How Phoenix Escaped The Recession For A Weekend

I suppose it was like this during the Great Depression as well but in Phoenix the weekend that is almost finished seemed like a throwback to the Bubble Days. The town’s been full of people spending money, partying and buying toys for which they have absolutely use.

A fortunate confluence of three events led to this blowout. First, the Arizona Cardinals improbably advanced to the next to last stage of qualifying for the Superbowl and the Philadelphia Eagles surprised the football world by ending up as their opponent. By virtue of seedings, the big game ended up in Phoenix. Second and third, this weekend is when the annual Barrett-Jackson classic car auction and PF Chang’s Phoenix Marathon take place.

The Barrett-Jackson auction and some new imitators pulls in collectors from all over the world. The Scottsdale airport fills up with private jets and mostly men spend unbelievable sums of money on technologically obsolete automobiles that will most likely never be driven on the open road. I’ve gone to have a look around several times and have always come away impressed by the amount of alcohol and comely women that it takes to fuel this auction. I suspect that there is more to the party than just cars.

The marathon is a relatively new event but it pulls in tens of thousands of people who spend a lot of money to get up at 4 in the morning in order to run either 26 miles or 13 miles for those who still retain a shred of common sense. Supposedly, the mild Phoenix winter weather is what pulls in these fitness aficionados, however, they always seem to be surprised to learn the dirty little secret about desert winters – it gets more than a little cold at night and at 4 you need a little more cover than a pair of running shorts.

When all of the numbers are in, we might find that the attendance at all of the affairs didn’t hold up to past results. But that’s OK because right now you can close your eyes and imagine things haven’t really gone down hill so much. Reality will intrude soon enough. In the meantime, the reports I’m getting from friends that went to the auction is that the peripheral activity is as robust as ever. So, note to economists, aggregate demand for some goods and services is booming in Phoenix this weekend.

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