INSITEVIEW- - tom shugart's weblog

Monday, February 10, 2003

The Shugart Index of Economic Indicators

During the years when I commuted to the city, I found that a simple but accurate indicator of economic activity was the level of rider-ship on the trains. Never mind the economists’ fancy theories or the spins of whatever Administration was in office at the moment. The trains told the real story.

This past Friday I was in the heart of Silicon Valley for the first time in over a year. I decided to apply a variation of the Shugart Economic Evaluation that seemed appropriate for that region--the Drive-By Assessment. George W should have been with me. He might have learned something.

I was literally stunned as I drove by acre after acre of parking lots surrounding the huge stretch of technology complexes. Some of these lots were totally empty. Most of them averaged around ten, or at most, twenty per cent occupancy. It was a forlorn tableau. The only lot that was filled to the edges was, of course, Google, deservedly so.

It’s one thing to read about the downturn, or to talk to individuals lamenting their reversals of fortune. But this simple drive-by put it into an immediate and vivid perspective.

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