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The No-No Years

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Some benefits to the new Age of Austerity.

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"For every action, there is an opposite and equal reaction."
Third Law of Motion, Sir Isaac Newton

While some might doubt his relevance, I would offer that Sir Isaac Newton may have been as adept an economic forecaster as he was a physicist. Put simply, if our most recent economic cycle could be characterized as the Go-Go Years, then, by applying Newton's Law, I would offer that what we now face are the No-No Years: The years where less is best.
So how will Newton's Law manifest itself? From an economic perspective, I see the No-No Years ahead evidenced by the following:

No capital expenditures: As industrial corporations and retailers both hoard cash and resize their businesses to meet far lower global demand, commitments to new plants and new stores will be crushed.

No inventory: Stores once literally dripping with merchandise will be forced to cut back. Furthermore, more sales will be final, and fees for restocking will become as commonplace as the baggage fees charged today by airlines.

No status symbols: Whether by Congressional action or simple peer pressure, private planes, special executive perks, spa treatments, luxury travel, second and third homes and other exclusive excesses will drop materially (if you'll pardon the pun). So too will the average square footage of new homes; "McMansions" will be forsaken in favor of more "economically appropriate" houses.

No discretionary borrowing: Contrary to the wishes of the Federal Reserve, those most able to borrow money simply won't. And while it's hard to imagine today, excess savings will replace excess debt.

No brands: Instead of embroidered crocodiles and polo players, generics will be the brand of choice, even among peer-conscious American teens. Generics will also take a far greater share of prescription revenue than ever before. And tap water, the ultimate generic, will supersede bottled water for both cost and environmental reasons.
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