Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Economy: A Personal Perspective

The economy is certainly a topic at every gathering of two or more people. Everyone begins with a rehash of the talking heads opinions, moves into their favorite economists view, and finally gets down to how it effects them on a personal level.

At a recent gallery reception in town most of us agreed that New Mexico is thus far not being hit too hard by the recession. Probably because we are a relatively poor state to begin with, and Gov. Bill Richardson, soon to be Secretary of Commerce, balanced our budget and managed to put the state in the black during his term of office.

But since we are a state that depends heavily on tourism we are concerned. The recent numbers are positive, however. The hotels and condos are booked solid for the holidays before us. People are coming to ski. Lower gas prices help in that area. And that we are less pricey than Aspen or Sun Valley, etc. It was a gallery reception so naturally selling art was a concern especially or the gathered artists. Having people in town to sell for was a plus.

We also have all noticed an upturn in sales of late. One collector's voiced opinion: "Keeping the money doesn't seem to work." And another said she had always wanted one of mine and figured now was the time to get it while she still had money. Others said they were giving fewer and less expensive gifts this year but were still looking for something unique and not from China.

And some art lovers seem to be looking at moving down a notch from the higher end artists they could afford to collect in years past to those commanding lower prices now but whom they see as up and comers or good investments. Nobody seems to be investing in stocks or expanding their real estate holdings at the moment.

As one of those less known artists I seem to be enjoying a current modest boon in sales. But the sales have differed too from previously. Less credit cards. More cash sales. Not even personal checks but actual currency. I am not upset about this trend at all. But my merchant account seems more and more unnecessary. And Mastercard and Visa decided on another way to get money from us: the changed us for a five minute test on credit card security. This will be an annual thing. And while they have previously waved a "subscription fee" for the ability to take credit cards this seems to be of the same cost only in lump sum instead of monthly. Unless of course you are "out of compliance" and then there is a monthly penalty equal to the old subscription fee.

Why again are we bailing these banks out?