You’re probably already on vacation

June 28, 2013

Welcome to the Counterparties email. The sign-up page is here, it’s just a matter of checking a box if you’re already registered on the Reuters website. Send suggestions, story tips and complaints to

As the anniversary of America’s independence approaches, at least one economic indicator is back to pre-recession levels: hotel occupancy. Calculated Risk’s Bill McBride points out that while 2009 was the worst year for hotel stays since the Great Depression, 2013’s levels are back to the 2000-2007 median.

Anecdotally, business travelers are annoyed by all the leisure travelers clogging airports and hotels. The reason for all this travel, according to a hospitality expert at PricewaterhouseCoopers, is that “people are feeling better about themselves”. That’s been showing up in the job numbers: Leisure, hospitality, and food and drinking establishments added 38,000 jobs in May, and 337,000 over the past year. (Though, those are the lowest-paying jobs of any major job category.)

If you do travel this summer, temper your enthusiasm by remembering that travelling internationally exposes you to steep bank fees. (These can be avoided by staying at home and losing your savings in bitcoin.) If you are flying, even for work, once you’re on a plane, don’t try to be productive. It’s a losing battle — between dehydration and air pressure equivalent to 8,000 feet, using your memory in flight is, Bloomberg Businessweek says, “sort of like a cognitive grunt”.

Instead, follow Mohamed El-Erian’s air travel tips, including wearing headphones so people won’t talk to you. And, please, be nice to flight attendants. After all, they have have “tough jobs and do a lot of invisible work”. El-Erian also recommends that you “think of your bathroom strategy in risk management” terms, which is probably universally advisable. If you’re not flying or want to know what economy class travel looks like, Henry Blodget’s stunning expose of blurry iPhone crotch shots may not help.

Whatever you do, don’t allow your consumer confidence-addled ego to persuade you that it’s ok to create a 58-page PDF guide to your destination and demand that your traveling companions “read the whole thing”.  – Ben Walsh

On to today’s links:

The favorite investment of inflation-fearing misanthropes is plummeting – Neil Irwin

Crappy jobs
“Temp work is roaring back 10 times faster than private-sector employment” – Pro Publica

“It’s likely that the days of the super-powered Chinese economy are over” – Foreign Policy

Easing Ain’t Easy
Fed’s Stein: “There are limits to how much even good communication can do to limit market volatility” – Federal Reserve
Zen Bernanke: “Though the rains have led to a rich bounty, they must cease and allow the sun to naturally warm the fields” – Jared Bernstein

Solid Advice
The simple solution to climate change is a carbon tax – NPR

“Adjusted for inflation, tuition has increased more than 50 percent since 1999″ – Bernie Sanders

Right On
“My role, therefore, is to bet on regression to the mean even as most investors, and financial journalists, are betting against it” – Jason Zweig

“Women work hard everywhere. The question is in part whether this work is remunerated” – Simon Johnson

A thought experiment on Greg Mankiw’s “just deserts” value system – Noah Smith

EU Mess
Eurozone sovereign debt restructuring, part deux – FT Alphaville

Senior executives at ESPN makes between $244,350 and $407,250 – ESPN

Russell Brand is a social genius – Return of Kings

Snapchat’s “certified bros” are getting sued by another bro – Bloomberg Businessweek

Stuff We Are Not Linking To
The debate over small plates

Follow Counterparties on Twitter. And, of course, there are many more links at Counterparties.

No comments so far

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see