I just returned from India after the shortest trip I’ve had in years. It is impressive what sentiment will do in a third world country. From my ships window, the small portal I have into the larger world, things seem surprisingly okay over there. The markets are flailing, with people suggesting another thousand point drop. The banking industry is tightening its lasso around corporate necks. The mortgage market is very safe but as a result the real estate inventories are astoundingly high. And yet…and yet. Perhaps it’s wishful thinking, but I do believe India as a whole is just in a funk whereas New York and America seem to have found a canyon.
India has the largest middle class in the world, more billionaires in Mumbai than New York, and an economy that no longer reeks of the words small and volatile. It hasn’t so much as blinked after the most emotionally devastating terrorism since September 11th and it seems to be pushing forward perhaps more in a trot than full gallup, but still, pushing forward.
The diamond industry is another story. We complain incessantly about major American retailers and whine about their almost habitual bankruptcies. We spit venom at poor management but whistle as it walks by and shower those in charge with petals and rice. Perhaps our delusion is a hope for new found fertility on barren plains. Perhaps this is not their fault. They are fighting an uphill battle in an altogether unsupported industry that has expensive raw materials and a declining consumer base. To add to it a recession in which, for the consumer, the first thing to go is what isn’t either necessary or can be rationalized as necessary. Perhaps it’s time for the vendors to step up and put themselves on the line to build brands.
A question for next time though: Is it helping us that diamonds are forever? A washing machine lasts for 5 years and needs to be replaced. A water heater for 10. How long does a ring last for? Should we be pointing this out?