The Downturnaround does not like to look to the stock market for good news. We don't trust it, especially given the steady march of bad economic news lately, including that unemployment report that made our blood curdle. What we do trust is our own optimism, which we plan on keeping, even if the market loses its own. Because today, amid the stories of the disintegrating car companies, people sinking their own boats, and major architectural landmarks going for half price, the Downturnaround saw a few glimmers of hope.
• So, auto sales: They weren't quite booming in March, as you may have guessed. Chrysler reported a 39 percent drop in sales, to 101,001 cars and trucks from 166,386 a year earlier. But hang on a second! We don't want to get too Pollyannaish, but consider the environment, here. If a has-been company like Chrysler, one that has allowed itself to be had by a bunch of hedge-fund predators, one that is stupid enough to employ Dan Quayle — but we digress. If a company like Chrysler still moved 100,000 cars in a single month during the Worst Recession Since the Great Depression™, well, then the American consumer is not dead, just wounded. And yes, we know the financing terms were probably outrageously generous. [Calculated Risk]
Next item, please!
• The Times story today about people abandoning their boats made for one sad-ass spectacle of the American dream gone sour. But is this really an epidemic? So what if the state of Florida had to remove 118 derelict boats last summer? Do you have any idea of how many private vessels are registered in the Sunshine State? More than a million. So 118 is less than .01 percent. Even if it has gone up ten times since then, it'd still be less than one-tenth of a percent. Call us when there's a real problem. [NYT]
• It can be annoying to read about hedge-fund guys who are still making big piles of dough. [Ed., Pressler: Except for you, John D. Arnold of Centaurus Energy. You just keep doing what you're doing. Love you. XOXO.] If they're this smart, we wonder, shouldn't they figure out how to do something more useful? But as long as we have to breathe the same air as these rank profiteers, we can take solace in the fact that some traders — or at least the ones who work at the London shop Brevan Howard — get treated harshly by their bosses. They even get "time outs," like 3-year-olds. Ha-ha-ha, you dopes who traded your dignity for cash. Will that Bentley really make you feel human again? [Bloomberg]
• Oh yes, some banks are actually paying us — me and you, pal, the U.S. taxpayer — back already. And don't tell us they're doing it just so they don't have to put up with the irksome regulation. As long as their checks don't bounce, we'll take it. [Dealbook/NYT]
• The foreclosure sale of the the John Hancock Tower in Boston has been treated by the media as another sign of our busted economy. We beg to differ, naturally! Sure, it's only half of what some dumb ass paid for it in 2006, but that person was, do we have to repeat ourselves, a dumb ass. Six-hundred-sixty million is still major bills. [WSJ]