Best columns: Business
How Las Vegas became the all-American city; This time, the spending spree really is over.
How Las Vegas became the all-American city
Daniel Gross Slate.com
Throughout America, gambling is a growth industry, expanding faster than the overall economy. But not in Las Vegas, said Daniel Gross in Slate.com. There, gambling actually accounts for a declining share of revenues. Instead, the city is making “massive investments in the sorts of retail, dining, and entertainment experiences” that appeal to your standard-issue, well-heeled consumer. Take MGM’s $7.4 billion City Center development, which is due to open in 2009. It will include a casino, of course. “But the real money will come from selling the 3,600 condominiums it plans to build and filling up the hotels and malls.” Meanwhile, California alone now has 55 Indian casinos, “whose combined haul rivals that of Las Vegas.” Indeed, casinos are springing up everywhere, from Massachusetts to Kansas. How strange. “The rest of the country is starting to look more like Las Vegas,” and vice versa. Soon enough, Sin City will have to stop selling itself as “outside the mainstream.”
This time, the spending spree really is over
Geoff Colvin Fortune
For years now, economists have periodically predicted that the U.S. consumer has run out of money to spend, said Geoff Colvin in Fortune. “Consumers then ignore those reports and keep right on spending.” But the predictions are finally about to come true. “The U.S. consumer is tapped out, so desperately in hock and troubled about the future that he just can’t spend like it’s 1999 anymore.” The unemployment rate is rising, while the housing market is in freefall. “As millions of Americans see their largest asset becoming less valuable,” they start to feel poorer. “Now add one other factor: $80-a-barrel oil as winter comes on.” Put it all together and you have one discouraged consumer. The first signs of consumer retrenchment can be found in the retail sales numbers, which have recently started to slip. “Incredible as it may seem, U.S. consumers are going to start living within their means again. Brace yourselves.”