Rich Americans still buy $65 billion a year of high-end goods, but the new markets are the emerging markets.
Steuben glass went out of business last month. That magnificent, flawless, and expensive product line could no longer find a market.
In Italy, it’s the same. Companies that had targeted rich buyers in Europe and the USA are struggling.
Reporting from Deruta, Italy—
“It’s been a disaster, a disaster,” bellows Ubaldo Grazia.
The owner of his family’s 500-year-old ceramics business isn’t talking about the financial meltdown in his country or the Eurozone debt crisis, but the weak U.S. economy that he said had cost him one customer after another. Saks, Tiffany, Nieman Marcus, Williams-Sonoma — his list goes on.
Grazia’s company, now in its 25th generation, is one of dozens of ceramics makers struggling in this picturesque medieval town known for its handcrafted pottery. Business has fallen so low — down to just five painters from 75 a few years ago — that he’s worried about whether it will make it to the 26th generation.
These firms are seeking new buyers in Asia and Brazil. It’s working. But the popped China real estate bubble is going to take down this market, too. There are no hiding places.
The recession is coming because de-leveraging is coming, all over the world. There is too much debt.
The rich and famous in America are increasingly merely famous.
This sends a signal: trouble ahead for the rest of us.