June 4, 2012

Did an Acorn Just Hit Me on the Head?, or Further Evidence That No One Can Afford to Deny Climate Change

As some of my audience may already know, my main gig is in the Sports Industrial Complex1, and as such I get a weekly email newsletter called Sporting Goods Intelligence with reporting2 on general business interest from around the industry.  Normally, it is filled with the type of dry profit and revenue data that could put even the most ardent econ-geek to sleep in no time.  Occasionally, there will be something juicy, like a CEO getting ousted by his3 board, or accounting irregularities causing massive restatements of P&L.  But, usually I just skim it for the general mood and hit the <Del> key after sixty seconds.

Lately, however, I have been noticing a trend trend in the reporting of retail sales that is both fascinating and very disturbing.  This is not just limited to the Sports Industrial Complex, but it's what caught my attention most poignantly.  Ever notice how retail sales data is almost always accompanied by the explanation that weather has a strong influence on the results?  For example, you might see an "analyst" tell you that spring sales were below expectations due to heavy rain on the East Coast.  You might also have noticed since around 2003 or so, those retail "analysts" have included swings in energy prices as another influencing factor in sales data.

Fast forward to the present, when every newsletter from Nov '11 to Apr '12 reported how gas prices and record high temperatures made winter sports retailers cry.  Then, I open this week's issue and after they got done explaining about May being good for sales because of a temporary dip in gas prices, there is a big warning about how hurricane forecasts for the Atlantic Coast indicate more risk of landfall this year over last.  And we all know how hurricanes and tropical storms can put a damper on one's enthusiasm to go out and buy a set of new irons to tackle TPC Sawgrass.
Survey says: Hurricanes are bad for business

Call me a pinko4 if you like, but it's hard not to come to the following conclusions:

  • If disastrous weather and high gas prices are such a threat to retail business - and any economist will tell you that the GDP of the United States is highly dependent on the level of consumption - the Chamber of Commerce and other business interests should stop obstructing climate legislation and renewable energy development.
  • Simply riding the energy price roller coaster makes for huge uncertainties in sales forecasts, so further decoupling economic output from the fossil fuel supply is advantageous to all interested parties, except Big Oil.
  • A certain Elephant-based political party should stop denying climate change, and stop protecting fossil fuel producers if they truly want to be the pro-business party.  A conservative can be defined as someone in pursuit of conservation.
  • Taking all available evidence into account on the likelihood of the above ever happening, shorting coastal real-estate is a good call.

1We think it should be referred to as the athletic support industry, but we worry that type of blue language may upset the sensibilities of the readership. Who are we kidding? No one reads this crap.  Also, the initialism for the Sports Industrial Complex would be SIC.  Get it?  Get it?  Now we just need an initialism that spells out IBID.  Editor-based humor is the best!

2Read: gossip, rumor, and innuendo

3Yes, that is an assumption by the author as to the gender of all CEOs, but we might point out that assumption is limited to the CEO of a sports equipment manufacturer or retailer. We think it's safe to assume the penis in that case.

4We think the author is actually more closely aligned politically with those crackpots in the Natural Law Party, or maybe even some unholy combination of the Green, Libertarian, and Americans Elect parties.  What a loon.  We think he also probably wastes his votes on Third-Party candidates every four years.  Don't worry, dear reader, he doesn't live in Florida.

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