That 0.6% bit of economic growth in the first quarter of 2008 was just the pathetic result of $3.50-a-gallon gasoline, but there is one sector of the U.S. economy that’s truly booming: Desperate Americans are selling off their last possessions on Craigslist and other online flea-market sites, just so they can buy a little food and gas.
Craigslist for-sale listings have more than doubled since this time last year. The AP reports:
Craigslist CEO Jeff Buckmaster acknowledged the increasing popularity of selling all sort of items on the Web, but said the rate of growth is “moving above the usual trend line.” He said he was amazed at the desperate tone in some ads.
Hungry Americans are getting rid of family heirlooms, engagement rings, furniture, even their precious television sets — all to keep their heads above water for another month. With jobs vanishing, gasoline doubling in price every couple years, basic food prices soaring, outrageous utility bills just to keep houses warm in this never-ending winter, and one in eight home mortgages expected to go into foreclosure in the coming years as real-estate values tumble another 30%, selling household items is the last hope for many people.
The online classifieds are also loaded with anything “recreational” that uses precious fuel: boats, RVs, those idiot off-road vehicles, second cars, riding mowers, and especially SUVs.
Charities and thrift stores are feeling the desperation, too, as donations of second-hand goods have already dropped 20% this year. People can’t afford to give anything away when they need that five dollars for a gallon of gas, or a sack of rice.
And with so much stuff for sale, the few buyers are able to push down prices by 35%. If one seller won’t take it, the other hundred people selling the same thing in the same ruined neighborhood will surely make a deal.