Notes on the European economy

Three observations from conversations I had over the last few days.

Spain: The sort of clean-cut pretty college-age girls who a few years ago would be seen working at Estee Lauder counters, at high-end restaurants, and as models or shot girls can now be seen working the suburban streets as prostitutes during the day. According to my Spanish taxi driver, the basic hourly rates haven’t changed, but both the quality and the quantity of the labor available has significantly increased. This suggests that the rates for the previous supply of street hookers have dropped dramatically.

Switzerland: In speaking to a Swiss friend, I learned that car examinations, which are required every two years for older cars, now have a waiting list of up to eighteen months. This waiting list was nonexistent two years ago. The delay indicates that increasing numbers of Swiss are keeping their old cars rather than turning them in as soon as the lease is expired, as had been their previous custom.

Germany: A police acquaintance from the gym returned from Oktoberfest in Stuttgart last week. After hastening to assure me that his interest in such matters was purely professional, he told me that he was astonished by the youth, beauty, and low rates of the nightclub girls, who apparently now go for 30 Euros, down from 70 Euros for less attractive women two years ago.

Lest the obvious escape one, these are all very bad economic signals. In a growing economy, the street whores are toothless old crack addicts working the bus stops at night and the few pretty young girls who aren’t working in some easy retail job are very expensive escorts.