment advisor, nor individually advocate the purchase or sale of any security or investment. From time to time, its editor may hold positions in issues referred to in this service, and he may alter or augment them at any time. Investments recommended herein should be made only after consulting with your investment advisor, and only after reviewing the prospectus or financial statements of the company. Rick's Picks reserves the right to use e-mail endorsements and/or profit claims from its subscribers for marketing purposes. All names will be kept anonymous and only subscribers’ initials will be used unless express written permission has been granted to the contrary. All Contents © 2012, Rick Ackerman. All Rights

-- Posted Wednesday, 11 July 2012 | Digg This Article | Source:

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