Recreational Vehicle Sales as Recession Indicator

Some casual observers have noted the predictive power of recreational vehicle (RV) sales. Over the past six months of reported data, five have shown lower sales than corresponding months in 2017.

Figure 1: Total monthly RV shipments vs. last year. Source: RVIA.

A longer term perspective yields some insight into the predictive power of RV sales.

Figure 2: Year on year growth rate of total recreational vehicle shipments (blue), and year-to-date for 2018 (light blue). NBER defined recession dates shaded gray. Source: RVIA, NBER, and author’s calculations.

2018 YTD (October) change is -1.1%.

In general, negative observations are followed in the subsequent year by a recession, with the following false positives: 1986, 1996. Further, in 2007, the indicator signalled a recession in 2008, when the NBER dated the recession as beginning in December of 2007.

Dating the recession start in January 2008, and running the probit regression yields the following estimates, and fitted probabilities.

Using this equation and forecasting out to 2019 assuming the decline in 2018 is the observed YTD decline relative to 2017, I obtain the following predicted recession probabilities.

Figure 3: Predicted probabilities using probit regression, 2018 value of independent variable is YTD relative to 2017 YTD (October). 20% threshold captures all recession dates, with one false positive in 1986. Source: Author’s calculations.

The predicted 11% probability of recession for 2019 is based on the -1.1% RV shipment growth recorded YTD (October 2018) relative to YTD (2017). Should the 2018 YOY change be more negative,the corresponding estimated probability of recession will be higher.

51 thoughts on “Recreational Vehicle Sales as Recession Indicator

  1. pgl

    This article leaves me hanging starting with:

    “But RV sales turn out to be a pretty good predictor too: When RV sales are doing well, the economy follows; when RV sales tank, the economy is soon to tank too.”

    Cause and effect? RV’s are durable goods. If people think the economy is about to tank, then they may be loathed to spend a lot of funds. Also as I asked earlier – what is the role of oil prices? Or the role of interest rates?

    Of course the article is two years old so it can be excused for saying the RV sector was booming. Of course we had a booming economy as well as low interest rates when this article was written. Interest rates are higher today and who knows what the economy is about to do.

    1. Menzie Chinn Post author

      spencer: I suspect this might work well too. Criteria: It’s a luxury that is deferable, and it’s a consumer durable. Light vehicles like cars are less a luxury, more a necessity especially in rural/suburban areas.

    1. 2slugbaits

      The sample size might be smaller than you’d like (Menzie can’t help that), but if I were to put on my “Murder Board” econometrician hat I would worry more about the possibility of a zero inflate problem. The usual procedure for correcting zero inflate problems with count models and probit/logit models is to set up a “double hurdle” procedure. For example:
      OTOH, if you look at the Covariance Proportion of the Theil statistic, it’s about three times the size of the Variance Proportion with almost no bias. In other words, there’s no particular evidence of a systemic problem with the model.

      Still, you can’t totally discount what the probit model is telling us, although I don’t think an 11 percent chance of recession is all that alarming given some of the other recent economic news. And if the FED hikes the interest rate, that will probably affect those wholesale RV deliveries.

    1. pgl

      August 19, 2006? Well a recession did eventually occur 15 months later. But shhhh – don’t tell Donald Luskin as he was claiming as late as September 2008 that we were in no danger of a recession!

          1. Bruce Hall

            pgl snarky, snarky. You always manage to miss the obvious point when you apply 100% of your limited intellect to trying to be flippant.

            Michigan was the first state to feel the effects of a downturning automotive industry. The automotive industry has always been particularly sensitive to changing economic conditions. A year later, the nation rolled into a damn fine recession. Having worked at Ford for 30 years in various business planning and strategy areas, I know our industry was acutely aware of this relationship and planned as best we could, given the labor contract constraints, for adjusting our budgeted production in the next year or two. Why do you suppose GM is paring back production plans despite current high profits? It has to be sensitive not only to the general economy, but shifting consumer demand. So when you see GM getting cautious, it’s not because the entire nation is not Michigan, but because Michigan feels it first.

            But, yes pgl, Michigan is not the whole nation. Neither is California or New York. Brilliant observation.

          2. 2slugbaits

            Bruce Hall Why do you suppose GM is paring back production plans despite current high profits? It has to be sensitive not only to the general economy, but shifting consumer demand.

            The “general economy” and “shifting consumer demand” are two different things, aren’t they? My understanding is that the GM production cuts are in response to shifting consumer demand; i.e., shifting away from passenger cars and towards light trucks and SUVs. Basically, GM and Ford have ceded the passenger car field to Japan and will concentrate on light trucks and SUVs. Now if GM decides to scale back production of those light trucks and SUVs, then that might be a predictor of a recession. Of course, all this just begs the larger question as to what predictors GM is using to predict a recession so that they can plan on cutting back production. I don’t know if Detroit maintains a staff of macroeconomists.

          3. Bruce Hall

            2slug, yes, presently GM is reacting to shifting consumer demand as is Ford and many other manufacturers. There is no current indication of a significantly softening overall market demand (general economy), but unlike growth in other sectors of the economy the automotive industry has been ever-so-slightly down and flat since the record-setting 2016 which should signal at least a slight bit of caution from that leading indicator.

            I’d say that the automotive industry is benefiting from low gasoline prices relative to the $100/barrel predicted for year-end 2018 by some industry analysts plus still relatively low interest rates. Ford, for example, made a significant portion of its profits from its credit arm and most of its vehicle profits from its F-150 which can be affected early on by commercial buyers scaling back purchases. The tax cut stimulus is helping the overall economy rather than the highly targeted bank stimulus of the last administration. When that wears off (I believe according to Menzie by 2020), then we should expect some problems in the economy. For now, however, the combination of high (but flat) vehicle sales with increasing demand for highly profitable trucks and high-end SUVs tells us that the general economy should remain strong for at least the next six month unless there is a major disruption from the outside or the Fed goes crazy with interest rates.

          4. baffling

            bruce, you seem to be shifting your argument. as i read it, you indicated that we need to be cautious of michigan and detroit’s conservative business approach, because they feel the slow economy before anybody else. but as 2slugs questioned you, it seems you have changed your argument to predict level current growth in spite of your leading indicator. not sure what your point is, other than $h!t happens.

          5. Bruce Hall

            • my original point was that automotive sales (like RV sales) can be considered a leading indicator of a downturn in economic activity.
            • my second point was that because automotive sales are sensitive to initial changes in economic activity, such changes usually show up early in automotive industry dependent states such as Michigan
            • my third point was that automotive companies have to be keenly aware of shifts not only in the general economic activity, but also in market tastes (e.g., falling demand for sedans versus trucks and SUVs and the reality that demand for electric/hybrid cars is still very low due to high cost, low infrastructure support for recharging, and limited range for affordable electric vehicles).
            • my fourth point was that vehicle sales in the U.S. are only slightly down from record-high levels of 2016 and remaining flat which could be seen as an indicator of a matured recovery and the likelihood that once tax-relief stimulus is absorbed and interest rates go up that a recession could very well kick in.

            Obviously, vehicle sales are not driving the economy (pun intended), but are very sensitive to it. I did not say that current vehicle sales were indicating an imminent recession.

            Hope this summary clarifies what my comments were.

    2. Moses Herzog

      Bruce Hall
      Bruce, are you reading NYT now?? Didn’t you know NYT are just a bunch of dirty rotten liberal bastards?? Bruce, I’m afraid you’ve left me no choice but to inform your mother of…… “current events” with you. This is….. troubling. I’m recommending to her you go straight to bed, no peach cobbler for dessert, no Alex Jones, and no staying up late to watch Mike Huckabee’s show on TBN. She told me, one day, eventually, the hippies and darkies would finally influence you, but I was in denial the whole time. If I pull your MAGA hat down low enough they may accept you at the Youth Detention Center until your mother recovers from this shock to her system. We’ll play it by ear when we get there.

        1. Moses Herzog

          You want me to “sober up” just for YOU Bruce baby?? Ok, “Go MAGA!!!! Go MAGA!!! Go MAGA!!!! Save our ‘homeland’ from wicked martians disguised as Latino children!!! Oh God, the horrors!!!! Oh God, the horrors of small Latino children!!!! They will kill us all!!!!! Aaaaaaaahh!!!!” Is that your version of “sober” Bruce??

          Make sure you read the headline after the link jump Bruce, we’ve had 2 years for the Trump/MAGA miracles to unveil themselves with Republicans ruling both houses of congress. Oh, and don’t forget your favorite Laffer Curve tax cuts for the rich kicking in—those are really working miracles for some middle class people who are actually paying more taxes now.

          Bruce, I even made the extra effort to get that link from your favorite source for news, Fox’s Maria Skankiromo , so you wouldn’t be able to complain anyone was “making up fake news” about your favorite comic book superhero—Orange Excrement.

          No worries though Bruce, as you can guess from this photo, Sarah Sanders Huckabee will enjoy the Christmas holiday the same we she always does:

        2. pgl

          This is from someone who claimed the nation was in a recession in 2006 because Michigan was struggling. Lay off the booze.

          1. Bruce Hall

            pgl, you must have mistaken me for “someone who claimed the nation was in a recession in 2006 because Michigan was struggling.” I believe I said that Michigan was the first state to feel the economic slowdown because of the automotive industry that is affected by longer term buying decisions that later show up in the general economy.

            But keep trying. Are you and Moses drinking partners? Moses really needs an intervention.

  2. Moses Herzog

    These “off the wall” metrics do tend to be underrated in my opinion (including Barkley Rosser’s assertion on macaroni and cheese, but don’t let Barkley Junior know I said that until we get him straight on the difference between a “skewed” distribution and something uniformly distributed).

    I seem to remember an article stating that Greenspan liked to watch railroad traffic and cardboard box sales (for some strange reason I keep wanting to call it gypsum board). It was a Dow Jones wire service article as I remember it, written a LONG time ago (strange the things your mind will grasp onto). Here is not the article I remember, but a similar such:

    Oddly enough here is one for Europe “ZH” was highlighting in the last 48 hours, related to European auto registrations:

    I only “spot check” the articles on ZH, usually on weekends, so I don’t read it regular, but most of their articles seem to be screaming to get people to panic lately, and ZH always seems to have certain “agendas” shall we say.

    It is worth noting, that these type articles, about “off the wall” metrics, could be a kind of indicator in and of themselves. Why?? Obviously because it shows at that point in time people are really stretching (and here I do not mean “stretching” in a derogatory way) for information or any kind of extra edge in market timing or direction—usually when they anticipate or sense a big market drop is around the bend.

    1. Barkley Rosser

      Oh dear, Moses, you are still spouting this nonsense that Native Indian ancestry is evenly distributed across the Europpean-Ameerican population in the US? Why then does more than 4% of that population have more than 2% such ancestry in North Dakota and Louisiana while this is essentially zeroin New Hampshire and Tennessee? Next up we shall find you becoming convinced that global warming is a hoax because there are locations on the earth’s surface that are experriencing fall average temperatures (including part of Antarctica) even though more are experincing warming, with the greatest rate of warming happening in the Arctic. Is this incessant desire to proclaim that the median Euro-American person has more Native Indian ancestry than Elizabeth Warren tied to your unfortunate manhood problem?

      1. Moses Herzog

        @ Barkley Rosser
        Part of “manhood”, I’m very sorry to inform you at this late stage of your life Barkley Junior, is being able to admit you’re wrong—and I quote from the exact same journal article you quoted/referenced, page 50 of the American Journal of Human Genetics page numbering:
        “The inferred segments of African and Native American are UNIFORMLY DISTRIBUTED across the genome. Although we expect that some of the inferred ancestry might arise from difficulties in assigning ancestry in complex regions of the genome, only a small fraction of the estimated African and Native American ancestry in European Americans can be explained through such biases and is not expected to give rise to any substantial (more than 1%) ancestry from any population.”

        Any of Menzie’s readers are welcome to read the reference (Barkley’s own chosen reference) that disproves Barkley’s asinine statement that the distribution is “skewed”.
        Here is the link—–>>

        That is under the subheading of the article “Robust Estimates of African and Native American Ancestry in African Americans and European Americans”. I know this is tough for you Barkley Junior. But your Dad would be so proud looking down on you to see you have reached the stage of manhood of being able to admit YOU WERE WRONG ABOUT THE DISTRIBUTION BEING “SKEWED” Never mind treasuring academic truth as a sacred duty of being a teacher. Which I presume your father believed in.

        1. baffling

          i responded to this comment a couple of days ago when moses originally posted it in a previous post, but apparently it was missed. i will repost it again to clear up this misunderstanding regarding the excellent article moses linked to:

          i hate to break this to you, moses, but your understanding of that quote is incorrect. it does NOT say uniformly distributed across the POPULATION. it says uniformly distributed across the GENOME. the genome is the genetic material, ie dna. what it says is that there are no unique parts of the dna which are solely attributed to native american or african ancestry-ie all parts of the genome can be equally influenced by african, native american, european, etc traits. hence a given chromosome, for example the 8th chromosome, has no special characteristics that favor native americans or africans. this is important, and i am glad you pointed it out. this means there is no subspecies in the human genome-nothing fundamentally different between the races. for those racists viewing this blog, this means that there is no superior or inferior race amongst humans.

          moses, if you check out figure 3B in the text, you will see there is most definitely a distribution of native american heritage in the european american population which varies quite dramatically by region. this is not a uniformly distributed trait. further, similar commentary is provided throughout the text with regard to minority trait distribution around the country.

          that said, thanks for the link, i really enjoyed reading it. my expertise is most definitely not in biology, but i interact with some of the best geneticists in the world on a daily basis, so i have learned to be somewhat competent in their discussions. however, most are not interested in this type of paper-and as a layman i find it fascinating to see what information we glean from the various genomes around the world. it is one of the few ways we have to possibly trace when and how humans migrated around the world as we evolved. our understanding of human history seems to be updated almost daily as we continue to investigate our genetic heritage.

          1. Barkley Rosser


            Thank you for you completely correct discussion. For the record, while Moses provided the link, I provided the source. Hopefully Moses will now stop repeating this ignorant and idiotic falsehood that an even distribution across a genome is the same thing as an even distribution across a population.. He has beeb told this numerous times, but somehow ihe has been unwilling to accept it so far.

            It sort of resembles the stuopid effort byt expert google and readr Bruce Hall recentlyi to attempt to discredit recent reports on global warming by invoking the completely known and dealt with urban heat island phenomenon. Indeed, thst was at least an actual problem at one point, although it was sloved decades ago. Moses’s problem was never a problem and just shows him to know very littlw about population genetics, as has been pointed out numerous times here.

            So, Moses, is your manhood problem so bad that you are still believing that Nanc Pelosi is a senile incompetent who needs to be replaced?

          2. Moses Herzog

            @ Barkley Rosser
            “baffling” likes to coattail commenters on topics he only has surface knowledge of. He used to say on here he thought “Princeton”Kopits was a standup guy right before “Princeton”Kopits in essence told us all he thought maybe 2 or 3 people had died as a result of a hurricane that hit Puerto Rico. Congratulations on your new fan. I’d say that’s about as useful as your “Quora” reference.

            You brought the American Journal of Human Genetics source, after I in essence had to “bully” or embarrass you to do so. The blog version of “bully” anyway. You dragged your feet providing any source, because you couldn’t find any paper saying that data was “skewed” which is why I basically did the blog version of pistol-whipping you to get you to FINALLY provide that source (which I then had to give readers the link for). And it proved what?? It proved you are a coward to provide the link yourself, which a 10 year old could do, and that you STILL couldn’t find a single link or research paper saying the data was “skewed”. The paper in fact disproves that contention, as it states it was uniformly distributed, which is a farther cry from “skewed” than even a normal distribution would be. It doesn’t take much intelligence to figure out, that after 12 plus generations of interracial relations (what the research paper refers to as admixture) between Native Americans and European Americans that the chance of “skewed” data is amazingly small, even from a common sense perspective, much less doing the research they did in the AJHG. But sadly for you, any readers of this blog (or your poor forlorn students) are able to read the journal themselves. And I provide the link you pray they won’t read:

            “The inferred segments of African and Native American are UNIFORMLY DISTRIBUTED across the genome. Although we expect that some of the inferred ancestry might arise from difficulties in assigning ancestry in complex regions of the genome, only a small fraction of the estimated African and Native American ancestry in European Americans can be explained through such biases and is not expected to give rise to any substantial (more than 1%) ancestry from any population.”

            It may be fascinating for readers to note—the word “skewed” never appears in the research paper, so much as ONCE. NOT EVEN ONCE

          3. baffling

            “baffling” likes to coattail commenters on topics he only has surface knowledge of.”
            actually no, moses. i already explained your misunderstanding of the paper. i have a more than surface knowledge of the topic, and do understand what the paper said. you need to understand the difference between a genome and population.

          4. Barkley Rosser

            Thank you again, baffling. Of course I happen to have known quite well the most important population geneticist who ever lived (Sewall Wright) and have even published on the topic in refereed academic journals, but this does not slow Moses down who just keeps repeating the same silly quote from the paper, somehow thinking that a “genome” iis a “population.”

            Moses, your argument is sort of like if I said 4 plus two is six and you found a quote that said three times two is six, which you then began incessantly repeating as supposed evidence that four plus two is not six. Hey, again a genome is not a population, repoeat after baffling and me, a genome is not s population. An even distribution across a genome is not the same as an even genome across a population

            ou are right that the paper does not use the word “skewed.” It does not have to because only ignorant morons cannot figure out from what is presented that the distribution across the population is skewed. If it were an even distribution at a 0.19 rate, then you would not see North Dakota and Louisiana having more than 4% of their European-American populations with more than 2% Native Indian ancestry.

            Let me note something that might make you pay attention. There are lots of regular commentators here whom I know dislike both Elizabeth Warren and Nancy Pelosi for political reasons. Some of them have probably laughed when seeing Trump calling Warren “Pocahontas.” Guess what? Not a single one of those folks has at any point in any of these threads stepped forward to support you or agree with you on a single point. You have been out there all by yourself ranting and raving about this stuff, constantly bringing it up again and again with embarrassingly false claims that you are right about this and I am wrong. No, you are wrong, and nobody is supporting you, nobody, not no how, not no way.

            The closest ahybody has come to supporting was Menzie himself, trying to be polite, by saying that he would agree that people who engage in academic fraud should be condemned, with him specifically mentioning people making false claims about their academice rcords. He did not say anything about people making claims about their ancestry, especially claims that genetic testing have proven to be accurate.

            And then you went nuts over Pelosi. You need to back off of your claims about both Warren and Pelosi. I realize that you are too far gone on the Warren matter to back off, but you really need to [shut up] given that your arguments have become just screamingly wrong to the point of basic stuipidity. As for Pelosi, she has been performing magnificently and will be Speaker. You actually said you hoped for this. So, admit that what you aaid you hoped for has come to pass and applaud her, and see if you can avoid calling her “Miss Pelosi” when you do so.

            Really, Moses, I am frankly beginning to get worried about you, your mental health. You have gone totally gonzo insane on this whole matter. Really.

  3. SecondLook

    Another that was popular for a number of years at Morgan Stanley was the price of cardboard and shipping pallets – reflecting a basic demand equation of product demand.

  4. don

    So many have predicted recession around the corner (one culprit may be the TCJRA which gave us expansionary fiscal policy after recovery was already well under way) that I wonder who doubts anymore that a recession is near? Might as well just go on to debate the severity and likely policy response. My guess, fiscal authorities may “discover” the dangers of debt and make things worse. Certainly, state and local governments (most of them disasters waiting to happen) are likely to exacerbate the downturn when it starts. Monetary policy, with little room to exercise the traditional response (because interest rates are still too low from the last episode) and balance sheets still bloated by the QE response to the last episode, will go to inflation, which will be the solution.

  5. noneconomist

    A few years back, in rural Idaho, I pulled into a gas station and was confronted with a monster RV taking up the space for all three pumps in one aisle. God knows how much fuel would g into feeding this “vehicle”. But my poor little Toyota was able to wait until monster had his fill. And, praise God, there was enough gas left to pump the ten gallons which would take us another 300 miles, minimum.
    No shock here that there’s an RV recession indicator. It’s more shocking to watch an RV owner spend as much on fuel (they get 10MPG on average?) as I spend on two nights lodging with a visit to any Dairy Queen within a 20 mile radius of the hotel as an added bonus.

    1. Moses Herzog

      You could always just stay in your hotel room and watch “Law and Order: RV: Sex Perverts Unit”. All the American adults say the dialogue and story plots are life changing. Plus, the way characters in an office setting interact with each other is VERY realistic:

      Personally, I think Mariska Hargitay looks a little funny with an eyepatch, but the fans are demanding that extra step in realism.

  6. Moses Herzog

    Here is a link to some comedy from Samantha Bee. I am not a regular viewer of her show, but caught this video in Youtube, and thought it was pretty good material. This does have some vulgarity in some of the words on the screen and in the words Samantha Bee uses. My advice is that if vulgarity in comedy monologues offends you or you are a minor— THEN DON’T CLICK ON THE LINK—–>>

  7. SecondLook

    A general consideration: household income is likely higher by 5 to 10% than the official numbers – reflecting routine under-reporting by the self-employed, to the gray economy (everything from barter work to illegal economic activities).
    It’s one of those factors that is difficult to analyze, so usually ignored.

  8. Erik Poole

    pgl wrote: “Curious – shouldn’t the role of oil or gasoline prices be factored in?”

    Yes. ‘Casual observers’ usually attribute shifts in SUV and light truck purchases to movements in fuel prices, presumably the same applies to RVs.

    2slugsbait is also correct that the Baltic Dry index is often used as a leading indicator.

    From my window perch, these indicators cannot distinguish between an economic slowdown and a recession.


  9. pgl

    I see Princeton Steve is back to mansplaining:

    “Michigan was the first state to feel the effects of a downturning automotive industry. The automotive industry has always been particularly sensitive to changing economic conditions”.

    Like no one other than Princeton Steve ever realized this. Hey Steve – where you born a pompous arse. The nation could have avoided the Detroit melt down had it tried. But we didn’t. It could have avoided the Wall Street melt down as well. But we didn’t. Guess which one is getting more attention when people talk about the Great Recession? BTW in case your superior economic intellilect (LOL) has not figured this out yet – the financial crisis worsened the woes of GM and Ford.

    Steve – please return to your forte. Dismissing asylum seeking rights on the grounds that they do not have Smart Phones to file for your Market Based Visas. As if they are only looking for a job and not fleeing death.

  10. pgl

    “Having worked at Ford for 30 years in various business planning and strategy areas,”

    Princeton Steve was a business planner for Ford? Besides GM, this company had to be the worst managed automobile multinational in my life time. As we used to say over at Angrybear when noting how the foreign multinationals do so well with their U.S. operations, Americans know how to make cars even if American corporate types do not.

    Thanks Steve for making sure we taxpayers had to pay billions to make sure UAW did not completely lose their jobs forever. Good to know you were as incompetent at your old job as you are at economics!

    1. pgl

      On the automobile sector bailout:

      “Opponents said GM and Chrysler brought their near-bankruptcy on themselves. They didn’t retool for an energy efficient era. They should have cut production, jobs, and dealerships years earlier.”

      Incompetent management brought to us by the likes of Princeton Steve. I supported the bail-out but let’s be glad that these companies are now under new management!

      1. Moses Herzog

        Even before the 1980s, the handwriting was on the wall for GM. How do we know this?? Multiple reasons, but the big early tip-off was when one of the greatest Engineers and mathematicians this country has ever produced, W Edwards Deming, was told to “take a hike” by American car manufacturers, and warmly accepted by Japan manufacturers like Deming was the 2nd coming of Christ (which, not to be blasphemous, for them he nearly was). At least 50% of Japan’s success in automobiles can be sourced back to Deming, and a ceaseless desire to produce a quality product, while American manufacturers were turning out ugly lemon duds, only thinking of mass production of garbage, to an American consumer they took for fools. And we see the results of that clear to this VERY day. Buy an American car at your own peril. American car doors still “thud” when you close them. When you close the door on a Japanese car it sounds like it was vacuum sealed magically. I’d take a new Kia (South Korea) over 98% of the “luxury” model cars America is producing in 2018. Why?? That was the last car brand my Dad said he would purchase if he got a new one before he died. My Dad F’ing knew cars.

        When Ross Perot went to GM and said (paraphrasing) “Your board is a bunch of worthless losers, here’s your stock equity back”, that also screamed the GM board members didn’t know their head from their ass. I seriously doubt it has changed to this day. My Dad only ever owned one American car in my lifetime (he was 46 when I was born), a dark navy blue Cadillac Seville, similar to this car, but obviously not black.

        The navy blue Seville was largely rusted out when I was a child, and the fan belt made a horrid horrid screeching noise as you drove it down the road. My father kept it largely for sentimental reasons as he had dreamed of owning a Cadillac since he was a child. Every other car my Dad ever owned in my lifespan was either Japanese or German. My Dad was not a mechanic, and took no joy in “fiddling” under the hood. But you better damned well believe when my Dad bought a car he was doing two things: 1) getting a quality product 2) paying WAY below MSRP.

        My father would have GLADLY bought an American made car in my lifespan if American manufacturers could make one single car model that was worth a tinker’s damn. They didn’t.

  11. Moses Herzog

    Anyone interested in grocery prices as an indicator?? I got a 432gram can of sweet corn today for 35 cents. It’s usually 44 cents where I buy it. I could literally give you the list, but I’ll spare you guys this time. No inflation that I could find, other than Monster drink that used to sell for around $1.49, the same can is now $1.98 where I buy it. That’s a pretty big jump in just a few months. That’s why I like “bang” drink. It’s a comparable drink and I can still get it at $1.48 close to where I live. Red Baron “brick oven” pepperoni pizza, $3.69 per boxed pizza. Spaghetti Squash, about $2.07 per squash ($4.21 a pound). 12 cans rip-off version of Mountain Dew $2.29. 10 Limes JUST starting to turn, $1.50 (15 cents each, normally 20 cents when quite fresh).

    Picked up some more Wisconsin cheese. I gotta double check if they raised the price, but I think it was the same. In my opinion it’s a little high, but the quality was good and I can stretch it out with cheap saltines. 192 gram Reese’s PB bar $1.78. Small box Little Debbie Christmas cakes (tree shaped) $1.58. Rip-off version of A-1 steak sauce $2.12 same size as large bottle A-1 (exact same taste).

    Never let it be said Uncle Moses never shared trivial facts with you.

    1. pgl

      My local 7/11 is running a “sale” on Red Bull. “Only” $2.50 for a 12-ounce can. What a complete rip-off.

      And yes some 12 years ago I helped their team get an APA with the IRS on their transfer pricing (Austrian made American marketing). Trust me – their profit margins were obscene back then and likely still are.

      BTW – Bruce Hall wonders if I’m buying you booze. Nope – Moses has to pay for his own beer. Sorry Bruce – you do too!

      1. Moses Herzog

        I like booze, I make no secret of it. And I get rip-roaring drunk sometimes. I make no secret of that. I treasure every moment of it. As far as getting remarks from “certain parties” I take it as “a badge of honor”. Very similar feeling to how Special Prosecutor Mueller must feel when donald trump insults him. Not comparing myself to Mueller in intelligence or abilities, just the relative reaction to insults.

        1. sammy


          “Not comparing myself to Mueller in intelligence or abilities”

          Actually, you are way more brilliant and capable than Mueller.

  12. Erik Poole

    Wow, all the snide personal attacks…… May I sidetrack y’all for a moment? Please?

    RVs pose an interesting challenge to economists who as social scientists essentially rely on rational choice models to formulate hypotheses.

    Most RVs cost a lot of money to acquire and operate. I constantly observe people who buy them and then essentially park them, i.e., do not use them, most of the time if not for several decades in a row. Even people who do frequently use them encounter very high variable costs as the typical fuel mileage is abismal and fees must be paid for overnight camping, electricity and sewage disposal. This despite the fact that the USA and Canada have chosen the lowest excise taxes on carbon-emitting distillates among the rich western nations.

    In many cases, for the price of an RV, folks could afford to fly around the world several times or drive all over North America and stay in cabins, motels and lodges for years and decades at a time. And still have money left over at the end of the day.

    It suggests that travelling to new places and meeting new people (who do not also travel in RVs) is a daunting, perhaps scary, frightful prospect. It hints at the notion that the two wealthy democracies of Canada and the USA have failed to provide their citizens with adequate security.

  13. baffling

    erik, i have good friends who retired early and bought an rv. they did not buy it for money, but for convenience. they do not need to load/unload a car every night, eat their own food, keep the dog, and have their own internet/tv on demand. if you only travel one or two weeks a year, you have some valid points. but many rv enthusiasts travel for several weeks or months at a time-living out of a hotel and restaurants loses its comfort after a while. i was skeptical like you on the rv, but after hearing my friends experiences, there is certainly logic to their purchase. those who do not approve of the lifestyle seem to have difficulty understanding the value. if you buy an rv and use it twice a year, better off to simply rent one out for the week.

  14. Erik Poole

    baffling, Renting a small RV for short periods of use is by far the less expensive option for many.

    The only instance where buying a large RV makes sense, at least to me, is for engineers, tradespeople, and similar who work on construction projects and spend of the year working and living away from home.

    I understand the willingness to pay for convenience and perceived comfort. But to a great extent, a big RV isolates you from a lot of people and significantly reduces exercise which most people, particularly the elderly, should be getting more of, not less of. As it stands, RVs seems to offer a suitable travel experience for well-socialized, low-density suburbanites.

    I should add that many RVers strike me as irrationally scared of wild animals. Though if one’s information set is limited, maybe the fear is not so irrational.

    For the kind of money that a new RV costs, one can buy a lot of comfort in cabins, motels and lodges. Discounts are commonly offered to those who stay weeks or months at a time.

    Even less expensive, tents provide almost unlimited flexibility and take some effort put up and take down which in this day and age should be viewed as a positive.

  15. Dwight L. Cramer

    RV is a catch-all for various different kinds of vehicles that get used in very different ways. The generalizations above reflect very poorly on the people making them. In toto, they say more about their authors than they do about their purported subject, but that’s frequently the case in this situation. Social imagination is a commodity in short supply among the intelligent and well educated just as it is among the stupid and ignorant, probably because it is in part a matter of character and moral virtue. Still, it’s fun to mock the breeds ye better, to paraphrase old Rudyard.

    Back to economics. In RV’s we’re about to have an interesting experiment in pricing power. At the same time that demand is softening, manufacturers are raising prices to pass through trade war associated costs (tariffs on intermediate components). If they can make those price increases stick in the face of weak demand, that will set the stage for 70s style stagflation. Throw in an immediate possibility of stock markets repricing back to historic p/e’s, rising interest rates crimping bond valuations, season the stew with upward pressure on wages, and everybody better grow sideburns and learn to wear bell bottoms.

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