The state of the economy at the street level

It’s much easier to get hold of a contractor at short notice than it used to be. They want every job they can get, and will pretty much bend over backwards to avoid saying no. So that’s a negative in terms of the broad economy.

But on the other hand, government spending on infrastructure does seem to be picking up. No hard data there, just the general impression I have at the moment.

As for the energy business, it depends hugely on what sector but the real issue comes down to falling demand and rising gas prices and all that comes with it. Some outright winners, some outright losers and a few who can simply trade through it all and come out roughly even over the longer term. But as a broader economic indicator, electricity demand has been trending down for the past few years now. Gas hasn’t seen that pattern thus far, although with the imminent price surge it’s likely only a matter of time. Given that all economic activity requires energy in some way, demand is a reasonable proxy for the state of the “real” economy – it’s not 1:1 by any means but there’s a definite linkage.