Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Price Of Oil Quietly Melts Up -- Thank Goodness For The Bad Economy

The price of oil continues to "melt up." It's up about a percent today, up over $98. It is in a trading range, $90 - $98, the longest sustained period of "high oil prices."

A Note to the Granddaughters

I was not going to post this story, but when a second reader sent me the link, I thought it must be worth posting.  [In case the link is broken, this is a story of outside agitators, the Portland African American Leadership Forum, who forced Trader Joe's from building on a vacant lot in a neighborhood in much need of economic development. The PAALF, made up of rich men and women who had escaped the neighborhood, had come back to prevent the decaying neighborhood from becoming something different than they remembered. Their actions were based on either nostalgia or jealousy. I assume a little of both.]

Read the story, from Investor's Business Daily: there are many, many story lines. Of course, the big story line -- it exemplifies exactly what the Obama administration fostered during the second lost decade for the United States -- the first lost decade, 2000 - 2008; the second lost decade, 2008 - 2016.

When I read the story last night, my only emotion was a sense of sadness for the neighborhood. Now that I have had a chance to think about it overnight -- yes, it bothered me all night -- I have come to a different conclusion. This is what I sent Don who was the second reader to send me the story:
We must have the same circle of correspondents, or different correspondents with same interests. Someone else sent me this link. I particularly enjoyed the long, long comment at the original article, trying to defend the activists' actions.

I don't know how well you know Trader Joe's but their prices are generally lower than other grocery stores in southern California; that may or may not be true in Portland.

Trader Joe's is a huge jump-up in quality from a Safeway's -- Trader Joe's is definitely a store found only in upper middle-class neighborhoods.
My hunch: this was a win-win for everyone. This was probably not the right neighborhood for a Trader's Joe in the first place, and the local folks, who wanted it, probably would not have appreciated it as much as the Hollywood elite do in west Los Angeles.

Trader Joe's is sort of the elite among grocery stores (but with very, very competitive pricing). Sort of like Starbucks to McDonald's for coffee.
A few years ago "they" put in a Trader Joe's just down the street from where we lived in San Antonio, and that neighborhood was somewhere between upper middle class and lower upper class, with lots of upper class amenities, including a tremendous golf course built inside an old rock quarry.

So, I think both parties won in the Portland case: Trader Joe's was not right for this neighborhood -- it sounds like they were moving into a slum (compared to what they have elsewhere) and the folks would have used it to buy cheap wine but never would have appreciated it.

As long as I'm rambling -- I might as well put this on the blog -- the first "grocery store" I ever saw in California when I arrived in 1973 for four years of graduate school, was a Trader Joe's. My roommate, a Californian, took me. He was lower class who became rich beyond all his dreams (pharmacy school, medical school, married into money, etc, etc) and his favorite store remains Trader Joe's.
When he took me there, I had just arrived from North Dakota -- literally -- I drove straight through from Williston to South Pasadena -- and walking into that Trader Joe's in South Pasadena (upper class neighborhood), where the Rose Bowl parade starts, I thought I had walked into Nirvana.
I guess one does not "walk into Nirvana"; one experiences Nirvana. If so, walking into that Trader Joe's I experienced Nirvana.

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