Thursday, July 09, 2009

The anecdotal recovery (1)

As the debate over whether we are seeing green shoots or a spay painted slab of concrete continues, a look around town shows some signs of a recovery. Here is a sample of day to day observations that may be indicators of improving economic conditions:

1. Taxi queues: during boom times taxi queues were long and not just at peak times. In 2008Q4 taxi queues had dwindled to negligible levels. Over the last couple of months the queues are back - but not to the extent that they had to be endured before the credit crisis. Given the time(s) and place(s) where I typically take taxis from, this could be an indicator that people are (a) working longer hours and (b) visiting shopping malls more;

2. Restaurant bookings: as recently as May, getting a booking in popular business restaurants for lunches could usually be done on a same day basis - and the restaurants would be far from full. In the last few weeks, I have had to book a couple of days in advance and the occupancy rate has been noticeably higher;

3. Property prices: residential property prices have more or less got back to where they were before the credit crisis - a combination of plentiful cheap money, moderate supply and, I suspect, a belief that the worst of the lay-offs and pay cuts are behind us. Rent levels have stabilised but not yet recovered.

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