Suppose it never gets any better

As this endless recession has dragged on and on, I’ve found myself thinking that maybe this time things are different. Maybe this time the downturn won’t be followed by booming demand with business going to ever higher levels. Maybe expectations are changing.

Technically we are in an economic recovery but one that is so modest that unemployment will stay high for years. Housing sales are horrible and the overhang of homes on the market continues to grow. For most middle class and upper middle class people most of their net worth is their equity in their house. With housing values up to 50% off their peak and continuing to decline its hard for the average consumer to motivate himself to go out and buy something. Baby boomers approaching retirement( and that is economically the most active philatelic demographic at this point in time) see their investments down and their home values down. And Social Security is in trouble. Suddenly we have to work longer and harder until our retirements.
What does this meant for philately? It probably means softness in prices for some time. The one silver lining is the increase in small stamp sellers who are trying to supplement their incomes by selling stamps. Small stamp dealers need inventory and add liquidity to the stamp market. Also the lack of motivation to buy big ticket items (new homes, cars etc) often frees up money for inexpensive pleasures like philately. Still, I’d be surprised to find most stamp prices much higher five years from now than they are today.

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