Tuesday, August 2, 2011

S&P plunges: analysts freak and I look for cheap vacation options


I don't know why anyone is surprised by the S&P 500 taking a nose dive this week. The entire month of July was filled with insanely and somewhat arbitrary news about U.S. bonds facing a potential downgrade on August 2nd. How anyone can be knee deep in margin calls today is kind of beyond me. Given the ambivalence and verbosity of the rating agencies, the dismal jobs report and the public furor over political cockfighting there is no scenario that I could see a market spike initiated by any debt ceiling agreement being sustained. Someone will be unhappy, spark panic and fill the market with sell orders.

Still, this sort of speculation is what makes the market go around I suppose.

I don't doubt the seriousness of our economic woes. I live in the one city where every person is aware of what the market is doing, even when the bloggers that fill CNN's front page are consumed with human interest stories. There is more than enough information out there saying that the economy is no growth, that the market might still be undergoing a contraction. I'm just saying this isn't a black swan. Yesterday and today were entirely predictable based on the last month.

Still, things are not looking good. While my holdings in the market have dropped, I'm not in any volatile sectors - so I feel okay holding my positions and escaping the global economic woes some other way. Since my approach right now is to make lemonade out of shriveled, discounted lemons I've decided that this is the time to hit the road....go on work vacation or a least a day trip. I managed to dig up some pretty cool vacays on Living Social and Expedia for really great prices. Check 'em out!

Day trip

Museum of Sex after hours with cocktails
Location: Midtown Manhattan
Vendor: LivingSocial
Deets: The science and social nerd in me thinks this is a really hot mini day-trip. The Museum of Sex has a bar at the end of it featuring aphrodisiac-based drinks and food. This day-trip/date-trip includes 2 hours of after hours museum wandering, and a free drink with oysters at the end. I actually think this is a great second date/date well into a relationship trip. If you are just getting to know someone, you'll find out pretty quickly if they have a sense of humour about sex or if their come-on style skeeves you out. If you are deep into a relationship talking about the funny aspects of sex and the sex industry followed by a stiff drink would be a lot of fun.
Cost: right now, $69. This is not a sex joke - it was $49 last week. Prices on Living Social sometimes go up as people buy the packages.

Two Day nearby trip at fancy locale

Location: Nantucket
Vendor: LivingSocial
Deets: 2 night weekday stay includes beach chair rentals, a room at the Center Street Inn, continental breakfast and a bottle of wine. The beach, shops and ferries are reportedly within easy walking distance of Inn. Sounds like a nice little break from the insanity of New York and the weekday stay means it is likely a break from the insanity of Summer weekend Nantucket.
Cost: For two people it is $205 for a room with a shared bathroom and $295 for a room with a private bath. You would have to find a way out to Cape Cod and then Nantucket - so a bus or car rental would likely have to be slapped on there too.
Almost a weeklong trip on a beach in another country

Location: Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Vendor: Expedia
Deets: 5 days and 4 nights at the Presidente Intercontental Puerto Vallarta. I've actually stayed at this hotel and really liked it. It far enough away from Old City Puerto Vallarta that you aren't constantly pestered by vendors walking along the beaches, but is close enough to the city that a 5 minute bus ride gets you to the River Calle. The rooms are huge and very pretty. The oceanside rooms have balconies and expansive views. You can rent various kayaks and paddle boats at the hotel and take them out to Los Arcos to watch fish etc.. All in all, it's a great little spot. Puerto Vallarta was the personal love nest of Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor while he filmed "Night of the Iguana", it is a fun and yet deeply romantic city. I loved every minute I was there.

Cost: a bit more expensive, and sadly out of my price range. It is $683 per person for Sept 26-30th - flight and hotel included. Great deal, but not for me....sigh.

So...I think H and I are going to start with the Museum of Sex. Who knows, maybe 9 months from now I'll blogging about deals on diaper services.

The Presidente Intercontinental, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
(the second to last hotel on the right before the penninsula)
(Photo credit: http://www.grandluxuryvacations.com)

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