05 March 2011

Economic Indicators

Having lived in Northern California for a good chunk of time, I have noticed a pattern:  Local traffic conditions are inversely correlated to local economical health.

IH 280:  Good Economic Times, Bad Traffic

Take the stretch of Highway 101 between its intersection with Highway 237 in Sunnyvale and Highway 92 in San Mateo, or the infamous intersections of Highway 85 and Interstate Highway 280:  The better the employment picture is in Northern California, the more miserable commuters are in these road segments.

2008 Economic Meltdown and IH 280:  Where Did Everyone Go?

During the heydays of the tech bubble from 1997-2000, commuting on these road segments was a miserable chore.  Then the bubble burst in late 2000 and traffic conditions improved.  With some unevenness but a relatively steady growth, traffic conditions continued to worsen from 2003 through 2008. Then, overnight, with the meltdown fo the global financial markets, traffic melted away from the same roads.

I may have a similar proxy for Moscow's economic health:  The metro.  I arrived to Moscow in November 2009, a time to which every Muscovite referred to as "The Crisis."  Moscow was reeling from the double whammy of the global economic meltdown and falling oil prices.  At that time, the metro had enough seats even for dogs.

Moscow Metro Dog Rides Happily In Early 2010

Times have changed.  The Middle East in on fire and oil prices have spiked over $100 a barrel.  Traffic congestion on the metro has also increased significantly.

High Oil Prices

= Equals = 

Tough Moscow Metro Ridership

Thank you Colonel Muammar Gaddafi for adding joy to my morning commute.  But, as the top oil exporter in the world, Russia thanks you for spiking the oil price.

Troublesome In Lockerbie, Berlin, Benghazi, and Moscow

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