Each day, it seems, brings another bit of astonishing news. Yesterday, someone estimated to me that this month’s De Beers sight – which probably came in at well under $100 million – was likely the smallest in some two decades. Amazing.
Still, it helps to keep perspective, and, in an interview, David Peters, director of education for Jewelers of America, made the following observation to me:
“I got into the jewelry business in 1975,” he said. “Since then we have had four recessions. I don’t think this recession is really quite as bad as the one we had in the early 1980s. The industry is really young in its population of employees, and it is hard for people to relate what happened in the 1980s.”
Fair point. In the early 1980s recession, unemployment hit ten percent, and while some think we may hit that, we aren’t even close to it now. The 1980s were also famously brutal on the diamond industry, particularly here in New York.
Right now, the economy is in something of a tailspin—so it’s easy to get caught up in the non-stop onslaught of negative news. I do think that enough is being done (and will be done) on a governmental level so that the current downward spiral will end within the next few months – although a real recovery is likely going to take a while. At this point, many people would be happy to get back to the economy we had this summer – and that wasn’t exactly a chipper time.
On the bright side, I think a lot of people expected more bankruptcies this year than we have so far seen. There are a lot of companies being kept alive because the banks, the trade, and investors aren’t willing to pull the plug just yet. No one’s sure if that will continue into next year, but so far it’s encouraging.
In any case, I’d be interested in hearing from trade veterans (and others) on how this compares to past downturns …